When it comes to storing coffee, everyone has their own opinion about how to do it best. Some people keep the coffee in the can or bag and leave it in the cabinet. Some vacuum seal it and throw it in the freezer. Some never give it any thought at all.
It doesn't have to be overly complex. This is how you should store coffee.
Stop freezing coffee beans
In most cases, storing coffee in the freezer is a waste of time, especially if you're a daily drinker.
If you buy your coffee off the shelves of a grocery store, the odds that it's already stale when you purchase it are quite high. Coffee is only considered to be fresh for up to two weeks after its roast date. Some argue it will remain fresh for up to a month off roast. That time frame is severely shortened if the coffee is preground.
Most larger coffee brands, however, do not offer a roasted on date on their packaging, and many of those coffees have likely been sitting on the shelf for months.
About a month ago, I saw a bag of Counter Culture coffee in a nearby grocery store with a roasted on date of sometime in early August 2015. The most fresh bag of Counter Culture there was already three months old.
So if you purchased a bag that had been sitting on the store shelves that long and took it home to freeze it, you would be trying to maintain the freshness of coffee that is already stale.
Further, freezing coffee introduces a few problems. Humidity levels inside a freezer fluctuate and coffee beans are very porous. If you do not store the coffee completely airtight, the coffee beans will be subjected to moisture and can take on the flavors of other frozen items around it.
All of that said, there is at least one scenario where freezing coffee beans does make sense.
If you purchase your coffee fresh from a local roaster but are a very light drinker and can't finish an entire pound of coffee before it goes stale, you may want to consider freezing some of the coffee. Remove as much as you think you can drink in approximately two weeks and place it in an airtight container. Vacuum seal the rest and store in the freezer. Only open it once you've run out of fresh coffee and allow it to completely thaw before opening the vacuum sealed bag.
How you should store coffee
When buying whole bean coffee fresh, it's best to keep in mind how much you can drink in following two to three weeks. If you can't finish an entire pound or 12 ounce (340.2 grams) bag, see if the roaster sells 8 ounce (226.7 gram) bags.
Once you've purchased the coffee, you can decide which common storage method works best for your needs.
- Most people simply keep the coffee in the bag it was in when they purchased it. Better coffee packaging is on the rise and roasters are starting to use bags that come with zip-top seals. But even standard gusseted bags will suffice if you can go through the whole bag within a few weeks.
- My personal favorite way to store coffee is in Mason jars. In many ways, it's hardly any more beneficial than keeping the coffee the bag, but it's easier to access, looks nicer and stores or stacks better. If, like me, you have multiple coffees on hand at all times, it's the most cost-effective and organized way to store coffee.
- Vacuum-sealed containers, such as a Planetary Design Airscape. are arguably one of the best ways to store beans, but they don't come cheap. They are containers that typically hold between 1 and 1.5 pounds (453.6 and 680.4 grams) of coffee, and they retail for between $15 and $45 per container. You add the coffee to the jar, press the lid down onto the coffee to force as much air out as possible and lock the lid in place. These containers typically come with a one-way valve to allow carbon dioxide to escape but to keep oxygen out.
Once you've chosen your storage container, place it in a cool area, away from light. As long as you grind it right before you brew and finish the whole container within the following two or three weeks, you will never need to freeze your coffee again -- unless you want to deodorize your freezer.