Proper Storage for Roasted Coffee Beans
This page will provide you with important information concerning the storage of coffee beans and the impact their storage conditions can have on taste, quality, and avoiding spoilage. Factors like temperature levels and consistency, materials, and moisture levels are key things to know to ensure coffee quality stays consistent and fresh.
The environmental conditions in which coffee beans are stored will have a huge impact on the flavor and aroma of the coffee.
The major environmental factors to consider in storing coffee include things like the air, moisture, the level of heat and the exposure to light.
Exposure to Air
Exposure to air is actually one of the quickest ways to cause coffee beans to deteriorate and so great precautions should be taken to protect them from being exposed to oxygen.
This is why coffee beans are almost never stored in paper, which can allow air to flow through. Typically you’ll see beans stored in foil or plastic to ensure they are not exposed to oxygen.
Moisture is another potential killer of coffee bean quality and integrity. If a roasted bean is exposed to too much moisture it can develop fungal contamination and deteriorate rapidly.
In terms of guarding against moisture, beans need to not only be protected from obvious dampness or humidity but also condensation that can come as a result of temperature changes.
That’s why temperature needs to be closely monitored and regulated and although storing coffee beans in a refrigerator can, in theory, help to preserve freshness - it’s recommended that you never do this because the temperature change will lead to condensation and moisture that is largely detrimental to the coffee bean.
In some cases coffee beans are stored in freezers but even then they are usually stored in airtight bags.
In addition to protecting coffee beans from light, which is fairly straight forward, coffee beans also need to be protected from heat which can be trickier than it sounds.
Again, the issue with temperature is it needs to be consistent, which means it’s critical that coffee beans are stored away from a heat source or anything that could cause the surrounding temperature to fluctuate.
Did You Know?
Roasting coffee beans results in the creation of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is useful because it creates a barrier that protects the coffee beans from oxygen. Oxygen of course is what leads to coffee beans being less “fresh”.
The roasted coffee beans will continue to emit small amounts of carbon dioxide after being roasted, but the longer time goes on the less they emit and the more they get exposed to oxygen and thus start to taste stale.
The goal of storing coffee beans in airtight conditions is to lock in the carbon dioxide. If enough oxygen permeates then the beans will oxidize and the chemical composition will begin to deteriorate.
These beans continue to emit small amounts of carbon dioxide while fresh, but as time goes on the level of carbon dioxide weakens and they become susceptible to oxidization.
Should you store coffee in the fridge?
You should not store coffee in the fridge. One problem is the beans will absorb a lot of the flavor of the other food in the fridge but more importantly storing them in the fridge will invariably lead to pronounced temperature fluctuations which in turn will lead to moisture. Moisture will significantly disrupt the chemical structure and ruin the aroma and taste.
How does oxygen affect coffee beans?
Coffee contains soluble oils and chemical compounds that give it its flavor once brewed. Once coffee beans are exposed to oxygen the solubles begin to oxidize and that process degrades the chemical composition and this leads to stale aroma and flavor.
Can coffee be stored at room temperature?
Yes. Coffee can be stored at room temperature as long as it is protected from oxygen, light, and temperature fluctuations.