Fresh coffee is the best coffee. However—like with all agricultural products—coffee freshness is fleeting.
Your delicious whole bean coffee only has two to three weeks of peak freshness after being roasted before the flavors start to decline. The acids break down and become bitter, the sugars disappear, and the aromatic oils evaporate away from the beans. Before you know it, those fascinating and energizing flavors will be gone.
Store your coffee beans carelessly and they may go stale extra quickly. But implement proper coffee storage techniques and you’ll be able to preserve those fresh qualities for as long as possible. Let’s take a look at how you can maximize the freshness and flavors of your beans.
Cut Off The Oxygen Supply From Your Coffee
You may enjoy oxygen, but your beans don’t. When oxygen interacts with roasted coffee, a chemical process called oxidation occurs. Essentially, the oxygen molecules begin to break down the various coffee molecules, including acids, aromas, sugars, and other flavorful things.
Oxidation is what makes apples brown, metal rust, and cake get hard. It’s a part of our daily lives, but it’s not our friend when it comes to preserving freshness.
Here are some common airtight containers that minimize bean-to-oxygen contact:
- Mason Jars
- Original Bags + Tight Clips/Zip Locks (our bags have zip locks for this purpose)
- Dedicated Food Containers
While you can’t shield your beans from oxygen entirely, you can slow down the inevitable with the right coffee storage container.
Keep Your Coffee Storage Container In The Shade
Did you know that light can accelerate the decay of your coffee beans? This process, called photodegradation, breaks down pigments, fats, proteins, and vitamins. Basically, it makes the coffee less tasty and enjoyable.
And here’s the kicker: photodegradation occurs with all types of light.
While sunlight is the cause of the most severe photodegradation, even LEDs and lamps can initiate this decay. All sources of light emit light ranges that we cannot see with our naked eye, like radio waves and x-rays, though they still impact our coffee and all the other food you have laying around.
Make sure your coffee storage container is opaque to keep light from destroying your beans. This means you need to paint over any clear containers like tupperware or mason jars, or wrap them in a material such as kraft paper. You could also store your clear containers in a cupboard, to minimize exposure to light.
Store Your Coffee In A Cool Location
If you remember anything from 7th-grade science (because you were a good student, right?), you’ll know that chemical reactions take place faster in warm environments than cool ones. For example, we stick leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer to slow down chemical changes and bacterial growth.
Coffee molecules break down faster when the beans are hot than when they are cool. If your bean container is next to the stove or in direct sunlight, you may lose a day or two of peak freshness from the extra heat.
Find a cool location in your kitchen—maybe in a cabinet or the pantry—and store your coffee beans there to reduce heat exposure.
Should I Store My Coffee In The Freezer?
Ah, after years of back and forth, this hotly debated topic now has a scientific answer. And that answer is… maybe, but probably not.
You see, coffee beans are considered a ‘dry good’, which means that they are prone to absorbing moisture and aromas very quickly. The old method of sticking a big red can of coffee grounds in the freezer and scooping grounds out every morning was a terrible one. Those grounds surely soaked up all the aromas of the nearby leftovers and tasted awful.
Freezing coffee has been shown to slow down chemical decay. However, you have to ask yourself, “Is it really worth it?”
We don’t really suggest this route. Instead, we recommend buying freshly roasted coffee directly from the roaster to ensure that you get the beans while they’re at peak freshness.
It’s easier, it’s tastier, and since us specialty coffee roasters sell beans in smaller 12oz bags, you don’t have to worry about them going stale before you’re able to finish them.
Want to experience coffee at its best? Check out our roast-to-order coffees from around the world. Once you taste the fresh, vibrant flavors, you’ll never go back to generic stale beans from the supermarket.