Nothing infuriates me more than stale coffee. It's not only the fact that it doesn't taste as good as it should but, even more so, that those poor beans used to be fresh, happy and delicious. Now, they are bitter, sad and flavourless. Why? – Because you've wasted them.
As I've always said, coffee is a gift from the gods and should be treated with the love and respect it deserves.
I know that I may sometimes come across as a bit of a zealous person, and trust me, this can be very true, although this trait only comes out in certain situations. These situations are limited to the four topics I call the “Four F‘s” – Fine food, Fine wine, Fine whisky and Fine coffee.
How To Store Ground Coffee
There is much more to great coffee than one might think; each element and every stage of the ‘coffee-bean lifecycle', if you will, is as important as the last. From the cultivation and roasting of the bean to the proper brewing and serving techniques, one of the lesser talked about and arguably most important factors would be storage. Proper storing techniques will ensure that you enjoy your cup of coffee as intended by the hardworking farmers who sowed the sacred lands on which our favourite beans were grown. Here is my guide on how to store ground coffee.
Considerations When Storing Coffee
Four main factors play a part in the degradation of coffee beans: light, air, temperature and humidity. Balancing these four factors is key to preserving the natural oils that make up our favourite beans.
I will not pretend that I understand the exact science or try to explain the underlying science. I will merely give you the most essential facts in a way that I understand them. Here goes.
Almost all living organisms are dependent on ultraviolet (UV) light. While this is a fact, the opposite is true: UV light accelerates decay. The enzymes, proteins and fats that constitute the structure of our beloved coffee beans are very susceptible to these harmful UV rays. Therefore, it is important to store our coffee away from light. I recommend using an opaque container stored away in a closed cupboard to ensure you do not expose your coffee grounds to unnecessary light.
Oxygen is known to age coffee. The more oxygen it is exposed to, the faster it ages and ultimately reaches a stale state. A ground-up bean exposes a larger total surface area to the environment; therefore, storing your ground coffee in airtight containers is very important. Appropriate sizing may also help; try to find a sealable container to hold all the coffee without too much-wasted space. Adding an extra layer of protection by sealing the container in a zip lock bag may also be a smart move.
Avoiding excessive heat is key to preserving your coffee, as heat may cause the oils in the coffee to spoil. The exact temperature is not important when storing your coffee at home; as a rule of thumb, the cooler the better, but NEVER IN THE FRIDGE!
The most important consideration when it comes to temperature is consistency. Extreme fluctuations in temperature may cause condensation, resulting in the build-up of moisture. Avoid placing your container in a cupboard next to or close to heat sources such as a stove or oven. Another source of heat could be direct sunlight coming through a window; although the sun might not shine through that window for the entire day, it may cause temperature fluctuations, which we would like to avoid.
Humidity is the water vapour concentration in the air or, in other words, moisture. High humidity may result in a mouldy and sometimes fermented flavour. Too low humidity will result in dried-out beans; however, this is not a major concern unless you store industrial amounts of coffee. Ensure not to place your container in a cupboard where it may be exposed to excess moisture, such as above the kettle or stove.
Ground Coffee FAQ
How Long Do Coffee Grounds Last?
An opened bag of ground coffee will last about 2 – 3 weeks, whereas a properly sealed container will make your grounds last up to 2 months. If you have a large amount of coffee, it would be best to divide it into smaller portions and vacuum seal them (as by removing the air in a bag, we limit oxygen exposure).
I prefer to buy whole coffee beans and grind them because it makes me feel like a real barista; most mornings, I even wear a barista cap when making my coffee! It is not only feeling like a barista that appeals to me, but the fact that whole beans last much longer is the real kicker for me. If sealed and stored properly, they could last up to 5 months. My favourite coffee grinder is the SMEG.
Can I Store Ground Coffee In The Fridge?
Coffee contains nitrogen and, therefore, acts as a deodorizer. Placing a small bowl or sachet of coffee beans or ground coffee in your fridge/ cupboard will help neutralise funny smells by absorbing the foul odours. While this is a handy trick to eliminate funny smells, they will have absorbed the aromas of the fridge and will result in a terrible beverage.
How To Store Ground Coffee: Summing Up
Storing coffee becomes a much more exact science if you store industrial amounts of coffee; luckily, it is not that difficult for home consumption. A suitably sized opaque, airtight container will sufficiently store your everyday coffee. As an added protection layer, I recommend placing this container in a closed cupboard, not too close to any sources of heat or moisture.
If you are buying coffee in bulk, it is better to buy whole beans rather than grounds; divide your beans into smaller portions and vacuum seal them.