Updated: September 20, 2021 by firstname.lastname@example.org
While many coffee experts will tell you how essential it is to grind your coffee beans right before brewing for optimal freshness, this is not always possible. You may have bought the wrong bag or received coffee grounds as a gift, and now you’re stuck wondering how to store ground coffee.
Since ground coffee becomes stale faster than whole bean coffee, you may not be able to take the same approach to store these different types of beans. If you don’t want to grind your own beans at home, you’ll need to learn how to keep ground coffee fresh.
Since we all know that fresh coffee is the best coffee, understanding how coffee becomes stale and how to prevent this from happening faster is essential for flavorful coffee. Have you been storing your ground coffee the same as your other pantry items and wondering why your coffee tastes weird?
In this guide on how to store ground coffee to keep it fresh, I’ll explain how to get the most of your grounds and enjoy delicious flavored coffee for longer. (Or, you could always invest in one of the best coffee grinders and start buying whole beans.)
Let’s learn about why ground coffee loses flavor and how to prevent it.
The Oxidation Process
Coffee beans start to oxidize as soon as the beans are roasted. This is why many specialty coffee shops or roasters will immediately store the beans in airtight packages. The coffee packaging is usually vacuum sealed with a one-way valve for maximum freshness.
This valve forces out any excess oxygen left in the bag and gases that are emitted after roasting. Yes, this means you get to smell the tantalizing coffee aromas when you are choosing the right beans to buy.
While whole beans will slowly start to lose their flavor soon after roasting, they can last for a few months while still retaining most of the flavors if stored correctly.
Coffee grounds, on the other hand, will only last a few weeks. The oxidation process speeds up once the coffee is ground because more oxygen has infiltrated the coffee. The bottom line is: oxygen is the enemy of fresh coffee.
Why Is Oxygen Bad for Coffee?
Ground coffee creates more space for oxygen to infiltrate the beans. Grinding beans up for an espresso will increase the coffee surface area by a factor of more than 10,000. This creates a lot of area for oxygen to mess with the coffee compounds.
As with any other fresh food, this will cause your coffee to become stale. Just think of that banana you peeled 30 minutes ago and forgot all about. Would you still eat it when it has turned mushy and brown?
Coffee, unfortunately, doesn’t show these imperfections as well as other food items, so it is harder to see when they are stale. However, the beans are slowly degrading, just a bit slower than fresh fruit. If you are not taking too much interest in the true coffee flavors, you may not notice the less fresh-tasting grounds.
However, after a few weeks or months, you will notice your coffee grounds have become rancid and sour if you attempt to brew a cup of coffee with old coffee grounds. This is why you need to discover the best way to store coffee.
The Best Way to Store Ground Coffee
Ultimately, the best way to store ground coffee is to keep it in the packaging you bought it in. These packages are designed to lock in the freshness of the coffee. Once you have opened your pack of ground beans, be sure to tightly seal up what you don’t use.
If the bag is resealable, this will make it easier. However, you can still seal it up even if it doesn’t have a sealable lock. Either way, start by pushing out as much air as possible to remove the oxygen from the bag.
Then, roll up the top of the bag to close the air out and secure it with a clip. You should go a step further to keep the grounds fresh by placing the pack into a container.
Choose an airtight container to keep out any extra oxygen as well. If you have an oxygen release valve on the container, even better, but not necessary.
Where to Place the Grounds
Once you have pushed all the oxygen out and secured the grounds in a container, the next step is to decide on a place to keep your coffee grounds.
Harsh light and heat are not good for coffee, so keeping your beans in a cool and dark place is helpful to keep those grounds fresh. Find a suitable spot such as the pantry or a dark cupboard to place your stored grounds.
Since the packaging of the coffee is designed to keep out light, this step isn’t too important if you are keeping the grounds in the bag. However, you will still need to ensure the grounds won’t get too hot where you have decided to store them.
If you place your grounds in the pantry or around other food items, it is important to understand how absorbent coffee is. It soaks up flavors and odors around it. If the grounds are not in a container, they will start soaking up flavors.
It will not be a pleasant discovery when you brew a fresh cup of joe, only to find out it tastes like your entire spice cupboard. This is one of the reasons why storing your grounds in the fridge is not advised, along with the risk of the grounds getting wet.
FAQs on Coffee Storage
Should you store ground coffee in the fridge?
No, it is not advised to store your ground or whole bean coffee in the fridge due to the coffee’s absorbent qualities. The beans or grounds soak up any odors and flavors around them, and this will happen in the fridge.
The fridge may also cause the grounds to become damp, and this will ruin the grounds even more and create a prime breeding ground for bacteria. It is definitely not advised to keep your coffee in the fridge at all.
How long will ground coffee stay fresh?
Ground coffee becomes stale a lot quicker than whole beans coffee due to the grounds being exposed to more oxygen. This means ground coffee will only stay fresh for about a week or two before the staleness is noticeable.
Coffee experts will tell you that coffee beans should only be ground right before brewing the coffee if you want to truly taste the flavors of the coffee in their prime. If this is not possible, make sure you store the grounds in an airtight container away from harsh light, heat, and dampness.
Will whole beans stay fresher for longer than ground coffee?
Yes, whole bean coffee will last much longer than ground coffee. The grinding process releases the beans’ oils, and these flavors continue to slowly release. If you grind your beans right before brewing, you will be able to taste the full flavors of the coffee.
Whole beans will last for a few months before the staleness sets in, whereas coffee grounds will only last a few weeks. Experts recommend consuming ground coffee within two weeks of grinding.
Can you freeze ground coffee?
While you can freeze coffee if you are not planning on using your coffee for a few months, it is not recommended to freeze ground coffee. Any type of coffee should be kept dry and away from other food items. When you freeze ground coffee, you are putting it at risk of being ruined by condensation.
Whole coffee beans are less likely to be ruined by condensation if you pack them in vacuum-sealed packs. You should take care to let the frozen beans defrost thoroughly before opening the pack to prevent any condensation from seeping inside.
Now You Know How to Store Ground Coffee
While grinding your beans right before brewing is the best way to ensure a fresh, flavorful brew, it is still possible to lock in a fair amount of freshness with these top tips on storing coffee grounds.
Now that you know how to store fresh ground coffee, you are all set to find the best coffee maker to make some delicious home-brewed coffee. Your coffee game will improve drastically when you are focused on brewing up the freshest coffee you can.