How to Store Coffee Beans
Which of these methods is the best way method for how to store coffee beans?
- Plastic bag in the freezer
- Air tight bag at room temperature
- Mason jar in your pantry
- Sealed Tupperware container in your window sill
- Loosely sealed bag the beans came in on the kitchen counter
- Special bag that only allows air to release as the coffee beans release “off-gas”
- Vacuum sealed plastic bag in freezer
- Already roasted or green?
There is a lot of disagreement on the web regarding all of these methods. But, with a little research, it becomes much clearer which methods are better than others.
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To Freeze or Not to Freeze?
This seems to be one of the biggest arguments in various forums.
Some absolutely swear by it. Others say it is the worst way to damage your beans.
Well, let’s think about this a little. Do beans contain liquid? Yes. And, the darker the roast, the more oily the beans are.
When you freeze oil, it’s chemical makeup changes. The result is not good.
A second drawback to freezing your beans is that coffee beans are porous. This means that the easily absorb any other flavors that might be in your freezer.
So, if you put your beans in next to the kids fish sticks. Well, let’s just say there’s a reason Long John Silver’s freshly frozen coffee beans aren’t a “thing”.
Some that claim freezing is the answer say that freezing is fine if you only do it ONCE. In other words, it’s the change of temperature that causes the most damage on the coffee beans.
But, What About Heat?
Do I really need to answer that?
Probably not. But, it’s just plain common sense that if you leave anything in a place that draws a fair amount of heat, that a certain amount of cooking occurs.
What does this mean to you?
Well, what might not be as obvious, is to make sure that you store you beans in a location that doesn’t have any unexpected heat.
The best place is somewhere dark. This makes the pantry ideal. If you have an extra pantry or cabinet that is used less than others, that could also be advantageous.
After all, if you go to the trouble of putting it in the pantry, but it ends up on the top shelf not too far from the pantry light, and your kids are really bad at turning off any lights (mine certainly are), then all of your efforts might get torpedoed.
Airtight is the Key?
It is true that exposure to oxygen is one of the true enemies of fresh coffee beans.
But, do you just need an airtight container? Or, is a folded bag and a chip clip good enough?
If not, do I need to get some expensive gadget that sucks the air out of my coffee container?
This is again one of those controversial topics. Many say to get the absolute freshest coffee bean, you need special equipment to suck the oxygen out of a bag.
Others, say just sucking the oxygen out isn’t enough. Replacing the oxygen in the bag with an inert gas is what’s needed. These point to coffee bean manufacturers like Illy that use this method while packaging their product.
This is true. But, does that mean you have to purchase expensive equipment to store coffee beans for any length of time. Our research says is depends on what you think is a “long” time.
If you drink your coffee on a regular basis and go through a bag every month or so, then expensive equipment shouldn’t be necessary.
But, if you are someone that needs to store your beans for a year or so, you might want to splurge on something that can lengthen time that your coffee beans can stay fresh during the storage process.
What About a Simple Mason Jar?
As it turns out, this seems to be the one methods that more people agree about than disagree.
What exactly is the mason jar providing?
Turns out many of the things that you need to battle during the coffee storage process.
Light. Mason jar’s are often made of glass. So, if you have a mason jar that is made of something more opaque, that would be more ideal.
So, if you choose a mason jar, be sure you are storing your beans in a location that isn’t getting light. On the window sill in the kitchen is NOT ideal!
The seal is what makes the mason jar so good. While it doesn’t suck out the oxygen like other machines can, it does keep the oxygen exposure to a minimum.
Roasted or Green?
Should I go ahead and roast my beans before storing them? Or, buy them roasted?
Or, should I buy them green and store them before roasting. Then, just roast them as they are needed?
Unfortunately, the answer here ends up costly more time and effort.
Storing them green means they natural oils aren’t released early. So, if you roast and then store your beans, all of the exposed oil is not longer protected inside that green bean. It is released and exposed to oxygen, heat, and/or moisture.
It’s also worth noting that moisture is a huge enemy of the coffee bean. So, if you have a place where you can keep the humidity down, this can keep your beans from sweating.
Any method that introduces moisture will just destroy the natural flavors. So, keep this in mind when deciding on your method.
The Answer Is?
As you might have gleaned from above, our research indicates that the most popular is the mason jar.
There seems to be too many ways to screw up freezing.
Expensive equipment to remove oxygen from your coffee bean container doesn’t seem to warrant the cost.
And, it gives you easy access to your beans.
So, our least controversial method for how to store coffee beans is: the mason jar.