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roasted coffee beansTip A Day #6 : How To Store Coffee

The proper storing of coffee is something most of us just do wrong. But thanks to a few coffee junkie friends I’ve found out how to keep coffee fresh for a long time and it all starts with the beans!

For purposes of this Tip we’ll break coffee down into three phases of life:

  1. Raw or “green” beans
  2. Roasted Beans
  3. Ground Coffee

The further down you go the more quickly beans will loose freshness. Raw beans will stay fresh almost indefinitely, roasted beans for about 2 weeks if properly stored, and grounds should be consumed right away.

Storing Coffee:

Storing Raw Beans

If you’re into roasting keep the beans in their raw state until you’re ready to roast them, grind them and drink them!

Keeping them in a cool dark location in the bag or in an air tight container is idea.

Storing Roasted Beans

If you buy pre-roasted beans, as most of us do, then keep them in an air-tight container. I prefer glass or ceramic which seals completely. Don’t grind the beans until you’re ready to make coffee.

You can find a good coffee grinder in your local store or online for $15 – $20.

Beans will stay fresh in this state for about two weeks if properly stored.

Ground Coffee

While ground coffee is the most convenient it’s not going to be as fresh as grinding your own. I never buy ground coffee for this reason. If you choose to buy ground coffee then keep it sealed and don’t keep it around too long. Freshness starts to decline in a matter of hours to a couple days depending on how it’s stored.

How NOT to store coffee:

The single most common mistake is keeping coffee in the refrigerator or freezer. The problem is that coffee will absorb moisture and the flavors in that moisture, so whatever flavors are floating around in your refrigerator can easily end up in your coffee. So unless you want fish & broccoli flavored coffee, keep it out of the fridge!

The freezer isn’t much better but if you absolutely must by coffee in large quantity and need to store it for a prolonged period of time then you can break up the coffee into individual air tight containers and then freeze it, so you can take out only what you need each time. Once it thaws out don’t refreeze it, only freeze and thaw it out once to keep the beans form absorbing too much moisture from the freezer.

I love the smell of coffee in the morning and I hope this will help you keep your coffee fresh and tasty!

Learn something new every day!

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About The Author

Avatar of Scott Ellis
Web Guy / Ocassional Host
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Let's hang on Google+ Scott Ellis: Founder of vsellis.com, and Publisher at Lifestyle Frisco, web producer for geekbeat.tv, all around techie. You can find Scott anywhere online by looking for "vsellis" or become friends on twitter @vsellis.

14 Responses

  1. signal7

    oh, I can not stress enough how important it is to buy *green* coffee beans and roast yourself. I’ve been doing this literally for nearly 10 years and the results are not to be dismissed.

    I’ve even got some great columbian decaf that’s now been in storage (there’s good storage and bad storage, like everything else) for a few years and it still tastes fantastic.

    The best pre-roasted coffee you can find is usually disappointing by comparison. I especially like Ethiopia Mandheling and Guatamala Finca.

    • Scott Ellis

      Signal7, while I agree with you (I love roasting my own) I’m pretty sure most aren’t going to go that far, though I wish they would. Glad to know I’m not alone in that though. To me self-roasted tastes so completely different it almost feels like a different drink.

  2. Al

    BTW: try out Pearl Cup coffee in Dallas. They carry some of the same coffee I do from Topeca Coffee. Topeca is located in Tulsa and they are the only seed to cup company that I am aware of. Topeca is part of a family that owns 4 farms in El Salvador so they get to control everything from the seed to your cup. Also what makes us different is that we only serve light to medium roast coffee. We want you to taste the coffee rather than the roast.

    Al

  3. Al

    “If you buy pre-roasted beans, as most of us do, then keep them in an air-tight container. I prefer glass or ceramic which seals completely. Don’t grind the beans until you’re ready to make coffee.”

    Scott, I think you mean whole bean coffee. ————– By the way, never buy ground coffee. Think of coffee like soda pop. Once you grind fresh coffee CO2 is released, going into the air, and so does the aromatics, your flavor and freshness. Pre ground is never fresh, but stale.

    • Scott Ellis

      Al – thanks for the correction. Whole bean indeed… I mentioned that I never buy ground coffee in the video, hopefully everyone picked up on that too! I had a feeling the coffee “TipADay” would bring out some true java junkies! Thanks again…

  4. Al

    Many reputable roasters and coffee shops will sell their coffee in bags with a one way valve which is better than an air tight container. Freshly roasted coffee will de-gass and push oxygen out. In fact you will notice the bag deflate and look like it was vacuum sealed. Remember every time you open the bag you introduce oxygen into the bag and so the freshness clock is ticking already. What is the best solution to keep coffee fresh? Buy coffee within a week of roast (so your bag must have a roast date) and buy small amounts (only what you need to consume within 2 weeks).

    I own and run a small coffee shop in Oklahoma and sell only freshly roasted coffee within 7 days.

    • Scott Ellis

      AL – Thanks for chiming in. Always good to hear from the true pros! I thought about the bags with the one way valves but we strive to keep the tips relatively short so I didn’t get quite that far into it but spot on. I should have probably mentioned that in the written part at least.

      I actually roast my own sometimes but now sure how many of our viewers will go that far!

      What is the name of your shop BTW and where is it in Oklahoma?

      • Al

        My shop is called Espresso911. Saving the world from bad coffee, 1 cup at a time. :). My Facebook page gets into a lot of articles and videos about the new coffee world of coffee geeks like myself. Some call it Third Wave coffee. Thanks for asking.

        Al

  5. Jimi

    ^^^ What RT McDonald said. Great tip of the day though!!!

  6. RT McDonald

    Scott, Here’s a tip that I’ve found made a huge difference in the taste of the coffee I make. Use a burr grinder, not a blade grinder like you show in the video. The difference, as explained to me by coffee experts, is that the blade grinder pulverizes the coffee beans while a burr grinder shaves the beans thereby retaining the oils in the beans. I was skeptical but I finally bought a burr grinder (Bunn) and the difference was dramatic using the same coffeemaker. The downside is you probably won’t find a burr grinder for $15-$20. The difference in price is worth it if you really like your coffee. RT

    • Scott Ellis

      RT, Part of what I love about doing these TipADay’s is that I get to learn some new stuff from the viewers too! I’ve gone so far as to build my own roaster but don’t have a burr grinder. Looks like I get to go find a new toy! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jordan Henderson

    Why is it not OK to store coffee in the fridge in an air tight container?

    • Avatar of Scott Ellis
      Scott Ellis

      Jordan,

      The main reason is the flavors that coffee can absorb. The flavors and aromas are even stronger in a refrigerator than a freezer and coffee is porous. When you take beans out of the cool environment into a warmer one condensation can form on the beans and that can cary flavors into the coffee.

      Air Tight container would help prolong life (a little) but at the expense of the over all quality of the coffee. A lot of containers are really more “air-resistent” than air tight. Hope that helps!