Coffee is truly a versatile and satisfying beverage to consume. It is delicious and provides you with immense energy to kickstart your day or night (for all of you who tend to pull those all-nighters). The hype with coffee and all it can do has made people yearn to replicate the same java goodness in the comfort of their own home with either fancy K-pods or coffee beans that are bought from the store. It is quite popular for many to become their own baristas at home, but it has become quite common for people to struggle with making coffee that is fit to their own personal standards (normally the standards of the coffee places that they tend to frequent). The reason for why great tasting coffee at the cafe does not always taste the same at home, even when using coffee beans that come from that cafe specifically, may have to do with the way you are choosing to take care of your coffee beans. Think of coffee like wine. It bursts with flavors and comes in all types of varieties, yet must be handled carefully. If improperly stored, the taste of your coffee (like wine) begins to alter and change differently with exposure to air and this greatly affects your ability to enjoy the freshest and most quality coffee out there. If you find that your own homemade coffee just does not seem to taste the same, then this could be a signal to you that you could be possibly storing your coffee beans completely wrong! Yet, do not fear, for this article will tell you what you need to know about storing coffee beans so that you never make the same mistake again!
Tips on How to Store Coffee Beans
Control Your Environment
There are four conditions that cause your coffee to be greatly altered. This is air, moisture, heat, and light. The National Coffee Association states that to keep such conditions from ruining your coffee beans, it is ideal that you store your coffee beans in an opaque, airtight container in room temperature. Having opaque coffee containers is so important because the darker color blocks more of the light out. Clear containers will cause more of the light to stream through and affect the taste of your coffee beans. It is advised that you keep your beans in a location that is both dark and coo. Keep them away from areas where it can get warm, like a cabinet located near the oven or on the countertops right near the stove. These are not ideal places for keeping your coffee beans completely fresh. It is advisable that you completely do away with the packaging that the coffee beans come in. They are not meant for long-time storage or keeping your beans fresh, so once you have opened the bag, it is best that you pour the rest out in a storage canister with an airtight seal and discard the retail packaging.
It may sound like freezing your coffee beans is a downright no and while I would advocate for not doing this process to begin with, you can do it if you see yourself as somebody who will take a while to finish up their bag of coffee beans. Coffee beans are best when you use them up fairly quickly after opening up the bag (and of course following the storage tip that I outlined above). There are many differing views on the concept of throwing your coffee beans in the refrigerator and those who are on the no side of the argument tend to say that coffee beans are naturally hygroscopic. This means that they tend to absorb whatever is in the air around them. This causes your coffee beans to become freezer burned or taste funky relatively quickly. Yet, those who agree that it is okay to freeze your coffee beans argue that it all comes down to how airtight your containers are. Most home storage containers tend to always let in a little oxygen and that little oxygen can greatly compromise the taste of the coffee beans. Yet if you are positive that you can invest (or already have) an airtight container that you think works extremely well at keeping all air out, then by all means you are welcome to try and freeze your beans. Yet, I advocate for absolutely never refrigerating your coffee beans. Just do not do it. The fridge only brings a hassle to what you buy by condensation your coffee beans and then pushing the oils to the surface. This actually causes the coffee to age a lot faster. But in all honesty if you know that you can finish your coffee beans fairly quickly after opening it for the first time, then I would not even suggest freezing your coffee beans at all. It just ends up being more work and your coffee beans won’t change too drastically if the above tip is followed correctly! Plus, think about it. Frozen and fresh never really taste the same, no matter how much you try so I would honestly just aim for really trying to use that bag up as quick as possible.
Gage the Amount of Coffee Beans to Buy
Immediately upon being roasted, coffee tends to lose its freshness. In this case, I would advise buying smaller batches of freshly roasted coffee more frequently (like every one to two weeks). As stated before, extra exposure to air is really bad for your coffee beans, so if you can get away with buying smaller portions at a time, you can be even more sure that your coffee beans will not go stale when it comes time to use it. If you are someone who tends to go for aesthetically pleasing containers and want a coffee container that looks good on your counter space, then I would say use that container to pour a little bit of your coffee beans into and keep the rest all in an airtight container that you can hide away in your cabinet. This way, the small portion of coffee beans get used immediately and the larger, unused portion can then be put away properly so that it is fresh when you switch containers. I would be even more wary of the amount of coffee beans that have been bought, if you are someone who tends to buy pre-ground coffee beans because you do not have a coffee bean grinder at home. Pre-ground coffee tends to trap in more oxygen than regular whole coffee beans, so buy less of the pre-ground coffee! If you can, I would invest in a coffee maker that already has a grinder in it or buy a separate coffee grinder. The coffee grinder allows you to grind up your whole beans immediately before brewing which produces a much more flavorful and fresher cup of coffee. The reason being that the bean itself is the vessel for protecting the quality and aromas of that coffee. Once the bean has been broken, the vessel breaks as well, and the coffee grinds will begin oxidizing rapidly. By grinding your beans and then roasting them right after, you can expect a coffee that is sweeter and livelier in flavor and aroma.
Take Roast Date into Consideration
Roast date does matter for coffee beans. Be wary of the coffee beans roast date so that you can have a good idea of when you should start utilizing the beans for your own cup. Trevor Corlett of Madcap Coffee Company in Michigan and Washington D.C. states that you should think of coffee beans like a good steak. After roasting, they need to sit and rest because a lot of the gas gets trapped in there and can affect the way the coffee ends up tasting. For regular coffee beans, it is advised that you let it sit and rest for about 24 to 48 hours. For espresso, the time it needs to rest has to be at least 5 days. Otherwise, one will notice that the coffee produces a little bit of a salty taste due to the carbon dioxide releasing (you may even notice small bubbles within your latte). If you are one who French presses or filter brews your coffee, then do not touch your coffee beans until about three to ten days after the roast date. For espresso, you should wait about five to twelve days!
Do Not Throw Away Your Stale Beans
If you are someone who finds that they often cannot finish their coffee beans at the right time and then find your last bit of beans looking very stale, you may have the strong tendency to just throw it out. Yet, it is advised that stale coffee beans can actually come in handy for a specific type of coffee known as the infamous cold brew. Using fresh coffee beans to make cold brew is actually considered to be a waste because cold brew can taste the exact same whether you use fresh coffee beans or beans that are pretty stale. So, don’t throw away your money and don’t use up your fresh coffee beans for cold brew. Use up your old beans and you will find that it still produces that same great cold brew flavor that everyone enjoys!
How Long Can Coffee Beans Last?
Whole-bean coffee in ambient oxygen will tend to produce stale flavors about 10-14 days after being opened. Ground coffee, on the other hand is a completely different story and can already begin to produce stale flavors about 24 hours after! That leaves with you barely any time to enjoy it all before the taste becomes stale and you become incredibly disappointed at the money you shelled out! Coffee is perishable (although that can be hard to think about!). It really is like your average lettuce or sour cream, that must be used up within a week or two before you honestly cannot consume it. I think that by thinking of your coffee as being perishable, you will automatically be more careful about how you choose to store it. So, keep that in mind when choosing you next coffee bean purchase!
When Can Coffee Be Kept in the Bag?
So, there is good news! Not all the time will you have to look into buying a super great airtight container to keep your coffee in. There is a specific type of bag that some brands of coffee beans come in that is actually great for storing coffee! It is a foil bag with those one-way valves on it. If you notice that your coffee beans come in that, then you absolutely don’t even need to shell out extra cash on an airtight container. That will end up storing and keeping your coffee beans absolutely fresh for as long as possible! Yet, if you end up buying your coffee beans from paper bags or any other type of packaging than the foil one, then you will see that your coffee will oxidize quick. In that case, stick to the airtight, opaque container!
Do Your Research!
I would say one of the most important tips of all is doing your research on your coffee beans. Are you buying the best coffee beans out there or are you buying a brand of coffee bean that is not the best in flavor and richness even when it is completely fresh? Maybe the brand you are buying is simply not that great as it claims to be and that is why your coffee seems to be lacking greatly. Do research on the brand of beans you buy, look up reviews, and see what other people and coffee consumers have to say about your coffee beans. If there is nothing but praises for the brand of coffee beans then maybe the problem fell all along with the way you chose to store the beans. If you notice that people are stating the same disappointments as you, then you know it may be a good time to switch out your normal brand of coffee for something different. Coffee is like a science. You need to really understand the makeup of the coffee bean in order to be an expert on how to create the freshest, aromatic cup out there! Once you do all of that, I’m sure the results will be far past your expectations!