How to Store Whole Coffee Beans

Fresh coffee beans will always lead to a better cup of coffee and storing roasted coffee beans correctly plays a crucial part in keeping them fresh.

Storing coffee beans isn’t complex but it is something many coffee enthusiasts get wrong or simply overlook.

Many (I was one) believe that storing them in a colder environment will help preserve them for longer, after all, cold is better for long term preservation.

It should be the same for coffee right?

Let’s explore…

Why is coffee bean storage important?

With the usual lifespan of 45days, incorrectly stored roasted coffee beans can become stale much quicker.

With such a short lifespan, I advocate that you should buy smaller batches frequently. This helps eliminate the chances of having too much going stale and allows you to frequently try different roasts.

Say you’ve brought too much anyway…

Stale coffee beans won’t make you sick but you won’t experience the best flavor.

But correctly storing your coffee beans you can ensure the freshness and flavor of the beans are maintained for longer.

The 4 main elements that will cause our beans to stale quicker are:

Air – If your beans are exposed to air, the more your flavor is degraded. Ensure you are using airtight containers to keep as much of the air out.

Moisture – Coffee beans are hygroscopic which means they absorb moisture from the environment, leading to the aroma and flavor being dragged out.

Heat – Will cause the oils to quickly evaporate forcing much of the flavor and aroma out. Don’t store your beans near the oven or stove as they do heat surrounding cupboards.

Light – Sunlight will speed up the beans aging process, ensuring you’ve your beans in a dark cupboard will help minimize sun exposure.

Preventing exposure to these 4 elements will allow for your coffee beans to maintain their flavor, aroma, and freshness.

How to store whole coffee beans?

Coffee Beans in container.

To combat the above elements, storage is simple – airtight, dry, cool, and dark.

Using these 4 guidelines will ensure your beans don’t turn stale at an accelerated rate.

I store my beans in a stainless steel airtight container, low in my pantry which is at room temperature (anywhere between 15 to 25 degrees is fine).

It’s dry, unlike the fridge which will allow the coffee beans to absorb moisture, despite the airtight container.

And, it’s dark, with the doors shut there is almost zero sunlight exposure and even if it isn’t the black metal container keeps it out.

Do you need to store your beans exactly like this?

No, you don’t.

If you buy a smaller amount of beans and they come in a one-way valve foil bag you should keep them in that, as they allow for your beans to stay as fresh as possible allowing them to degas without any air getting in.

Can you store coffee beans in the fridge?

A common mistake made is that people believe that a cooler environment will preserve the beans for longer, so they put them straight into the fridge.

Avoid doing this!

By placing your coffee beans in your fridge, you expose the beans to more condensation and moisture, spoiling them faster.

Another risk you run by storing them in the fridge is coffee beans, although in an airtight container, will begin absorbing the different odors and flavors from nearby foods.

This can dramatically change the taste of your coffee and depending on what else you store in your fridge, it’s usually for the worse.

Can you freeze whole coffee beans?

Freshness is critical to a good brew of coffee, ideally being able to consume your beans as quickly as possible will always lead to that better-tasting cup of coffee.

But, you may feel the need to freeze your beans, maybe you over roasted or are going away and want to preserve what you can.

Freezing will preserve some of the fresh flavors but you have to ensure the bag is completely sealed.

If you need to freeze a large batch of beans, divide them into smaller zip-lock bags. This allows you to take out a small amount rather than all of them when you need your next batch.

Once you’ve taken them out of the freezer, allow them to thaw out to room temperature before using them, this is a time-consuming process for an otherwise conveniently made drink.

My opinion on freezing beans is if you prefer the super-fresh, quality tasting coffee then you should roast or purchase in smaller batches but more frequently, eliminating the need to freeze anything.

Freezing isn’t the worst but you’ll notice a change in the coffee’s flavor and depending on the duration you will find it to become flat and lifeless.

Does whole bean coffee stay fresh longer than ground?

It’s best not to store ground beans with many coffee enthusiasts suggesting you should consume them within an hour of receiving them.

Ground coffee beans deteriorate much quicker than their whole bean counterpart, the life span is reduced dramatically to 1 to 2 weeks.

This is due to the beans becoming more sensitive to the humidity and environment leading them to become stale and spoiled much quicker.

Conclusion

If you are going to consume your whole coffee beans within a 6-week window, store them in the pantry and an airtight container, this will allow for the best storage conditions and maintain the freshness.

You may freeze them but you will find they lose their freshness once frozen.

Above all, do not put your roasted coffee beans into the fridge, you will end up with beans that turn stale and potentially taste like chicken, fish, or onion.