There’s nothing better than a cup of coffee to start your day.
The most crucial ingredient to a good cup of coffee is, of course, the coffee beans! You may know how you’d like your perfect cup of coffee to be – less milk and no sugar, for me, please. But do you know how to store coffee beans properly? Or how to tell if they’ve gone bad? Can you freeze coffee beans?
As a fellow coffee lover myself, I’ve researched all the answers to your coffee bean storage questions.
In this article, you’ll learn how to store your coffee beans long term to retain their maximum freshness and flavor. I’ll also who you the whys and hows of spoilt coffee beans and a guide to freezing them. Yes, it is possible to freeze coffee beans!
What Makes Coffee Beans Go Bad?
There are several reasons why coffee beans go bad. The most important ones are inevitability and the lack of proper storage. The coffee flavor and freshness of the beans will deteriorate over time, no matter how or what you do.
You’ll usually find a ‘best before’ or ‘roast date’ label on your coffee beans. What that tells you is the period that your coffee beans will remain at their optimal quality and freshness. After that period, your coffee beans are still safe to use, but the coffee’s strength and flavor will not be the same.
With that being said, once you open a bag of coffee beans, I recommend properly storing the beans in an airtight container as soon as possible. Better yet, grind all the beans and store or brew them immediately. Coffee tastes best when it is fresh!
Coffee beans lose their freshness as soon as they are opened. Oxygen and moisture are absorbed into the coffee beans which slowly degrades their chemical composition.
Preventing exposure to heat and light also plays an essential part in keeping beans fresh and from going bad. Heat and light both make coffee beans lose their flavor and go stale.
Whilst your coffee beans may look fine, brew a cup of coffee to see how it tastes. Improperly stored coffee beans will brew you stale and ‘flat’ coffee. You can throw that batch of beans away and get a new bag. Even better, here are some ways to upcycle old coffee beans.
How to Tell if Coffee Beans are Spoiled
Unlike other organic foods, coffee beans do not usually show physical signs of spoilage. So, it’s hard to tell if coffee beans are spoilt.
However, two general and easy signs of spoiled coffee beans to look out for are smell and flavor. Spoiled coffee beans will have a stale and less intense aroma of coffee. You may also experience some musky or moldy scents. If so, it may have gone bad, and don’t hesitate to throw away the beans. Get a new bag of beans; everyone deserves a good cup of coffee!
Spoiled coffee beans usually brew coffee that tastes dull, dusty, or bitter. Don’t worry; if you have drunk a cup of bad coffee, it’s not the end of the world. It’s unlikely that you will fall ill from spoiled coffee beans.
Lastly, if you open a bag of beans and do see some mold, I would recommend throwing the whole bag away immediately. Coffee beans can absorb the moisture and air around them, and you can’t be sure what they may have absorbed, so it’s better to be safe by discarding them.
Should You Freeze Coffee Beans?
Freezing coffee beans is widely debated by all coffee lovers. Rightly so, everyone just wants to keep their coffee beans as fresh as possible.
Some may argue that freezing coffee beans is a bad idea. They believe the beans will lose their rich aroma and flavor, and the moisture in the freezer can even turn them soggy. Coffee beans are porous and can easily absorb the scents and tastes of the other foods in your freezer.
However, I and many others find freezing coffee beans is not entirely wrong. If done correctly, you won’t regret it!
You can extend the shelf life of the beans for a few months without them going to waste. If you’re looking for the freshest coffee, then I should say that freezing your coffee beans will probably not be your best option. That said, although the coffee brew of frozen beans will not taste as fresh as fresh beans, many still enjoy the taste.
How to Freeze Coffee Beans
If you’re interested in extending your coffee beans’ shelf life for a few months, why not try freezing them? If you’ve bought a little too much coffee to use right now, freezing can keep them for an extended time. Here’s how you can freeze coffee beans:
- Find airtight and freezer-safe bags or containers – It is crucial to ensure minimal or no air enters into the bags and your coffee beans. Coffee beans quickly absorb moisture and smell. It will significantly affect the taste, texture, and freshness of your coffee beans.
- Portion your fresh coffee beans into smaller and individual containers or bags, enough for a week or two worth of coffee – This will make sure that you only take out what you need without thawing the rest. Once thawed, coffee beans will not be the same; it’s recommended not to refreeze them again.
- Tightly seal, label, and store the fresh coffee beans in your freezer. It will be good for up to 3 months – If you can, vacuum sealing will work even better in keeping the moisture out of the coffee beans.
- When ready to use, thaw a portion of frozen coffee beans until room temperature, and you’re ready to grind! – Some suggest grinding frozen beans for the extra crunch. My advice is to experiment with your coffee grinder to see what suits you best.
Should You Store Coffee Beans in the Fridge?
Similar to freezing coffee beans, storing coffee beans in the fridge is highly debated and even frowned upon by some. This is mainly because if not stored correctly, coffee beans will absorb the moisture and aroma of all the food in your fridge, just like bread. The fridge contains extra humidity and moisture that will likely turn your coffee beans soft and soggy. Soggy beans are found not to grind as well in coffee grinders.
However, if you have no other place to store your coffee beans, keeping them in the fridge for a week will not hurt you.
Take them out of the coffee bag and store them in an airtight container. You can grind your coffee beans straight from the fridge. Studies suggested that grinding and brewing coffee beans at a cooler temperature might even bring your cup of coffee more flavor!
So What is the Best Way to Store Coffee Beans Long Term?
You can store them in the fridge and even freeze them, but what is the best way to store coffee beans long term? It depends on your situation and needs.
Once opened, you may store them in the provided bag. However, this isn’t a good option for long term storage.
I recommend that you always store your coffee beans in an airtight container, in a cool and dark place. Keep them safely away from humidity, warmth, and light, as they will degrade your coffee beans quickly!
At room temperature, once opened, fresh coffee beans can last at their best quality for up to 4 weeks.
If you’re looking to keep them for a few months past their expiration date, freezing them will be your best option for long term storage.
If you are looking to keep them safe for a week or two, storing them in the fridge will be most convenient for you. You can continuously grind some coffee beans without thawing them every time you just want a cup of coffee.
Finally, I always suggest grinding and consuming your coffee beans as soon as you buy them. Your coffee will taste best the sooner it is from their roast!
Only buy what you need, so you don’t end up in this sticky dilemma of wondering how to store your coffee beans long term.