Best Methods to Store Coffee

Best Methods to Store Coffee

Jake Bonneman Jake Bonneman
4 minutes of coffee drinking

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A picture of coffee beans stored in an airtight canister.

To get the absolute best possible flavor out of your coffee, you’ll want to start with whole beans. Grind your beans immediately before you brew them, and use them within a couple weeks if at all possible.

But how do you store coffee to keep it fresh, robust, and smelling great for as long as possible?

The last method will probably surprise you.

Coffee’s Natural Enemies

The main things you need to worry about when it comes to storing coffee are air, moisture, heat, and light.

In short, to keep your coffee beans tasting fresher for longer, just keep them away from all four of those things.

Another way to put it would be: store your coffee in a dry, cool, dark place in an airtight container.

Storing Coffee Beans in the Refrigerator

You might be thinking the refrigerator—being dark and undeniably cool—would be the perfect place to store your fresh beans.

And some people do this.

Sadly.

One of the many creative uses for coffee beans/grounds—their utility as an effective odor-absorber for bad smells—is also precisely why you don’t want to EVER store your coffee in the refrigerator.

All the nitrogen inside coffee beans is guaranteed to absorb all the odors in your fridge (especially sulfur, unfortunately) faster than you can say “three week old Vidalia onion.”

But hey, at least now you know what to do next time you need to deodorize your refrigerator.

Storing Coffee Beans in the Freezer

What about keeping coffee beans in the freezer? Perhaps surprisingly, your freezer is actually a much better storage method than the refrigerator—as long as you pay attention to a few details:

  • (Important) Thaw the beans out completely before putting them in a grinder. Frozen coffee beans can actually damage grinder blades.
  • Once you’ve frozen the coffee, don’t re-freeze it. Letting beans warm up before putting them back in the freezer creates moisture, which ages your beans.
  • Tape over the vent hole on the bag

Still, storing coffee in the freezer isn’t absolutely ideal. It’s more something you do when you’re in a desperate situation.

Does this describe you? If not, consider another storage option.

Storing Coffee in Airtight Canisters

This isn’t a bad method at all, but many people make the mistake of keeping coffee in clear airtight containers. (You want to look at your coffee beans all the time—Trust me, I get it). While not as big of a concern as oxygen or moisture, light can prematurely “age” fresh coffee beans.

A second mistake people make when using an airtight canister to store coffee is locating it in the kitchen right next to a heat source like a stove, a toaster oven, a dishwasher, or say... a coffee maker. Others mistakenly keep a coffee canister in a cabinet directly above a heat source. It’s just the way kitchens are designed, unfortunately.

So if you prefer storing your fresh beans in a separate container, make sure you store them in a dark, cool, dry place (i.e. a pantry, or a cabinet located far from any appliances that generate heat). Also, make sure it’s truly air-tight—there are plenty of “air-tight” canisters out there that aren’t. For optimal freshness, look for something like this air-tight, stainless steel Airscape coffee canister.

What’s The Simplest Way to Store Coffee?

In the bag.

The bags are meant to keep coffee fresh—coffee roasters expect most people will keep their coffee in the bag. So keeping it in the bag it came in (in a dark, cool, dry place) is a solid option. 

Coffee beans from Black Insomnia come in (one-way) vented bags designed to keep oxygen out while allowing the carbon dioxide that is naturally released over time by roasted coffee beans to escape.

“Oxygen: One of very few things that are terrible when combined with fresh coffee.”

Allowing carbon dioxide to escape while keeping oxygen out keeps coffee beans fresher longer. Since the bag keeps light out as well, all you really need to worry about is storing the bag somewhere without a lot of moisture or temperature fluctuations.

Don’t make the mistake of keeping your coffee in a cabinet above the stove or even above your coffee maker (like… someone I know did) no matter how convenient.

What’s the Absolute Best Method for Storing Coffee?

Again, if maximum freshness and maximum shelf life are what you’re after, you’ll want a truly air-tight food-grade stainless steel canister that uses a plunger to force all the air out.

But, no matter what you’ve heard, definitely keep your coffee out of the fridge. (And the freezer, preferably—just, get it away from your appliances already.)

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