How to Store Coffee Beans Long Term: The Complete Guide

Table of Contents

  • How Long Can You Expect Coffee to Last?
  • How to Store Coffee Beans
    • Opt to Buy Whole Beans Rather Than Pre-Ground
      • If You Can’t Give Up Buying Pre-Ground Coffee…
    • Store Coffee Beans in Airtight Containers
    • Remove Coffee Beans from Retail Packaging
    • Store Coffee Beans at Room Temperature or In a Cool Location
    • Keep Coffee Beans Out of Direct Light
    • Consider Dividing Your Coffee Supply into Portions to Limit Air Exposure When Using
    • Try Not to Buy Large Quantities of Coffee Beans at One Time
    • Avoid Freezing Coffee Beans, But Take Necessary Steps If You Do
    • Don’t Let Coffee Beans Get Moist
    • Wait to Grind Beans Until Just Before Using Them
    • If You Roast Your Beans, Wait Until You Are Ready to Use Them Before Roasting
    • Repurpose Stale Coffee Beans for Cold Brew
  • Conclusion

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Coffee beans are hygroscopic, meaning they will absorb any surrounding odors, moisture, and flavors, and so you absolutely want to limit their exposure to elements that will spoil the taste. Preserving coffee beans and keeping their freshness for longer periods of time relies upon being able to limit the beans’ exposure to air, light, heat, and moisture.

The easiest way to prevent these elements from spoiling your coffee bean supply is to invest in the proper type of storage vessel and to make small adjustments to how and where you store your beans. If you want to make sure that your last brew of coffee will be just as fresh as the first, keep reading our complete guide for storing coffee beans long term.

this one, are not only airtight but also use special valves to vent out carbon dioxide. It is also opaque and watertight, meaning sunlight and moisture also won’t be able to spoil your beans.

For those wanting a minimalist ceramic design, a coffee container like this one can be an excellent option. These ceramic containers still feature an airtight seal but have a warmer and less industrial aesthetic than many other coffee storage containers, due to the handmade ceramic base. Again, the opaque quality of this canister helps further protect the freshness of the beans by shielding them from light.

Some coffee containers, like this one, create a vacuum seal that keeps the coffee fresh for longer. Gases such as carbon dioxide are let out of the container while oxygen is prevented from entering. This will help protect and preserve your beans for longer than if they were just sitting on your kitchen counter.

accelerates the rate of decay. This means that once it is exposed to sunlight, the chemical components responsible for the flavor of the coffee will begin to break down. The breakdown of these chemicals will inevitably result in a stale, flat brew of coffee.

The longer you can keep your coffee beans from being exposed to sunlight, the longer these chemicals will remain intact and the freshness will be preserved. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to store coffee beans in an opaque container. Stainless steel and ceramic are popular materials for coffee canisters because they block out light. Avoid the temptation to showcase your beans in a glass container, as this will accelerate the loss of freshness.

If you don’t have an opaque container, you can protect your coffee beans by storing them somewhere dark, such as a cabinet or pantry. The less light you can expose your coffee beans to, the longer their flavors will be preserved.

Trade can have a rotation of fresh coffee sent directly to your doorstep at your preferred frequency. These services also frequently feature options to help customize the beans sent to you, allowing you to discover new blends tailored to your tastes or routinely receive your favorite coffee bean staple roast. Thanks to these service options, you’ll never run out of fresh coffee again.

freezer can be a suitable storage place for coffee.

Most everyone agrees, however, that the fridge is a definite no-go when it comes to storing coffee beans. Since coffee is hygroscopic, it will absorb any moisture, odors, or tastes around it. In the cool, moist climate of your fridge, your coffee is more likely to get condensation and be spoiled. Also, any aromas in your fridge will be transferred to the beans. So, while your garlic pasta leftovers may make for a great dinner, it’s probably not the taste you want in your morning cup.

This same hygroscopic quality needs to be considered if you are storing your beans in the freezer, too. Sometimes storing in the freezer isn’t avoidable. Perhaps you bought several bags of your favorite roast from a distant shop and you know you won’t get through it all in a couple of weeks. Your best option may be to store it in the fridge but you should take precautions to make sure your beans have the best chance of staying fresh.

If you’re storing in the freezer, you must have an absolutely airtight container. If your coffee comes in a vacuum-sealed bag or a bag with carbon dioxide vents, leave it sealed and store this directly in the freezer. If it comes in a thin paper bag or breathable container, transfer it to an airtight container. Anything less than airtight means that moisture can sneak in, which will ruin your beans.

When you remove your coffee from the freezer, only take out what you need to brew for the week and then quickly return the beans to the freezer. According to the National Coffee Association, you do not want any condensation to form on the beans, and letting frozen beans thaw before refreezing is thus a recipe for flavorless, flat brews. Only let the beans you plan to brew thaw and keep the rest sealed away at a constantly stable, cold temperature.

International Coffee Organization, the ideal storage humidity levels for coffee beans is 11-12.5%. You don’t need to be this precise for home storage, but just be aware that significantly higher environmental humidity can spoil your brew.

this one by OXO BREW are small and don’t take up much counter space and also feature settings that allow you grind to precisely your preferred taste. If you prefer to grind by hand, then there are plenty of options like this Hario Coffee Mill.

If you really want to get technical, there are some precision grinders that can help you make the best of your beans. This OXO BREW model comes with a built-in scale, meaning you will grind the precise amount of coffee you need every time, without waste.

Another popular model among baristas is the Baratza Encore. It has a range of features and 40 grind settings, meaning you can adjust to adapt to any mode of brewing.

is a waste. The cold brew process involves a much longer extraction time, so the flavor isn’t as impacted by less-than-fresh coffee beans.

To make cold brew, the process is very simple and remarkably forgiving.

  • Start by placing 12 ounces of coarsely ground beans into a large container
  • Add seven cups of cold water
  • Stir gently, making sure all the coffee grounds are saturated
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 12 hours
    • Cold-brew can sit at room temperature, which will require slightly less steep time but might result in a more acidic brew
  • Transfer the cold brew to a pitcher, using a fine-mesh sieve and/or cheesecloth to filter out the grounds
  • Discard the grounds
  • Strain the coffee once again, this time through the sieve while lined with a coffee filter
    • It may take a significant amount of time for the coffee to drain through the filter if it still has a lot of grounds in it
  • Once filtered, cover the coffee container and place it in the fridge

Cold-brew coffee can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. If desired, you can dilute the cold brew when serving by adding an equal part of milk and/or water.

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