Coffee, like any other organic product, loses its flavor over time and can spoil. Special conditions are needed to preserve the flavor and aroma of your coffee, especially if you’ve just bought the best coffee in the world.
The four main enemies that affect coffee are oxygen, humidity, heat, and light. Exposure to each of these shortens the shelf life of coffee and adversely affects the quality of the beverage. Now let’s find out how to store your coffee, whether it’s green, freshly roasted, or ground.
Conservation of green coffee
The qualities of green coffee (unroasted) deteriorate slowly. Green coffee should be stored in dry and cool conditions. The recommended temperature is below 20° C. Exposure to sunlight or moisture has a quick impact on grain quality.
Under good storage conditions, green coffee can be stored for up to a year. Some merchants store it longer, but this affects its quality. However, there are special cases where green coffee is intentionally stored for several years before being marketed in order to achieve a unique “fermented” taste.
Storage of roasted coffee
During the roasting process, coffee beans swell and lose weight, they become less dense and their properties change. Concretely, the release of volatile oils and gases contained in coffee beans makes them more sensitive to degradation factors.
Roasted beans can be stored for about a month in an airtight container at low temperatures. It is recommended to use a waterproof bag or an opaque airtight box, not a clear glass container. Coffee beans emit gas for the first few days after roasting. Keeping them in an airtight bag can cause the bag to swell and burst.
Many coffee houses dispense their beans in special bags with a one-way valve to release the gases emitted by the roasted beans and to prevent oxygen from entering the bag.
Storing ground coffee
Grinding considerably accelerates the chemical process of coffee degradation. The grinding breaks the rigid skin of the beans, multiplies the contact surface between the coffee and the air which surrounds it by a thousand, and causes rapid oxidation of the latter. Ground coffee can lose its aroma in just a few hours. After about 10 hours, it is estimated that a coffee bean has lost about 50% of its aroma.
One of the best ways to store your coffee (both ground and bean) is in a vacuum container. The latter is equipped with a pump that sucks air from the container in order to keep the coffee fresh.
It is recommended that you grind your coffee just before brewing it, as is done in coffee shops. Ground coffee can be stored in a small airtight bag and kept for up to several days in a cool, dark place (however, it will be less flavorful over the days).
Can you freeze coffee?
Much has been written on this subject. Some are absolutely against it and others advocate it. There is no straightforward answer. However, there is no doubt that freezing coffee beans slow down their deterioration and loss of flavor. However, there are several points to consider before freezing your coffee:
- The smells and flavors of other frozen foods can permeate the coffee if the bag is not completely sealed.
- Coffee beans are already very hard, and frozen beans are even harder. Grinding frozen beans can damage your coffee grinder. To avoid this problem, wait several hours after removing a bag from the freezer before opening it (it should reach room temperature).
- The use of bags with a one-way valve is not recommended in the freezer. The coffee and cold air in the bag create suction and vacuum which can destroy the valve, allowing moisture and odors to enter.