When we receive that pack of super freshly roasted goodness, either when purchased in store or sent in the post, one question that often finds conflicting viewpoints is this: what is the best way to store roasted coffee in order to maximise flavour and longevity?
Some argue that it should be kept in the fridge. Whilst others vacuum seal the coffee and take out just what they need, when they need it. Others simply leave the coffee in its bag in a cupboard and consume it as they drink.
Which is correct?
Fortunately, we can give you some of the answers right now.
What are the causes of coffee staling?
Coffee staling is caused largely by 3 main enemies:
- Oxygen and other non-inert gases in the air
- Heat, caused by ambient temperature or nearby heat sources
- Moisture, either direct or caused by condensation
Moisture is an interesting one, because the main cause of this will come from large changes in temperature in the form of condensation. As such, temperature should be kept as stable as possible. Light is obviously a fairly easy factor to manage by keeping the coffee in its packaging, which is usually opaque. (Our packaging is, of course.)
Store roasted coffee for short term use
The most straightforward way to consume your coffee is to keep it in its valved bag (most freshly-roasted coffee will come packaged this way), at room temperature. Ideally, this would be around 21C (70F), but a stable temperature is of utmost importance here.
For this reason, roasted coffee should be kept in the cupboard and not in the fridge. Fluctuations in temperature from taking the coffee in and out of the fridge will cause condensation and wreak havoc with the coffee.
The valve allows the coffee to ‘outgas’, that is, it will allow the carbon dioxide produced from roasted coffee to escape. This is the primary reason coffee is left to ‘rest’ before ideal consumption. The jury is still out on the quality of these valves; they are supposed to be one-way — that is, they should let gases out but not in — however, the quality in these cheap devices can’t be entirely trusted.
We are currently looking into ways to oust the valve and provide better storage. But for short term storage of up to a few weeks, the normal one-way valve bags are usually sufficient for your roasted coffee.
Don’t forget to grind fresh! Ground coffee begins staling within just minutes.
Store roasted coffee for long-term use
There is a school of thought that argues the case for freezing roasted coffee, and you’ll be able to find many threads in the online coffee forums related to exactly this topic. Largely, opinion is favourable, and that coffee stored correctly in this way can lead to good results. But it is by no means guaranteed.
If you do want to go this route, the best advice seems to be using vacuum packing with mylar bags before freezing. Then freezing the product as quickly as possible. If you possess a powerful enough freezer there is talk of getting the temperature down to -5C. It may stretch the coffee life by up to 8 weeks.
Follow this advice if you really want to go down this route, but it isn’t our recommendation. This is largely due to the following:
Regardless of whichever method is used to store the coffee, what cannot be preserved are the coffee’s aromatics. Even when freezing. Depending on the coffee you have bought, these may represent everything about the coffee’s nature, so it’s worth bearing this in mind when planning your consumption.
For coffees that have delicate and wonderful aromatics, you’ll want to try and consume these as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the more these will continue to escape eventually leaving the coffee flatter in overall taste.