You may have a favourite bean and a preferred method of brewing, but how can you keep those beans or your ground coffee as fresh as possible for as long as possible? Instant coffee (is it really coffee?!) is freeze-dried giving it a much longer shelf life and suits being kept in a jar. But coffee either roasted, as whole beans or ground is a perishable product. You may have also noticed that the taste of your coffee changes slightly over time after you have opened the sealed bag. Chocolate notes can become cherry, or vanilla can become nutty, and this can change from bean to bean and depending on how fresh the coffee is. Let’s explore some of the different ways of storing coffee beans so you can keep different types of real coffee as fresh as possible.
Coffee beans are a natural product
We don’t want to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs, but we need to start here. And like the proverbial egg, coffee has a shelf life. The shelf life for freshly roasted coffee beans, or ground coffee, as soon as you have opened the sealed bag, is about a month. And like other fresh products, your enemies will be heat, light, oxygen and moisture. But, the biggest enemy you will face will be oxygen — as soon as you open your bag, air will creep in and start attacking the aroma of your ground or whole beans.
Next up, heat. Heat speeds up the chemical reactions that will cause your coffee to perish far more quickly. Light also affects how quickly your coffee will perish. Why? Light breaks down the delicate flavour compounds in your ground or whole beans. Lastly, moisture is not your friend — mouldy coffee anyone? Avoid allowing moisture to get at your beans as you could be in for a taste sensation, and it won’t be a pleasant one.
Coffee Storage Solutions
Conveniently for you, you won’t be surprised to learn that we have thought about how you can keep your coffee fresh for as long as possible. Here at Rave, we send out our coffee, beans or ground, in bags that are easy to re-seal. This will prevent carbon dioxide from escaping and that nasty oxygen getting in there. Just keep the bag somewhere cool and dry to stretch out the shelf life of your beans. One question we get asked is should I keep my coffee in the fridge? The answer is clearly ‘no’.
A Coffee Container
A great solution for keeping your coffee fresh in an airtight container. A stainless steel container with a mechanism for sealing the container tight will ensure ultimate freshness. Much like our sealable bags, a container will keep the carbon dioxide in and the oxygen out. Just be conscious that you should always store the jar somewhere cool and dry. If you kept the jar on a shelf over the hob, moisture could still affect your ground or whole beans.
To freeze or not to freeze?
Can you freeze coffee beans? Well yes, but there are some really important things to consider.
- Make sure your beans are well sealed. Remember one of our deadly coffee enemies is moisture? If your container (or bag) is open to the frozen elements of your freezer drawer your coffee will become moist — very moist.
- If you are bulk buying beans and want to keep them fresh, separate into 250g bags. This way you can take them out as and when you need them.
- Remember coffee is a perishable product, so would you eat some veg straight from the freezer? Of course you wouldn’t, so make sure you defrost your beans and bring them up to room temperature first.
Should you store ground coffee in the same way
Of course, we would always recommend grinding beans fresh. But some people don’t have a grinder or don’t want the hassle that comes with grinding. Broadly speaking, the same rules apply to keep ground coffee fresh — beware the four key dangers of heat, light, moisture and oxygen. Our top tip would be to invest in a good airtight container and store somewhere cool, dry and away from sunlight. If you are buying ground coffee in bulk, you might want to consider freezing (in a tight container, of course) and taking what you need as and when you need it.