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espresso in a white cup

How to store coffee to keep it fresh for a long time?

Coffee as a raw material requires careful handling both before and after roasting. Although proper coffee storage may seem like a true science at first sight, to keep it fresh, just follow a few simple principles.

Tip #1: Notice the roasting date

Most Slovaks still prefer cheap coffee, which they know almost nothing about – not even where it comes from, who makes it or when it was roasted. Therefore, when we talk about the freshness of coffee, the first, basic principle cannot be overlooked: always buy coffee from a roastery who clearly states the roasting date. For coffee, as with any other food, the date of manufacture is extremely important as it determines its taste properties. If you buy old coffee, it doesn’t matter how you store it. You will not experience a real taste pleasure.

roasting machine during coffee roasting

Tip #2: Prefer coffee beans

Another relatively common dilemma of coffee makers is whether to buy coffee beans or ground coffee. Here we clearly recommend: always buy coffee beans. Why? All the taste of coffee is hidden in the oils found in the coffee bean. After grinding, they start to be released from the coffee very quickly, and thus the coffee loses its aromatic and taste qualities. Once opened, the coffee beans can maintain their constant taste for 10 to 14 days. Ground coffee, on the other hand, weathers much faster, within 24 hours. Therefore, it is recommended to buy and store coffee in unground form.

ground coffee on a silver spoon

Tip #3: Less (coffee) is sometimes more

Advice that may seem exaggerated, but we are serious: buy only as much coffee as you need for a month. Be sure not to stockpile for half a year ahead. Long storage is not beneficial for coffee. Keep in mind that shortly after coffee is roasted, a process begins in which various gases, including CO2, are released from the grains. Carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of roasting, inflates the coffee bean by about 20 percent and then, along with it, other compounds begin to be released from the beans, which are behind the great aroma and taste of the coffee.

coffee beans in a grinder hopper

The same rule can be applied to grinders or hoppers of automatic coffee machines. It is ideal to have only as much coffee in them as you consume in one day and to top it up if necessary. If you keep the coffee in the hopper longer, it can weather very quickly, which reflects in its aroma and taste.

Tip #4: Protect the coffee from the air

The biggest enemy of freshly roasted coffee is oxygen. Therefore, after opening the package, it is necessary to eliminate the contact of coffee with air as much as possible. If carbon dioxide is released from coffee, which is the first 10 days approximately, coffee cannot absorb oxygen. However, as soon as all the CO2 from the coffee disappears, the weathering process begins, when the fragrant and aromatic substances, as well as a large part of the taste properties, are lost.

roasted coffee in a package

Tip #5: Find a dark place for coffee

Direct sunlight also does not greatly benefit the coffee. Therefore, if you display coffee on a window sill or on a shelf on which the sun shines during the day, we definitely recommend moving it to another place. It is ideal to store coffee in an opaque container in a dark place. Direct sunlight causes the so-called photodegradation. It is a process of decomposition of fats, vitamins and proteins naturally occurring in coffee, which accelerates its aging and thus impairs its taste properties.

cappuccino with rich cream

Tip #6: Room temperature is enough for coffee

Coffee does not like extreme temperatures, whether high or low. If you drink coffee every day, the room temperature is enough. Be sure to avoid storing coffee near a radiator, hood, or other heater. Also forget about the refrigerator or freezer. While low temperatures can help keep coffee fresh for a long time, there is also a relatively high risk of coffee spoiling. This is because temperature fluctuations occur when the coffee is constantly removed from, and placed in the refrigerator or freezer, which leads to condensation, the formation of excessive moisture and, consequently, the formation of mould.

Tip #7: Watch out for moisture

Attention must always be paid to the mentioned humidity, not only when storing coffee in the freezer from time to time. All types of coffee have a hygroscopic character, which means that they absorb moisture and odours from the air. Therefore, it is necessary to choose not only a dry and dark place for coffee storage, but also a suitable packaging that will reliably protect it from unwanted loss of aroma and taste.

detail of misted glass

Tip #8: Store coffee in quality packaging

If you buy coffee in resealable containers with a zip-lock system and a non-return valve, we have good news for you: you can store coffee in them in peace. This type of packaging not only effectively protects coffee from light, but it also protects it from the air. The one-way valve allows carbon dioxide to escape from the package and at the same time it prevents the access of oxygen to the bottom. Coffee can thus maintain its freshness for six to nine months.

manual coffee packaging

Even bags that are made of lower quality materials but have a one-way valve can keep coffee in good condition for about 3 months. However, this cannot be said of paper or vacuum packaging – the paper packaging is not airtight and the vacuum does not allow carbon dioxide to escape from the packaging, which is prone to crack.

TIP! We recommend a special Coffeevac vacuum can to keep the coffee fresh.

If you buy coffee in a zero waste store, it is good to store it in an opaque and well-sealed container. Containers with silicone seals are ideal. The best materials include glass, ceramics and non-reactive metal. Regardless of the type of material, the container must always be kept clean. This is because coffee, together with oxide, also excretes various types of fats and oils, which tend to melt very quickly and can degrade coffee.

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