Monday, July 9, 2018

How to Store Coffee Beans for Fresher Flavor Longer

Okay, you decided to reward yourself and you invested in the best coffee beans and will use it within days after roasting. You know that two of the key rules to make a perfect cup of coffee is to buy only fresh coffee beans and to keep the coffee beans fresh.

So, how to store coffee beans and keep it away from its greatest enemies - heat, air, moisture, and light?

To understand why these are all necessary, let us first take a quick look at how coffee beans are processed.

how to store coffee beans

How is Coffee Made

Most of the coffee plants are grown in tropical countries and grow best at higher elevations.

  • The ripe coffee cherries are hand-picked and the seeds are processed into green coffee beans
  • These green coffee beans are packed and exported to where it is needed and it is usually thousands of miles away. 
  • If it is kept in the right environment, these green coffee can last several months. 
  • At the final destination, the coffee seeds are roasted and turned into brown coffee beans. These are the beans that we see in the coffee shops. Roasting is the final step in the coffee production.
  • Once roasting is completed, it will be cooled for a few days before it can be brewed and drunk.
    But when you roast coffee, gases are formed inside the bean. So during the cooling period these gases, which is mainly CO2 will start to escape from the bean. This is the beginning of its aging process. Degassing period will vary on the type of coffee and roast. It can be between 2 to 14 days until the coffee is ready to brew. But the bulk of carbon dioxide (about 40%) will be released during the first 24 hours.
  • Ideally, roasted coffee must be brewed and consumed within 2 to 14 days after the roast date. That is why people who are particular of their coffee flavor and want the freshest coffee will roast their own coffee beans at home. In the meantime, gases from the roasted coffee beans will continue to escape and the flavor will diminish as it aged.
  • Hence, the importance of storing coffee beans in the correct way after it is roasted and to enjoy its health benefits.

RELATED POST: How to Make Coffee Taste Better

How Coffee Loses Its Flavor

As mentioned earlier, heat, air, moisture, and light are coffee beans greatest enemies and will rapidly turn your roasted coffee bean stale.

Oxidation - Airtight Coffee Container

Oxygen in the air will oxidize freshly roasted coffee beans and will degrade and lose its flavor. The presence of heat and moisture will further accelerate the process. So, freshly roasted coffee beans must be kept in an airtight coffee container and away from oxygen in the air. 

Photo-degradation - Keep Away from Light

Both sunlight and artificial lights will degrade coffee beans by photo-degradation that breaks down the pigments, fats, vitamins, and produces free radical. So the best way to store coffee bean is in an opaque container and not clear glass container that let lights through.

Moisture Will Spoils Coffee

When water is in contact with coffee beans, the brewing process will start and will extract the flavor. So even the tiniest amount of water or moisture will kickstart this process. Moisture will also turn roasted coffee beans to become damp and is the breeding ground for mold and bacteria. That is why it is a bad idea to store coffee beans in a refrigerator or freezer as drastic changes in temperature will cause condensation and hence, moisture. Freezing can also spoil the delicate balance of oils and flavors and worst, it can absorb the smells of other foods in the fridge. So if you want to buy the best coffee in the world, buy in small quantity to avoid storage issues.

Keep Coffee Away from Heat Source

Heat is another coffee killer and if coffee beans are kept near a heat source like the fridge or at places with direct sunlight can cause coffee beans to lose flavor. We all know that heat will speed up the decaying process so warm beans decay faster than cold coffee beans.

RELATED POST: History of Coffee Beans

Best Way to Store Coffee Beans

So how you buy, store and brew coffee beans are important.

To summarize, the best way to store coffee beans freshly roasted flavor is to keep it in an opaque and airtight coffee canister. Then place this coffee container in a dark and cool location.

If you follow these tips on storing coffee beans to protect it from the four killer elements, your freshly roasted coffee bean will retain its freshness for up to three weeks before it starts to decline in taste and quality.

There are several airtight and opaque coffee container available in the market but my favorite is from Coffee Gator.

Coffee Gator Coffee Container

coffee gator coffee container

Why I Like Coffee Gator Coffee Canister

  • Remember the gases, mainly CO2, that will be released from the roasted coffee beans? These gases are harmful to your coffee and will cause staleness if it is not allowed to escape. Coffee Gator canister has a one-way valve that allows CO2 to escape but stop air and oxygen to come in. This will prolong the flavor of your coffee.
  • It is made of surgical grade stainless steel material and will stop light from entering and destroying the flavor. Unlike ceramic container, it will not break if you drop it. Although ceramic container will not absorb nor impart coffee flavors, unlike plastic and stainless steel canister, Coffee Gator's SURGICAL GRADE stainless steel will neither absorb nor impart the flavor to leave coffee to taste just as it should. So, it is just as good as a ceramic container but more durable.
  • To keep track of your coffee's freshness, this canister has a handy wheel to set the purchased date or expired date. This is on the lid so it is convenient and will reduce any wastages. It also has another date wheel to help you with this tagging.
  • With an easy to use stainless steel clasp with a BPA-free rubber seal, you have no problem locking out moisture, lights, and air.  
If you browse through reviews for this product, it has overwhelmingly positive comments. Check out Coffee Gator Stainless Steel Container - Canister here on Amazon:

Customer Reviews  

The followings are some of the customer's reviews for Coffee Gator Coffee Canister taken from Amazon site:

I definitely like this item and would recommend it with some caveats. I've had it for a couple of months now and do think that the flavor of my coffee has smoothed by shifting its storage from the freezer to this canister, which is the primary reason for my purchase. In addition, it is nice to look at and well constructed. There are two recommendations/feedback to offer to the company (and that purchasing): 1. The small and large size are just OK and have room for a standard size coffee bag with a room. However, if you purchase a 32oz bag even the large canister will not store that amount of coffee. It is too small. The sizes are off when you compare to the sizes of coffee you can purchase. 2. The company needs to make the dials on the top easier to manipulate. For an older person (which I am not at this point) it would be more than difficult, if not impossible for them to maneuver and makes the dial a pointless feature. I would say the same for anyone who has arthritis. I plan on buying another one or two as gifts this holiday season - AmM

My husband and I love coffee. In the past, we didn't know any better and would leave the bags out without a proper seal. Recently I went to a friend's house and had excellent coffee. She told us that she kept her coffee on a special canister to keep the freshness. I started doing research and found that Coffee Gator was really the best based on all the positive reviews and comments, so I decided to give it a try. I am extremely happy with the container for several reasons:1. I CAN taste the difference in the freshness and taste of my coffee.2. The container is well made: strong and beautiful. I am leaving it at my counter for that reason!3. The seal is fantastic. It SEALS! It has a great rubber 4. It comes with a few extras such as a scoop for the coffee and an e-Book with some interesting tips to enjoy better coffee.Lastly, I have to complement the company! I had a shipping issue with Amazon and I contacted the company. They were quick to respond and took care of my issue with diligence! I will be getting a second container for my decaf coffee soon. I highly recommend it just for the quality alone! The great company and extras included are really a perk for me! - Safenprotected

I have had this for a few weeks now and it does live up to its claims. It really does keep your coffee fresher. I'm thinking about purchasing another one since the coffee I buy comes in 2 lb bags, this was the only drawback. - Leigh 

I really like this. It is solid, has a tight seal and it looks nice on our counter. The only thing is it has dials at the top for "best by" date of the beans which is nice to have but, unless I'm doing something wrong, the dial for the month is easy to spin/move whenever using the container so I can't rely on it. -Kattie
There are several other comments on Coffee Gator Coffee Canisters that you can browse through online but generally, most people have no problem and recommend this container to store coffee beans.

If You Buy Freshly Roasted Coffee Beans

An excellent coffee storage only works if you start with freshly roasted coffee.
If you don't roast your own coffee beans and buy them from a roaster, then follow these guides when buying roasted coffee beans;

  • Check the Roast Date: You will find this on the packing and if there is none, don't buy it. Purchase coffee that has just been roasted. 
  • Buy In Small Quantity: Coffee will lose freshness almost immediately after roasting. Buy only in an amount that will be consumed within two weeks. Restock after that.
  • Degassing Valve: A good roaster will pack roasted coffee bean in a bag with a degassing valve. This is a small plastic with a couple of holes to release CO2 but lockout oxygen. 
  • Check Where it is Stored or Displayed: If it is near a heat source such as sunlight or equipment that emits heat, don't buy.
  • Coffee Storage Canister: Despite having the degassing valve, retail packaging is not an ideal place for storing coffee beans. If you have invested in a good coffee canister with an airtight seal, transfer the roasted coffee into this container.

If you follow the above tips, you will be sure to buy and enjoy the freshest roasted coffee beans.
degassing valve to release CO2 and coffee expiry date
Degassing Valve to release CO2 and Coffee Expiry Date

RELATED POST: Is Coffee Bad for Women?

Freezing Coffee Beans

You read earlier that it is a bad idea to store coffee beans in a refrigerator or freezer for the following reasons;
  • Drastic changes in temperature will cause condensation and will introduce moisture.
  • Freezing can spoil the delicate coffee balance of oils and flavors and makes coffee age faster.
  • Coffee bean cell structure is porous and soft, and unfortunately, likes to absorb smells. So it will absorb all food smells like fish, garlic, curry foodstuff etc. that you stock in the fridge. 
  • Depending on your coffee container, it may let in a small amount of oxygen and this can lead to a freeze burn.

But if you have no choice but to freeze the coffee beans, then follow these guidelines:
  • Use a very good airtight coffee container or use the original packaging that is sealed and unopened.
  • If possible pack in small quantity according to your usage in separate containers.
  • Immediate freezing after roasting is the best if you want to delay spoilage.
  • Not many people can do this but it will be great to have a dedicated coffee chest freezer.
  • Set the freezing temperature to -10 F, or -20 C
  • Once you remove them from the freezer, let it thaw (package/.container still unopened) at room temperature

What to Do With Leftover Coffee

If you brewed too much coffee and instead of pouring it down the sink you can reuse them as follows:
  • Pour it in ice cube trays and freeze it. You can use them in your iced coffee.
  • Make a mocha milkshake by blending a scoop of vanilla ice cream, milk, and your leftover coffee.
  • Replace water with this leftover coffee in your cake recipe for a mocha flavor.

leftover coffee how to store coffee beans

Storing Your Best Coffee Beans

Ground coffee has more surface area for oxygen to react and to seep out its flavor. So to keep coffee beans fresher longer, leave it whole and grind it only when you are ready. Couple with your new knowledge on how to store coffee beans, you are now in a better position to enjoy that freshly roasted coffee beans that will be far superior and taste better. So enjoy.

If you have any comments to share, I look forward to seeing them below.

Coffee Gator Coffee Canister Video


  1. A friend bought the coffee gator container at last year's black Friday sales and he loves it. I did not pay much attention to it but now that I have read your article will get one of this coffee gator cofffee storage container myself.

    1. Thanks for sharing this. Did you buy one at the recent Amazon Prime sale? They had pretty cool discounts on that one day sales.