How to store coffee beans

How to store your coffee beans

Whether you have gone to the trouble of obtaining great quality, freshly roasted coffee beans from us at Quest Coffee Roasters, or the ease of one of our ever so popular coffee subscriptions, then you will want to know the best way of storing your beans. Our amazing baristas are asked this question often. Let’s face it; there is a lot of conflicting information out there, so we are going to simplify it for you.

Certain conditions, like air, moisture, heat and light (in that order) will affect the freshness and flavour of your beans, so proper storage is vital to great tasting coffee.

Best way to store coffee beans

Pic credit: Pact Coffee in the UK

The best way to store your beans and the optimal storage time:

The full flavour of coffee is at its best a few days after roasting and starts to fade after a few weeks. Most of the beans found on a supermarket shelf, particularly the pre-ground variety, are quite flat and far from awesome.

This is our recommendation for storing your beans and maximising that fresh, complex flavour:

1. Keep your beans in an airtight and dark container. There are many storage devices out there, but the one we love is the Friis Storage Canister. It is simple, stainless steel, has a vault which exhausts trapped CO2 gas and does not allow air in.

2. If you can’t store in a container, then keeping your beans in a good quality re-sealable bag will help keep them fresh. Remember that not all bags are created equal though. We would only recommend the packaging used at Quest, as each bag has a valve that will allow the gas to escape and block air from entering.

3. Avoid sunlight or direct light. This will help keep the temperature stable.

4. Avoid heat and steam; especially hot ovens, brewers, steamy kettles, etc. A cool, dark place is best and we recommend the cupboard for storage.

5. We recommend brewing your beans within 4 weeks for whole beans and 2 weeks for pre-ground beans. If you were unable to brew them within that time, then we would recommend putting your beans in the freezer. See below for the fridge -v- freezer debate.

6. It is always better to store your beans as whole beans, as opposed to ground beans. For the best tasting coffee, we recommend grinding your coffee just prior to brewing, whenever possible. See our previous blog, “Why Grind As You Go…” for a more detailed explanation.

Fridge or Freezer – Are either of these options a good idea?

The fridge is a definite ‘no-no’. Don't refrigerate coffee beansThe problem with the fridge is the amount of moisture and the temperature change that occurs when your beans are taken in and out. This causes a condensation build up. In addition to that, the fridge is not cold enough to keep your beans fresh. The beans will deodorise and soak up the humidity (much like baking soda would), especially if they are ground. Imagine the negative impact that would on the final taste.

Coffee storage in freezerIf you need to store your beans for longer than the recommended time, then we suggest the freezer as your next best option. Here are a few tips to prevent your beans from becoming ‘burned’ from the freezer.

* Store the beans in a deep freezer (if you have one), merely because it would be opened less than a fridge freezer.

* Store your beans in their original packaging, inside a zip lock freezer bag or an airtight container. If you use a zip lock freezer bag, you should remove as much air as possible before sealing.

* There wouldn’t be a negative impact on the beans placed in your freezer, as it is dark and opened less regularly than your fridge.

* If you are going to store them in the freezer, ensure that you do this within 2 weeks of purchase. Whole beans can be kept in a freezer for approximately 2 months.

* Ensure that the beans are allowed to come down to room temperature, while still sealed, to avoid condensation. Never return previously thawed beans to the freezer.

The bottom line is that you wouldn’t consider storing beans in the freezer unless you were living in a remote area and ordered your beans in bulk, eg. 2-3kg at a time; or, if you were going away on holidays and needed to keep them fresh while you were away. Otherwise, the kitchen cupboard, using our storage guidelines above, would be a perfectly suitable place to store your beans.

Fresh is always best! Buy what you would drink within 10-14 days so that you always have fresh beans in the house.

Written by Therese Glowaski.