Keeping your beans stored correctly can be crucial in achieving the full flavour potential of the coffee beans. We wish coffee could be like wine, and we could stock up on a cellar of different beans from different regions, but coffee is a little more temperamental than wine and we must consider this when storing coffee long term.
1. Know The Shelf Life
When coffee is roasted, it can soon begin losing the freshness locked in the flavours from being roasted. How you store your beans will determine how long their flavours stay with them.
Without an airtight container, you'll want to try and use up your beans within about 1-2 weeks. An airtight container will extend this to about 3 weeks. The more the beans are exposed to air, the faster they'll deteriorate so make sure the storage spot is away from windows and open air flow. Keeping moisture away too for mould prevention.
2. Grind at Home If You Can, Immediately Before Brewing
The process of coffee losing its flavour is due to the beans 'oxidising'. This is a chemical process when the aromatic (flavour-filled) molecules contained in the coffee beans react with oxygen in the air. Whilst totally safe, this is where coffee loses its flavour. The more surface of the coffee that is exposed to air, the faster this oxidation is and therefore quicker it loses flavour. This is why ground coffee loses flavour much faster than whole beans.
For this reason, the most flavoursome coffee is coffee that has been freshly ground right before brewing. That's why we take a portable hand grinder (we love the commandante) on the road with us, and take care of our electric grinder at home.
3. For Filter (At Least) Buy the Right Amount
We tend to buy smaller bags for filter coffee as it means sampling different coffees more often and keeping every coffee high in flavour as we rotate our beans. Filter coffee is roasted at a lower temperature to give more delicate flavours. This means its especially important to enjoy this coffee as soon as possible and pay attention to how long it has been stored for.
For espresso, the stronger flavours (in our opinion) seem to be more maintainable over time and we would advise this type of coffee if you're interested in stocking up for more.
4. Storage: Airtight and Cool
As we've mentioned, it's really a battle between coffee versus air when it comes to keeping your coffee flavoursome and enjoyable. Having an airtight container buys your coffee more time and keeps the coffee away from moisture whilst limiting its oxidation.
Keeping the coffee cool not only slows down the coffee oxidation process, but it's also important for an ensuring an even grind size. Some very smart people over in the UK (at the University of Bath) even studied this and determined the coffee stored at colder temperatures leads to more uniformly ground coffee particles which affect the taste and overall extraction over the coffee
5. Vacuum Sealing
Some coffee enthusiasts have turned to purchasing vacuum sealing equipment at home to store small amounts of coffee beans, building their own boutique coffee library. We've also seen this in a few specialty coffee stores across the globe - and we love it!
Vacuum sealing removes as much oxygen (and other gases) from around the beans as possible, thus dramatically slowing down the oxidation process and keeping them safe.
It's pretty hard to vacuum seal a large amount of roasted beans at home, but it can definitely be done in small portions (say 15g portions to make individual 250g coffees).
We'd say if you have the means to buy a vacuum sealer (and patience) then this is a great way for filter fans to build a portfolio of beans from around the world.