Everyday Cheapskate: Everything You Need to Know About Storing Coffee
Having reached the level of coffee snob some years ago, I don't think I'm quite to the level of coffee geek yet -- but I continue to work on it. That's how much I love really good coffee!
As you may recall from previous posts, I've been a home roaster for many years now. While my family and I seriously enjoy a good cup of coffee, the real reason I took up this hobby in the first place was not to achieve quality; it was to save money. Excellent quality, gourmet-level coffee does not have to be expensive if you import and roast your own beans.
We now import a full bag of raw coffee beans from the La Minita Tarrazu plantation -- 150-200 pounds of raw green coffee at a time. We've had to learn the proper way to store raw beans, roasted beans and ground coffee. The goal is to make sure those beans remain fresh and amazing right to the very last drop.
WHAT ARE GREEN COFFEE BEANS?
Coffee beans in their raw, natural state are referred to as green coffee beans. You might not recognize them as coffee because of their grayish-green color. Green coffee doesn't smell like coffee, either.
HOW DO I STORE RAW GREEN COFFEE BEANS?
Green coffee beans remain fresh almost indefinitely, provided they are kept at room temperature in a dark location. Ideal green coffee storage conditions are 60 F and about 60% humidity. Higher humidity can encourage mold growth within the beans while super dry conditions (below 20%) will dry the beans out, causing them to develop a "flat" taste once roasted.
Raw coffee beans need to breathe, so storing them in a brown paper or burlap bag to allow for air movement is ideal. There are bugs and larvae that might be attracted to the burlap material (I have never experienced anything like that), but almost nothing will eat green coffee.
ONCE ROASTED, HOW LONG WILL COFFEE REMAIN FRESH?
Roasted coffee beans are at their peak flavor within two weeks of roasting. At three weeks, roasted coffee beans become noticeably semifresh. At four weeks, just OK. Older than a month, roasted coffee beans deteriorate to the point of becoming bitter.