Once you get into grinding your own coffee at home, there will be dozens of questions that will pop into your mind. One of those will be: how to keep ground coffee fresh?
And there is actually a simple answer, by not grinding it. Though it sounds ridiculous because that is the whole purpose of coffee, there is some sort of truth in it.
I will tell you all about it shortly.
How it all started for me?
There was a time when I wasn’t drinking coffee at all. I even considered coffee being unhealthy, yet that’s another topic. During that time I couldn’t care less where coffee is stored and that’s when I noticed the difference between some random packet or jar versus good airtight container.
I was making coffee daily for my loved one, and during the time, the moment that clicked for me was the aroma I felt when opening the jar every day. For the first week or so (after filling up a container with coffee grounds) I enjoyed smelling that rich coffee aroma which hit me when lifting the lid off (it wasn’t airtight). But after having repeated the process daily for 2+ weeks I started to notice a lack of aroma.
This continued for a few months before I realized that this is how coffee gets old and there is an issue with the way we store it. I then researched on the internet on how to store coffee and understood that I need to get proper storage containers for coffee.
So I bought it (read here if you want to find out which one I bought?) and also I made a little experiment.
I would store coffee ground over 2 containers, one that was dedicated and with an airtight seal and the other one was the same I already used. During 2-3 weeks I would make coffee for my loved one using half from one container and another half from the other container. By week two I already felt a difference in the aroma that coffee retained in dedicated storing containers.
But the fun part was on a day when I made 2 cups of coffee, one from the “old” coffee and other from well-stored one. When presenting them to my soon to be wife, without her knowing which is which. It just took 2 sips for her to tell me which one she enjoyed better and no surprise it was one that was taken care of against all the coffee enemies with a good airtight lid.
These are 4 biggest coffee enemies
The best way to keep coffee fresh is by keeping it away from 4 major enemies:
While some of them are bigger threats than others, there is almost no benefit of keeping coffee away from one but not form the others. Here is a brief description of what each them does:
Air – Oxidizing is what happens to anything, we leave in the open air, be it an apple or coffee results are the same, oxidization makes food go stale so does coffee lose its taste.
Sunlight – Direct sunlight and a UV is what also affects the coffee and makes it go stale faster.
Humidity – Roasted coffee has a very low humidity level (could be as low as 3%) and therefore are highly hygroscopic and will quickly absorb excess moisture around it. And if coffee gets moist it will spoil quickly, so make sure that the only water coffee gets is when you are actually brewing it. Sure, it is tricky, as not always it is a liquid form of water, it could be just high humidity in a room where you keep your coffee. And definitely avoid the fridge or freezer.
Heat – After coffee beans are roasted the only heat they need is from hot water when brewing it, any excess heat (above 25-30 degrees Celsius) will make coffee lose its flavor.
Air and humidity can fight off by using an airtight container. But to make sure coffee does not get affected by sunlight, use the opaque containers. Regarding heat, just try not to place it near any heat sources that could warm up the coffee.
Here is a video that explains this very well:
How to keep ground coffee fresh?
Where are questions, there are solutions, and this is not an exception. There are several actions you can take to prevent your coffee from getting affected by any of the threats. Here are steps you can take:
- Avoiding air to reach the coffee: Keep coffee in an airtight container, if possible use vacuum containers, that has special seals
- Avoid direct sunlight: use opaque glass jars, or keep the jar, container away from sunlight like behind shelf doors.
- Avoid humidity: this one is trickier, while you won’t be really controlling humidity levels in your house or in a jar itself, but it is simply to look out for an excess liquid in a jar before you pour your coffee in it. Also, if using airtight containers, they will prevent any humidity from getting in once sealed.
- Avoid the heat: To avoid the heat, you should evaluate where you store your coffee container, if it is directly affected by any heat source, it is not advised to keep it there, like near an oven, or direct sunlight.
When the coffee beans are ground, there is an exponentially larger surface area that is exposed to all of the above-mentioned threats than it was when coffee was still as a whole bean.
That said, keeping coffee beans in an airtight, opaque container in a cool, dry place and grinding them only right before brewing, will make sure that you get the best possible cup of coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I keep coffee beans in the fridge/freezer?
Not suggesting, as drastic changes in temperature can cause condensation to form on the roasted beans, so this will get you in trouble with excess humidity.
How long can I store coffee?
Advised to store no more than 2-4 weeks of supply if the jar is opened daily.
A great solution to it would be having 2 storage jars:
One smaller jar that will hold fewer beans (preferably supply for 1-2 weeks) and is opened more frequently (i.e. daily).
And one larger canister for storing beans and opening it as needed (once in 1-2 weeks) only to fill up a smaller jar that is used daily.
Are there any differences in storing coffee beans versus ground coffee?
Technically no, both are affected and preserved in the same way, but the difference is that ground coffee has a larger surface that gets affected, so it could lose essentials quicker. That said, if you don’t want to grind beans each time you’re making coffee or you buy pre-ground, then for daily access try to store no more than 1 week supply.
I have only one big air-tight jar, but I store a small amount of coffee, is that OK?
It is way better than storing in a non-airtight container, the only downside is that with less coffee in a jar, there is more place for air to enter when opened. Again, if stored supply is for ~2-4 weeks you will be fine and there is no need to spend money on the extra storing jar.
I am roasting my own coffee, how to store it?
With freshly roasted coffee beans you also need to consider the fact that beans release a gas (specifically carbon dioxide) after roasting, it usually ends within 24 hours, but we don’t want this gas will also spoil coffee beans. This can be handled with a jar that has a CO2 valve. This is a one-way valve that allows extra gas to escape jar at the same time keeping outside air from getting in.
When buying coffee in a grocery store, I saw valve-sealed packaging, can I store coffee in it?
Valve sealed packaging benefits are that they allow packing coffee beans right after roasting thus keeping exposure to air to a bare minimum. While vacuum sealed packaging means that coffee beans were allowed to age after roasting (i.e. allowed to finish releasing of CO2 gas) and packed only afterward. But both packages become useless after opened because they aren’t meant to be air-tight resealable.
My advice to you, when looking to buy storing container for coffee
There are 4 main types of materials that the coffee storing containers are made of:
- Glass (opaque)
While plastic jars might be cheaper they might change color (under UV impact), and alter the coffee bean flavor, so I would avoid them for storing.
At the same time, good glass (opaque) or ceramic storage jars would be my first choice.
See our review of the best coffee storage containers for ideas.
I hope you found an answer to your question if not, please leave it in the comment section and I will gladly get it answered.
Liked the article? Pin me so others can learn something valuable too.
Your trustworthy friend,