We’ve all known people who treat their coffee badly: they open the bag, make a cup, then just leave the bag out on the kitchen counter without closing it. How could they do such a thing?!
Coffee is a complex, subtle and delicate thing. We don’t just drink it for the caffeine buzz (although that is part of it) – we drink it to enjoy the kaleidoscopic variety of flavours, from berries to chocolate to citrus and beyond. The joy a well-brewed cup can bring us, especially if it’s from high-quality, well-sourced beans, is immeasurable.
When you pick a quality coffee, a lot of care is taken all through the production chain (from picking to sorting to packing and distributing) to keep it fresh and flavoursome. So as consumers and fans of quality coffee, it’s really important to store coffee properly, else that care goes to waste. If we don’t store coffee properly, it goes bad – simple as that.
As well as these environmental factors, coffee is prone to absorbing aromas from nearby contaminants, such as food and other kitchen substances. The most important thing you can do to avoid these is to keep your coffee container sealed. Airtight containers are crucial for keeping nasty contaminants out (and don’t use one that you’ve used for other foods previously, as it’ll inherit scents from the past). You could use screw-top jars, plastic boxes or glass jars, as long as the lid seals shut tightly. Plastic bags with zip-locks are also an option.
Keep coffee out of the fridge! Refrigerating coffee is a common mistake as many people think it helps preserve freshness. This isn’t the case. The atmosphere in fridges is moist (which we need to avoid) and, of course, full of food odours. Wrapping a rubber band round an opened bag of ground coffee and sticking it at the back of the fridge will do you no favours – you’re likely to end up with onion-flavoured coffee. Not good.
So – keep your coffee out of the fridge at room temperature instead.
Can you freeze coffee? Yes, but for long-term storage only. Freezers have the same threats as fridges. This should only be done if you’ve nowhere else to store it, or you’ve bought more than you can use and it’s approaching its best-before date.
Don’t re-freeze your coffee after taking it out, either. This is good advice for pretty much any food or drink, and with coffee it won’t do the flavours any good if moisture is melting and freezing again. You might want to adjust your packing strategy with this in mind – multiple smaller containers should work better than one large one, as you won’t have to take it all out at once.
Keep your coffee away from light – opaque containers are important here. If your coffee is being stored at room temperature in the kitchen, put it away in a cupboard – preferably one of the lower ones that don’t absorb heat from cooking. If you were to put it in a see-through container that was in or near direct sunlight, that’d have a detrimental effect on the consistency and flavour of your coffee, whether ground or not. A cool, dark place is what you need.
If you’re grinding your coffee at home, remember to only grind what you need that day. While vacuum-packed ground coffee is perfectly enjoyable (we sell many varieties of it!), by grinding in advance you’re missing out on one of the joys of the home grind – absolute freshly-ground goodness.