How Should Coffee Be Stored? 6 Tips To Keep It Fresh

how to store coffee

How Should Coffee Be Stored?

There’s nothing more delicious than a nice hot cup of coffee, but iced coffee’s popularity has skyrocketed, too! With so many ways to drink this caffeinated favorite, how should coffee be stored?

Proper coffee storage involves placing coffee beans or grounds in an airtight container protected from light, heat, and moisture. After the coffee is roasted, exposure to the air and general atmosphere immediately causes it to diminish in freshness. After coffee is brewed, it can be refrigerated to maintain its smell and flavor for as long as four days.

In this article, we’ll go over a step-by-step process answering the question: how should coffee be stored? In addition, we will also cover a few frequently asked questions related to the proper storage of coffee!

How to Store Coffee

Although coffee is an enjoyable drink, whether chilled or fresh, it can be much less tasty if left out to get stale and can be messy if stored improperly. Therefore, you’ll find a step-by-step process for how to store coffee below:

  1. Keep Beans and Grounds in the Dark
  2. Keep Beans and Grounds in an Airtight Location
  3. Keep Beans and Grounds Cool
  4. Keep Beans and Grounds Dry
  5. Divide Your Coffee
  6. Refrigerate Brewed Coffee

Let’s take a closer look at some of the interesting reasons behind these important steps to store coffee properly!

1.   Keep Beans and Grounds in the Dark

Roasted coffee beans are already beginning to drop in levels of freshness when you receive them. Grinding these beans only speeds up this process! A coffee bean is made up of fats, colors, vitamins, and proteins. 

Each of these is decayed and broken down by light in a gradual transformation caused by “photodegradation.” To avoid photodegradation, whether your coffee is ground or whole bean in nature, make sure the container they are placed in is not transparent, but closer to opaque in material. 

The less light your coffee is exposed to, the less photodegradation can occur, and the more fresh your next cup of coffee will be!

2.   Keep Beans and Grounds in an Airtight Location

After a bean has been roasted, it begins to leak carbon dioxide. This is natural, and some of it is beneficial to the flavor of the final coffee product. However, too much loss of carbon dioxide can cause a nice, tasty roasted bean to lose its flavor and that delicious coffee smell we all know and love.

Therefore, the best thing to do is to protect your coffee before brewing it by placing the grounds or the whole beans in an airtight container.

3.   Keep Beans and Grounds Cool

Ready for another big scientific term? “Hygroscopic” is a word meaning absorbent of not only light, moisture, and air but warmth. This word applies to coffee grounds and coffee beans alike!

The effect that being hygroscopic has on coffee is not ideal. It causes the beans’ natural flavor right after roasting to be displaced by the bland, hot air it may come into contact with. 

Therefore, the best place to store your coffee beans and grounds is not only an airtight, dark spot, but one that is cool. Settling your coffee next to a window or an appliance that radiates warmth can lead to a less flavorful cup when you’re ready to brew!

4.   Keep Beans and Grounds Dry

The drier your coffee beans are, the fresher and more well-roasted. Moisture can cause a coffee bean to lose flavor and ruin already ground coffee. Be sure that your coffee beans and grounds are stored in a bone-dry container for the freshest results.

5.   Divide Your Coffee

One of the best ways to ensure a coffee beverage’s freshness is to divide your coffee amounts. For example, if you’re planning on having a cup of coffee before work in the morning, it is fine to grind whole beans or leave coffee grounds on the counter or wherever they’ll be readily available to you when you’re ready to brew.

However, you wouldn’t want to keep all of your coffee grounds out on a well-lit, potentially warm surface. You would wind up with an entire stock of coffee that has gradually become less and less flavorful!

 Instead, consider measuring how much coffee you’ll drink during the day and keep most of your supply in that dark, dry, cool and airtight container we’ve been talking about.

6.   Refrigerate Brewed Coffee

Now that we’ve covered how to properly store coffee beans and grounds, as well as the reasoning behind the best methods of storage, let’s talk about how to store the coffee you’ve already brewed!

Coffee beans and coffee grounds are one thing, but once they are used in combination with water to create a brew, an entirely new liquid has been created! This liquid has its own storage needs.

Much like any other type of beverage, a cup of coffee can only retain its flavor and freshness for so long after being brewed. Hot coffee can become stale as soon as it finishes cooling off, which takes around half an hour. Any longer than this, and a cup of coffee’s oils begin breaking down and leave it smelling and tasting foul.

However, if you seal your coffee beverage in an airtight container and refrigerate it, the oils last much longer. A properly refrigerated pot of coffee can remain delicious and safe to drink for as long as four days!

In Conclusion

The enemy of fresh and delicious coffee, whether whole beans or grounds, is the atmosphere around it. Moisture, warmth, light, and the air can all contribute to the loss of flavor in coffee. 

Therefore, before the coffee is brewed, it should be stored in a dark, dry, and airtight container. After being brewed, coffee can be enjoyed for up to 4 days as long as it was refrigerated within the first 30 minutes of being brewed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions relating to the topic of how to store coffee.

What is the best way to store ground coffee?

Coffee grounds are only fresh for five months if kept in a sealed, airtight container. After this, they are exposed to the air, which can cause oxidation and a loss of flavor and freshness. 

Like coffee beans, coffee grounds should be kept in airtight containers, away from heat and light sources.

Should I keep ground coffee in the fridge?

Ground coffee is best kept in a room temperature, but not warm, environment. This is because coffee grounds respond to any changes in temperature and absorb the flavors around them. 

There is always a chance that leaving coffee grounds in a family fridge, which is bound to fluctuate in temperature as it is opened and closed throughout the day, can ruin the freshness of your coffee grounds.

Is it better to keep coffee in the bag or in a jar?

Because coffee beans are absorbent, some believe that storing them in a smooth glass jar is preferable to storing them in a bag. However, coffee beans stored in a jar are more likely to suffer from exposure to light than those stored in a bag. Therefore, as long as the bag is airtight and dry, coffee should be kept in the bag.

How do you store coffee at home?

Coffee that is stored at home can be kept in a dry, dark place, such as the bottom of a cabinet or pantry, in an airtight container that does not allow oxygen to draw the flavor out of the beans.

How long will ground coffee stay fresh?

Coffee grounds that are properly stored can last up to five months. However, if coffee grounds are stored too close to direct sunlight, are exposed to the open air, or are subjected to changing temperatures, their freshness will decrease. Without proper storage, coffee grounds can become stale and lose their freshness in two or three months.

How long does ground coffee last once opened?

Once it is exposed to the air, ground coffee begins to oxidate, losing its freshness. While it is still usable during this time, it can become stale as quickly as four weeks. Therefore, it is always a good idea to move ground coffee to an airtight container after opening the bag.

Does freezing coffee keep it fresh?

Freezing coffee beans cannot keep coffee fresh. Although the basic principles of storing coffee involve a dark, cool place, putting coffee beans in a freezer takes this too far without too much benefit. In fact, if you store coffee in a freezer, not only will it still gradually lose flavor, but it may suffer freezer burn, because many airtight containers warp in extreme cold.

Why do coffee bags have holes?

The hole on a coffee bag is actually a valve, allowing coffee beans that have recently been roasted to “breathe.” The breathing process involves coffee beans releasing carbon dioxide. The valve in the bag allows this to happen without permitting oxygen to come in and ruin the freshness of the bean.

Should you freeze ground coffee to keep it fresh?

Freezing ground coffee can keep the grounds fresh, but only if these grounds are in a completely airtight and vacuum-sealed container. If this is the case, then the ground coffee can last as many as 24 months. However, without this sealing precaution, coffee grounds can lose their freshness in the usual time of 5 months.

Will coffee stay fresh in a Mason jar?

A mason jar can keep coffee fresh as long as the jar is not placed in direct sunlight and as long as the lid to the jar is airtight. If placed in direct sunlight, the glass walls of the jar can heat up and allow both warmth and light to leech the flavor out of the coffee beans.

What container is best for coffee?

The best container for coffee is an airtight canister made of stainless steel. Although other materials work, stainless steel canisters can protect coffee best from light, warmth, and air itself and from competing flavors in the surrounding area that the coffee beans may absorb.

Should I leave coffee in the bag?

In general, leaving coffee in the bag you purchased is a great way to keep it fresh. The manufacturers of the coffee know that their product will be at it’s best if kept in an airtight, protective container. Therefore, the bag that your coffee came in is probably specifically designed to preserve it.

References and Citations

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Hygroscopic definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hygroscopic

Christopher Mize
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