Storing Coffee at Home
It’s a common question asked when buying coffee beans for home, “how can I keep this fresh?” There are a few misconceptions still floating about, so keep reading to find out our recommendations to keep your coffee tasting its best.
Pantry, fridge or freezer
Coffee beans are best kept somewhere dark and cool, kind of like a potato. On a shelf in the pantry, away from spices and other strong smells, is the ideal spot. The refrigerator is off limits. Beans kept in the fridge will end up soaking up all the other smells floating around in there and the moisture content will get disturbed.
The freezer is a tricky one. It can be a good option if you need to keep coffee beans for a long time, but only if they are separated into airtight, portioned packages and allowed to reach room temperature before opening. Opening and closing a bag in the freezer to scoop out some beans every day is a sure way to end up with stale coffee. If you can buy smaller portions and brew it fresh, that’s the better option.
Bag or tin
Oxidation is the main cause of stale coffee, so the goal is to keep oxygen from freely flowing around your coffee beans. A small, airtight tin is good, an Airscape canister even better. The TBT coffee bag with ziplock and gas valves also does the job if it’s kept well sealed. As coffee ages it releases C02, causing the bag to become puffy. The gas valves allow oxygen and C02 to escape without letting in fresh air. Light is another factor that affects the aging process. If keeping beans in glass, make sure its amber coloured or darkly tinted.
The fresher the better?
Yes and no. Espresso roasted coffee will taste its best and be the easiest to use between 7 days and one month from roast date. For the first 48 hours after it’s roasted, coffee needs to degas. This is generally done in the roastery, after which it is bagged up and sent out to stores. Trying to brew coffee during the first few days when it is too fresh often results in a sharp and sour flavour. It blondes too quickly and extracts a thin and watery brew.
Through testing in our cafes, we’ve found that Juggernaut blend hits its sweet spot at around 14 days post-roast. Poundcake takes a little longer at around 17 days. While filter-roasted coffees tend to be their most flavoursome at 10 days. After about four weeks the intensity of flavour starts to decline. It’s important at this stage to brew with water that’s not too hot, as the cellulose structure of the beans begins to break down and is prone to over-extraction.
When buying coffee beans, always look for the ‘roast date’ rather than a ‘best before’ date. No roast date usually means the roasted coffee has been sitting in storage for a few months before it gets to the customer.
Ground or whole beans
Grinding coffee beans right before brewing is one of the best ways to extend its freshness. It takes a little extra time, but hand-grinding just the right amount of beans each day will make a big difference to the coffee’s shelf life. When pre-grinding the whole bag, the aging process is accelerated as more surface area is exposed to oxygen.
In summary, keep those beans whole, cool, airtight and try to drink between 7 and 30 days post-roast.