My coffee storage rules were set in stone. Buy only whole bean, buy only what I needed for a week and grind it just before brewing. Store any extra beans in an air tight container, keep that container in a cool, dark and dry place. And no matter what, don’t store coffee in the fridge or freezer, no matter what some might say.
The rules worked well for me, keeping my morning supply of coffee fresh and flavorful. Then last week, Don Francisco’s shared the results of their coffee storage study that sent me off balance. Most of their results made sense to me, but there were things that I just couldn’t understand.
- Whole bean coffee should be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for a maximum of 6 weeks
- 12 oz. bag of coffee maintains its optimal freshness for about 4 weeks
- The maximum storage time for ground coffee decreases to about four weeks
Storing coffee in the freezer? Hells no! Optimal freshness for about four weeks, okay. I like mine about one, maybe two weeks, but I could live with that one. Storing ground coffee for four weeks? I don’t think so! Ground coffee goes stale within fifteen minutes of being ground.
It didn’t make sense, but the study was done by a group of Q Graders, professional coffee cuppers that must pass a rigorous three-day exam to earn their certification, comprising of 22 sections on coffee related subjects, such as green grading, roast identification, coffee cupping, sensory skills and sensory triangulation. I live and breathe coffee, but have to admit that Q Graders know more about coffee than I do. What did they know, that I didn’t?
Luckily, Michael Gaviña, purchasing manager for F. Gaviña & Sons (the company that produces Don Francisco’s) and one of the company’s eight licensed Q Graders was willing to tell me a little bit more about the study, how they came to their conclusion and what he recommends in ideal conditions as well as what to do when reality strikes.
Their study examined three types of coffee, their Columbia Supremo, their French Roast and their Vanilla Nut, whole bean and ground of each. They stored samples of each in the freezer, the refrigerator and on the counter at room temperature at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, over a 12 week period. A sample from each storage environment was cupped and tested for moisture every 2 weeks; then brewed and checked for color consistency every 4 weeks. I can’t disagree with their research methods.
Rules For An Ideal World
- Buy coffee in small quantities. Ideally, the coffee should be consumed within 10 days.
- Check the coffee bag before you buy to make sure the one-way valve is sealed. If the valve is sealed properly, oxygen cannot get into the bag, keeping the coffee fresher.
- Grind your coffee beans as needed. Prolonged exposure to air will cause whole bean and ground coffees to go stale quickly, which will lead to a less flavorful, bitter, and dull tasting cup.
- Keep unopened bags in the freezer. Once removed from the freezer, place the remaining coffee immediately in an airtight container to avoid moisture, and store back in the freezer.
Rules To Keep Your Coffee Fresh When Reality Gets In The Way
- Keep it Tight: An airtight container is the best way to keep air and moisture out.
- Say Freeze: The best place to store coffee is in an airtight container in the freezer, which prevents the coffee from coming into contact with air and protects it from temperature changes. Additionally, storing the beans whole helps keep the rich aromas and tastes locked in longer.
- Fear the Fridge: Although the cool temperature helps keep the oils inside of the bean until they are ready to be used, the fluctuating temperature and additional exposure to air can create moisture and erode the flavor and taste.
- Dark and Dry: If the freezer isn’t an option, then the refrigerator is a good runner up. The next best place would be a dark and dry cabinet.
- No Can Do: Although the can offers a vacuum-sealed tin to ensure freshness, as soon as it is opened and the seal is broken, it immediately begins to lose flavor.
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