Storing Ground Coffee
(or, Keeping it Safe from Enemies)
Ground Coffee's Biggest Enemies
There are a thousand and one recommendations on how to store ground coffee. Always in the freezer! Never in the freezer! The fridge is best, the fridge is worst. How are you supposed to know what's really the best way to keep coffee grounds fresh? One of the easiest way to decide how you are going to store your coffee is to think about avoiding coffee's biggest enemies: moisture, heat, air and light. At all costs, your coffee grounds should be kept as far away as possible from each of those. However, it's not quite that simple. That would make the fridge and freezer sound like pretty good options. But they're actually not. Here's why.
Storing Coffee in the Fridge? Never.
Let's start with the fridge. We will never, never, never (did we say never?) recommend that you store coffee in the fridge, whether its green coffee, whole beans, or ground coffee. Sure, it's cool. But it's also maybe the very worst place you can store your coffee. The biggest reason is this: coffee is very porous. On one hand, the fact that its porous and absorbs flavors well is a big plus. It's why you can buy french vanilla and hazelnut flavored coffee beans that actually do taste like french vanilla and hazelnut when you brew a cup of coffee. On the other hand, there are a whole lotta flavors floating around in that fridge of yours, 99.9% of them which have no business flavoring your coffee. Bologna coffee? Tuna fish casserole coffee? Yeah, we didn't think so.
The second reason the fridge is the worst place for storing ground coffee is the moisture level. Moisture causes coffee beans to deteriorate, which as you can imagine, isn't such a good idea for maintaining freshness and taste. A refrigerator has a very high moisture level, significantly higher than the freezer, making it, by far: the worst option for coffee storage.
Store Coffee in the Freezer? Maybe.
Alright, so another hot topic in the How to Store Coffee world of questions is the freezer debate. Yes? No? Well, it's not really quite so cut and dry this time. Generally, we advise you to avoid the freezer. Again, it comes back to moisture. The frozen moisture of a freezer will eventually melt and the poor little coffee bean or coffee grounds will be forced to absorb it. In other words, wreaking havoc on coffee bean construction, flavor and level of freshness. However! If, and only if, you can ensure that no moisture can come in contact with your coffee beans, then the freezer will make an acceptable storage place. That said, (this is important), it's a one-time deal. As soon as you remove your coffee from the freezer, you should never put it back in. Not only does moisture spell catastrophe for your coffee, so does an influx of temperature variations. The best way to combat this is to divvy up your grounds or beans into small, air-tight packages so you can use just one at a time and preserve the integrity of the rest of your coffee.
You also have to take into consideration that the freezer is not always dark. Every time it's opened, your beans are exposed to light (one of coffee's mortal enemies, if you remember).
So, when to use the freezer then? Use the freezer if you have a large quantity of coffee beans that you will not be able to use within a 10 day to 2 week time frame and only if you can ensure that they will stay air and moisture free.
Downfalls to Ground Coffee
If you've noticed, we aren't super excited about the freezer, and we said never
to the fridge. So what then, are you supposed to do? We recommend the simple approach. Avoid coffee's downfalls by storing it in an air-tight container and placing it in a dry, cool and dark environment. Let's go step-by-step why this is crucial.Heat & Coffee
Heat draws out the natural oils of a coffee bean, which obviously dries out the coffee bean, causing it to lose that fresh taste and aroma. Not only should you seek out a cool place, remember not to place it in cupboards near large appliances like refrigerators that can give off heat. Walls that get a lot of sun are also not a good idea.Light & Coffee
Light is another problem causer. It, like moisture, causes coffee to deteriorate. A cup of coffee brewed with beans overly exposed to light is guaranteed to taste stale and flat, no matter how well you brew and prepare it.Air & Coffee
The simplistic way to think of this is to imagine that your coffee is allergic to air. Ground coffee is even more so (deathly allergic) because the bean's cellular structure becomes exposed to oxygen at every level. Stale, flat, flavorless. This is what you'll get from coffee overly exposed to air.
Now that we now why it's so crucial to avoid these, it's simply a matter of properly storing ground coffee in an effort to avoid unpleasant, undrinkable cups of coffee in our future.
Best Manner of Storing Ground Coffee
The best container for storing your ground coffee is one that you can remove the air from. You will see lots of recommendations for "air-tight" coffee grounds containers. But, unless you can remove the air by means of suction, all you're really doing is trapping coffee in with a bunch of air. And, we already know that's a bad thing. Ceramic containers are the best option, as glass lets in light and metal containers can transfer their taste to the coffee. So, after you've selected a proper container, all you have to do is track down a cool, dark place somewhere in your home. And there you have it: a home for your coffee.
In need of just such a container? Go check out our accessories
and pick the one that's your favorite!