Fresh Beans = better coffee. Well stored fresh beans = better coffee for longer! And although the process is simple, there's a few important do's and don'ts that make a world of difference to the quality of your morning cuppa joe.
If you're new to making coffee at home, visit my Instructable on Choosing Coffee Beans.
Step 1: Brown Bagging It
The most common thing done is to keep beans in the bags they come in. I love the way the bags look and appreciate the smart graphics of local roasters, but, sadly this is one of the don'ts. The most important thing in bean freshness is avoiding excessive air. Air-tight containers are the way to go and the bags just don't cut it in the air-tight department.
The best material for storage containers is colored glass* or ceramic, as it's said that plastic and metal alter the flavor of the beans. But given that I found this great metal container that removes excess air, I decided to compromise! I haven't noticed a difference in flavor (due to the metal), but definitely a difference in freshness (due to the air lock)!
Choose the size of your container based on the amount of beans you normally go through in a week. You want to avoid having a lot of empty space, because it means more air that will sap the flavor out of your beans (unless you have a container like mine that eliminates extra air/space).
*I mentioned colored glass because an opaque container is best! Light (sunlight especially) degrades the quality of the beans as well, so it's important to keep 'em protected from it, especially if you prefer to keep your stash on the counter instead of in a cupboard.
Note: Make sure if you just washed your container that you dry the inside completely before adding beans. Moisture is also a bean storage no no.
Step 2: Fill Your Container
Once you've chosen a suitable container (mine is from Crate & Barrel), fill it with your bag o' beans.
Step 3: Airspace
If you have a container that removes excess air, get to it!
If not, just place and secure your lid.
Step 4: Out of Site
The ultimate location for storage of your now full container is a cool, dry cupboard. You want to choose one that isn't right next to the stove or a window. Heat (from cooking and sunshine) can contribute to loss of bean quality.
Step 5: Summary
To recap, avoiding the following four things makes for happy and delicious coffee beans:
- excess air
Ideally you would always buy just enough to last you a week, so your beans are as fresh as possible (buying from local roasters can ensure your beans are starting out fresh). But if you come across an amazing sale of your favorite beans and just can't resist stocking up, for longer term storage, do the following:
- leave the beans in the bags they came in
- seal them in a plastic freezer bag or even better, a vacuum bag
- put them in the freezer (NOT the fridge)
- store them for up to one month
- grind them frozen (no need to thaw)
- DO NOT refreeze them once they've thawed out