What is the best way to store coffee beans?
I respect the sibling that really wants to buy some single origin Ethiopian Yirgacheffe as a birthday present.More than you could fathom. I have a lot of customers that say they believe that I’m one of the best specialty coffee roasters in this fair land. That can make a guy blush, but I digress. There are misconceptions regarding how to store coffee beans long term. I’ve heard a myriad of “hacks” that customers proudly share how to store ground coffee to keep it fresh.
I face palmed then cringed at the length of time and how a customer, a/k/a Mr. Sunshine, would store ground coffee. Great guy, but no matter how much I’d offer to give him fresh coffee, Mr. Sunshine laughed me off. Dismissed my red flags as pure tomfoolery! (Had to use that word…) Sunshine regularly stored coffee in the cabinet, or the freezer, the fridge or some strange combination of the three with logic that force, my brain to shut off. Brings Goofus and Gallant to mind.
With all of that being said, I love the sharing of knowledge that makes experiences better. Let’s see what we can do. Big D is gonna give it a shot. (I may get to put on my coffee geek lab coat for a sentence or two, but it’ll be worthwhile. Trust me.)
Let’s keep it honest. The buck begins and stops here.(The Roaster!)
Unroasted coffee, also known as green coffee can be stored for an extended period of time, not forever, just longer. It is a food product, so that means there is a shelf life, it’s just longer than I feel like discussing, for your benefit. But then again, I have the drive to share knowledge to make the “experience” better, so here we go…In an interesting paper presented in 2001, Packaging and Shelf Life of Coffee, the paper discussed the fact that the coffee roasting process causes extreme, complex chemical reactions and physical change.(Yes, I really do read scientific papers about coffee…) The temperature gets up to above 500 degrees… Dude, that’s hot, EVERYTHING experiences extreme, complex chemical reactions and I would expect some degree of physical change!
As the beans heat up in the roaster, sugars and amino acids are reduced and increasing amounts of carbon dioxide are formed and the additional physical changes result in a marked increase in the porosity of the bean.
The Clif Notes version of this section would read: Not only does the coffee roasting process greatly affect the time we can store coffee, but the particular roasting ability of the Small Batch Coffee Roaster can shorten the amount of time coffee can be stored and would remain fresh. So to keep it honest, the guy that’s burning the beans from the start is going set the time clock as to how long you can store coffee beans. When you see all the scribbles over paper in my pockets, it’s pretty much the Mad Scientist version of the diagram on the left. So yes, I really have a lot going on in my head a great deal of the time…
To freeze or not to freeze? That is the question. Not really but…
Obviously, coffee is a food product right? Ok, now that we’ve agreed upon that fact, let’s talk water. Better yet moisture, the ambient levels in the atmosphere or what’s called, humidity. A higher level of moisture in coffee, not yet brewed obviously, causes an immediate degradation in the quality of the coffee. The relative humidity which is the amount of water vapor in the air expressed as a 10 degree increase in temperature enables to hold twice the amount of water vapor, which is why it is hot out when the weather is humid. With every 10 degree drop in temperature, the air loses half the water vapor it can hold. The loss in water vapor in cold temperatures is the same reason that the air is “dry” during the winter season.
Fresh roasted coffee needs to be sealed immediately in a high moisture environments. The fact is that for coffee to keep fresh for any amount of time, it absolutely must be be stored in a low moisture environment. The quickest route to destroy the flavor, taste and profile of quality coffee is to put the recently opened pack right next to the leftovers. Most important to me is that you’re secure enough as a coffee drinker to buy enough coffee. Hopefully, you have a French Press or an Aeropress to brew some Mandingo Warrior or Darrin’s Iron Roast. So in short, if and when you hear the question, “How do I store coffee?”. Know with confidence that placing AND leaving your coffee in the low humidity freezer is the best option. I wonder how well coffee keeps in Antarctica…
Enjoy and share your Darrin’s Coffee. Don’t think store, it’s scarce.
To drive this point home, make no mistake, coffee loses freshness nearly immediately after roasting. Because that is a fact, buy in smaller quantities. Rather than buying a 8lb gigantic can of coffee, support a local roaster, but also so it is far better to purchase it in smaller quantities. Buy freshly roasted coffee first, and after that you should have enough coffee to last for no more than three weeks (really two weeks, but I’m doing what I can to give some wiggle room). Remember, exposure to moisture in the air is coffee’s enemy. After you’ve made it home and either made it home from Darrin’s Coffee and/or received your shipment ordered online, at first opportunity, divide the extra special super fantastic premium wonderful specialty coffee into several portions, and keep the unused stuff in an air-tight container. Speaking of…
You want to own something really, “unique and different AND cool” to store coffee at home!
There are a couple of options, and you should be applauded for your love of great fresh roasted coffee. You’ve proven your decision making skills are at level 99!! The selection of sealed coffee containers that exist in the marketplace can be frustrating, and there’s no greater remorse than buyers remorse. I believe that if you’re vested in artisan small batch roasted specialty coffee, it means that much more to have something that’s both cool and works! That “cool” thing that ACTUALLY WORKS. LIKE DOES A FANTASTIC JOB TO STORE COFFEE! At least that is my opinion, which probably explains a lot in my life… Anyway… DRUMROLL PLEASE… The Coffeevac. Take a look. That’s the coffee storage gift that’ll make you proud. It’s the one that I use when I ship coffee as gifts. I’m just sayin’.