So you bought exquisite quality coffee beans? Unless you intend to use them right this instant you better consider how and where to store them. Roasted beans start losing freshness almost instantly after roasting. Coffee beans have four major enemies: air, moisture, heat and light. If you want to avoid losing the fresh-off-the-roast taste and aroma, you’ll have to take measures to fight these deadly enemies.
Long term or day to day?
Different amounts of coffee have different requirements. If you keep a small amount of beans for your day-to-day coffee, avoid the freezer and refrigerator – these would only contribute to moisture accumulation. Store in an airtight container, this is something you might want to invest in as it will play a major role in keeping the fresh taste. Keep the container in a dark and cool spot.
If you have a large quantity of beans though, divide them into small batches, wrap separately in airtight bags and you can store those in the freezer for up to one month. Just like meat, albeit for different reasons, once you thawed one out, do not re-freeze.
Should I Vacuum?
While you might be used to seeing vacuum-sealed coffee bean bags in stores, keep in mind that the beans were allowed to age before they were sealed. As part of their ‘aging’ process beans release gas, which might cause your coffee bags to pop, creating a comic and aromatic scene in your freezer. Valve-sealed bags allow coffee gasses to vent from the packaging, while not letting any gasses in, so those can be used to package coffee immediately after roasting.
What about storing ground coffee?
As a general rule, if you already went to the trouble of buying roasted beans and grinding them, you should do that on the spot before you intend to brew (see our primer on coffee grinders for more details). Because of the larger surface area of the grounds they’ll lose their freshness even faster. That said, the same storing rules apply to ground coffee – airtight, dry, cool, dark.