Seasoned baristas know that the complete experience of freshly brewed coffee isn’t only the flavor of the coffee. It is equally important that the coffee has a distinct and pleasant smell to complement the perfect character. An essential part of a barista’s job is to ensure the freshness of the coffee beans so that both the flavor and aroma match for that euphoric experience of the perfect cup.
Keeping Your Beans Fresh — and Why They Go Stale
Coffee beans don’t start out brown. In their original, unroasted state, coffee beans — whether they are robusta beans or the more popular arabica beans — are green. The beans change to brown during the roasting process, where they are cooked at very high temperatures. After being roasted, the beans become exposed to air, moisture, heat, or light, which causes them to become stale more easily. Experienced baristas make sure they store their beans with minimal exposure to these elements in an effort to help keep coffee beans fresh. This ensures the brew to not only be tasty but also aromatic.
One option for baristas is buying green coffee beans and roasting the beans themselves rather than buying pre-roasted beans. Unroasted green coffee beans can be stored for up to a year without losing freshness. But doing their own roasting is a long and difficult process that requires more work and time to get just the right roasting conditions. It is much easier to keep beans fresh by getting pre-roasted coffee beans, storing them in airtight containers in a dark cupboard, and not waiting too long to grind up the beans and brew a yummy cup of coffee. Time is of the essence!
Don’t Freeze Your Coffee Beans
Because heat ages roasted coffee beans, some inexperienced coffee drinkers incorrectly assume that refrigerating them is a way to keep coffee fresh. However, moisture also causes roasted coffee beans to deteriorate, and placing them in a refrigerator or freezer exposes them to condensation. The temperature difference causes no added benefits to the beans, and the exposure to moisture will lessen the shelf life of your beans.
How to Properly Store Your Coffee Beans
As temperature is a major factor in your bean’s shelf life, it is equally important to keep your beans away from any major sources of heat such as ovens, stovetops, or even the coffee machines, themselves. These sources of high heat can cause the beans to break down and roast even before being ground up.
As well, storing roasted coffee beans in a window is detrimental due to the heat and light exposure. So, if roasted coffee beans need to be kept away out of refrigerators and away from ovens, radiators, or windows, what is the best place to store them? The ideal place would be in an airtight container in a dark cupboard away from any sources of heat and moisture.
Use an Airtight Coffee Container
When it comes to storing roasted coffee beans, you should not only consider where you store them but most importantly, what you store them in. Finding a cool, dark cupboard is the easy part, but choosing the right container can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
The biggest factor in decreasing the freshness of roasted coffee beans is exposure to air. Because of this, it is paramount to store your beans in an airtight container. Apart from the seal, baristas also need to consider the material the container is made of. Roasted coffee beans should be stored in non-reactive containers, meaning containers that won’t give the coffee beans any undesirable tastes. Airtight containers made of glass, ceramic, or non-reactive metals are the best options to keep coffee fresh.
Alternative Coffee Storage Options
Bearing in mind the factors that age roasted coffee beans prematurely — air, moisture, heat, and light — there are some alternative storage options and ways to keep coffee fresh. Vacuum-sealed containers are a more costly option, but only the most professional baristas and rosters generally use these. For coffee to have the fresh taste and aroma that experienced baristas crave, it is important to understand what causes roasted coffee beans to lose their freshness and become stale. Following these storage steps, it has never been easier to store your beans for professional freshness and that amazing coffee house taste!