Coffee is an incredibly popular beverage on a global scale, so much so that coffee now comes in a variety of forms. Pre-ground coffee is often the middling form that most people are willing to settle for, but pre-ground coffee is almost always already stale upon purchase. On the other hand, while it is wise to invest in whole bean coffee, as it comes fresh and you can alter the flavor by simply adjusting the grind of your coffee maker, whole bean coffee tends to be expensive, so you want to be sure that you are getting quality coffee for such a quality price. Keep reading to discover the best ways to keep coffee beans fresh and get the most value out of your whole bean coffee.
Five Important Factors to Consider for Storing Coffee Beans
Many factors affect optimum whole bean coffee storage, and it is important to keep all of this information in mind. Here are the five most significant things to consider before you decide how to best keep your coffee beans fresh.
Elements to Avoid
There are four elements that are absolutely detrimental to coffee beans. Exposure to these elements will cause your coffee beans to become stale, so they should be avoided at all costs. The elements to avoid are moisture, air, heat, and light. Moisture, heat, and light will rapidly make coffee beans lose their flavor, whereas exposing whole bean coffee to the air will draw out the oils in the beans. The best way to avoid these elements is to eliminate places near the oven or windows as storage spots. A shaded area with a stable temperature is the ideal location for storing your coffee beans. For example, a pantry shelf could be a viable option.
In addition to the storage location of coffee beans, what type of container the beans get stored in is one of the most important factors in preserving their freshness. This container should not be made up of materials that might react to the coffee beans, as this can alter their properties and add odd flavors to your coffee beans. As is sometimes the case with cooking, you should avoid using anything that is made of copper, aluminum, iron, or non-stainless steel. Glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers are the best ones to use, but be mindful of keeping glass containers out of the light. If you would like to display your coffee beans, opt for an opaque container like a plastic one.
Also, note that your coffee-bean container should be airtight, as air is one of the above elements that must never come into contact with coffee beans if they are to remain fresh.
How Many Beans to Buy
If you do not drink large quantities of coffee, there is no point in buying a huge amount of whole bean coffee. While it may seem like you are saving money by buying them in bulk, it is more likely that most of the coffee beans you bought will have lost the majority of their flavor by the time you grind them, as coffee beans are a perishable commodity. It is better to buy small batches of coffee beans frequently, perhaps enough to last one or two weeks, to minimize this loss of flavor.
If you cannot stand the idea of having to buy something so expensive in such small quantities, you can always purchase raw coffee beans, as unroasted beans may last for up to a year. However, you will need to learn how to roast raw coffee beans correctly in order to yield optimal results.
Tracking the Roast Date
The roast date of whole bean coffee matters, which goes hand in hand with how many coffee beans you ought to purchase at a time. Whole bean coffee starts losing freshness once it has been roasted, but the coffee beans also need to rest for varying periods of time after the roast date before they should be brewed. This resting time gives the coffee beans a chance to release all of the carbon dioxide that gets trapped in them after roasting. Most coffee beans only need one or two days before they can be prepared, but some coffee connoisseurs believe that Expresso needs at least five days.
How to Utilize Stale Beans
It is impossible to perfectly calculate how much whole bean coffee you should buy every time, so it is inevitable that you will end up with some stale coffee beans every now and then. Thankfully, these stale coffee beans can still be used: most people claim that they taste just fine in cold brew coffee. Some coffee lovers even go so far as to state that preparing cold brew coffee with fresh coffee beans is a waste, and that it is difficult to taste the difference. If you do not like cold brew coffee, consider giving your stale beans to someone who does.
Should You Store Your Coffee Beans in the Freezer?
You may have heard conflicting information as to whether or not coffee beans ought to be stored in the fridge or freezer. This debate stubbornly rages on because some people are not content to either buy small quantities of coffee beans or learn how to roast raw ones. Storing coffee beans in the freezer or fridge does not preserve them in the way these people claim. Not only will your coffee beans absorb moisture, one of their detrimental elements, in these locations, they will absorb lingering smells from the air.
While you should never store your coffee beans in the freezer or the fridge, if you insist on doing so, only place unopened whole bean coffee in the freezer, and never for longer than a week. Let these coffee beans thaw before preparing them. If the container is not properly sealed prior to freezer storage, the coffee beans will have absorbed all of that moisture and those funky smells. Essentially, freezer storage is not efficient and still requires a lot of extra effort.