There are two schools of thought on buying and storing coffee beans. The argument usually plays out something like this:
So who is right?
In general, freshly roasted beans respond better to water pressure, temperature and the brewing process as a whole. And beans purchased directly from the roaster and stored under natural conditions tend to grind more easily. But if your roaster stores them in an open bag or bin for more than a week after roasting, they are more than likely past their peak.
Because coffee beans have residual moisture on them after roasting they do need air to cool down or relax. This is often referred to as a resting period and lasts anywhere between one and three days.
Let it be known though, the two largest enemies of freshly roasted beans are oxygen and moisture. And if your roaster does not use air to cool the beans, the residual moisture may cause them to loose flavor and turn rancid rapidly. An easy way to tell if your beans are past their peak is if they have a sour taste or cigarette-like aroma.
If you are lucky enough to have your roaster package the beans in foil or plastic bags with a one-way valve that allows the naturally occurring gasses to escape, deterioration of your beans will be minimized. Italian roaster, Illy for instance, packages beans in nitrogen and seals them in an airtight can. When packaged correctly, beans can be stored for up to two years.
If your roaster uses a heat sealed film or foil bag like Lavazza, transfer the coffee to an airtight, opaque storage container immediately after opening. By using an airtight container like our coffee bean storage tins with a rubber-lined lid you will be able to keep your coffee fresh for several weeks.
Many people do not realize how important the proper storage of coffee is. A lot of people believe that freezing or refrigerating makes coffee last longer, but this type of storage will alter the aging of the coffee. Freezing beans lock in the moisture and stop the naturally occurring chemical process. Additionally, refrigerators are damp and filled with odor. Who wants your fresh beans to absorb the smell of last night's leftovers?
And in the instance that you purchase pre-ground coffee, make sure to brew it as soon as possible because coffee will begin to loose its flavor as soon as you grind it.
Whole beans store better than ground coffee. Because once you've ground the coffee the aromas and flavors are inherently lost. Therefore it's best to grind as much as you need and immediately put your freshly roasted beans in an opaque, airtight container.
Hopefully this article has transformed you from the typical “Vern” – someone who was relatively uneducated about coffee bean storage - into a “Ralph”, a coffee storage connoisseur. Now it's time to use your knowledge; keep your coffee fresh and educate the “Verns” of the world on proper coffee storage.
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