Brewing a great cup of coffee is a delicate procedure. It depends on the quality of your beans, their roast, how hot the water is, and so much more. One thing that coffee-fanatics tend to agree on is that storing the whole beans and grinding just enough for each individual batch is a key component to the great-cup brewing effort. Coffee tends to lose freshness and flavor more quickly once it has been ground. The best time to utilize ground coffee is immediately after it has been ground, so that you can experience the optimum amount of the natural flavor. This is, of course, dependent on having an at-home grinder (which come in models that aren’t as expensive as you might think) and the time to grind before every brew. Regardless of whether you “pre-grind” or not, there are some things you should always remember when storing your coffee.
One of the best ways to preserve the freshness and flavor of your coffee is to keep the beans in an airtight container. This is harder than you may think because many of your everyday Tupperware containers are not truly airtight. This goes for whatever coffee container or bag you bought the coffee beans in, they are rarely fully airtight. Investing in an airtight container, especially one made specifically for coffee storage, is your best bet. Oxygen is considered to be the biggest “ruin-er” of coffee. Exposure to air can cause even the freshest coffee beans to go bad in a matter of days.
In addition to being airtight, you want your coffee to also be stored in an opaque container. Direct light of any kind speeds up the process that makes your coffee beans go stale. If you don’t have a nontransparent container, make sure you have a cabinet or cupboard that doesn’t take in light to store your coffee. This will keep it fresher longer.
Another strategy for preserving freshness and flavor is to keep the beans (or grinds) cool. Most experts recommend storing the beans at room temperature. Storing your coffee beans in too hot an environment will cause them to lose much of their flavor. This is why some people choose to freeze or refrigerate their beans, to avoid any accidental heat exposure (for example, if the cabinet your coffee is stored in is just a little too close to the oven). Experts have varying opinions about freezing coffee beans and its effects on freshness and flavor. What’s important to remember if you’re considering this storage strategy is that coffee beans absorb moisture, odors and tastes from the air around them. The freezer/refrigerator is a breeding ground for moisture and random food odors. If you choose to do this, make sure you get a truly airtight container for your storing purposes. You also want to be sure to quickly remove the beans you need each time and return them to their container and the freezer so that they do not begin to thaw and therefore, form condensation.
That’s because, moisture is also something you definitely need to avoid when storing coffee. Exposing a coffee bean to moisture, whether humid air or water, causes it to go bad almost immediately. So that opaque container or dark cabinet also needs to remain as dry as possible. Again, a truly airtight container is your best bet, because it will keep out moisture, air and light if it is opaque, ensuring you optimal freshness! This is also why experts hesitate to endorse freezing or refrigerating your coffee beans because of the condensation that can begin to form very quickly once a temperature change occurs.
Finally, one more solid strategy for preserving the quality of your coffee is to pay attention to how much you buy at one time. As soon as the beans are roasted they begin to lose freshness. It is best to buy smaller amounts of coffee that have been recently roasted. A general rule is to buy just enough coffee for two weeks of brewing. And for further optimization, separate your beans/grounds into separate smaller batches so that you don’t expose the entire batch to air each time you go to divide out your brew amount.
Coffee doesn’t just have to be the drug that keeps you going, it can be a truly enjoyable experience. You can have coffee that tastes just as good as it makes you feel!