How to store coffee beans
What are the biggest enemies of the coffee bean?
Beware: all sorts of things are waiting to taint your coffee beans. All these will affect it:
air – as soon as roasted coffee beans touch air, the flavours and aromas start to degrade as they oxidise
light – sunlight and indoor lighting break down the fats, vitamins and proteins, causing the beans to go stale
heat – warm environments cause the molecules in the beans to move more quickly and break apart, losing flavour
moisture – when a roasted bean is exposed to moisture or condensation, the beans are affected almost instantly.
What do freshly roasted beans look like?
When it’s just been roasted, coffee looks shiny and glossy. That’s because the beautiful oils have come to the surface. This is especially true of dark roasts. As time passes, the beans will then dry out and have a more dull appearance. As time passes though, the coffee beans will take on a duller appearance as the oils and fragrant compounds dry out.
How long do coffee beans last?
Unroasted beans keep their flavours for at least a year in a sealed or vacuum-packed bag. But if, like most of us, you buy roasted beans, they start to deteriorate a week from the roast date, unless they’re carefully stored.
Look after them well, and you can enjoy the freshness of your coffee beans for around a month. For maximum bean-to-cup freshness, try grinding right before brewing. It’s a gratifying process and you’ll really be able to taste the difference.
How to keep coffee beans fresh for longer
Show your favourite fresh coffee some love with these care tips:
choose a cool, dark, dry place, like a pantry or cupboard
avoid warm spots, like near to an oven, or cupboard that is in direct sunlight
avoid moist places, such as near the sink or the kettle, for example
if you do keep your coffee on the counter, it needs to be in an opaque, airtight container – and away from heat and light
try to buy whole beans, not too many at a time, and as freshly roasted as possible for a coffee house experience at home.
Should coffee beans be stored in the fridge?
It may be tempting, but refrigerators are not recommended for storing coffee beans. Coffee is soft and porous and tends to absorb the flavours of other strong-tasting foods in the fridge, like onions or cheese.
The cold temperature and humidity inside a fridge is also not suitable for keeping coffee fresh. The beans can be subject to condensation, which means they will partially brew and lose their potency.
Does freezing coffee beans keep them fresh?
Experts are more divided here. If you do decide to, it’s very important to know how to store coffee beans correctly in the freezer.
It’s best to freeze them in small quantities, in an airtight container. Only open the container when they’re thoroughly thawed, to avoid condensation, and never put unused beans back in the freezer. Once the beans are at room temperature, you can grind them as normal, releasing the precious flavours and then brew straight away.
The best containers for storing coffee beans
Once you’ve opened up your bag of coffee beans, you’ll need to transfer them into another storage container.
Coffee canisters that are airtight, opaque glass, ceramic, or non-reactive metal (like copper) are perfect. You can even buy vacuum coffee containers which expel the air with a push or twist motion to increase the shelf life.
If you want your coffee beans ready to go, we’ve specially designed our KitchenAid coffee grinder hoppers to be UV resistant and keep them fresh for you. You can even grind straight into our espresso machine portafilter for the freshest espresso shot.
Coffee beans look beautiful
We totally understand, coffee looks great and so it’s tempting to have it on show in the kitchen. However, don’t get a clear or glass container. If the light gets to your beans then they will be compromised and the taste may suffer for it.
You can't buy happiness, but you can buy coffee, and that's pretty close.
Tip for storing ground coffee
We’ve talked about how to keep coffee beans fresh, but what about how to store ground coffee? When coffee has been ground it will oxidise even faster because there’s more surface area exposed to oxygen.
A good tip is to buy it in small quantities and, if you follow the advice above, it can stay fresh for up to 10 days. Whichever coffee you choose, treat it like a delicate cargo, to be stored and prepared with care. That way, you can enjoy it at its peak.
— Food lover based in UK
Hello, I'm a Brighton-based writer and mum of 2. An avid baker – albeit with more enthusiasm than skill – I love to share food ideas, trends and tips I pick up along the way.