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Coffee is a sensitive object. Storing coffee in the wrong place and in the wrong way will change its original taste and freshness.

Some people may often buy coffee in large quantities to stock up for months. Even though he doesn't know that coffee that has been stored for months (both ground and beans) will change the taste, freshness of the coffee and worst of all it will cause your coffee to go stale. Then how should you store coffee so that its freshness is maintained?

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How to store coffee:

Put coffee in an airtight container and freeze it. Thaw only what you will use in the next week. While thawing frozen beans, keep them in an airtight container so moisture doesn’t condense on them. Once up to room temperature, keep them in an air tight container until use.

What we perceive as “taste” is really mostly smell. With coffee, this is provided by volatile (means easily evaporated, as opposed to flammable) chemicals. Like alcohols, aldehydes, esters, furans… They evaporate easily, forming equilibrium between their gaseous state and the bound state in the beans. The higher the temperature, the more these volatiles will favor the gaseous state. If you store coffee in an unsealed container at room temperature (like the hopper of your coffee grinder) these yummy vapors dissipate, leaving the coffee relatively flavorless. If they are in a sealed container, they can’t go anywhere.

There are lots of non-volatile chemicals which give coffee its flavor as well (carbohydrates, lipids, organic acids, etc). They are not volatile, so they aren’t going to leave the coffee as vapor. But even if they don’t evaporate, they can oxidize. Oxidation means chemical reaction with oxygen. As a rule, chemical reactions double in speed every 10*C increase in temperature. That’s why coffee flavor is preserved longer in the freezer than at room temperature. You can also reduce oxidation by reducing oxygen. Ideally, a coffee container should be purged with an inert gas like Nitrogen, CO2 or Argon before closing it. But not even I am fanatical enough to bother. Fortunately, commercially packaged coffee bags are self-purging. Coffee off-gasses (mostly CO2) after roasting. That little button on your coffee bag is a vent to let gas out so the bag doesn’t blow up like a balloon. This venting displaces most of the oxygen that was trapped in the bag before it was sealed. That’s why commercially packaged coffee has a reasonable shelf life.

My routine:

  1. Buy whole coffee beans in sealed multi-layer bags with a vent button. Never buy coffee from an unsealed bin unless you are buying direct from a roaster. If they can’t tell you the day the beans were roasted, don’t buy them.
  2. Immediately freeze any coffee which will not be used within a week.
  3. When the multilayer bag is opened, dump the beans into a ZipLoc, expel the air and return to the freezer.
  4. Thaw beans in a sealed container. Those old fashioned wire-rimmed snap-top glass jars work great.
  5. When grinding, remove only beans you will use immediately and re-seal the container. Don’t keep beans in the grinder hopper. It isn’t air-tight.

Any Baristas who have been mind-melted by Starbucks will tell you it is bad to freeze coffee. Rubbish. Starbucks doesn’t want to pay for a cold chain or maintain fresh stock, so they store bagged coffee at room temperature for up to 34 weeks, That is over half a year !! https://athome.starbucks.com/helping-keep-coffee-fresh.

There is some buzz about grinding frozen beans. The reason for the buzz is that a study showed that grinding REALLY COLD beans (liquid nitrogen temperature, not deep freeze temperature) produces a smaller, more uniform particle size. This may be relevant for industrial grinders, but not at home.

Bottom line: grinding frozen beans will produce a finer grind for a given setting on your grinder. If you have found the “perfect setting”, tweak it a bit courser if you are grinding frozen beans. The cold coffee will get some moisture condensation and the coffee will be “clumpy”. You may need to disassemble and clean your grinder more often. I think it’s better to wait for the beans to warm to room temperature before grinding.

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    As for condensation when grinding cold beans, I think the real problem is that you probably expose to air (and thus moisture) more beans than the batch you are currently using. So when you have a bag that holds 3 portions, you can open it and use up one portion immediately but then the other two portions will be exposed to moisture for a longer time. As such, I think grinding frozen beans should only be recommended when you're packing them in individual portions. So you one open frozen portions for immediate use; otherwise let them come to temperature before opening.
    – JJJ
    Dec 9, 2021 at 4:33
  • @Woody excellent answer! Do you ever refreeze beans that were defrosted or exposed to air (and thus condensation) while frozen? Does it help to vacuum-seal beans before freezing or (lacking a vacuum sealer) dip the ziplock bag partly into water to push out more of the air?
    – Jerry101
    Dec 16, 2021 at 21:07
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    @Jerry. All good ideas ! I think if cold beans are only exposed to air for a short time, little condensation occurs. Vacuum or immersion sealing are both good ideas but I'm too lazy. Argon or nitrogen flush would be best but.. I have both available, but get real, it's just coffee.
    – Woody
    Dec 17, 2021 at 3:27
  • I find that beans fresh out of the freezer are not as tasty. I rarely put beans in the freezer. It takes me a little over a week to go through a pound, so I usually buy a pound at a time. When I do put a bag in the freezer, I take it out a day before I use it. Dec 21, 2021 at 22:12

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