Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world and the actual Coffee beans are seeds of coffee plants. The seeds are processed to coffee beans that are subsequently roasted to produce coffee of different types. It is said that the best tasting coffee is the one that’s freshly roasted, ground, and brewed. The characteristic flavor of coffee is due to the roasting process.
To enjoy the best cup of coffee, you need to ensure that you only use fresh coffee since, coffee is a perishable commodity. Coffee beans start losing their freshness once they are roasted and once coffee starts losing its freshness, its natural aromas and flavors are diminished. So, it goes without saying that the better you store your coffee beans the better your coffee will be.
If you store your coffee beans the right way, they can stay good for about one month after roasting. Ground coffee typically lasts for 1 to 2 weeks after roasting (but even that is a optimistic number). The difference is due to the fact that the surface area of ground coffee is much greater than that of coffee beans. It means that ground coffee is more susceptible to light, heat, moisture, and air, which are the 4 greatest enemies of fresh coffee.
One way to ensure that you only drink fresh coffee is to buy unroasted green coffee beans and do the roasting yourself. Unroasted beans can stay fresh for up to 1 year. It is definitely possible to roast coffee at home with a bit of work. However, that requires a lot more effort and time compared to making coffee from local coffee roaster.
The 7 Best Tips on Storing Your Coffee Beans
Understand the Basics
It is important to understand the basics before you decide on the most suitable storage method for the beans. However, you should know answers to questions such as how long coffee beans actually last for. Simply put, there are 4 things that coffee beans hate:
Oxygen leads to oxidization, which results in the loss of aromas and essential oils, eventually leaving your coffee stale. Heat and moisture accelerate the process significantly, as does light, but to a lesser degree. To ensure that your coffee beans stay fresh, you need to do everything possible to guard against these 4 things.
Understanding the life cycle of coffee beans that have been roasted is of great importance. Roasting leaves the coffee beans full of carbon dioxide. Coffee beans usually produce a lot of carbon dioxide in the first few days after the coffee beans have been roasted, after which they will keep releasing the gas more slowly.
If you make the mistake of using the coffee beans while they still have high levels of carbon dioxide, you will end up with a sour-tasting and unpleasant brew. Similarly, if you wait for too long, the beans are likely to turn stale and your brew will be lacking aroma and flat too. You can also find yourself with rancid coffee.
The best time to use the beans is the period from a couple of days or 1 week after roasting up to 2 weeks after roasting, with some slight variations depending on the bean’s variety. Once the coffee beans are roasted, the clock is ticking, but there are still other things that you can do to ensure that the beans stay fresh for the longest time possible.
Avoid Freezing the Beans
Debate still rages about whether or not to freeze coffee beans to preserve their flavor and extend their life. The simple answer is that you shouldn’t. Think of bread or fish ” You can obviously freeze these items, but frozen bread or fish never compares with fresh bread or fish. Think of coffee in the same way. Thawed coffee beans aren’t as good as fresh ones.
It is also important to remember that when you freeze your coffee beans, thaw them, and you open the container where you store them to take some out, all these are opportunities for condensation and moisture to creep in, and it has already been discussed why you need to avoid this. Coffee also has the ability to absorb the odors and flavors around it.
Avoid Putting Your Beans in the Fridge
It is generally advisable to avoid freezing your coffee beans, but it is also important to avoid putting them in thee fridge. You probably understand that heat is to be avoided when it comes to coffee beans, so it might seem logical that you can extend their life by putting them in the fridge. However, the reality is that a fridge is not cold enough to make much of a difference.
The only think likely to happen to your coffee beans in your fridge is that they will become exposed to even more condensation and moisture, which means that putting them in the fridge is probably the fastest way to spoil them.
You are also more likely to store other pungent foods such as onions or cheese in your fridge. While onion and cheese might be a great flavor for potato chips, it would not be such a great flavor for your coffee. So, don’t store coffee beans in your fridge.
Store Your Beans Carefully
One of the most important considerations is where to actually store your coffee beans. When you choose where to store them always keep in mind the four factors discussed above i.e. heat, moisture, light, and air.
If you plan to store your beans close to an oven, you need to think again. Otherwise, you are likely to find yourself ruining the beans when you cook. The same is true of locations close to radiators. It is advisable to find a better storage location.
You should also avoid leaving the beans close to windows. Heat and light from the sun can easily destroy the flavor of your coffee beans. It is advisable to find a cool, shaded place that’s not subject to temperature fluctuations to store your beans.
The ideal place to store your coffee beans is in a dark cupboard, where they are hidden from sunlight and away from the steam and heat of a cooker. If you have to store the beans on view in the kitchen, you must choose the right container.
Where the beans are stored and what they are stored in are two of the most important considerations when it comes to keeping the coffee beans in the best conditions for the longest time possible, so it is important to think about containers.
You need to look for certain attributes when selecting the right container for storing the beans.
First –it should be made of non-reactive material. It means that it should not impart any unwanted flavors to the coffee. Ceramic, glass, or non-reactive metals are best.
Second – the container you choose should be airtight. Air is one of the 4 deadly enemies that coffee beans have, so it is important to look for a container with an airtight lid to ensure that your coffee beans never lose their flavor through contact with air.
Third – it is important to find an opaque container to ensure that the beans are protected from light. Some people like being able to see the beans and it would be hypocritical not to recognize the fact that roasted coffee beans on a countertop are a lovely sight.
You can find that the flavor disappears a bit quicker than if you stored them in an opaque container. However, that’s a compromise that you must accept. The best way to mitigate the effect is not to leave the container in direct sunlight and finding a shady spot for the beans.
Use a Airtight Coffee Container
If you are very serious about keeping the coffee beans as fresh as possible, you should consider investing in a specialist airtight container, something like the Friis Coffee Vault or the Planetary Design Airscape, both of which can be found Amazon (of course). Specialist coffee containers are designed to protect the coffee in an airtight, non-reactive environment, thus maximizing its lifespan.
You can even go a step further by investing in a vacuum cannister for the coffee. The great thing about a vacuum canister is that air is completely removed from the inside thus protecting the beans completely from the effects of oxygen.
However, some people have argued that it could be a bit too much and that it is not so good for the coffee. Some people have found that getting rid of the air dries the beans and draws out their natural oils thus ruining their flavor.
Buy Green or Raw Coffee Beans
The other option is to learn how to roast your own coffee and start buying green beans that haven’t been roasted. Unroasted beans can easily retain their flavor for up to a year and this gives you the chance to experiment with different coffee beans and roasting techniques. If you do that, you will have far more control over its flavor, thus allowing you to make your coffee exactly as you like it. BUT…but roasting them correctly is a whole other story ( and blog post).
Figuring out how to store your coffee beans to keep them fresh for as long as possible is not rocket science. However, buying the right quantity of coffee and storing it properly will go a long way towards giving you coffee that smells and tastes great.