The method that you use for storage of coffee beans is critical to ensure that you will be able to continue getting the freshest and best tasting drink. Coffee is just like any other fresh produce that you purchase as they get older if not stored correctly they will go stale, lose flavour and taste unimpressive. This post will look into a few of the key points to remember when storing coffee and how you can get the best out of those beans. The first thing to know is the biggest enemies of coffee. These are:
- Extreme Temperature
Light affects your coffee in much the same way as it does other fresh produce, light will speed up the rate at which the oils in the coffee spoil or go rancid. To prolong the life of your coffee, this is an easy one - keep your beans in a dark place such as the kitchen pantry or in an opaque container.
Moisture is one of coffee's biggest enemies, and while it may not be soluble in water it is excellent when it comes to absorbing moisture. Due to the fact that the beans attract moisture it is recommended that they be kept in an airtight container. The reasoning behind this is that moisture will rapidly speed up the process of oxidation in your coffee leaving them in a less stable state.
Extreme temperature needs to be avoided when it comes to storing your beans, this is where I dispel the myth that coffee should be kept in the fridge or freezer - these environments are a coffee's worst enemy. The whole process of brewing a coffee is in essence to extract the oils stored within the beans, when beans are exposed to lower temperatures the oils within the beans solidify, the key point here is that once a solid the oils stay that way. So when you next come to brew a coffee it will not have the full bodied flavour of fresh beans. The other reason for avoiding extreme temperatures is that when air is suddenly cooled it condenses, this will in turn change any water vapour in the air into liquid drawing more moisture into your beans.
Time is important in the life span of a roasted coffee bean as with other fresh food. When coffee is a green bean it has an almost indefinite life span but will stale quickly once roasted. When you purchase beans, look for backs that are not vacuum packed and have a one way valve on them. The reason for this is that when roasted beans give off carbon dioxide if bagged directly after roasting this carbon dioxide fills the bag protecting the beans from oxygen (and therefore oxidisation). Stored in a sealed bag from the manufacturer this way your coffee will last for a considerable amount of time, however once the bag is opened your beans are best consumed within about 2 weeks of opening.