Your coffee beans undergo a long journey from farm to kitchen counter, but one key factor is crucial to quality control: storage. Proper coffee storage is very important during the logistics process of exporting coffee, including before and after coffee beans are roasted.
Coffee beans, whether green or roasted, must be stored correctly to guarantee freshness. In order to do so, professionals like coffee producers, importers, and roasters have to evaluate various aspects of transporting their product. But this task doesn't solely fall on them. The consumer also contributes to preserving coffee beans' freshness by remembering some important points about proper coffee storage at home. In the end, the ultimate goal is to experience the pleasure of unaltered flavor in your cup.
At the beginning of the supply chain, farmers and distributors want to transport green coffee beans in ideal conditions. These unroasted beans are kept between 10-12% humidity and carefully monitored to prevent mold. If mold appears, the beans' density deteriorates along with their quality. Like winemakers, coffee producers and distributors must store their fresh green coffee in cool, dry environments, like cellars.
External elements quickly affect coffee, which is why airtight packaging is preferred during transport. Thibault Chauvin, a buyer at Cuprima, a specialty coffee importer, explains, "[Green coffee] is an organic, living, hygroscopic substance that is constantly trying to
find the right balance. This means that we need to pay particular attention
to its nutrient content and preserving its aromas."
During this stage of coffee exporting, every effort must be made to protect the quality, taste, aromas, freshness, and even color of coffee beans. The process is only further complicated when coffee beans are transported by sea since condensation can build up in
the ship's cargo storage. As a result, ventilated containers and breathable bags are used to combat harmful moisture during transport.
As previously mentioned, coffee is sensitive to external elements, including air, light, moisture, and heat. However, coffee is still a non-perishable product. What does that mean exactly? Regardless of your coffee's "Best Before Date," it's still safe to consume after expiration. And although you shouldn't expect any health risks from drinking old coffee grounds, your coffee probably won't be the most flavorful cup.
But when comparing roasted and green coffee, roasted beans are more easily affected by improper storage. This is why your method for coffee bean storage at home matters — exposing your roasted coffee to the wrong environment can quickly affect the taste of your cup.
You might be asking yourself: if coffee is so sensitive, what's the "correct" way of storing it then?
A cupboard is one suitable place for storing coffee since it provides a cool, dry environment with limited exposure to sunlight. Airtight containers also provide an effective method for storage by minimizing contact with air. For example, De’Longhi’s Coffee Canister is a manual vacuum-sealed container that keeps both coffee beans and grounds fresh for up to 15 days by limiting food’s contact with air, reducing the risk of mold or bacteria growth. However, while you can preserve roasted coffee for longer periods in your freezer as well, your coffee’s quality will decline rapidly once it’s removed from the cold.
When stored in the fridge, coffee comes into contact with other foods. Because of its porosity, coffee's taste can change when exposed to different odors.
The main factors that negatively impact roasted coffee can be found in most common living spaces. It’s important to consider these factors when choosing a coffee storage method since they can easily affect your coffee’s flavor and organoleptic and nutritional qualities.
A cupboard or pantry is ideal for protecting your roasted coffee from unwanted light exposure.
Heat from nearby stovetops, ovens, or sunlight can also deteriorate your roasted coffee’s quality. Consider storing your coffee somewhere away from heat-producing appliances or direct sun exposure.
Similar to fresh green coffee, roasted coffee is best kept in airtight containers.