If you’re looking to maximize the flavor of your coffee, the best way is to use it within 10 days of roasting, making sure to grind it just prior to brewing. But then you’ll need to find a way to store unused coffee beans (or ground coffee) while you’re using them up, and that’s where I come in. Many people wonder what the best way to store coffee beans is, and the surprising answer is not the freezer.
Like many foods, the best way to store coffee is to keep it away from heat, light, and moisture. But before getting into those specifics, let’s go through some of the things you can do to maximize the taste and aroma of your coffee at home. As we said before, your best bet for a great cuppa is to buy fresh coffee beans and grind them just before brewing. Therefore, we recommend buying beans instead of pre-ground coffee. But if you do buy pre ground coffee, the same rules for coffee bean storage apply to both.
Find the Right Coffee Canister
Use an airtight canister or bag to store either ground or whole coffee. Freshly roasted coffee beans will begin to lose their full flavor after about 2 weeks, which regular coffee drinkers have probably already noticed. In that time, make sure is that you’re storing the beans in a reliably airtight container that is opaque enough to prevent light from getting to the beans. There are a number of ways to do this.
The easiest container to use is the bag the beans came in. But before you do this, make sure that bag doesn’t let light flow through and that it can be tightly resealed. If you feel the bag doesn’t allow you to reseal it properly, use a binder clip to help finish sealing it, and then place the whole thing in a second large bag that you can seal airtight. Note that if your beans have recently been roasted, they’ll emit CO2 for a few days after roasting, so storing them in a bag with a one-way valve would allow the gas to be emitted & prevent the bag from bursting.
Another method of storing is to use a mason jar or similar container with a screw on lid. These will give you the air-tight seal you need, but you want to make sure that the jar allows little light exposure. You can also purchase special coffee containers from a home store, which are often sealed tightly with plastic and are made of stainless steel to prevent light exposure. This is the best container for storing coffee beans, though I’d grind smaller amounts at a time if you’re keeping them in those containers.
If you’re looking at coffee bean storage containers, stay away from ones with a vacuum for removing air, as that will actually cause the beans to dry out and become stale. There are some excellent coffee bean containers available, so no need to suffer with stale coffee. The same goes for green coffee beans, if you’re looking to roast your own. Check our page on Coffee Storage Containers for our recommendations.
Where to Store Coffee Beans
Where you store your coffee beans depends a lot on how often you have coffee. As mentioned, you want to prevent moisture from entering the container, resulting in stale beans. Therefore keeping the beans at a stable temperature is very important, as well as away from other potential sources of moisture, like a leaky pipe or faucet.
If you drink coffee every day, the best place to put coffee beans is in the pantry in an airtight container. The pantry will be at room temperature and will be out of the light; removing heat, light, and moisture are all accomplished. Some people believe that coffee should be put in the fridge or freezer for maximum quality. If you use your coffee daily, you should not refrigerate or freeze your coffee (except brewed coffee).
The reason is that the bag or container will retain moisture as it is going from freezing temperatures to room temperature. The moisture will get to the beans which, changing their structure and causing them to lose their aroma and flavor. Coffee beans begin to lose their flavor after about 2 weeks, therefore, you should also do your best to buy smaller amounts of coffee, just enough for a couple weeks at a time.
What About Freezing Coffee Beans?
The large bag at Costco might seem like a good deal, but if you’re not going to use it within 2 weeks, you’re generally better off buying smaller bags for consistently fresh coffee. But if you rarely use up your beans and need to store them for longer than a month, putting coffee beans in the freezer is ok— as long as you follow a few simple rules.
First, make sure you are storing in an airtight container. It shouldn’t even have a one-way valve. You’ll also want to prevent going back and forth from the freezer; one way to do this is by storing it in smaller containers. Then you can simply remove the smaller containers one at a time as you need them, as you never want to refreeze coffee beans. When removing coffee from the freezer, thaw it out and then use it all within 2 weeks for maximum aroma and flavor.
If you do keep frozen coffee beans, also be sure to use them within a year, as coffee can get freezer burn, too. In short, the ideal place to store your coffee beans is in a pantry with airtight containers that don’t allow light to get through. This will keep your coffee beans at maximum freshness and give you that wonderful flavor and aroma. But if needed, the freezer can be used as long as you use proper containers & limit temperature fluctuations.