How to store coffee beans
If you’re new to the coffee game, knowing how to store coffee beans to keep them fresh and delicious for as long as possible is key for any coffee enthusiast. You’ll want to ensure your beans are at the best to brew a flavourful, aromatic cup of coffee. Use this article to find out what makes coffee go stale and the top tips you need to know for bean storage.
Avoid exposure to damaging elements
The best way to store your fresh roasted coffee beans is any way that prevents exposure to sunlight, moisture, heat, and oxygen. These can damage your beans in the following ways:
Ultraviolet light can break down or change the structure of the molecules in your coffee beans. Also, it can cause evaporation, which takes away the valuable parts of the beans that give them their aroma and flavour.
Coffee beans are hygroscopic, meaning they can absorb moisture. When they absorb moisture from their environment, it starts to dissolve the valuable molecules within the coffee.
Storing your beans at temperatures over 25 degrees can speed up how long it takes them to age, pushing oils to the surface and releasing CO2.
When coffee beans are exposed to oxygen they start to oxidise. Oxidisation is a chemical process that alters the molecules in the bean that are responsible for flavour and aroma.
Taking all these factors into consideration, it’s best to store your coffee beans in an opaque, airtight container that is kept at room temperature (20 to 25C). This will limit the amount of air, light, heat, and moisture that can access your coffee. The ideal place to store the beans is in the back of a cupboard where the temperature is consistent, and the container won’t be exposed to any light.
Storage options for coffee beans
Coffee beans can be kept in any type of airtight and opaque container. For example, you might want to use a plastic canister, metal box, ceramic pot, or another style of container that can create a seal and protects the beans from sunlight. However, if you want to keep your beans at the highest possible level of freshness, a vacuum storage canister is likely your best option.
These are airtight containers that use a hand pump to get rid of oxygen. By removing the oxygen from the canister, the rate of oxidisation is significantly slowed down, meaning the beans will stay fresher for longer. Also, it is beneficial to use the smallest possible container as it helps to limit how much oxygen will be in contact with the beans.
Certain canisters will have one-way vents that are designed to give off the gasses created by freshly roasted beans. These styles of canisters can be handy if you normally buy your beans fresh, directly from roasters.
How long can you store coffee beans for?
A lot of factors go into finding the best way to store coffee beans, including how the beans were grown, harvested, and processed. Unroasted coffee beans (also known as green coffee beans) have the longest lifespan at just less than a year.
Freshly roasted beans will stay at ‘peak’ freshness for around 4 to 5 weeks, but they will stay enjoyable for up to 3 months. After this time, you will often find that the flavour and aroma will be so degraded that it won’t make an enjoyable cup of coffee anymore.
Coffee that is freshly ground has a much shorter lifespan than whole coffee beans as the coffee granules are smaller so will oxidise quicker. Therefore, a very finely ground coffee will only stay at ‘optimum’ freshness for a couple of minutes and will stay enjoyable for a few days. Medium or coarse ground coffee can stay fresh for a couple of days and will remain flavourful for up to 4 weeks.
Can you store coffee beans in the freezer?
Some people think that coffee beans should be stored in the freezer as it is a very dark and cold environment. The logic makes sense as they will be kept away from oxygen and sunlight and the temperature will be low. However, storing fresh coffee beans in the freezer can have some negative consequences.
The main issue is the risk of exposure to moisture, which will quickly impact the integrity of the beans and means they will go stales quicker. Also, coffee beans that have been kept in a freezer might also develop a flat flavour profile as the cold temperature can alter the chemical structure of the beans. Keeping them in the back of a cool, dark cupboard is always the better option.
How do you know if coffee beans are stale?
Knowing how to spot stale beans can save you time and effort if you have brewed some old beans and found that the brew tastes bad. Some of the warning signs of stale beans include:
Fresh roasted coffee beans have a strong aroma. Depending on the type of coffee you are smelling and its roast profile, you might get different notes of fruits, florals, cocoa, chocolate, wine, nuts, and spices. Stale coffee beans often have a weaker aroma that is pretty bland.
Lastly, you can check the freshness of the bean by its taste. A fresh bean will have strong flavours whilst stale beans will be flavourless and potentially bitter or sour.
Where to buy coffee beans near me
If you’re looking to buy coffee beans in Newcastle, Pumphreys Coffee has got you covered. We offer more than 50 types of freshly roasted coffee so you’re sure to find a flavour that suits you. Explore our range of coffee today and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.