If you count yourself among the millions of people who look forward each day to savoring a cup or more of freshly brewed coffee, you owe it yourself to learn how to properly store your coffee supply so that every cup you brew tastes fresh and satisfying. Quality coffee represents an investment of part of your weekly food budget, so it’s smart to know how to preserve its freshness and quality when buying either ground coffee or coffee beans in quantities that are larger than you can use in a day or two’s time.
There are four enemies to coffee freshness, conditions guaranteed to sap that wonderful aroma and taste right out of your coffee cup. These are moisture, light, heat and air. Expose your ground coffee supply or your recently purchased fresh coffee beans to any one of these conditions, much less all four, and you’ll be saying “uugh” rather than “aah” after tasting that first sip. The place where you store your coffee is just as important as the type of container you store it in.
A kitchen pantry or cabinet offers a cool, dark, dry place for coffee storage so long as they are not adjacent to a source of heat like the stove or a source of light like a kitchen window where air and sunlight streams in. A kitchen counter top near your coffee maker makes an idea spot as long as you use the proper type of container and the container isn’t exposed to direct sunlight or heat.
An opaque ceramic or glass container that has a gasket on top for an airtight seal makes the perfect container for either coffee beans or ground coffee. The ideal size ceramic container can usually hold between half a pound and a pound of ground coffee or freshly roasted beans. Avoid using clear glass containers or metal containers that might react badly with coffee’s natural oils. Don’t purchase a supply of coffee that will last you more than 7 to 14 days because coffee beans begin losing their freshness shortly after the roasting process and packaged ground coffee starts to go stale soon after you break the seal and expose the contents to air.
Most coffee lovers purchase freshly roasted beans which they grind as needed for optimum freshness. Ground coffee loses its flavor much more quickly than coffee beans, so it’s a good idea to invest in a coffee grinder and purchase beans only. Some coffee purists purchase green coffee beans and store them in an airtight container in a cool dry place, roasting and grinding them right before the brewing process.
Refrigerators and freezers are not proper storage places for either coffee beans or ground coffee because the cold and moisture causes the coffee oils to go rancid and the coffee begins absorbing the odors and aromas of whatever else is stored in the fridge or freezer compartment. It’s a smart idea to keep a very small airtight container on the kitchen counter for daily use that is refilled from a larger airtight ceramic container holding the bulk of your coffee supply.
Buy freshly roasted coffee beans or ground coffee only in small, manageable amounts and get into the habit of properly storing it as soon as you come home from the market. Properly sealed and stored to prevent exposure to air, moisture, light and heat can help ensure that the first cup you brew from your recently purchased bag of ground coffee or beans will taste just as fresh and delicious as the last.