There are some misconceptions and myths with coffee storage. The National Coffee Association (1) reports that there are four threats to the quality and taste of your coffee; air, light, moisture, and heat.
In short, storing one to two weeks of whole bean coffee in an light-proof and air tight container is ideal.
Let’s do a deeper dive into this topic:
There are several packaging styles that your coffee comes in from the roaster. You’ll want to select a coffee that has been valve sealed rather than vacuum sealed. Since coffee emits CO2 after it is roasted, companies that vacuum seal, let the coffee rest after roasting, inhibiting its freshness. Alamance Kaffee Werks packages it coffee once it is completely cool and places it into a bag with a one-way seal so that the CO2 can vent while retaining the coffees freshness. The bag does not allow light in and includes a zip to aid in storage., assuring to keep your coffee as fresh as possible.
Many people choose to buy a container with an air tight seal to promote coffee freshness. If you buy a large bag of coffee (i.e., 2 or more pounds at a time) consider filling a smaller container to limit the frequency of opening the larger bag that will expose all of the coffee each time to air and light.
Consumers can get their coffee whole bean or ground. Ground coffee is really convenient but provides more surface space for exposure to each of the four threats to coffee freshness (air, light, moisture, heat). It will be especially important to keep ground coffee in a container that will limit exposure. To optimize flavor, we suggest grinding just enough whole bean coffee to brew. Blade grinders can be as low as $12 dollars through an online retailer. We’ll discuss blade versus burr grinders in a later post.
Let’s discuss freezing:
Freezing your coffee is neither, right or wrong, you’ll just want to be mindful of how you’re doing it. Coffee is porous and will absorb moisture. A typical residential refrigerator-freezer may harbor moisture, especially if the door is frequently opened for a moderate length of time (2). If the coffee isn’t in an air tight container, moisture will seep into the coffee. But it’s an easy fix with an air tight container. Just like other foods, repeatedly freezing and thawing will decrease freshness and flavor. Coffee has oils that contain the natural flavor of the coffee. Freezing coffee will promote these oils to move towards the surface of the coffee and can then evaporate or dissipate upon exposure to air and moisture. Its short, it is possible to freeze coffee. Do so in small amounts in an air tight container, preferably whole bean.
In sum, buy your coffee for a week or two at a time. Don’t always trust the packaging that it comes in to keep it fresh once opened. Zip up your coffee bag or pour into a sealed container and keep away from light. Most importantly, drink your coffee how you like it and don’t stress about it.
Krystjan and Daniel
1 National Coffee Association. How to Store Coffee
2 The Spruce Eats. Should I store coffee in the freezer?