The other day at the pop up farmer's market, a man came up to my stand and said he really loves trying all kinds of coffee, but he has so many in his freezer right now that he really shouldn't buy any more and just use the ones he has. I didn't get into any more detail as to how he was storing it, but storing it in a freezer may or may not be the best option. Let's talk about what is the best way coffee should be stored.
Start With Fresh Roasted Coffee
The best aromas and flavors are present in coffee the closest to the roast date. Over the next few weeks after roasting, they start to deteriorate. While the coffee doesn't really go bad as to say it's not safe to drink, it just won't taste that great. The other day I went into the local chain grocery store and checked out some of the "higher end" coffees they were selling and many did not have the roast date, rather a "best by" date. With best buy dates, you may still not know when it was roasted. One of the bags had a best buy date in December (it's May now) and it was ground coffee. Not knowing when this coffee was roasted, most likely this bag of coffee has already lost a lot of its flavors and aromas, especially since it was already ground. Whole bean coffee will keep it's aroma and flavor longer than ground coffee, so I always encourage my customers to invest in a coffee grinder. It doesn't have to be expensive and there are a lot of options out there right now.
The back label of our bags showing the roast date.
Keep Out the Oxygen
Like most foods, oxygen exposure causes the coffee taste and flavor to deteriorate quickly. So to help prevent this, keeping your coffee in a sealed container, especially one which allows you to remove the air inside like the canister pictured below is the most ideal. Another great way is to use a vacuum or food sealer to remove the air completely from the storage package.
Where to Store It
The best place to store coffee is in a cool, dark place like a pantry. It is widely thought that the refrigerator is the best place to keep coffee, when in fact the opposite is true. I do not recommend storing coffee in the refrigerator mainly due to the fact that it is not a dry environment and with coffee being very porous, it tends to absorb moisture pretty easily as well as all of the smells of its surrounding environment.
Going back to the visitor who freezes his coffee, freezing coffee has been debated by coffee experts a lot. As with a refrigerator you do expose the coffee to a moist environment, however the moisture is essentially frozen. Some coffee experts believe that as long as the coffee is stored in a vacuumed sealed package (and not just in its originally packaging), it should be fine.
Perhaps though, instead of buying a lot of coffee and freezing, it might be best to rethink this and buy it freshly roasted and use it as soon as possible. Often we go on trips and may find a great local coffee shop and think that we need to buy a lot of bags and freeze them so that we can enjoy them over time. With more and more coffee roasters selling online, the best way would be to purchase the coffee directly from their website and use it upon receipt. Most coffee roasters (like Cloudland Coffee) roast to order so that their customers can get the freshest roasted coffee. Plus you will provide a steady stream of income for the coffee roaster if you are a big fan of their coffee and continue to purchase from them over time. A win-win for both you and the roaster.
Have anymore questions about storing your coffee? Email Kristina at email@example.com