The Best Ways to Store Your Coffee Beans

Beans (Pixabay)

There’s no denying it, coffee is best when it’s fresh. And to enjoy coffee at its freshest you should wait to grind the beans only when you’re ready to brew.

Of course, most people don’t have the luxury of buying beans daily and therefore they purchase beans by the bag. So this begs the question: What’s the best way to store coffee beans to ensure a fresh brew?

Only Get the Beans You Need

This first tip may appear obvious; however, it is often overlooked. To guarantee a fresh brew, don’t overbuy beans. If properly stored, beans remain at the height of their potency until 2-4 weeks after you bring them home. The variance depends on how old the beans are when purchased, and the type of bean. So depending on how much coffee you drink in a given week, it’s best to limit your bean allowance to consumable portions within a given month.

As far as storing your beans properly, it comes down not only to what you store them in, but also where you store them. When determining the what and where, it’s invaluable to know the four natural conditions that can compromise the freshness of your bean.

In no particular order, here are the four elements you should NEVER expose your beans to until you’re ready to brew:

  • Moisture
  • Air
  • Heat
  • Light

Easy, right? Because there’s only moisture, air, heat, and light in literally everything. Fortunately, storing your beans is easier than you might think.

What to Store Them In

pippigar, flickr

pippigar, flickr

 

The Coffee Bag

Most of the time, your coffee will come in a bag. This, believe it or not, is often an excellent basin for storage. They all vary, but the general coffee bag is nontransparent, which aids in keeping light and heat seepage to a minimum. Some bags will have a small window for retail viewing purposes. This unnecessary addition can be countered by facing it against a wall, or otherwise covering it during storage. Coffee bags, when closed properly, also keep moisture and air to a minimum.

A Container with a Lid

This is another method that as simple as it is effective. Any container with a lid, whether it’s ceramic, stainless steel, metal, glass or plastic, will do a fine job of keeping your beans fresh. Opaque receptacles like ones made of ceramic or metal (especially ones with airtight lids) can be stored out in the open, while see-through containers made of glass or some plastics are best when stored in a cooler, dark place. A tight lid is great for keeping air out, but there is such thing as too tight.

What Not to Store Them In

Vacuum Sealed Containers

Vacuum sealed containers sound impressive (and considering what some of them cost, they better be), but a lot of times they wind up doing more harm than good. Vacuum sealing allows for little air to get out, which actually expedites the beans going stale. A vacuum will trap air in with the beans which enables the natural oils and aroma of the coffee to dissolve. This affects both freshness and taste.

Where to Store Them

Amber Karnes, Flickr

Amber Karnes, Flickr

 

Countertop

Keeping your beans cool isn’t bad, but also isn’t necessary. Too much cold will create moisture, and not enough will dry a bean out. Therefore, room temperature is always a good option, and your countertop is a good place for that (depending on where you live, of course). So long as you have an opaque container, light won’t get in, but it’s still a good idea to keep it in a corner or somewhere in the shade for that extra bit of protection.

Pantry, Cupboard, or Other Dark Space

Transparent containers work wonders, so long as you keep them away from light. Also if you live in a warmer climate it’d be a wise decision to store your beans in a darker, cooler place to keep them away from some of the nastier natural elements.

Where Not to Store Them  

Fridge (Pixabay)

Refrigerator

The fridge is the absolute worst place to put your beans! If you store them there, they will be flooded with moisture. And in the fridge your beans will act like that box of baking soda you’re supposed to put in there and replace every three months. So unless you want your coffee smelling and tasting like yesterday’s macaroni salad or that spoiled yogurt that’s been there since Lost was on TV, you’ll want to store your beans elsewhere.

Should You Freeze Beans?

This is the most argued point among coffee connoisseurs.

And the definitive answer to this question is: Yes and no.

Once again, only buy the amount of beans you think you’ll consume in a month. However, if you find yourself with an excess of beans, you may freeze them after a month to preserve the flavor, but don’t expect the coffee to taste as fresh as it was once capable of. Also, separate the beans and store them in small amounts. They’ll come out tasting better and you’ll be happy you did.