If you’re anything like us, you have probably spent hours researching into coffee, how to brew it, ideal temperatures and times, the best coffee beans to use, all in the pursuit of that perfectly balanced brew (or maybe it is just us!). It seems silly that after all that effort you would overlook the seemingly small detail of how to store your coffee. And yet this detail can make or break your whole experience because good coffee comes from good beans. And good beans not stored correctly will quickly turn to bad beans.
Why Do You Need To Store Your Beans In A Container?
The answer to this is simply one word: Freshness. Nothing can compare to the aroma and taste of a rich cup of coffee brewed from fresh beans. And yet this freshness can be fleeting as coffee has four enemies that rob it of its delicious qualities: Oxygen, Moisture, Heat and Light.
Coffee beans lose their flavour when they come into contact with oxygen in a process known as oxidation. This is the same process that causes metals to rust, fruit to brown, or in our case coffee to stale. Oxygen causes the aromatic compounds in coffee to deteriorate.
Carbon dioxide (which is released from beans after being roasted) is a friend of coffee. It slows the effects of oxidation helping preserve its flavour. That is why older beans, that release less CO2 have a weaker flavour.
Coffee is hygroscopic (wrap your laughing gear round that word!). This basically means it absorbs moisture very easily. Moisture on the surface of a bean will cause the aroma and flavour of the beans to leak out.
When coffee beans are heated too much, the oils (which contain a lot of the flavour) start to leak out onto the surface of the bean and quickly evaporate. The optimal storage temperature is at room temperature, around 20-25 degrees Celsius. Store beans in a cupboard or pantry ideally on a low shelf (as hot air rises) away from the stove/ microwave.
Light (particularly UV rays) cause the breakdown of chemical compounds in coffee and thus degrade the quality of your bean.
Overexposure to any of these will cause your beans to go stale as CO2 escapes and the beans oils evaporate. It’s these oils, and also the CO2 that you want to extract to produce that rich, crema topped espresso.
What To Look For In A Coffee Container?
The most important consideration is that a container should be airtight to reduce the rate of oxidation. Some containers also come with a one way valve that allows CO2 to be released- this is not hugely important unless you are a home roaster. This is because the biggest release of CO2 occurs 24-48 hours after roasting. You will see that many coffee bags contain the same valve however this is to prevent the buildup of CO2 which could cause the coffee bag to explode.
Given how quickly beans can break down when exposed to UV light it is best to opt for an opaque container that prevents light from entering.
Think about how many beans you will need to be storing and buy a container to suit that capacity. You don’t want to get a container that is too large or all the extra space will be filled with oxygen defeating the purpose.
If you are going to have your coffee sitting on your bench you want it to look good and match the style of your kitchen.
The Best Coffee Storage Containers
This is a great looking, sturdy product made of military grade stainless steel. It is available in 3 different sizes (11, 16 and 22 oz) and 8 different colours! You will have no problem finding one to complement your kitchen. It features a freshness valve that helps vent out the CO2 while preventing oxygen from entering the container. And perhaps the most handy feature is a calendar wheel on top of the lid allowing you to track how old the coffee is. This will be a nice addition to any coffee collection.
The airscape coffee canister features a unique lid that is pushed down to the level of the coffee and has a valve that forces oxygen out rather than trapping it in. It also comes with a clear lid allowing you to see the volume of coffee left. It is made of durable stainless steel and is available in 2 sizes (32 and 64 oz) and 4 different colours. The smaller size won’t hold a lot of beans so we recommend going for the larger one which can hold about 1lb.
This container is perfect for the hipster among you. Available in Glass or Matte Black it looks good on any benchtop. It comes in 3 different sizes (0.4L, 0.7L and 1.2L). The Fellow Atmos’ main point of difference is that it features an integrated pump that removes air and forms a vacuum seal. It also features a vacuum lock indicator on the lid that turns green when the vacuum is locked and no air is left. It has an easy release button you push to unlock the vacuum seal.
The Oxo Good grip container is a basic airtight container that is tinted to prevent UV light entering. It is a good value container to buy that is available in 3 different sizes (0.9, 1.5 or 2.4 quart). It forms an airtight seal with the push of a button and you push it again to release it. The containers are designed for easy stacking and have rounded corners to allow for easy pouring.
The Friis Coffee Vault was the original coffee storage canister. It is available in 2 sizes (12 and 16 ounce) and 3 different colours. This is a great value container featuring a valve to vent out CO2. It also comes with a years supply of freshness valves. We recommend it for those who go through their coffee quickly as the filter doesn’t allow for a completely air-tight seal.
This coffee canister is great for the person who doesn’t want to break the bank. It is available in only 1 size (1lb) but in every colour imaginable. It is advertised as creating a partial vacuum seal however this is not a total vacuum system it basically expels air and allows the lid to firmly seal. It also features a 2 way valve allowing CO2 to escape.
Other Tips To Keep Beans Fresh
We hope by now you have seen the importance of storing your coffee beans correctly! We highly recommend you buy an airtight container to do this and our pick would be the Coffee Gator coffee container. This airtight container is stylish, durable and has a few bonus features such as the calendar wheel and free travel container that other containers at similar prices don’t have.