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Coffee Freshness: Refrigerator or Freezer or Nothing At All

One of the most common questions we get here at the roastery – How do I keep coffee fresh at home? 

There are endless debates on how and where to store your coffee beans. We always suggest to store them in a cool, dark, and dry place in an air-tight container at room temperature.

The generally agreed enemies of fresh coffee are moisture, air, heat, and light. The science talks about the changes in the triacylglycerols (TAG) and free fatty acids (FFA) composition of Coffee arabica seeds roasted with time, roast level, storage temperature and atmospheric (air vs N2) conditions. But let us “grind” this down to simple talk that you expect from Black Powder.

Although you’d assume that the fridge keeps everything fresher, longer…this isn’t always the case. Your fridge creates moisture that can take away from the aroma and flavors of your coffee beans. The main consideration is that coffee absorbs moisture – and odors and tastes – from the air around it, since it is hygroscopic. Taking the coffee in and out of the fridge over and over builds up condensation, which diminishes everything you love about your coffee. The balance of moisture both inside and outside of your beans is pivotal and delicate. When it is messed with, the cell structure changes which causes a loss of oils that give you the aroma and flavor. The best storage is in an airtight container, stored in a cool dark place. Our high quality bags are an optimal storage container if you do not have an airtight container. They’re dark, letting no light in, and have a one-way valve that let’s CO2 out, but no air in.

Buy the right amount: Coffee begins to lose freshness almost immediately after roasting, so it is far better to purchase it in smaller quantities. Black Powder has tested many batches of coffee and consulted with experts to arrive at the philosophy that coffee is optimal from day 3 to 30.  The darker the roast, the longer the flavor and aroma is maintained. By the way, the science supports this due to the slower loss of free fatty acids as it ages.  Generally, buy freshly roasted coffee frequently, and buy only what you will use in the next two weeks. Since exposure to air is your coffee’s worst enemy, it’s a good idea to immediately divide your coffee supply into several smaller portions, keeping the larger, unused portion in an air-tight container.  It is always concerning that some stores have open barrels or a loose fitting clear plexiglas cover so-called fresh beans. Why are they accelerating the demise of the gases and exposing the beans to UV degradation? If you don’t live close to a quality roaster or the US Postal Service doesn’t like to deliver to you every couple weeks, there is a proper way to freeze coffee to maintain a higher quality cup…..vacuum seal.

How to properly freeze coffee: First, wait for your coffee to finish off-gassing. This process takes about 7 days after roasting, when the coffee beans has released greater than 75% of the gases trapped inside of them. You want these gases gone because you don’t want anything potentially breaking the airtight seal inside the bag. Weigh out one week’s worth of coffee (whatever that amount may be for you) and vacuum seal that separately. When you notice that you’re running low, take them out of the freezer to let them come to room temperature. Make sure beans are fully thawed before opening up the bag: if they’re still a little frozen, water from the air around them will condense on the beans and cause your coffee to stale faster.

Possibly the single most important consideration for freshness and the legitimate pursuit of  “A Dynamite Cup” is buying your coffee whole bean and grinding it yourself just before brewing.

The controversy will continue, but here at Black Powder Roasting we will continue to suggest that you store your fresh beans outside of the fridge, in a cool dark area and buy smaller batches often.


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