How to Store Your Coffee Beans

You just got a 250-gramme bag of whole, filter-roast anaerobic natural Geisha coffee from your favourite distributor of speciality coffee beans in Dubai. The coffee is exceptional, with a complex flavour profile of chocolate, floral and purple fruit notes. However, a 250-gramme bag yields approximately 25 to 35 cups. Unless you make at least five cups daily, that single bag will last you at least two to three weeks.

Yes, you should have probably bought a smaller bag, but that’s a lesson you’ll have to wait to apply next time you purchase coffee beans. For now, you need to know how you can ensure the coffee beans won’t go stale before you can consume all of them.

The good news is that coffee beans can remain in good condition for weeks. You must, however, store them properly.

This is what this article is all about. Read on, and learn the dos and don’ts of storing coffee beans so they can stay fresh for as long as possible.

1.Don’t let air in.

Protect your coffee beans from oxidation if you want them to stay fresh for a long time. Oxidation is a chemical process that sets in when coffee beans are exposed to oxygen. When coffee is oxidised, it becomes stale.

What to do: Store your coffee beans in an airtight container – say, a vacuum canister. Additionally, store your beans in smaller canisters instead of keeping a whole bag’s worth in a single jar or pot.

Remember that you let air in whenever you get a scoop of coffee from your canister. By dividing your coffee beans into smaller containers, you limit their exposure to air, and they can last longer.

2.Don’t let light through.

Light leads to photodegradation in coffee. The organic compounds in the coffee beans break down when they are exposed to light particles (i.e., photons), which can make the coffee go stale faster.

Ultraviolet light (both UVA and UVB) is particularly harmful to coffee beans. However, even indoor lighting (e.g., fluorescent and light-emitting diode or LED lights) can lead to coffee photodegradation.

What to do: Choose opaque containers instead of transparent or translucent jars. Furthermore, keep your coffee canisters in a closed cupboard away from direct sunlight and the glow of indoor lighting fixtures. Whatever canister you leave up on open shelves, store it in a dim room, one with shutters, curtains or blinds to minimise the amount of UV light.

3.Don’t let moisture in.

Coffee is a hygroscopic substance. This means it tends to attract and absorb moisture from the air. If you leave coffee beans exposed to the elements, they will absorb all the ambient moisture they can. This excess moisture can lead to mould growth, among other ill-effects.

As coffee absorbs moisture from the air, it also absorbs odours, including foul ones. This cannot be good for coffee beans, which you enjoy specifically for their wonderful aromas.

What to do: You can put a few desiccant packs into your coffee containers to aid with moisture absorption. Additionally, store your coffee containers far from humid places like the kitchen, bathroom and basement.

4.Don’t let heat through.

Heat breaks down the oils and molecule chains in coffee, leading to coffee degradation. Therefore, be mindful of the ambient temperature when storing coffee beans.

What to do: Store your coffee beans somewhere cool, away from heat sources like major appliances and cooktops. It’s best to keep your coffee in a cool and dry cupboard away from the kitchen or at least far from plugged-in appliances and wherever you do most of your heating and cooking.

5.Don’t store coffee beans in your refrigerator.

This is a contentious topic: Should you or should you not store roasted coffee beans in the refrigerator? The simple answer: Don’t do it.

Yes, you want heat away from your beans, and refrigerators can keep coffee beans cool. However, refrigerators can be highly humid. A general-purpose refrigerator kept at 1.7 °C may have a relative humidity of 85-90%. That level is suitable for storing food and other items that are not moisture-sensitive.

Unfortunately, coffee is sensitive to humidity, as it tends to absorb moisture from the air. Therefore, if you store coffee beans in a general-purpose refrigerator – like your home refrigerator – it will absorb the moisture, including the odours, inside your fridge.

Caveat: That said, if you have a special-purpose, low-humidity refrigerator designed specifically for storing moisture-sensitive items like coffee, refrigerating your coffee beans can help keep them fresh for longer. Just remember to store them in small, airtight containers.

Keep Coffee Beans Fresh for Longer

Buy smaller amounts of coffee beans so you don’t have to store them for long. The shorter you store coffee, the better their quality will be.

However, if you must store coffee beans, keep them in airtight containers and store them in a cool, dry and dark place. Don’t store them in the refrigerator unless you have a special-purpose low-humidity fridge.