When I worked at a coffee roasting company, customers often called up asking how best to store coffee – what actions can you take to ensure your coffee remains fresh for as long as possible. I have come across many different theories in my years spent as an avid coffee fan, so I thought I would compile a list of tips as to how to keep that delicious coffee just that.
Purchasing and Packaging
First, it begins with purchasing the coffee. Obviously, the better the roaster, the better the coffee. Make sure you find produce that you trust and look for one that uses valve sealed bags, not vacuumed. Because of the process used, coffee bags that are vacuum sealed have already sat around and lost some of their flavour before the vacuum sealing begins. Secondly, I strongly recommend buying whole-beans, rather than pre-ground. Roasted beans hold most of the flavour and aroma within the oils on their surface. These oils are also responsible for the “crema”; a dense, light brown foamy layer visible on top of an espresso.
When it comes to storage, remember the three things most detrimental to your coffee; light, humidity and oxygen. Never, EVER, store your coffee in the freezer. This is because the coffee bean oils holding all the aroma will shrink, crack and a result your coffee will taste bland. Also, storing in a fridge or freezer will encourage the beans to absorb other aromas such as seafood – yuck!
To preserve the life off your coffee, immediately after opening, transfer the beans into an airtight container and store at room temperature, in a darkened space. Once coffee has been ground, I recommend it be consumed within 7 – 10 days. If coffee has not been ground, it should be consumed within 2 – 4 weeks.
Detecting if your coffee is still fresh
The aromas of your coffee are the ultimate indication of how fresh your coffee is. Here’s things to look out for:
Fresh coffee produces…
A rich aroma, full flavours and moist texture
An oily grind
A strong, agreeable flavour
Stale coffee produces…
An unpleasant aroma similar to straw or peanuts
A dry grind
A lack of taste and increased bitterness
There are two additional, simple steps you can take in ensuring your coffee always tastes delicious: first is to keep all coffee making equipment clean. Whether that’s a fancy Nespresso machine, or a humble plunger – keeping them spotless makes all the difference! Secondly, buy what you drink! In other words, only buy coffee at the same rate as you drink it so you don’t have to worry about extended storage!