So you have a lovely bag of freshly roasted coffee beans. You've nailed the grind, timing, and ratio, and the result is an insanely delicious cup. You want to ensure that you can continue to enjoy the fresh-roasted coffee experience for as long as possible.
But how do you keep the bliss going? How can you keep these priceless treasures from becoming stale, oxidised, and, dare we say, rancid?
Don't worry, my friend. I'm here to recommend the best way to store coffee beans and preserve these tasty morsels for maximum fresh-coffee enjoyment.
Coffee beans, like ripe fruit or freshly baked bread, are a natural food product. Coffee beans, like all natural food products have a shelf life.
So let's start by examining what you're up against, and then we'll provide you with a set of strategies for keeping your beans fresh.
The most dangerous element is oxygen, which is present everywhere you store your beans. When you break the vacuum seal, oxygen begins to enter and wreak havoc on the aroma of your beans.
Heat is almost as bad because it accelerates the chemical reactions that destroy coffee. Chemical reactions, such as oxidation, occur twice as quickly for every 10 degree C increase in temperature. So storing your beans in a hot area of your kitchen will significantly reduce their lifespan.
Light also degrades coffee's delicate flavour and aroma compounds. So that lovely glass jar with a polished copper top on a high shelf in the kitchen isn't the best long-term storage option.
The final risk: moisture introduces not only the possibility of mould and mildew (trust me, you don't want to think about mildewed coffee beans), but it also introduces "off" aromas and can transport smells from other parts of the kitchen.
So, with all of these existential threats to your prized coffee, how can you ensure that your beans stay fresh? The solution is to properly store them to protect them from these hazards. Here are three options for whole beans, plus one extra for unusual circumstances.
BARGAIN: THE COFFEE POUCH
Yes the simplest (and cheapest) option is the coffee pouch that you purchased! This storage system makes it simple to pack freshly roasted coffee while retaining as much carbon dioxide as possible to prevent oxidation. Furthermore, rather than inflating the bag, the one-way valve allows carbon dioxide to escape as the coffee naturally degasses. (and ours look awesome too!)
When it's time to store it until the next brew, roll it tightly to remove as much air from inside as possible, then wrap an elastic band around it to keep it closed and reduce the amount of air that enters. Then store the bag somewhere cool and dry, not in the refrigerator, where moisture will condense around the grounds when you open it, allowing off aromas to permeate it.
Nobody wants a Colombian Caturra that smells like wilted lettuce. No, it's not as effective as a vacuum-sealed ceramic coffee canister, but it will keep the worst of the deterioration at bay for a few weeks.
BEST: A COFFEE CONTAINER
There are specialty coffee storage canisters on the market, and some of them are very good. They're all better than grinding a week's worth of coffee and storing it in plastic bags, but the best ones are truly outstanding, and can keep a month's worth of coffee as close to freshly roasted as possible (assuming you take all other precautions, such as avoiding heat and moisture).
If you want to keep your coffee beans as fresh as possible, the stainless steel coffee canister from Coffee Gator is your best bet. It is designed to aid in the release of carbon dioxide and to reduce oxidation, ensuring that your beans stay the freshest for the longest - click here to buy one.
CAN YOU FREEZE COFFEE BEANS?
The freezer is another option for storing your beans, but one word of caution: don't open your bean container in the freezer. Remember the moisture concerns? If you open cold coffee beans while they are still frozen, they will attract condensation. If you put them back in the freezer after they've been opened, the condensation can cause that awful freezer-burn smell.
However, with proper use, the freezer can be a good solution. Make sure to keep them in individual airtight containers (or vacuum-sealed freezer bags) that can hold about a month's worth of coffee. Put a date on the container so you know when they went in, and freeze them until you need more coffee.
Finally, when you remove them from the freezer, allow them to come to room temperature before opening the bag. This will prevent condensation from forming on the beans, as well as the associated odours and the risk of mould and mildew.
STORING GROUND COFFEE
This is the last option for storing coffee, but it is sometimes the only option. Are you going somewhere that doesn't have good coffee? Because your coffee grinder does not grind fine enough for your espresso machine, do you have your beans ground at a coffee shop? It can happen to anyone.
Ground coffee should be protected from air, light, heat, and moisture even more than whole beans. The best solution is to buy only about a week's worth of ground coffee and store it in a coffee storage container. If you're going on a trip, grind only as much coffee as you'll need, place the grounds in a Ziploc bag, and squeeze out all the air before sealing. Then store it in your luggage, away from heat, light, and moisture. This is sufficient for a long weekend, but if you're travelling for an extended period of time, buy fresh coffee on the road.
Finally, the best way to store coffee beans is in an airtight container designed specifically for coffee. It offers the greatest resistance to oxygen, heat, light, and moisture.