Fresh is good. Stale is bad. That’s the bottom line when it comes to coffee bean storage. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to protect and preserve the freshness of those delicate beans. Are you treating yourself to a specialty single-origin from Ethiopia? Well then you’ll want to keep it fresh, down to the last bean. Your coffee is at the mercy of four flavour-destroying elements; oxygen, moisture, heat and light.
The majority of today’s coffee bags offer an excellent system for preserving freshness. That little button, or valve on the bag releases gas and oxygen without letting any air inside. The roasting process traps carbon dioxide in the coffee beans and they will continue off-gassing, or releasing the CO2 for a good three days. Once the beans are packaged, the valve allows residual gasses to escape.
As soon as you crack open the bag, that’s when oxidization begins. It’s best to grind just what you need for brewing and keep in mind, there will always be a small amount of gas trapped in unground beans – those gasses allow for a lovely bloom in your pour-over coffee, and the perfect crema on an espresso.
Once opened, reseal the bag and store it in a cool, dark cupboard. On average, your beans will remain fresh for three weeks. An airtight canister is another option; just don’t use a glass container – remember, light is one of the coffee beans enemies. Same goes for the fridge – too moist in there, and the porous beans will absorb the moisture.
Once considered a huge no-no, freezing coffee beans is now considered a longer-term storage option. Coffee guru, James Hoffman, author of The World Coffee Atlas, recently explained the pros and cons in a video on his YouTube channel. Here’s his take: