How to Store Coffee: Myths, Facts and Tips
Is it OK to freeze coffee? What should I store coffee in, the purchased bag or something else entirely? Which coffee storage prevails: cabinet, fridge or freezer?
These eternal, haunting and deep questions have perplexed many coffee drinkers for centuries. Some, they say, have even been driven to the point of madness.
But rest assured caffeine crazy person, here all secrets will be revealed.
How to Store Coffee: Facts
First, you must understand that fresh coffee has three primary terminators. They're so efficiently deadly to coffee, it's almost as if they were sent from some kind of tea-motivated Skynet (Terminator reference).
Just remember this:
OXYGEN kills coffee like it'll kill bread.
MOISTURE kills coffee like it kills dry skin in January.
LIGHT kills coffee like it kills dementors (that makes me wonder, we should make a HP blend!).
How to Store Coffee: Fiction
Sadly, the internet is full of conflicting information on coffee. Google can replace our brains when it comes to things like cooking and raising kids, but it proves useless in this important arena.
Many blogs will warn you that freeze storing your coffee is like your beans getting the black spot from Long John Silver (a pirate's death sentence), but others swear that freezing increases the life span. Know this: Freezing coffee is fine as long as moisture cannot reach the beans within the container. Moisture is the only enemy to worry about here. Therefore, if you're going to freeze it, keep it perfectly sealed, and the coffee will last longer.
How to Store Coffee: Container Confusion
Storing your coffee in proper containers makes a big shelf-life difference. If your coffee comes in zip lock style bags as opposed to the ties (we're moving all our coffee to zipper style), it's fine to leave it in those.
If not, the oxygen should stay out, and rolling your bag with the tie won't help much. Therefore, we recommend anything that seals, like a mason jar. The only downside to mason jars is, you got it, more air gets in if they're not filled up to the top.
Search on amazon for tight, vacuum sealed jars (there are many cheap options, and Amazon could really use your business).
How to Store Coffee: Coffee Shelf-Life
Coffee shelf-life is also a common question. You can increase your coffee shelf-life with the steps mentioned above. However, here are the official numbers (they're not really official, but pretty accurate).
Coffee Shelf-Life Day Count
4-14 Days: Flavor notes are at a high point, complexity easily distinguishable (translation: UH-MA-ZING!!!)
14-21 Days: Some flavor notes disappear, but sweetness remains, over all complexity harder to determine (translation: pretty good!)
21-28 Days: Flavor and acidity gone, mostly body, earthy and flat (translation: definitely drinkable, but a much different cup)
28+ Days: Mostly an earthy, soily taste, very bitter (Translation: you need caffeine, it's OK, really! It's OK!)
How to Store Coffee: Coffee Grinds
Grinding coffee rapidly increases both oxidation and age on beans and thus decreases shelf-life. While oxidation is very fast, I'm not sure any studies have been done on how fast it actually stales coffee. I've read in numerous places that every three to four hours the grounds are exposed to air is the equivalent to one day for whole beans. Sometimes I will do this to increase the aging if Jeremy has just finished a roast and I want to drink it right away, as flavors and depth don't come out until 3-4 days post roast.
Lastly, if you're drinking dark roasts, these are already super developed coffees, which means their shelf life is much shorter, so drink them up as quickly as you can!
Jonathan is in charge of Coffee Education at Redemption Coffee. He's been tinkering with countless brew methods over the last decade (even creating a few of his own) and loves helping coffee shops perfect their products and service. Jonathan@redemptioncoffeeco.com