Keeping Those Fabulous Flavours Fresh - How to Preserve Your Coffee
For those who love coffee, there’s nothing quite like the intoxicating aroma and intense flavour of freshly roasted beans, that excite the senses when a pack is first opened. The aim thereafter is to ensure those fabulous flavours and aromas are kept at their best for as long as possible, as coffee stored incorrectly will soon become flat and stale. So how should coffee best be stored to keep it fresh and fragrant?
The three most important rules for preserving coffee are to protect it from light, keep it dry, and store it in a cool environment. When coffee beans are roasted, chemical changes occur that make them more porous and vulnerable to the effects of oxidation and moisture penetration. Carbon dioxide also forms inside them, and this will gradually leach out of the beans. This degassing can initially improve flavour, and coffee may be at its best a few days after roasting, but gradually oxygen will replace the carbon dioxide in the beans, resulting in a decrease in aroma, loss of character, and possible creation of undesirable flavours. Although it may be safe to drink coffee that has been in storage for quite some time, the sooner it is consumed after roasting, the more enjoyable an experience it will be.
The best place to store coffee is in a pantry or cupboard that is cool, dark and dry. Ideally, coffee should be used as early as possible from the date it was roasted, and beans should be ground just before brewing. Once a pack of coffee is opened, unless it has come in a resealable bag with a one-way valve, it should be tied with an elastic band and placed in a resealable plastic bag, or poured into an airtight canister or opaque, plastic container. If stored well, whole beans will generally be good for around 6 months, but ground coffee for less, as the increased surface area of ground coffee makes it more prone to the effects of oxidation. Darker roasted coffees will usually go stale quicker than lighter roasts.
Some people like to freeze their coffee, but this isn’t ideal as freezing changes the cell structure of foodstuffs, and this can compromise flavour and aroma; fluctuating temperatures can also create moisture that may permeate the coffee. Freezing is an option though if you have a lot of coffee that needs to be kept for a while, but if you do, it’s best to divide it into smaller amounts and store them in separate bags or airtight containers. Whole beans kept in the freezer could last for many months, especially if placed in a vacuum-sealed bag, but ground coffee more like just a few months. Both ground coffee and whole beans should be defrosted at room temperature before brewing. Coffee should never be kept in the refrigerator as it can take on flavours and odours from other foods being stored there.
When buying coffee, it’s worth considering that coffee bought from supermarkets and stores may have been roasted a long time before being sold, and although safe to drink, its flavour may well be compromised. The advantage of buying coffee online is that beans can be dispatched soon after roasting, with the date they were roasted and best before date printed on the label. At Coffee-Direct we roast to order, so your coffee will always arrive in the freshest condition possible, and to ensure it stays fresh for as long as possible, our coffee is packed in foil-fresh bags with resealable zips and one-way valves that are designed to let carbon dioxide out, but nothing in. Also, unless your coffee will be consumed fairly quickly, it’s probably best to buy in smaller amounts, although unopened bags should last well for up to nine months. A Coffee-Direct personal subscription is a great way to receive a regular supply of freshly roasted coffee as often as you require, and also benefit from a permanent 15% discount on our entire range of over 100 incredible coffees, with the freedom to amend, skip or cancel your subscription at any time.