If You Care About Your Coffee, Then You Should Know How to Store Your Coffee Beans

how to store coffee beans- cup of caffeine

Quality coffee beans are worth their weight in gold, but you’ll never get the most out of them if they’re not stored correctly. If you’re paying $20 for a fancy coffee, then at least know how to store them.

It’s unfortunate that many of us don’t have the time or know-how to properly store our coffee beans. After all, better beans, stored correctly make better tasting cups of caffeine—and that’s something worth having, right?

It is important to store your coffee beans properly in order to preserve their flavor and aroma.

Know how to store your beans properly so that they stay fresh longer; how long they last; when your roasted bean will go bad so it can be frozen or discarded; what kind of container is best suited for long term storage needs (as well as some pros and cons) and what should you do when they go stale so you can avoid any disasters at home with these precious little packages from heaven…Read on for tips on the best ways of storing coffee beans so that they stay fresh for as long as possible!

The 4 Coffee Flavor Killers You Need To Avoid

Your delicious, high-end coffee beans start to fall apart (chemically) two days after roasting. The sweet sugars melt away over time. The acids are broken down into more bitter compounds. The fragrant aromas escape into the cosmos… never to be smelled again. Your formerly rich and flavorful brew has been reduced to a soupy mess of muddy, unidentifiable tastes.

You can’t prevent it from happening. But you may slow it down. Here are the three things you should avoid to keep your coffee fresh and delicious.

Oxygen — Contact of coffee beans with oxygen causes degradation of some aroma components, depriving you of its magical taste.

Light — Light can speed up the decay of your coffee beans. Coffee beans will lose their freshness, flavor, and become stale over time. when exposed to sunlight. Do you know what photodegradation is? It is the process by which pigments, fats, proteins, and vitamins are broken down.  In other words, it removes much of the pleasure from your brew.

Heat — Keeping your coffee on the counter next to your stove or in a cabinet adjacent to your oven will raise its temperature, speeding up the decay, altering the flavor completely. Because Temperature acts as a catalyst for chemical changes, it’s one reason we keep food in the freezer.

Moisture — Almost every food item is influenced by moisture in the air. A humid condition is extremely unsuitable for keeping food items, including roasted beans. The taste of roasted beans will rapidly change as soon as they come into contact with moisture in a short span of time.

These are the coffee beans’ kryptonite.

How Long Does It Last?

The shelf life of coffee is determined by two primary factors: the type of coffee and how it’s stored.

Properly stored, whole coffee beans and even ground coffee can generally last for a very long time.

In general, coffee that hasn’t been brewed outlasts brewed coffee. Coffee loses its freshness and taste if not stored in an airtight container. The way you store your coffee — on the counter or in the pantry, fridge, or freezer — also makes a difference. Freezing and refrigerating coffee can affect the flavor, but they can also extend its shelf life.

coffee beans whole vs ground

How Long Does Whole Bean Coffee Last?

Depending on how they’re stored, unopened, whole, roasted coffee beans can last from 6 months to 3 years past the roast date.  Open beans that have been kept in an airtight container at room temperature and are not exposed to light and heat can stay fresh for 1–3 weeks.

Whole bean coffee retains its flavor the longest. If you plan to store beans for long, it is best to keep them whole for maximum freshness. When grinding beans, only grind what you’ll need for brewing to capture the freshest flavors.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?

Unopened ground coffee can last from 3-6 months when kept in the pantry or up to 1-2 years in the freezer.  For maximum freshness, ground beans should be used within two weeks of opening.

Keep in mind that ground coffee is typically safe to consume after the best-by date. However, it will most likely not taste as good or robust.

How Long Does Brewed Coffee Last?

The shelf life of brewed coffee is significantly shorter than that of dry coffee. It should be consumed as soon as possible after brewing to obtain maximum flavor. It can, however, be kept for a longer period in the fridge.

Once brewed, it’s best to drink your freshly-brewed cup of coffee the same day, preferably within 2-4 hours. It is possible to keep brewed coffee in the fridge for longer. When kept this way, it is likely safe to consume for up to 3–4 days. However,  it will most probably not taste good. To enjoy a reliably delicious pick-me-up around the clock,  invest in a good thermos that preserves the flavor and the temperature. With that said, my personal favorite coffee thermos is the Thermos Vacuum Insulated coffee flask. It will make sure your last sip is as delicious as the first.

How Long Does Cold Brew Last?

Cold-brew can last for a lot longer than brewed hot coffee. When properly stored in a sealed container in the fridge, cold brew will have a shelf life of 1-2 weeks. Cold brewer with added water is best to consume within 3-4 days. Cold brewer already mixed with milk, cream or sugar will stay fresh for about 1-2 days in the fridge.

Keep beans airtight and cool

Your beans’ greatest kryptonites are oxygen, light, heat, and moisture.

Store your coffee beans in an opaque, air-tight container at room temperature to keep their fresh roasted flavor as long as possible. Try to avoid transparent containers since light will cause them to lose flavor.

Also, keep your beans in a dark and cool place. Coffee’s primary packaging is generally not good for long-term storage. Move your coffee to the airtight storage canisters once you buy them.

Buy the right amount

With coffee, freshness really is key. Sipping on a freshly roasted cup of coffee is one way to get your day off to the right start. But it’s not uncommon for the beans to lose their freshness after roasting. Try buying smaller, freshly roasted batches instead of larger quantities to ensure you get the best flavor out of what you buy. Consider buying in one or two-week supply-sized batches at a time for a good mix of convenience and flavor retention.

If you prefer to store your beans in a coffee canister, divide your coffee supply into several smaller portions and store the larger, unused portion in an air-tight container.

With pre-ground coffee, you get the convenience of not having to grind your own coffee and doing it incorrectly. Although pre-ground beans are more likely to go stale faster than whole beans because of the increased exposure to air. In the case of whole beans, grind the amount you’ll need immediately before brewing.  The benefit of whole bean coffee is that it provides the freshest possible cup of coffee every time if stored correctly.

“You want to buy whole bean coffee if you’re looking to have a quality cup.”

Dillon Edwards, founder of Brooklyn’s Parlor Coffee.

The beans themselves are, according to him, the best container for preserving the coffee’s quality. When you grind the beans—the beans—and that vessel — are broken and they oxidize rapidly. You should grind it immediately before you brew.

coffee bean storage

To Freeze or Not to Freeze

Freshness is critical to a delicious cup of coffee. According to coffee pros, coffee should be consumed as soon as possible after it has been roasted, especially once the original packaging seal has been broken.

Coffee is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture (and odors and tastes) from the air around it, making it more prone to mold and mildew growth. Your coffee beans may take on the taste of garlic or onions if you have any in your freezer. You won’t want that in your morning pick-up.

That’s why freezing coffee beans is not a good idea, because it enables the beans to absorb more moisture. The coffee’s delicate aromas are lost when it’s subjected to extra moisture and condensation over time, much the same as when you take your coffee out of the freezer frequently.

If you are dead-set on freezing your beans(e.g., you bought your coffee in bulk or you’re taking a vacation and leaving your coffee at home), just make sure you do it correctly.

Use an airtight container so there is no air or as little as possible. Completely seal them and store them in the freezer. Seal them in small bags Just enough for 3-4 days at a time and only take out when you need. The small quantities allow you to only defrost what you need, ensuring that you don’t end up with stale beans.

Don’t forget to let the coffee beans thaw to room temperature before opening the bag.  Place it on the counter for a few hours and don’t open it! If you do, moisture will form on the beans, making your efforts futile.

Return the rest of the coffee to the freezer immediately before any moisture forms on the frozen coffee. It will be worse as the humidity and moisture will cause droplets of water to form on and around your coffee, which is obviously not good.

coffee beans bag open- cup of caffeine

Don’t Throw Out Your Stale Beans

You bought a bag of coffee some Saturday afternoon with the intention to brew before work. As weeks rolled by, you neglected your beautiful beans and they ended up stale.

You don’t want your coffee to taste like old cigarettes, but you also don’t want to waste those precious beans. What can you do now?

There is no need to throw out your stale beans. Most coffee pros give you the green light to use stale beans in some drinks which I will show in just a moment.

Is Stale Coffee Unsafe to Drink?

No, drinking stale coffee is perfectly acceptable. It is not harmful in any way. It is safe to drink for a long time —however, aim to drink up within a few weeks for best results.

Coffee doesn’t go bad in a way that bread grows mold or a banana slowly rots on your countertop. Even if the expiration date has passed, drinking coffee prepared from old beans will not make you sick. (However, I cannot guarantee the flavor.)

In a moment, I will show you how to make use of stale coffee beans in a variety of delicious ways.

That being said, it is wise to inspect any old coffee first that you’re considering drinking. Do not brew it in these three scenarios:

  • It’s been stored without being tightly sealed
  • It gets wet in any way
  • It has smells of mildew or contains any visible mold

In these scenarios, stale coffee beans can’t be reused and need to be tossed.

5 Tasty Ways to Use Old, Stale Coffee

As coffee is a perishable good, it does tend to go stale over time due to oxidation. But there’s hope!

Here are a few ways you can actually salvage your stale beans into pretty decent recipes!

1. Cold Brew Cocktail

Cold-brew is the most forgiving way to use stale beans, since the extraction time is longer, resulting in less flavor impact.

making cold brew with stale coffee

2. Homemade Coffee Ice Cream

If you have stale coffee beans, make a creamy, cold, and caffeinated pot of ice cream with them! Enjoy your favorite dessert ice cream, garnish it with a dollop of homemade whipped cream for an extra special treat!

coffee ice cream

3. Coffee Protein Shakes

Coffee Protein Shake is a wonderful refreshment to have when you need a little pick-me-up. This delicious and nutritious protein shake is ideal as a post-workout snack for a quick caffeine boost.

coffee protein shakes

4. Coffee Cubes

Pour the cold brew in ice cube trays, freeze it until solid, about 5 hours, and use it to make a stronger flavored iced coffee. Never drink watered-down iced coffee again!

coffee ice cubes

5. Coffee Desserts

From espresso chocolate chip cookies to no-churn tiramisu ice cream, coffee desserts are the best pick me up.  Stale coffee beans won’t give you the best result but they may still provide that classic rich coffee taste to a dessert.

Bring it on, coffee dessert season. I’m craving it.

iced latte

Final Thoughts

No matter where the day takes you, knowing how to store your coffee beans is essential to keep the go-juice going. 

The only non-negotiable in coffee is its freshness. That’s what gives your beans their vibrant scents, sharp acidity, and sweet sugars. Improving your coffee storage skills will ensure that your coffee always tastes fresh and delicious.

Start with high-quality beans and store them properly to get the best cup of coffee.

Happy drinking, y’all!

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