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A frequent question that we get here at the store is, “What’s the best way to store coffee beans?”

My own personal feelings on this aside (you store it in your mouth, darn it) there are a few simple rules that will keep your fresh-roasted coffee tasting like fresh-roasted coffee, even if it’s been a few days since we’ve actually seen your smiling face.

  • Store it intact. For the absolute best possible coffee experience you’re gonna want to buy it whole bean and grind it only just before you brew it. This isn’t practical for everyone, of course—so you can skip this step if you have to—but it does make a difference! And if you’re at the wonderful, early point in a coffee lover’s career when you’ve just begun to realize that this amazing beverage is more than than hot water from a gas station (and more than an afterthought in a cup full of milk foam and sugar) I highly recommend you go ahead and get yourself a good burr grinder.
  • Store your coffee like you store your spices. Keep your beans in a cool, dry, dark place within easy reach (and within an air-tight container.) The brown paper bag you buy bulk coffee in is for transportation purposes only; long-term exposure to light and air will suck the mojo right out of your java. (P.S. If you bring our brown paper bags back to the store, we’ll give you 50 cents off per pound per bag!)
  • Store larger amounts in the freezer. Ideally you’ll only buy a week’s worth of coffee at a time and won’t need long-term storage, but if you buy in bulk you can put the excess coffee, brown bag and all, in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to six weeks. Keep a week’s worth of supply in the cabinet for daily use and refill that container with beans from the freezer, rather than going from freezer to grinder (or freezer to cup, if your coffee comes pre-ground.)
  • Don’t store any amount in the fridge. We carry a wide variety of over 90 delicious flavors of coffee, but not one of those is Three-Bean Casserole. We’d like to keep it that way.

Want to make a gift of fresh coffee for someone that doesn’t have a grinder? We use one-way valve bags for our larger (8-oz and 12-oz) coffee gift packages; this is a cool little piece of technology that keeps the stale-ifying oxygen out of the sealed bag but still lets the carbon dioxide escape. Fresh-ground coffee gives off a whole lot of CO2; it either has to sit around, exposed to the air, burping itself out before it can be bagged, or that bag has to have a valve—thus both eliminating the risk of a really nice-smelling explosion and saving the world from a stale cup of joe.

Of all the things you can do to improve your coffee’s flavor keeping it fresh is probably the easiest—you mostly have to remember is that air is the worst thing for it—and once you taste the difference, you won’t go back.

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