The Only Way You Should Store Coffee, According to Folgers

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Two months ago, I splurged and bought an espresso maker. I’ve been nerding out—I got a scale, a tamper, a grinder… the works. And because I’ve upped my coffee game, I’ve become invested in finding coffee beans I love.

I have a few bags of beans I’m rotating through and enjoying, but I realized I don’t know how to store them—should I keep them in my pantry, transfer them into a special container, or pop them in the freezer?

I sought out some help from fan-favorite brand Folgers, and I also chatted with one of my all-time favorite coffee brands Partners’ Green Coffee Buyer Samuel Klein for his expert advice on all things coffee storage.

What Is the Best Way To Store Coffee?

According to Folgers, there are five key storage tips:

  1. Use an airtight container
  2. Store in a cool, dark place
  3. Keep at room temp
  4. Check expiration dates
  5. For whole beans, grind as needed

Klein agrees and he advocates for more frequent purchasing of coffee for optimal freshness. “The enemies of roasted coffee are oxygen, sunlight, heat, moisture, time, and weird smells, so if you avoid these things, your coffee should stay fresh,” he says.

Furthermore, he explains you don’t always need a separate airtight container for coffee storage: “Often the best way to store coffee is exactly how you’ve received it from a roaster—a sealed bag with a one-way valve for off-gassing.”

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Storing Whole Beans vs. Ground Coffee

“By grinding coffee, you’re essentially crushing it into thousands and thousands of tiny particles, which will have significantly more surface area that is directly exposed to oxygen,” says Klein. Therefore, “ground coffee oxidizes and goes stale a lot faster.” 

Folgers suggests, for optimal freshness, a two-week shelf life for ground coffee and a four to six-week shelf life for beans. Your preference for grinds vs. beans will dictate which form of coffee you opt for; but, with both, the best way to maintain a robust flavor is by buying less coffee more frequently.

Should You Refrigerate or Freeze Coffee?

“As a rule of thumb, room temperature is ideal,” says Klein, “fluctuations in temperature (like removing coffee from the freezer) can introduce moisture to the coffee, which can cause it to taste stale. Plus, an open bag of coffee will absorb odors from other items in the freezer.” 

If you are committed to the idea of freezing, Klein advises portioning the coffee into single servings in vacuum-sealed bags or “the smallest and cleanest containers possible.” Stick the pre-packaged parcels in the coldest part of the freezer. When you do use it, brew with the beans/grinds frozen—don’t defrost before you brew.

When Is Your Coffee No Longer Good To Drink?

You should always check your coffee’s expiration date. According to Folgers, although the coffee won’t necessarily go bad after that date, it may lose taste or quality.

Coffee won’t necessarily display any signs of having gone bad until you’ve tasted the brew, although smelling your beans or grinds can prove telling. “If a coffee was roasted very dark and the surface is shiny with oil, those lipids can become rancid relatively quickly—and that flavor can migrate to your coffee brewing equipment!” says Klein.

He adds that “there’s relatively little concern in brewing coffee that’s long past the roasting date—it’s entirely a matter of flavor.”

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