During my time working in the coffee industry, I have had many conversations and have read blog posts about how to store your coffee. So today I wanted to give some clear information and hopefully dispel some of the common weird and wonderful methods on how to store your coffee that are out there. So I thought to put together a guide on how to keep your coffee fresh as well as maximise its shelf life.
Coffee is such a science, from crop to cup there are so many factors that can cause taste variations, from where the coffee was grown, to how the green beans were stored, to the way the coffee beans were roasted, to what coffee profile the coffee beans were roasted, to if the barista had cleaned the coffee machine before it was used or even the mineral levels that are in the water when the coffee was extracted. However after considering all these factors the one that keeps coming up commonly by coffee consumers is " How do you store coffee beans?!"
So let’s take a look at coffees four worst enemies are:
1. Air Exposure
Coffee oxidises, so removing the potential for it to be in contact with air will help to lock in the freshness, retain the aroma and slow down the process of the coffee going rancid and stale. If this isn't done the flavour will evaporate and become tasteless.
Once coffee is roasted it begins to emit carbon dioxide, this will continue for 3-5 days. That’s why it is super important that coffee is packaged with in 12-24 hours of roasting. At Melbourne Coffee Roasting Co. we pack the coffee as soon as the coffee has cooled down on the roasting table to limit air exposure and seal in freshness. Coffee also should be packaged with a one way valve allowing the build up to be removed without oxygen coming in, we have come a long way with our packaging from the old school days of purchasing coffee in an air tight, vacuum sealed bag to now having zip locks on them to keep the air out. I remember growing up and going to my grandparents place and they would have the vacuum sealed bags, once pierced the only way you could close them was with a bulldog clip or a rubber band, not the most effective method, but we have come a long way in understanding that air exposure can have a great effect on taste and coffee lifespan, especially back them if the coffee was ground and sent over from overseas.
In a coffee shop set up it is important that once the beans have been used for the day that the beans remaining in the hopper must be removed and placed into an airtight container and placed in a cool dark place, ready for consumption for the next day of trading.
Always keep your coffee where it be whole beans or ground stored in a airtight container, in a dry cool place. The kitchen cupboard would be the most suitable place for storage.
2. Heat Exposure
Another common enemy of coffee is heat exposure, also leading to bringing our tasty flavoursome coffee to a quick rancid expiry. Just like in fine dining, to create the best tasting meals require the produce to be kept at optimal levels to keep its freshness, just like you wouldn't leave eggs out on a hot day nor would you leave your coffee out in the sun either!
3. Direct Sunlight
What do Gremlins and coffee have in common? They both shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight! Ha ha I couldn’t help myself, but back onto topic.
Direct Sunlight is pretty much like heat exposure, so after coffee has been roasted direct sunlight has the most effect on coffee after is has been roasted, if the coffee is exposed to direct sunlight it will spoil and go stale. When storing coffee beans always make sure that the container containing the coffee is stored in a cupboard or even better if you have an opaque container.
4. Moisture Exposure
Humidity plays a huge role in keeping our coffee fresh, if our coffee is exposed to moisture it will quickly turn bad and lose its flavour. This is even worse when coffee is placed in the fridge or freezer and even worse again if the coffee has been ground as the surface area is larger and the coffee can absorb more. Always keep in mind that coffee is porous and has a nasty habit of absorbing things that are around it. I couldn't think of anything worse than tucking into a cup of coffee first thing in the morning for it only to taste like seafood or last night’s dinner yuk!! This is why I highly recommend not freezing or refrigerating coffee. When coffee is roasted it releases oils, this is what give the coffee its flavour, if the coffee is then frozen, the oils will also be frozen and once defrosted the moisture and ice crystals will dilute the flavour and start to make the coffee become more tasteless.
Let me know your thoughts and how you have been storing your coffee in the comments.
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Have a great day!