Better Coffee Storage = Better Quality. Some Recommendations
With coffee shops and cafes closing and everyone being told to stay home, it’s never been a better time to master the art of making coffee at home.
It’s no secret that we’re going to miss our local coffee shops - that place that makes your morning coffee just the way you like it. But we can all make steps towards forming good coffee making habits at home. Whilst the brewing method you choose to use or how you pour water onto your coffee are both important aspects to the end result, how you store your beans also has a big part to play in achieving that perfect cup. Having outlined speciality coffee's and instant coffee's differences, assuming your preference in the first, let's begin exploring speciality coffee's storage.
Buying coffee as wholebeans is always better than pre-ground
So, you've bought your speciality coffee beans off the GUSTATORY marketplace, and now what? As with all produce, coffee has an expiry date. The freshness of the coffee has a huge impact on the taste. When coffee has gone through the roasting process, the following 2 weeks after packaging are when the coffee beans are at their freshest. That doesn’t sound like a long time but if we compare that to pre-ground coffee, which loses it’s aroma and flavour around 24 hours after being ground, it’s actually not so bad. Wherever possible, buy roasted beans over pre-ground and grind only when you need to use them.
Let your coffee 'rest' and avoid drinking too soon
Just before we go on, there is such a thing as coffee being too fresh – I know, we’ve probably just turned your world upside down. The reason for this is due to the immense amount of heat used in the roasting process, which breaks down sugars and amino acids into carbon dioxide. It’s this CO2 that can make brewing difficult, hence why we recommend letting the coffee rest and degas before brewing.
Of course, in doing this, you need to balance the degassing with the loss of important flavours. As a rule of thumb, this period with darker roasted coffees starts in the first few days after roasting, whilst for lighter roasted coffees, its generally best to wait between 5-10 days. Given the longer period spent in the roaster, darker roasted coffees are more porous than light roasted coffees, so the flavour loss is accelerated. Another reason not to let a dark roast sit too long is the oils on the surface of the beans, which, when exposed to the air, leads to oxidation that can cause rancid flavours to develop – eurgh, yuk.
The brew process also has an impact on this rest period. Typically, for filter or the more gentle brew methods, such as a drip or a pour over, you can start to use your coffees a bit earlier than say an espresso, as this’ll need a bit more time to rest before subjecting it to an intense, pressurised brewing environment. As a rough guideline, we recommend letting the coffee rest for at least 7 days after the roast date for any coffees prepared as an espresso, whilst for coffees prepared as a filter, its slightly less at around 4 days rest after the roast date.
Tips for making coffee last even longer
In any case, lets get back on track. If you do buy pre-ground coffee, it’s not all doom and gloom as there are a few ways you can preserve that taste for a little while longer (these tips can also be applied to coffee bought as wholebeans too):
1 Avoid buying large quantities. There’s certainly a tendency to over-buy at the moment to effectively stockpile the essentials. However, that doesn’t prolong the lifespan of the coffee. The amount of time it remains fresh remains the same;
2 Always check the the ‘Best Before’ date on the packaging. Most ground coffee will have this visible on the bag and if it doesn’t have a date - don’t buy it. With supermarkets, it’s always hard to know how long the bags have been sat on the shelf for so it’s not worth risk;
3 Coffee is sensitive to its surroundings. When you get it home pour the grounds or beans into the best airtight container that you have and then put it into a cool dry cupboard out of sunlight. Coffee does not like air, moisture, extreme heat or extreme cold conditions. A dark cool cupboard is always the best option.
4 For wholebeans, also consider freezing your coffee to help it stay fresher for longer.
You might be asking, ‘can I just store my coffee in the bag it comes in?’ The simple answer is, it really depends.
The silver foil type bags with some form of vacuum seal work really well. On the other hand, the brown paper bags that some coffee roasters opt for just aren’t really ideal for preserving the coffee’s lifespan. The paper is porous, meaning air can easily penetrate the packing and will eventually spoil the coffee. Rolling the bag up to seal it won’t solve this problem either - it will help keep some air out, but it just doesn’t create the tight seal we’re looking for. That being said, keeping it in the bag is better than pouring it into a kitchen canister as these aren’t airtight either. Your best bet is an airtight container, such as some good quality Tupperware, for example.
How We Can *Really* Provide Your Coffee Needs
So, in summary, be mindful of the freshness of the coffee and try to balance resting with loss of flavours. You guessed it, we really recommend our coffee box subscriptions, delivering in regular intervals rather than ever stockpiling - you may pause, skip or cancel at any time. Upon receiving your coffee, store what you do buy in moderate conditions. If the packaging is porous and you need to consider debagging then ensure you pour the coffee straight into an airtight container. Other than that, enjoy the brew process and, of course, drinking it.
GUSTATORY (adjective): curating excellence in taste.