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How to Store Coffee Beans or Ground Coffee for Maximum Freshness

Updated on January 11, 2013

How to Get the Freshest Coffee Flavor

When it comes to getting the best flavor from roasted coffee beans or ground coffee, there are a few key things to consider. The trick to making sure you have the most delicious fresh-roasted cup of coffee every time is to follow these simple storage rules.

The freshest coffee possible comes from the purchase of recently roasted beans that are stored in peak condition until they are ground, which should occur at the moment a new cup or fresh pot is made. Of course, this is not always possible, so proper storage methods that will keep both beans and pre-ground coffee should be followed to offer the next best thing.

Fresh coffee has the best flavor
Fresh coffee has the best flavor | Source

Keep Unused Coffee Dry

Moisture is one of the enemies of any fresh ingredient, and coffee grounds or beans are no exception. The easiest way to avoid excess moisture is to store your unused stash in a container that will not allow humidity to pass through. For this reason, a quality ceramic or stainless steel container is a great option. The container that the coffee came in is very unlikely to be good enough to keep moisture out.

It is also a good idea to keep coffee out of the refrigerator, since this tends to be a humid place with open containers, liquids, and fruits or vegetables all adding moisture to the air. There is really no reason to refrigerate coffee, so put that idea out of your mind.

A Dark Coffee Storage Container is Best

There is a reason that you buy coffee in the store in windowless bags or containers. Light is an enemy of fresh coffee, and the more you can limit light exposure to coffee the better. Because of this, use a container that light will not pass through, and even store it in a dark place like a pantry or cupboard.

Avoid Excess Air Exchange

An airtight package or container will keep fresh coffee beans or ground coffee at their peak much longer than one where air is exchanged frequently. Since the store container is not likely to be airtight, it's best to have a special coffee container to hold your stash. Pick one that is not see-through, is airtight and has a quality seal.

You can also avoid excess air exchange by storing each new purchase in a larger container and using a much smaller container for your daily use. This will result in the coffee that is stored longer being exposed to much less air, thereby remaining fresher.

Keep it Cool

Warm temperatures will have an adverse effect on both coffee beans and fresh ground coffee. Don't mistake cool to mean cold, however, as a refrigerator or freezer is not necessary.

The best location for storage of coffee is a cupboard or pantry that maintains a steady temperature that is not too hot. This makes a cupboard over the stove a bad idea. It also makes a spot near a sunny window just as bad. A spot away from these heat sources is what is needed.

Freshly ground coffee beans are best
Freshly ground coffee beans are best | Source

Coffee Beans vs. Ground Coffee

Many coffee drinkers wonder if they are better off buying coffee beans and grinding the beans themselves or buying ground coffee for maximum freshness. The answer really depends on how a person is likely to consume the coffee.

If coffee beans are available and affordable, this is the best way to get great tasting coffee. This is because grinding the bean just before roasting will maximize freshness and flavor. Beans roasted locally are even better, since you never know how long the beans in a grocery store machine have been sitting around, though most are quite fresh.

Where beans are not an option, ground coffee is not a problem. Just resist the urge to buy a huge supply. Limit each purchase to an amount that will be used in a short time - as short as two weeks. This will make the job of keeping ground coffee fresh much easier.

Can You Freeze Coffee?

It's best to leave coffee out of the freezer, however, it is not likely to ruin the flavor if you follow some important steps. For starters, follow the same rules that we have already discussed. Remove the excess air, use a dark container, and don't open it and put it back in the freezer.

If you really must freeze coffee, freeze it once and for a month or less before you start using it. Freezing for longer than this will begin to impact the flavor.

About Fair Trade Coffee

While you're thinking about coffee, consider the use of fair trade coffee as part of your coffee bean or ground coffee inventory.

Fair trade coffee is produced by farmers that aim to offer a reasonable wage and proper working conditions to their workers. For example, child labor is banned, wages are increased to help workers out of poverty, and some money is used for initiatives such as healthcare or scholarships in the community.

Of course, wherever such programs exist in the world they are subject to manipulation, and there is debate as to the real benefit to the field worker, but fair trade exists for good reasons and is worth your consideration.

Enjoy Truly Fresh Coffee

Now that you know how to maintain the maximum freshness of coffee, you can look forward to a great tasting cup every time.

If you keep it dry, dark, cool, and avoid excess air exchange, your prized coffee beans or freshly ground coffee will be as delicious as is can be.

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    • Alison Graham profile image

      Alison Graham 5 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the great tips in your hub. my husband is a coffee-aholic! We bought a coffee machine two years ago and I get a delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee brought to my desk every morning (the best thing about working from home!) - voted up and useful!

    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 5 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Awesome piece - I don't know where my wife got putting our coffee in the freezer to keep it fresher, but I can see where it all went bad... we even store it in a clear container near the stove.. lol.. thanks for the good advice. Peace. Kawi.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I remember the old A&P stores; when I was a kid, they were the only grocery store to offer self-grinding of coffee beans. Freshly ground beans do make some of the best-tasting coffee.

      Enjoyed reading your information; voted up and Shared.

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 5 years ago from United States

      I never used to drink coffee until recently, and even so I only like it iced. It seems there is a lot I don't know about coffee after all! I never thought about getting beans and grinding them myself. Voted up!

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 5 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      I didn't know that it is not necessary to store an opened pack of coffee in a refrigerator. Now I know that as long it is airtight and in a dark container and used in a short space of time this is enough to get the full use of it. Voted up and useful. Thanks!