Storing coffee - Tips and Myths

To Freeze or not to freeze? I have had many discussions on the merits of freezing along with studying lots of research into the pro’s and con’s. I have come to the conclusion that it is best not to! My reasons are as follows: Regarding moisture; coffee beans and more especially ground coffee will deteriorate much more quickly when exposed to moisture, so a damp environment at any temperature is not recommended. Commercially, freezers use liquid nitrogen and freeze as near instantaneously as possible. Domestic freezers however will only freeze slowly and therefore run the risk of creating condensation within the packet as it cools down, and again when it warms up. So moisture is likely to be present as it freezes or defrosts. During the freezing process, the first thing to freeze is water and their crystals are really sharp and spiky. Any residual moisture within the bean will form very sharp crystals which will puncture the adjoining cells. This is why high moisture content fruit (strawberries for instance) will be dark and mushy when domestically frozen/defrosted. Freezing only lowers the temperature, it doesn’t stop time, so deterioration will still occur albeit a little more slowly. If you take out small amounts at a time from the frozen packet it will speed up the deterioration, as you will be introducing oxygen into the packet. Regarding Oxygen; beans and more especially ground coffee deteriorates quickly in the presence of oxygen. Oxidisation produces ‘rust’ within almost everything. Freshly roasted coffee exudes carbon dioxide from the point of roasting, quickly at first and then more slowly for about 3-4 days. If it is subsequently ground, there is another ‘burst’ of CO2 for a few hours. CO2 is a natural preservative and is heavier than air and therefore forms a protective ‘pool’ which is perfectly adequate to bring the deterioration to a minimum, the one way valve in the packet allows oxygen rich ‘air’ to be expelled, therefore raising the percentage volume of CO2 within the packet. This negates the need to freeze. Freezing does nothing to enhance this process. Should you keep it in the fridge? As above, all that using a fridge does is increase the potential of condensation. Practically, if you take a packet out to use for breakfast say, and then pop it back in when you are finished, the temperature has risen and then decreased, allowing more potential for condensation than it would have had just being in the cupboard. Coffee is bought and used pretty well all over the world in a wide range of ambient temperatures, the best storage temperature is the one you are making the coffee in! How long should you keep coffee? Paradoxically, the best way to preserve coffee beyond its natural peak life span of around 5 weeks and up to 3 months is not to do anything, as it is perfectly capable of looking after itself thank you very much! If you only purchase enough beans to last for 4-5 weeks, as long as you buy it freshly roasted, there is no need to keep it all, even less reason to freeze it! Conclusion: As coffee is pretty well available whenever you want it, the best way is to buy small amounts (enough for a max of 2 months) and enjoy it straight away. To encourage people to only buy what they need for a month at most, I offer free postage for as low as £15 (some sites ask you to order lots) which is around 3 x 228g packets. This is enough for the average coffee lover for three weeks to a month. So,the best way to store coffee is to keep only a month or 2 supply, keep it airtight and upright (conserving its CO2 pool), dry, and at an ambient temperature. My coffee is superb, I care about what I do, as do most of the other coffee roasters I know. My success is due to my well kept secret, which, as long as you promise not to tell anyone…is freshness!