After spending so much to get the best coffee beans, would it not be a shame to allow it to go to waste – even not deliberately. Coffee is a drink found in most homes worldwide; some people keep coffee beans in their homes for personal use, while others reserve theirs for guests.
Like every other beverage and food item in the home, coffee will lose its freshness, taste, and flavor if not properly preserved.
Considering how easily coffee loses its taste, you might be wondering what else you can do to preserve your expensive coffee beans.
This article will cover different ways to store your coffee beans to keep them as fresh as when you first purchased them, we will also talk about what not to do.
What you should know about Coffee Beans
Coffee is known as one of the most popular beverages globally, and the coffee beans you see as the finished products are seeds gotten from the coffee plants. The green seeds of the coffee plants are roasted to produce the different types of coffee.
If you are a lover of coffee, you will know that the best tasting coffee is one that is freshly roasted, grounded, and brewed. Each distinct feature of any coffee is a result of the roasting process. To continuously enjoy the best out of your coffee cup, it is advised you take only fresh coffee.
Generally, coffee is a perishable item and one that begins to lose its freshness after roasting. You can stop or slow down the rate at which your coffee loses its flavor and aroma by storing it correctly.
Ground coffee generally can last for about a week – two top – after roasting, but the coffee beans, if stored properly, can retain their taste and aroma for up to a month after roasting.
The reason for the difference in shelf life between ground and coffee beans is attributed to the fact that the surface area of the ground coffee is greater than the beans. This simply means the ground coffee is susceptible to exposure from air, light, moisture, and heat, which are the four major causes of stale coffee.
To ensure you always have a fresh cup of coffee, buy unroasted green coffee beans as against purchasing roasted coffee beans or ground beans. When you buy the green coffee beans, you can roast them yourself in batches. Unroasted coffee beans can retain their freshness for about a year.
Roasting the coffee beans yourself might require a bit more time from you than if you are making your coffee from an already roasted supply, but it is not something unachievable. Below are tips on how to store your coffee beans.
Know the basics
Before deciding on the best storage method suitable for you, it’s essential you know the basics. One of the things you need to know is how long your coffee can retain its freshness. When it comes to determining coffee shelf life, four major factors reduce the shelf life—light, heat, air, moisture.
Heat and moisture significantly accelerate the process of coffee beans losing their aroma and essential oils; light also has the same effect but to a lesser degree. Air (oxygen) causes oxidization, resulting in your coffee beans losing its aroma, flavor, and essential oils; when coffee beans lose all of these, it goes stale. To preserve your beans, you need to guard against these four things stated above.
Another way to ensure you always have the best coffee brew is to understand the beans’ life cycle. The coffee beans are usually high in carbon dioxide immediately after roasting; they will continue to release the gas for a couple more days after roasting – slowly.
If you decide to make a brew while your coffee beans are still emitting carbon dioxide, your cup will contain an unpleasant brew that is sour tasting. In the same regard, if you put off brewing your coffee a long time after roasting, you will gate a stale drink with no aroma or taste. You might even find yourself with a rancid coffee.
You might start to wonder when the best time is to brew a coffee? For newly roasted coffee beans, the best time to make a brew is between a week or two after roasting. Do bear in mind that there might be slight variations from either the roasters or the bean’s variety.
Avoid freezing your coffee beans
When it comes to freezing your coffee beans, there are different schools of thought. Some people believe freezing it will help to preserve its flavor; others say it won’t. Should you freeze your coffee beans? The answer is no, and here is why.
Think of your coffee beans as bread or fish. You can freeze either of these food items, but when you do, it loses its freshness – the same rule applies to your coffee beans. Coffee beans that are thawed can never taste as good as a fresh one.
Moreso, bear in mind that when you store your coffee beans in the freezer, during the process of opening to take out some beans, you expose your coffee beans to moisture and condensation, which are not favorable for your coffee.
You should not freeze your coffee because coffee can absorb the flavors and smell around it. If you are the type that keeps different food items like fish, meat, fruits, veggies, etc. inside the same freezer you store your coffee beans, you will notice that your brew no longer has its unique aroma and flavor; it is as a result of the coffee absorbing other tastes and odors.
So, unless you want to brew a coffee with a confused aroma and flavor, the freezer is not your friend when it comes to preserving your coffee beans.
The Fridge is not a better option
I stated above that you should not put your coffee beans in the freezer as that is a fast way to get them spoilt. The same also applies to putting your coffee beans in the Fridge. You might understand that you need to avoid heat if you want to preserve your coffee beans, so it might seem logical to put the beans in the Fridge.
The reality is that your Fridge doesn’t make much difference in terms of preservation; instead, you expose your beans to moisture and condensation, which will cause your coffee beans to go bad faster than you can think.
Moreso, your fridge will most likely keep items like onions, cheese, butter, garlic, etc. these items might not affect things like potatoes but will affect the taste and aroma of your coffee beans.
Carefully store your beans
You might be wondering that if you can’t store your coffee beans in the freezer or refrigerator, where is the right place? Choosing the right place to store your beans is an essential part of preserving their flavor and aroma. When deciding on the best place, keep in mind the four factors that will affect your beans’ freshness.
Storing your beans close to a microwave is not a good option as the heat from your microwave might ruin your beans. The same applies to all locations affected or exposed to radiation.
A location close to the window is also not a good place as heat and light from the sun will quickly destroy your beans’ freshness.
The best location is a cool, shaded place that will not be affected by temperature fluctuations. A dark cupboard where the light from the sun or the cooker’s heat cannot penetrate is the ideal location. If you don’t have such a place and need to keep your beans on view in the kitchen, choosing the right container should be your next thought.
Choosing your coffee container
When it comes to preserving your coffee beans, there are two essential things to consider; where the beans are stored and what they are stored in – these two considerations determine how long your coffee beans remain in good condition.
You need to consider certain features when deciding on the appropriate container for storing your coffee beans.
The first feature is that the container should be made of a non-reactive material. I stated above that coffee absorbs the aroma and flavor of things around. Purchasing a non-reactive material is a way to ensure that any unwanted flavors do not impart your beans. Ceramics and glass are good container choices.
The second feature is getting an opaque container; this helps protect your coffee beans from the sunlight. A transparent glass of coffee beans on top of a beautiful counter or an open shelf is a lovely sight to behold but not a friendly option for your beans storage.
Your beans tend to lose flavor quicker when stored in containers that are not opaque. You have to choose between beautifying (Non-opaque containers) and freshness (opaque containers). If you prefer the non-opaque container, you can mitigate the sun’s effect by keeping your beans in a shady spot.
The third feature is that the container should be airtight. As we have established earlier, the air is not friends with your coffee beans; to preserve your beans, you need to purchase containers with an airtight lid to keep your beans from losing their flavor.
You can decide to go a step further in purchasing an airtight container by investing in a vacuum canister for storing coffee in the office. A vacuum canister prevents air from getting into the beans and removes air from the inside.
Purchase green or raw coffee beans
Another way to preserve your coffee beans for a long time is to purchase green beans; this means roasting your coffee beans yourself. A good thing about this option is that you have complete control over your beans’ flavor and aroma.
Another perk of this option is that unroasted beans can retain their flavor for up to a year; you do not have to worry about air, moisture, etc., with green beans. When roasting, only roast what you will consume in a short time.
Depth of roast
Another coffee storage option that you might not know is the coffee’s roast level. The dept of roast of a coffee plays a significant role in the longevity of that coffee. Darker roast coffee, irrespective of how well it is stored, tends to go stale faster than lighter roast coffees.
Coffees roasted up to the French roast, or Italian roast tend to be more porous than their lighter counterparts.
If you have a knack for dark roast coffee, you might be worried about how best to preserve your coffee beans, considering your roast preference is more likely to go stale faster than others.
There are 3 things you can do to extend your coffee’s shelf life.
Purchase your dark roast coffee in smaller quantities – if you must buy already roasted coffee beans. Time your purchase close to the roasting date to ensure you always purchase the bean at its freshest.
Consider changing your roast preference from dark to medium-dark to extend the freshness window of your coffee beans.
Learn how to roast your coffee yourself at home; this way, you are guaranteed a fresh brew in the taste, flavor, and quantity of your choice.
In conclusion, figuring out the best alternative for storing your coffee beans to ensure it retains its taste and aroma is an option; however, the best choice for preserving your beans is to buy in the correct quantity.