Storage Tips

The Absolute Best Way to Store Your Coffee, According to an Expert

How to keep your beans fresh, perky, and good to the last drop.

January 30, 2019

I’ve been drinking some form of coffee since I was 6 years old. Was I too young? Maybe; it's unclear. Was it mostly milk, though? 100%. Flash forward to two decades later, and I still adore coffee. Hot, iced, pourover, latte, drip—you name it, I’m a fan.

Every morning, I start my day with a hot mug fresh from my French press. In the afternoons, I’ve learned to make pourovers with our office’s Chemex for 3 p.m. pick-me-ups. I know everything there is to know about my perfect cup of joe, but when it comes to storing it, I don’t know beans. In my pantry? In a canister? In the freezer?

To learn the best way to keep my beans fresh, I turned to Erika Vonie, Director of Coffee at Trade, a coffee subscription service that represents more than 50 roasters across the country. Here’s what she had to say:

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

“The best way to store coffee is to store it in the bag it comes in,” Vonie says. When coffee is roasted, gases (mostly carbon dioxide) form inside the beans and need to escape. “Most coffee bags are designed with a gas-release valve on them, which does a great job of letting that gas expel without letting air in.”

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Top Comment:
“Could not agree more. I own a high end espresso machine and have run my own tests on coffee bean storage. Two different air-tight espresso bean storage containers with gas release valves VS. the bag the beans came in. The bag was better by far....(despite how great that copper colored container looked on my counter 😕). Another nod to the freezer... I only keep enough beans out and ready for use for 4-5 days. Of course, proper storage can’t help poor quality beans...starting with the right blend to begin with is crucial. Thanks for this article... thought I was the only one going against common practice.”
— Toni
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Another plus of original packaging? It keeps out sunlight, which also ages coffee beans, Vonie says. If you do want to transfer beans to your own canister, make sure it's airtight and protected from sunlight—you’ll degas beans naturally when you open to prepare your coffee.

The freezer can still be your your friend.

While many experts agree that storing beans in the freezer is a no-no, Vonie has other thoughts.

“Coffee likes to be climate stable. We’re seeing a lot of people come back to the idea that freezing your coffee is okay. I think for ground coffee, especially, tossing it into the freezer actually helps with the aging process because it’s definitely away from sunlight, it’s definitely at a stable temperature, and if it’s in its original package, it can be degassed.”

If you do keep your coffee in the freezer, avoid thawing, Vonie cautions. Allowing the beans to warm up before going back in the ice box creates moisture, which ages the coffee.

Less is more.

Coffee can last for months on the shelf after it’s roasted—but that doesn’t mean it’s fresh.

“Roasted coffee starts losing its super nuanced sparkles about two weeks after it’s been roasted. I recommend buying coffee you can get through in a two- to three-week stretch of time. For me, that’s a bag every two weeks if I’m making a cup or a pot of it every day,” Vonie suggests. “If you’re sitting on a giant canister of coffee for months at a time, by the end of that canister, your coffee will start tasting differently than when you popped it open in the first place.”

Coffee is a seasonal product, Vonie says, so it’s a good idea to buy smaller batches more frequently, anyway. “It makes me try more varieties of coffee, to get to know the nuances and differences. There’s always something new to try.”


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How do you store your coffee beans? Share your best tips in the comments below!
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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.

2 Comments

Lori H. September 25, 2019
It is only my husband who drinks coffee, because it makes me get the jitters. My husband likes Folgers breakfast blend,grounded. He stores that in the container which it came in. The expresso beans he prefers for the bag of beans be stored in the freezer.
Is this wrong or the right way to store coffee?
 
Toni July 14, 2019
Could not agree more. I own a high end espresso machine and have run my own tests on coffee bean storage. Two different air-tight espresso bean storage containers with gas release valves VS. the bag the beans came in. The bag was better by far....(despite how great that copper colored container looked on my counter 😕). Another nod to the freezer... I only keep enough beans out and ready for use for 4-5 days. Of course, proper storage can’t help poor quality beans...starting with the right blend to begin with is crucial. Thanks for this article... thought I was the only one going against common practice.