Best Way to Store Coffee Beans

By: James Butler      Revised by: Mark Cambell   Last updated: Feb 2, 2024

One of the most common questions I get asked is "what is it, the best way to store coffee beans long term to keep them fresh?". Storing whole bean coffee properly is critical to ensuring high quality and flavorful coffee. Coffee beans are naturally oily and porous, so they can easily absorb surrounding aromas and flavors if not stored correctly. Let's explore the five best ways to keep coffee beans fresh.

1- Whole beans vs ground coffee

First of all, it is always best to store coffee beans in whole form and only grind the beans right before brewing your coffee. Whole coffee beans have a longer shelf life as there is less surface area exposed to oxygen. Once the beans have been ground, the coffee oils and aromatics are exposed to air, heat and moisture, causing them to go stale more quickly. As a general rule, whole coffee beans will last about 2 weeks to 3 months, while ground coffee may start losing freshness after just 15 minutes. So, for the ultimate freshness, buy whole beans and grind them on demand.

2- An airtight container 

The second most important factor to keeping coffee beans fresh is using an airtight container to store them. Coffee beans are very porous and will absorb any surrounding aromas. An airtight canister with a tightly sealed lid, such as metal, ceramic or glass container will help keep oxygen out and prevent the beans from drying out or absorbing moisture. Plastic containers should be avoided as plastic can give the beans a stale taste. The airtight container should block out light as well to prevent photo-oxidation which can make the coffee taste bitter. An opaque container is best. I recommend using ceramic or metal coffee bean storage canisters for home use. This is surely, best way to keep coffee beans fresh.

3- Room temperature 

Coffee beans should be stored at room temperature away from direct heat, sunlight, and moisture. The ideal temperature range is around 65 to 72 F. Avoid storing beans in hot areas such as near the oven, stovetop or in high cabinets. Heat will speed up the breakdown of compounds in the beans faster, causing them to go stale quicker. Moist environments should also be avoided as excess moisture leads to the growth of mold and bacteria which can impart a musty taste to the coffee. The pantry or kitchen counter away from the stove and sink are good options for storing beans.

4- Coffee beans in freezer

Naturally, freezing coffee beans is not ideal, still it can help maximize freshness if done properly. To freeze coffee beans, divide them into one-week portions in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the containers, marking the date and storing coffee in freezer. Use the beans within 3 months for best quality. When ready to use, let the beans come to room temperature before opening to avoid condensation which can make the beans soggy. Grind the beans in medium batches to maintain freshness. Freshly frozen beans will yield better results than beans that have been repeatedly frozen and thawed. That's many coffee shops' and roasters' secret, and I whisper it into your ear: "Store coffee beans in freezer." That is how they maintain quality until sale. Freezing the coffee beans immediately after roasting helps lock in peak freshness.

5- Checking your beans 

Whether storing coffee beans at room temperature or in the freezer, check on the beans regularly to ensure there is no condensation or spoilage present. Whole beans should have an even brown color and uniform size and texture. There should be no visible signs of oil or condensation inside the storage container or bag. If there are any shriveled, discolored or uneven beans present, it is best to discard the batch. Whole beans generally last 2 to 3 months, while properly stored frozen beans will last 6 to 12 months. Oxidized or spoiled beans will produce stale, bitter and unpalatable coffee so always check your beans before brewing.

Best way to store coffee grounds:

Nevertheless, some individuals find grinding coffee beans daily to be inconvenient. Therefore, if you prefer to avoid grinding coffee beans for each espresso, you can grind your supply in advance and store it in an appropriate container. This could save you a week or longer of time and effort from repetitive grinding operations. The best way to preserve the freshness and aroma of coffee grounds is to store them properly after grinding. Coffee starts losing its flavor and aroma within minutes of being ground due to the large surface area exposed to air. Therefore, coffee grounds should ideally be used within 15-30 minutes of grinding for the best flavor. But, they still can be stored for up to two weeks if preserved right. The best container for storing coffee grounds is an airtight, opaque container made of ceramic or metal rather than plastic which can introduce unwanted smells. Glass mason jars work particularly well as coffee containers since they allow you to see how much you have remaining while keeping the grounds dark,fresh and isolated from light and air. When storing coffee grounds for more than a day, place the jar in the fridge or freezer to slow the staling process. Surely, coffee grounds in freezer will help keep them fresh and flavorful for optimal brewing.

So there you have it - all the tips and tricks to keep your coffee beans and grounds fresh and flavorful for as long as possible. Between airtight containers, refrigeration, and grinding just before brewing, you're waging a constant battle against the inevitable staleness of coffee. But with the right strategies, you can certainly slow it down and delay that dreadful moment when your coffee tastes more like hot bean water than the caffeinated nectar of the gods it should be. Now go forth and fight the good fight for fresh coffee! May your beans remain aromatic and your espresso shots always pull perfectly. And remember - if all else fails, just go buy more coffee.  After all, that's what keeps the baristas employed.

The best container for storing coffee grounds is an airtight, opaque container made of ceramic or metal or even glass rather than plastic which can introduce unwanted smells.

Best Coffee Bean Brands. Click here

Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Mastering the Best Drip Coffee Makers. click here

Espresso History, Process & Taste. Click here

Best Coffee Grinders. Top Picks & Reviews. click here