Storing Coffee

, , 6 Comments

STORING COFFEE..TO FREEZE OR NOT TO FREEZE?

The proper storage of coffee is integral to preserving its freshness and flavour for as long as possible. How to best do that is a hotly debated topic amongst coffee connoisseurs. This article is going to give you a basic overview of important factors to take into consideration when deciding the best way to store your coffee.

One fact that can’t be denied is that roasted coffee does not mix well with air, heat, moisture or light. Furthermore, there is a general consensus that in order to get the best flavour out of your coffee beans, you should buy small quantities of it and keep it in an airtight container, at (or preferably cooler than) room temperature. To get the most out of the bean you should also aim to consume it 1 to 2 weeks after buying as coffee begins to lose its freshness very soon after it has been roasted.

I BUY A LOT OF COFFEE…

What about if you buy a whole load of coffee in bulk to ensure a good price?

In this situation, you can put the coffee into airtight containers (best to separate them into weekly portions rather than keeping them in one large container) and store it in the freezer for about a month.

NB Once the beans have been removed from the freezer, NEVER put them back in. Just don’t do it. Refreezing coffee after you have allowed it to thaw has a seriously negative impact on its flavour.

So far (perhaps save the bulk buying freezer suggestion) everything I’ve said is common knowledge agreed by the experts.

THE GREY AREA

The debate starts when you look at how best to keep coffee away from its four foes (air, heat, moisture & light).

FREEZING/RefrigeratinG COFFEE
Storing Coffee. Refrigerating Coffee

Everyone agrees that too much heat is bad for storing roasted coffee. Storing coffee in a cooler temperature will slow down the loss of vital coffee flavour components. However, the fundamental question is how much cooler should this temperature be?

Advocators of the freezing or refrigeration of coffee argue that storing coffee at a cooler temperature slows down its ageing process, keeping it fresher for longer. However, at what cost?

The main arguments against freezing are:

(i) It removes the coffee aroma

(ii) Odours from other items in the fridge can alter the flavour notes of the coffee

(iii) The cool temperatures cause condensation to form on the bean and negatively affect the flavour of the coffee

However, freezing advocates would argue that once the coffee has sufficiently thawed it will regain its aroma. Also, if the coffee is kept in an airtight container, it will ensure that no aromas from your fridge/freezer attack the precious coffee inside. I’m not entirely sure how they would argue against moisture and condensation affecting the coffee.

In any case, there is no common consensus on whether or not freezing of refrigerating coffee is the best method for storing coffee. It’s more of a personal choice.

LYNDON’S COFFEE APPROACH TO STORING COFFEE

Here at Lyndon’s we would recommend:

1. Buying your coffee regularly

2. Drinking it within 1-2 weeks

3. Storing it

(i) in a dry, air-tight container

(ii) at, or slightly below room temperature

(iii) in a dark place

To freeze or not to freeze? We’ll leave that decision up to you…

Storing Coffee in the cupboard
 

6 Responses

  1. Natalia

    12/03/2012, 07:18 pm

    very timely article: I attempted to store my coffee in the fridge and just recently found condensation on on the walls of one of the containers. Totally agree with you – freezing small portions of the beans (for 1-2 weeks) doesn’t have any sense, because the temperature difference will negatively affect the quality of the coffee. It’s not a big pleasure in the morning – to wait when your coffee will thaw enough to put it into the grinder :)

    Reply
    • Henry

      12/03/2012, 07:31 pm

      Thanks! Do you have a favourite grinder? Mine broke the other day and I’m still wondering what to get as a replacement. I was thinking of getting a porlex hand grinder!

      Reply
  2. Natalia

    12/03/2012, 08:36 pm

    I use Krups GVX2. I wouldn’t say it’s the best, but if to look quality-price ratio it’s quite a good choice. I also have Bosch MKM 6000, but use it only for making powdered sugar =)) For coffee – only burr grinder. I didn’t try manual grinders, but I want to. So, waiting for a review from you 😉 Porlex seems to be a good one and it’s compact in contrast to mine.

    Reply
    • Henry

      12/03/2012, 08:43 pm

      It’s difficult to get that quality-price ratio right! I’ve never used a Krups GVX2, I’ll let you know about the porlex when I get it!

      Reply
  3. Brian's Coffee Spot

    12/05/2012, 12:33 pm

    I claim no scientific backing, but this is what I do…

    I keep my beans in airtight containers in a freezer compartment that only has coffee beans in it (although I suspect it would make no difference if I put other stuff in there; it’s just that it’s a small compartment and I’ve got a lot of beans!). Then I take a small quantity (enough for three to four mugs of coffee) and put that in a small, airtight container by the grinder. When that gets close to empty, I fill it up again.

    This way I always have thawed beans ready to grind when I need them. The only thing I worry about is moisture getting onto the beans when I open the large container to refill the small container. However, it doesn’t seem to cause me any problems.

    I use a cheap blade grinder for grinding my beans for the cafetiere and a rather expensive Rancilio burr grinder for espresso beans. The only downside with this is that the output from the burr grinder is via a small chute which is always full of ground coffee, so unless you are making espresso all day (I’m not) you are always left with yesterday’s ground coffee coming out first thing. This means that the get 100% freshly ground coffee, you have to throw a lot of coffee away…

    I’m still looking for a way around this…

    Excellent article by the way.

    Brian.

    Reply
  4. Henry

    12/10/2012, 10:10 pm

    Thanks for the informative response. I love hearing about peoples storing preferences! I’m still trying out quite a few different methods just out of curiosity. If you find a way of getting round the coffee waste let me know! Cheers

    Reply

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