Best Practices For Storing Coffee
Coffee is big business in the United States, where 50% of the population, an equivalent of 150 million Americans, drink an average of 3 cups of coffee a day. As a result, coffee shops are raking in millions from this culture, earning an impressive $12 billion in annual sales.
The coffee culture has evolved in a manner that we see different States having signature coffee tastes, and about 30 million Americans drinking specialty coffee beverages, including espresso, mocha, café mocha and iced coffee, daily.
What these coffee enthusiasts might not know, is the extensive coffee production process from the farm to brewing, and especially how to store coffee beans to keep them fresh and strong. Here are best practices to preserve your coffee beans’ fresh roasted flavor as long as possible.
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Keep Your Beans In An Airtight Container, In A Cool Dry Place
The greatest enemy to your beans are heat, light, moisture and air. These affect your beans in different ways, as highlighted below.
The more moisture your beans absorb, the faster they will go stale. Additionally, water is usually used as cheap filler, which mischievous coffee shops use, ending up selling you water instead of great coffee. If this is particularly for home consumption, you wouldn’t want to spend your money buying high quality beans, only to end up drinking stale coffee due to poor storage.
On the other hand, coffee is big business and there is always a café at the corner selling coffee. Exposing your beans to moisture will not only force you to sell low-quality coffee, but to also lose loyal customers to that coffee shop at the corner.
You can only confirm the moisture content of your beans using lab equipment, but you can fortunately limit and prevent exposure to moisture by always keeping your beans in airtight containers in dark places, as well as refrain from storing them for too long.
Have you noticed that coffee is never sold in clear containers? This is purposely done to maintain the quality of the beans. Exposure to light causes the oils in coffee to break down, making the beans go rancid. Going rancid means that the amazing coffee aroma breaks down and is lost, leaving you to enjoy a stale bland cup.
In case you need to buy coffee from bulk beans in supermarkets, ensure that you are extra careful. The coffee is usually exposed to light, causing oils to break down. What’s worse is that some of these stores don’t clean their bins, thereby having old oils rubbing onto fresh beans, compromising their quality.
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If possible, stay away from buying such coffee because you don’t know how long it has been sitting there. If you must, ensure that it is freshly roasted, pack it in a dark bag and store it correctly once you get home.
Air, specifically oxygen gas, has the same effect on coffee beans by breaking down the oils and making the coffee go rancid. Some sellers deal with this problem by sealing their coffee under nitrogen, adding a one-way valve, to keep the package from blowing up like a balloon. This way, the sellers are able to package the coffee beans immediately after roasting when it is still off-gassing, thereby reducing the amount of oxygen in the package.
Unfortunately, this storage method is not fully effective in maintaining the coffee beans’ quality, because the valve lets out the aroma, and there will always be some residual oxygen in the package. It is against this backdrop that we advise against storing coffee beans for too long.
Store Your Beans In A Coffee Canister
Coffee loses its freshness once the original packaging is opened. This creates the need to find a special coffee canister that will prevent moisture, air, heat and light from getting their way. The best types of canisters should be made of ceramics, glass or non-reactive metal. These materials are ideal because they don’t react with the beans, hence don’t change the coffee’s taste or aroma.
Use Two Storage Containers
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To keep your coffee fresh for a longer period, always store it in two containers. One larger one that will contain the bulk of the coffee and a smaller one that is opened daily. This will limit the larger container’s exposure to environmental factors fewer times, only when you need to refill the smaller container.
Don’t Store Your Coffee In The Freezer
As much as there are conflicting views on whether coffee should be frozen or refrigerated, or not, we advise that you avoid the fridge all together. Freshness is critical to the quality of your morning cup of joe, and a fridge’s dynamics makes this almost impossible.
Obviously, your refrigerator is storage for other foods. Unfortunately, coffee will absorb the smells or flavors from these foods, consequently compromising the quality and flavor of your coffee once brewed. Secondly, in case the packaging is not airtight, then the porous hygroscopic/ hydrophilic coffee beans will absorb moisture and begin tasting like the inside of your freezer.
Also, people who opt to freeze their coffee and advise people to do the same, forget to mention two things. One, is that frequent thawing and freezing as you use the coffee and return the remainder to the freezer, causes significant loss in favor.
Secondly, before brewing, you need to let your beans get to room temperature, which is not only inconvenient as you need to remember to set it aside beforehand, but also detrimental to its flavor since the cool air in the container will change into moisture, then absorbed by the beans.
Buy The Right Amount
The best coffee is brewed immediately after roasting. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to always go to the store when we need freshly roasted coffee. We can however be smart in how we deal with the issues of storage, buy buying the right amount or signing up for a monthly coffee subscription since coffee begins to lose freshness almost immediately after roasting.
The right amount should last about one to two weeks maximum, which is the amount of time you are guaranteed of having high quality coffee, of course, if properly stored.