What Are the Best Ways to Store Coffee or Grounds?
Whether it’s the inviting aroma of freshly brewed black coffee in the morning or the mental pick-me-up it offers, coffee beans are a product that in the present day is sold in a variety of flavors and a commodity found in most homes. Airtight bags filled to the brim are lovingly carted to the checkout line with visions of a steaming “Cup of Joe” to be enjoyed in the future. Coffee lovers are in happy agreement with the buying, brewing, and sipping of coffee. However, there seems to be some debate between coffee enthusiasts as to whether their precious coffee beans should be stored in a bag, a canister, a cupboard, or the freezer to stay as fresh as possible. This article presents some interesting points on how to purchase the freshest coffee possible (there is no point in storing stale coffee) and addresses the debate over the best way to store it.
First, it is important to know that once coffee beans are roasted, they begin to lose flavor and last about a month. Coffee also tends to lose a bit of its freshness every time the bag is opened. Ground coffee lasts approximately two weeks. For this reason, grinding coffee as it is needed helps coffee to stay fresher for longer. Ideally, for enjoying a coffee at home, not more than a week or two supply of coffee should be acquired for a fresh cup every time.
When buying coffee, it’s essential to purchase the freshest coffee possible. To tell how fresh coffee is, one needs only to examine the bag. Freshly roasted coffee beans release carbon dioxide and can cause bags to expand or break. Valve-sealed bags allow the carbon dioxide to escape the bag without allowing air to come back in. Vacuum-sealed bags contain coffee that has been aged before being bagged to prevent gases from building up inside the bag. Valve-sealed bags contain fresher coffee.
Before storing coffee, it must be transferred to an appropriate container. For small purchases, it may be acceptable to leave the coffee in its original bag or container since it will be used quickly and subject to air exposure less often. A smaller bag can also easily be resealed and fit into an airtight container for storage. However, when purchasing larger bags, the beans should be divided and stored in separate containers to make it last longer.
One way to keep stored coffee fresh is to store it in a cabinet, cupboard, or pantry in a tightly-lidded container made of glass, nonreactive metal, or ceramic. A container with a gasket seal is best. There should be minimal airspace inside the container. Meaning, one cup of beans should be placed in a container that holds one cup of ground coffee beans and not three or four cups. Too much airspace inside of a container causes the coffee to oxidize and lose its flavor. Additionally, stored coffee should be kept away from direct light and heat, such as sunlight, heaters, and stoves, which will cause it to lose its freshness and flavor.
Another way to store coffee is to store it in the freezer. However, there is a method that should be followed when doing so. Opening and reopening a bag of coffee stored in a freezer will lose some of its flavors every time it is opened just as coffee placed in a cupboard will. But, frozen coffee also tends to become moist from the bag being opened, closed, and then put back in the freezer. Moisture and fluctuating temperature changes cause the oils in the coffee to dissipate, which leads to an inferior tasting beverage. The proper method for freezing requires storing coffee in individual packets that can be pulled from the freezer, thawed, and ground as they are needed, rather than to continue opening a larger bag.
Other Coffee Storing Tips
Besides absorbing moisture, coffee absorbs odors and will taste like the smells it picks up, so, even in the freezer, the packaging should be as airtight as possible, regardless of the storage method.
When stored in the freezer, black coffee can be frozen for up to a month. Unroasted beans last much longer. Coffee tastes the best right after it is ground, but when used with a couple of weeks, the beans still retain their gusto. Once seeds have unthawed, they should never be placed back into the freezer.
Another option for storage is to purchase specialized storage containers called “coffee vaults”, which protect the coffee from air, moisture, heat, and light while allowing carbon dioxide to escape through one way valves (RoastyCoffee.com).
It appears there is really no reason for the great debate over storing coffee. As long as coffee is stored correctly, a great cup of coffee can always be sipped with pleasure.
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Coffee Beans [ID 148779220 © Shawn Hempel | Dreamstime.com]