For many coffee lovers, the perfect cup is fresh and aromatic. When brewing coffee, attention to detail is key, from the cup itself to the brewing method. To get the most out of your morning coffee, it’s worth ensuring you have the best coffee beans at your disposal. With the nation still in lockdown, drinking coffee at home has become the new normal and many avid coffee drinkers have indulged their habits with bean-to-cup machines and artisan coffee subscriptions. For those that have researched and pondered the perfect coffee beans for their morning brew, it’s worth getting to know how best to store them and maximise their aroma and taste. Coffee is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture, odours and flavours from the air around it. It can be difficult to determine if coffee beans are fresh as it depends on the type of coffee, but leaving beans whole keeps them fresher for longer.
To ensure that you’re storing your coffee beans in the right way, coffee expert at Coffee-Direct.co.uk Lewis Spencer shares his do’s and don’ts.
1) DO choose an airtight vacuum sealed container
Most retail packaging is not intended for long-term storage, however good suppliers will ensure coffee beans are packed in foil fresh bags with one-way valves. They can stay in perfect condition for 9 months if unopened. Like most food items, keeping your product in an airtight vacuum sealed bag will retain its freshness. Airtight, opaque bags or jars will keep air, light and heat away from your coffee beans and make sure the taste isn’t negatively impacted.
When choosing your container, avoid paper as this can lead to staleness. To preserve your bean’s roasted flavour for longer, avoid clear canisters as sunlight can have a detrimental effect.
2) DON’T keep coffee on countertops
If you’ve bought green coffee beans to roast at home, they will need to be cooled before they can be stored. Leaving them on kitchen counters to cool down is an easy mistake to make. Kitchen tables can attract afternoon sun and areas near heat sources such as the oven can be constantly warm.
3) DO use whole coffee beans
From field to roastery, great care is taken to lock flavour into your coffee beans. It is all too easy to lose nuanced aromas and characteristics once the coffee bean has been ground.
When coffee beans are ground, the aging process begins. Ground coffee has a greater surface area which, in turn, increases oxygen exposure. This can quickly diminish the rich flavour of freshly roasted beans. For a great cup of coffee every time, store whole coffee beans and grind immediately before brewing.
4) DON’T put coffee beans in the fridge
Freshness is critical but there are many different views on whether coffee beans should be refrigerated. Some experts say it’s fine for certain periods of time, but we believe it is best to avoid altogether, especially if you intend on using the beans in the next few weeks. In the fridge, coffee beans can be exposed to dampness and food odours. When roasted coffee gets damp it can have a knock-on effect on the oils and flavanols, changing the structure of key molecules and negatively impacting the taste and aroma.
If you need to store coffee beans for a longer period, it’s best to freeze them. When you remove them, allow them to thaw completely to room temperature before opening the container.
5) DO buy the right amount
Purchase your beans to match your coffee consumption. Buy smaller batches more frequently rather than a big bulk to avoid cramming too many in your container. It might be a good idea to divide your coffee beans into smaller portions and place them in airtight bags. This avoids all your beans being exposed to air each time you open the container.
6) DON’T keep them forever
Everything has an expiry date, including coffee beans. Unroasted coffee beans have the longest lifespan of just under one year if stored correctly. Freshly roasted coffee beans will start losing their rich flavour and aroma around two weeks after being roasted. However, the longer you leave them, the more chance the aroma will be reduced in quality.
7) DO store in a dry, cool place
Store your airtight containers in a dry and cool place. A dark cabinet is the best option to avoid any sunlight. Always make sure you return your coffee beans to this area after use, it can be easy to forget if you’re still half asleep!
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