How to Store Coffee Beans: Your Quick Guide On Keeping Them Fresh Longer

Astounding flavors abound when you make coffee using fresh beans. It has floral and earthy notes with refreshing and crisp acidity. Meanwhile, if it is bitter or dull, the beans may have passed their prime. To prevent such, you must learn how to store coffee beans the right way.

You do not need to go to an expensive coffee shop to enjoy a delicious and aromatic caffeine fix. It is easy to make one at home, but a major requirement is to use fresh beans. That said, read on and I will share some of the best tips for the proper storage of coffee beans.

Pre-Ground vs Whole Beans

If you want the best coffee, then it is hard to go wrong with using whole beans and grinding them as you make your caffeine fix. The beans will protect the peak qualities of coffee. Once they break down, they will oxidize, resulting in a loss of flavor.

The main reason why a lot of people like pre-ground is that it is convenient. It is for busy individuals who do not have the time to grind their beans when all they want is to enjoy coffee. 

Between the two, however, I suggest that you go for whole beans instead and invest in an automatic grinder. This way, you can preserve the chemicals in coffee and prevent them from oxidizing while enjoying convenient preparation.

Even whole beans, however, can lose their freshness over time. Technically, they do not expire. Nonetheless, they will lose their flavor and aroma. Hence, you must pay attention to proper storage, which is what we’ll be talking about in the next section.

How to Store Coffee Beans

First, you should know that air, moisture, heat, and light are the most common enemies of fresh coffee beans. Often, they are the culprit for losing freshness. So, if you avoid these things, there is a high chance that your beans will stay fresh.

It does not take an expert to figure out the proper way of storing coffee. You do not even have to buy expensive equipment or machine to do so. Learn from the practical tips I will share below.

1. Keep Beans Airtight and Cool

Dark, cool, and dry – these are three of the main requirements when thinking about the best place for keeping your coffee beans to retain their freshness even after several days.

Invest in an opaque container large enough to keep the beans that you regularly have at home. Beans are pretty, so some people might be tempted to show them off by using clear containers. However, you must avoid this as it exposes the beans to light, which hurts their freshness.

Aside from the color of the container, it must also be airtight. Pick a canister that seals the lid, which will prevent external elements from entering the jar and ruining the beans. It is also good if it comes with a one-way valve, which prevents oxygen from going in while allowing carbon dioxide to go out.

The temperature is another major requirement for the storage of coffee beans. Fluctuations can damage the beans, affecting their overall flavor profile. It is a catalyst for a chemical reaction that can alter the original qualities of the beans.

I recommend storing beans in canisters at room temperature. Keep it away from direct sunlight or any other sources of heat, such as the stove and kitchen appliances. It is best to stow it in the cupboard.

2. Store in Original Packaging

I know what you are thinking! You are probably saying that it goes against my earlier advice to store the beans in an airtight container. However, if the original packaging is good, then you can also use it for long-term storage.

Take note that this is applicable only if you have exceptional packaging. The best is one that has a one-way valve letting gas out without getting oxygen in.

While this can be an acceptable option for keeping your beans, the lifespan will not be as long when compared to storing them in an airtight canister. In most cases, the beans will last only one to two weeks before flavors and aromas start to degrade.

3. To Freeze or Not to Freeze?

Freezing is one of the best ways to prolong the shelf life of food. You can keep different foods in the freezer and expect them to be still good even after several months, even years. But can you do the same thing with coffee beans?

Yes, you can freeze coffee beans! However, it is not as easy as it sounds. If you don’t do it right, then the moisture will be out of whack, which will be bad for the beans.  

Arguments against Freezing Coffee Beans

Let’s look at the reasons why some people hate freezing coffee beans. It centers around humidity in the freezer. Once coffee beans are roasted, they have a low moisture level. They are hygroscopic. What this means is that they can absorb moisture.

Because the freezer is in a humid environment, there is a tendency for the beans to soak up moisture. It can speed up decaying while also altering the composition of the beans. Plus, it can absorb the aroma of other foods you keep in the freezer.

Arguments for Freezing Coffee Beans

Nonetheless, while purists may disagree, you can put beans in the freezer. This is especially true if you intend to use the beans within two and three weeks. If you wait longer, it might be too late, and the beans may no longer be fresh.

For the best results, you should never use the original bag where the beans are stored. Instead, you should keep the beans in a truly airtight container. You also need to maintain a constant temperature as fluctuations are detrimental to the internal moisture content.

Another thing that you can do is vacuum seal the beans in a bag. It removes residual air from the packaging, which will help in the preservation of the chemical composition of coffee beans.

If you opt for freezing, then you should avoid thawing. The latter often happens when people store beans in a large quantity, then thaw the whole package, get only the beans they need, and return them to the freezer. It allows beans to warm up creating moisture. So, it is best to keep them in smaller batches or packages, so you do not need to thaw all the beans.

4. Say No to the Fridge

While freezing coffee beans is a debatable topic, when it comes to the fridge, there should be no debate. There is one thing to keep in mind – never refrigerate!

Coffee beans have a soft and porous cellular structure. It also absorbs aromatics. So, let’s say you keep garlic or onions in the fridge. The beans will absorb the aroma of the latter, which can alter its overall flavor profile.  

When you put coffee beans in the fridge, they will most likely condensate. As a result, the oils are pushed to the surface. This will cause the coffee to age faster, making it bland and stale quicker.

5. Purchase the Right Quantity

The last and perhaps the simplest point I would like to highlight in this guide is to buy beans in the right quantity. Consider how many people are drinking coffee and how often you will be making one to determine how much to buy.

Immediately after roasting, the beans will start losing their freshness. Hence, the best thing to do is to purchase smaller batches, just enough to last a week or two.

Conclusion

At this point, I hope that you learned a thing or two about how to store coffee beans the right way. At the most basic, you must avoid three things – air, moisture, heat, and light. They are the most common culprits for the beans going bad.

I suggest that you use freshly roasted beans immediately. They can last up to two weeks, but you must pay attention to proper storage. Use an airtight container and store it in a dark, cool, and dry place. You can freeze but do it properly. Never refrigerate.

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