Storing of coffee
Obviously, coffee is best when it´s fresh. In reverse this means that coffee doesn´t always taste all that good anymore once it has been stored for a while. Although coffee cannot be stored forever, there is a couple of easy tricks, you can use to prolong the life of coffee in storage. In this article, we show you what to look out for.
Why does coffee change its taste?
The biggest factors influencing coffee beans and ground coffee are oxygen, moisture, temperature and light exposure. When exposed to any of these, coffee can lose its aromas a lot faster than usually and sometimes even become inedible.
Sealing coffee airtight
Often, coffee is being packed in specially made aroma protective packaging. They normally either contain a certain shielding gas atmosphere or use vacuum to prevent contact with oxygen. Through oxidation, the oxygen reacts with certain components of the coffee beans and causes it to taste rancid after a while. To prevent this, it is favorable to store opened coffee beans or ground coffee as airtight as possible. For normal everyday use, re-closable tin cans and bags are most convenient.
Whole beans last longer
Because its vastly increased surface, especially already ground coffee is prone to losing its aroma when being stored for more than a couple of days. If you aren´t using large amounts of coffee per day it therefore pays off, to buy whole bean coffee and grind it when you need it. If you still decide to bus ground coffee, you should aim at using the whole amount within a maximum of two weeks. Whole coffee beans can keep their aroma up to five weeks.
Coffee doesn´t like moisture
Moisture is one of the worse enemies of coffee. Because roasted coffee has a very low water saturation, it the ability so soak up a lot of water. Obviously, we really like this feature when brewing coffee but when storing it we don´t want our coffee to become saturated because when ground coffee is too moist, the hot water during the brewing process won´t be able to extract all aromas as it usually would. Moist coffee can also be a nightmare for the grinder and clog it up.
Not only for its taste but also for the consumers health, moist coffee can be of close concern, at least then, when the coffee starts to become moldy. At least now you know, you didn´t store your coffee dry enough!
Neither oven, nor fridge
Temperature is important too. When you store coffee in the fridge, it is likely for the moist fridge climate to condense onto the coffee and saturate it with water. If that´s not the case, it will at the latest become moist, when you take the chilled coffee out of the fridge and the room moisture condenses on the surface of the coffee. Also, a lot of different things and a lot of items with their own aromas is stored inside the fridge and can transfer their aromas onto the coffee beans.
Storing coffee in a hot environment can alter the taste of it too. High temperatures dry out the beans and important flavor carriers like coffee oil evaporate, causing the coffee to lose its “body”. If you try storing coffee even hotter, the carefully balanced and stopped roasting process will continue and eventually either burn the beans, making the coffee taste extremely bitter, or turn the beans into… ash.
Can you freeze coffee?
Generally: Yes. Coffee or espresso beans can be frozen as long as you remember a couple of basic things. As said before, coffee is very sensitive for moisture and foreign aromas. Coffee beans should therefore be frozen inside an airtight container or bag. Ideally, they should be packed in vacuum to prevent damaging contact of the beans with oxygen and condensing water.
It is just as important to keep the coffee sealed during defrosting so no room air moisture can condense on the coffee. Furthermore, you shouldn´t freeze coffee more than once. Keep your coffee frozen in little amounts needed for daily or weekly consumption and only take out of the freezer what you need. If you don´t have a vacuum packaging machine you can also try sucking out as much air out of the bag as possible by using your mouth or a vacuum cleaner. Even if coffee may lose a little bit of its aroma, freezing still is the best way of keeping coffee fresh for an extended period of time.