Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Daily Coffee Tip::How to Store Coffee

Even in this era of rise of coffee culture I constantly run across folks who are ruining their coffee by how and where they store it. There are a lot of myths out there about what is best to keep coffee beans fresh so lets get it straight right here, right now.

Do NOT store coffee in the refrigerator.

Do NOT store coffee in the freezer.

I know you've been taught the opposite but think about this critically for a moment. Coffee flavor comes from delicate oils and other bio-matter. Oil has one definite enemy--water--and your cold storage boxes are FULL of moisture. Every time you open the door, you ruin your coffee. Coffee is also super absorbent and it likes to replace the delicate oils you're drawing out with fun air-born molecules like the vapor we know as onion smell. Thats right, keep your coffee in the fridge, toss in a funky onion and BAM, you have onion flavored coffee--gross.

Store your coffee much like you might store a potato--in a cool, dark, dry place; I prefer to use the cabinet where I keep weird orphan dishes. I do NOT recommend the spice cabinet which makes organization sense, but remember that whole absorbent thing? It works the same way with Old Bay seasoning. As far as containers go, you can usually just the bag the coffee comes in but an air-tight Tupperware is always good, especially if you will have the beans for more than a week.

Now go to the kitchen and take your onion coffee out of the box and keep it out! You can take the batteries out as well, the cold air is drastically shortening their lifespan.


  1. Funny that such a widespread practice could be so wrong. I like to leave my bag of fresh roasted coffee on the kitchen counter where I might catch a whiff of it, and wind up brewing some on a whim.

    Now, what about brewed coffee that's stored in the fridge for ice coffee? I've seen a few coffee shops pull barely covered pitchers out of the fridge. It tastes better than what you get from pouring hot coffee over ice, but does that funky onion rule still apply?

  2. I blame the advent of electric refrigerators way back when. The notion that EVERYTHING would last longer in the amazing new refrigerator was enough to generate a slew of old wives' tales. My mom puts flour in the refrigerator. Why? to keep it from getting worms. Mom, if you have flour out in the cabinet long enough for it to get worms, you bought too much flour! (and loosing a quarter pound of old flour is a net loss of what, 36 cents?)

    Now, once your coffee is brewed it no longer has magical absorbing powers but it could still end up stinking of onions if not properly covered--just like iced tea, milk or any other beverage with lower acidity (you probably wouldn't notice onion in your OJ because the orange acidity would overpower the onion acidity)

    Hopefully coffee shops aren't keeping onions in their beverage coolers but you just never know in this town.