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Storing Coffee

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Possibly the single most contentious, and most misunderstood, fact about "roast and ground" coffee is where is the best place to store it.

Forget about all the expert ideas you have read or heard, because we are going to give you the absolute definitive answer, and tell you why!

Like many other food products, the simple answer is that storage is qualified by how you intend to consume it. Like vegetables or meat or bread, you can consume it fresh, which is obviously best, or you can store it for later use.

So here are the facts which support the answers for any different situation.

 

FACT 1:
The "enemies" of coffee are moisture and air. Coffee is "hygroscopic", meaning it will absorb moisture and aromas from the air surrounding it, and it will be affected by that process.


LOGICAL CONCLUSION 1:
You want to store coffee somewhere that is dry (relatively), and it can be protected from foreign odours and aromas. This therefore excludes a normal refrigerator.

Anyone advocating storage in a refrigerator is either 1) ignoring coffee chemistry and refrigeration engineering, or 2) They are using a specially dehumidified cool room, or 3) they are taking a chance that their packaging will prevent moisture ingress. Using a dehumidified cool room is not a practical idea for the average consumer, and relying on 30cent packaging to prevent moisture ingress is a wishful concept.

Normal fridges are "wet". Our technicians experimented with placing a humidity/moisture recorder in a fridge and the result was not favourable. Our advice is do not put coffee in the fridge, it is the worst place to store coffee.


FACT 2:
Freshly roasted coffee is at its best between 3 - 10 days out of the roaster (This is now a widely recognised fact, and there are many websites that support and explain the chemistry, so we wont go into details here).


LOGICAL CONCLUSION 2:
You should, where possible, purchase your coffee in volumes sufficient to last only 1 - 2 weeks. This way you can store your coffee in a cool dry cupboard and it will stay fresh as required for that period. If you own a cafe, then we provide weekly deliveries of product with dated labels for stock rotation.


FACT 3: 
Ground coffee will deteriorate 100 times quicker than bean coffee. The rate of deterioration is determined by the amount of surface area of coffee exposed to the air. Coffee oxidizes when exposed to air (similar to the process that causes rust on metal), and ground coffee has far greater surface area than beans.


LOGICAL CONCLUSION 3:
So what is the best thing to do with coffee that is pre-ground, i.e for home espresso, or drip filter, or for decaf. Hmmm, there must be something, let's put our research department on the job.


FACT 4: 
The research department came back and said........ the only viable solution for long term storage of coffee is a freezer.

A freezer you say!! I can hear the coffee geeks going off their tree. Look, this is a compromise for certain situations, but its a good compromise.

The fact is that if you do a test you'll find that coffee is the most ideal product for freezing. We all freeze a lot of other foods and have no problem consuming them. And coffee does not actually freeze, and it does not go hard like meat or any other food product, This is because of the oil content in the coffee. So there's one tick for freezing.

A freezer is actually "dry" because it dehumidifies the air. I think that's another tick. The low temperature also shrinks the molecules of the coffee and retains the freshness and flavour components (aroma molecules), inside the bean. It also keeps the CO2 inside the bean, which is the transport mechanism for that lovely aroma. Three ticks??

Yes, there may be a very small amount of condensation form on the bean immediately upon removal from the freezer, but our testing reveals that this is a very minor degrading factor compared to the alternative of leaving the coffee out to go totally stale.

And no, the beans will not break your grinder!! (There is actually a website that says this!! How can you have an opinion with no research or testing.)

We have actually done testing and cupping and we can vouch that you need to be pretty good to pick the difference between fresh coffee and that which has been stored in the freezer.

So the definite answer to the question is this:

  • Try and purchase coffee in volumes sufficient to last 1 - 2 weeks
  • For short term storage use a cool dry cupboard away from kitchen humidity and any other aromatic products like onions, cleaning products, vegamite etc.
  • Do Not store in the fridge (unless it is specially dehumidified, in which case it is cheaper to use a freezer)
  • For ground coffee, or for longer term storage of beans, the only viable solution is to use a freezer, and you wont be disappointed. Our 100% money back guarantee backs our opinion and our research department (plus their job depends on it).

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