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Storing Coffee: Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Beans Fresh

coffee beans in can from above, storing coffee

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As coffee roasters, we believe that fresh coffee is the best coffee. Believe it or not, coffee beans go stale and lose flavor and nuance over time, so you need to know how to store coffee properly. 

Storing coffee correctly can make a massive difference in the taste and aroma of your coffee. The rule of thumb for coffee storage is to keep it away from air, moisture, heat, and light. When coffee beans are exposed to these elements, they can quickly degrade in quality. 

Therefore, you should store your freshly roasted beans in an opaque, airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place. But how do you choose a suitable container, and where should you store it? This article will provide some tips and tricks for storing coffee to keep it fresh and flavorful for longer.

Understanding Coffee Storage

When storing coffee, you should keep a few things in mind to ensure that your coffee stays fresh and flavorful for as long as possible. Here are some key things to know about coffee storage:

Keep Coffee in a Cool, Dry Place

One of the most important things to remember when storing coffee is to keep it in a cool, dry place. This means avoiding areas exposed to direct sunlight, moisture, or heat. Ideally, you should store your coffee in an airtight container in a pantry or cupboard, away from any heat sources.

Avoid Freezing or Refrigerating Coffee

While storing coffee in the freezer or refrigerator may be tempting, this is not recommended. Freezing and thawing coffee can cause condensation to form on the beans, which can affect their taste. Additionally, roasted beans are porous and can easily absorb moisture and odors from other foods in the freezer or fridge, negatively impacting flavor. 

Use Freshly Roasted Coffee Beans

Another important factor in coffee storage is the quality of the beans themselves. To ensure the best possible flavor, it’s recommended that you buy freshly roasted coffee beans, ideally within two to three weeks of the roast date. Look for beans roasted locally or with a roast date printed on the packaging.

Grind Coffee Beans Just Before Brewing

When grinding your coffee beans, it’s best to do so just before you’re ready to brew. This helps to preserve the flavor and aroma of the beans. If you must grind your beans beforehand, store the coffee grounds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

These simple tips can help ensure your coffee stays fresh and flavorful for as long as possible. Whether you’re a casual coffee drinker or a daily coffee connoisseur, proper storage is critical to enjoying the best possible cup of coffee.

Containers for Storing Coffee

When storing coffee, the correct container can make all the difference. Not only does it keep your coffee fresh, but it also helps to preserve its flavor and aroma. Here are some of the best container options for storing your coffee.

Fellow Atmos coffee canister

Stainless Steel Containers

Stainless steel containers like this one from Fellow are the best option for long-term storage because they are airtight and block out light completely. They are also durable and easy to clean. The Fellow Atmos canister uses vacuum technology and a twisting lid to remove the air from the cavity of the canister.

Its minimalist design looks great on your kitchen counter, and the opaque finish will protect the contents from light. Vacuum-sealed containers like this are more expensive than others on the market, but they are worth the investment to keep your coffee fresh for weeks or even months.

Airscape glass canister with bamboo lid

Glass Containers

Glass containers like this one from Airscape are a favorite for storing coffee because they are beautiful and show off what’s inside. They come in various sizes so that you can choose the best fit for your needs. 

However, they are not the best option for long-term storage because they do not provide complete protection from light. This is fine for other dried goods, but if you choose to go with glass for coffee storage, we recommend storing the container(s) in a pantry or cabinet away from sunlight.

ceramic canister with wood lid

Ceramic Containers

Ceramic containers like this one are a popular option for storing coffee. They are easy to find and offer opaque storage. However, we don’t recommend using ceramic canisters unless they feature a vacuum seal, as they are otherwise not airtight.

Ceramic containers come in various colors and designs and look gorgeous on the counter but are usually better suited for flour, sugar, or other dried goods. When it comes to coffee storage, an airtight seal is essential.

Proper Coffee Storage Conditions

If you want to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee every time, you need to make sure that you store your fresh coffee beans properly. Here are some tips on how to store your coffee beans to keep them fresh and flavorful:

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Temperature

Coffee beans should be stored in a cool, dry place. The ideal temperature range for coffee storage is between 50°F and 70°F (10°C and 21°C), or room temperature in most cases. Temperature fluctuations can cause the beans to lose flavor and aroma, so don’t store them too close to your oven.

Humidity

Humidity is another essential factor to consider when storing coffee beans. Moisture can cause the beans to become moldy or stale. The ideal humidity level for coffee storage is between 60% and 70%. You can use airtight containers to keep the moisture out. Avoid storing your coffee beans in a humid place like the bathroom or near the dishwasher.

Light

Light can also affect the quality of your coffee beans. Exposure to light can cause the beans to lose their flavor and aroma. It’s best to store coffee beans in a dark place, away from direct sunlight. You can use opaque containers to block out light.

Airscape vacuum coffee canister in matte black
Airscape Stainless Steel Coffee Canister

Storing Coffee Beans vs. Ground Coffee

There are critical differences between whole beans and ground coffee when it comes to speed of expiration and oxidation. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Whole Beans

Whole beans are more resilient than ground coffee, as they have less surface area exposed to air. This means slower oxidation. In other words, they can stay fresh for extended periods but must be stored properly. Here are some tips for whole coffee bean storage:

  • Store in an airtight container: Oxygen is one of the biggest enemies of freshly roasted coffee, so keeping it away from your beans is essential. Use an airtight container for storing coffee, or at least use an airtight lid.
  • Keep in a cool, dry place: Heat and moisture can also affect the flavor of your coffee, so make sure to store your beans in a cool, dry place. A pantry or cupboard is a good option.
  • Don’t store in the fridge or freezer: Contrary to popular belief, storing coffee in the refrigerator or freezer is not recommended. The moisture and odors in these environments can seep into the beans and affect their flavor.
fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Ground Coffee

Ground coffee has more surface area exposed to air, meaning it will go stale more quickly than whole beans. In fact, ground coffee goes stale within a few minutes of grinding (gasp). Here are some tips for storing ground coffee beans:

  • Use it quickly: ground coffee is at its freshest within a few days of being roasted, so try to use it as soon as possible. If you must buy pre-ground coffee, check the expiration and roast date on the packaging.
  • Store in an airtight container: just like with whole beans, keeping ground coffee in an airtight container is essential to prevent oxygen from affecting the flavor.
  • Don’t store in the fridge or freezer: as with whole beans, storing ground coffee in the refrigerator or freezer is not recommended. The moisture and odors in these environments can affect the flavor of the coffee.
light roast coffee beans in paper bag

Common Coffee Storage Mistakes to Avoid

There are some common mistakes that many people make when storing coffee. Avoiding these mistakes can improve coffee freshness and ensure you get the most flavor from each cup. Here are some of the most common coffee storage mistakes to avoid:

Leaving Coffee in the Bag

One of the biggest mistakes people make is leaving their coffee in the bag it came in. While some specialty coffee bags are resealable, many are not. These bags are often not airtight, so once opened, air can get in and cause the coffee to go stale quickly. 

Instead, transfer your coffee beans to an airtight container as soon as possible. This will help make your coffee last longer.

Storing Coffee in the Fridge or Freezer

While storing your coffee in the fridge or freezer may seem like a good idea, this can do more harm than good. The refrigerator is a moist, light environment. Coffee beans are hygroscopic, meaning they absorb moisture, odors, and tastes from their environment. In this case, your fridge.

While the freezer is slightly better, the change in temperature when removing the beans from the freezer can cause the coffee to develop condensation, ruining the taste of your coffee. Instead, store your coffee in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

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Grinding Coffee Too Far in Advance

While pre-ground coffee may be convenient, it goes stale almost immediately after grinding. Instead, try to grind your coffee beans right before you brew your coffee. This will help ensure you get the most taste out of each cup.

Storing coffee correctly is essential for maintaining its freshness and flavor. Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:

Airscape coffee storage canister in turquoise
Airscape Stainless Steel Coffee Canister

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can I store coffee beans in a canister?

Coffee beans can be stored in a canister for several weeks, but it’s best to use them within 2 to 3 weeks for optimal freshness. While coffee beans are perfectly safe to consume even when “stale,” after two weeks, they will start losing some flavor and aroma.

What’s the best way to store coffee for the long term?

The best way to store coffee for the long term is to keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, away from heat, moisture, and light. Whole beans will stay fresh for up to a month, while ground coffee should be used within a week (or not at all).

Can I store coffee beans in a mason jar?

You can store coffee beans in a mason jar with an airtight lid. However, keeping the jar away from heat and light is best. Resist the urge to place the mason jar on your kitchen counter, where it could be exposed to sunlight.

Is it okay to store ground coffee in the freezer?

It’s not recommended to store ground coffee in the freezer because it can absorb moisture and odors from other foods. This can affect the flavor and aroma of the coffee. If you need to store coffee longer, storing whole beans in the freezer is better, but still not ideal. If you store beans in the freezer, ensure they are in an airtight container.

We recommend curbing your shopping habits and only buying coffee for a couple of weeks at a time. While stocking up at Costco may seem like a cost-effective strategy, you may end up with more coffee than you can consume in a reasonable amount of time.

Should I store coffee in plastic containers?

It’s not recommended to store coffee in plastic containers because plastic, like coffee beans, can absorb odors and flavors from other foods. It’s best to use stainless steel, glass, or ceramic containers with airtight lids to keep the coffee fresh.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters