For how simple coffee seems on its surface, there are a lot of variables that go into making the perfect cup for your individual preferences, from brewing method to strength to temperature. One universal factor, however, is how you store your beans — if you’re not doing it correctly, you’re probably impacting how fresh and flavourful your brewed coffee tastes. And you deserve better.
How to store whole coffee beans
The ideal way to store whole coffee beans is in an opaque, airtight container, away from direct sun and any heat source. Coffee beans are sensitive to air, light, temperature, and moisture, so for best results, minimise exposure to all of these elements. Look for a dark, cool corner of your kitchen or a shelf in your cabinet or pantry. Do not leave a jar of beans next to your stove or on top of your toaster oven.
Furthermore, while coffee will be just fine in a sealed bag on a shelf for a few weeks after roasting, it loses freshness as soon as it’s exposed to air. That’s why it’s also best to buy small quantities — no more than what you’ll drink in a week or two.
Note that if they’re really fresh — sold within days of roasting — whole beans may continue to de-gas even after you’ve opened the bag and transferred them into another container. Roasters generally manage de-gassing and package beans with a one-way valve, so it’s very unlikely that the pressure would break glass, but it’s a consideration if you’re roasting your own coffee and storing it immediately.
Don’t freeze your coffee beans
In theory, you can store your coffee beans in the freezer for up to a month — if the beans are pre-portioned and tightly sealed. (But definitely do not put the whole retail bag into the freezer and dig into it every morning.) Still, you probably want to avoid freezing entirely: Because coffee is affected by temperature and moisture, it doesn’t take much exposure to get that gross freezer-burn taste.
If you feel the need to freeze your coffee, you’re probably buying too much at once. Grocery stores, bulk stores, and even some specialty roasters may have options for smaller quantities than the standard 340 g bag.
Finally, much of this is predicated on the idea that you’re buying fresh, whole beans and care a lot about the flavour of the final cup. (Some people just want the caffeine boost, which is cool, too.) If you’re starting with older beans or pre-ground coffee — or simply think it all tastes the same — your storage method probably won’t make a huge difference in your coffee-drinking experience.