Have you ever wished every coffee tasted like the first brew from a new bag?
No one should have their morning ruined by average coffee…
And keeping your coffee fresh is key.
Let’s get one thing out the way… coffee beans don’t go off. It’s not meat.
You won’t wake up one day to find your coffee with a bad smell and covered in flies.
The issue is freshness. Coffee goes very stale, very quickly. The best flavor sticks around for just 14 days.
Fail to store your beans properly and you can kiss high-quality coffee goodbye.
So there are four things that make coffee stale…
Heat, light, moisture and air.
Keeping your coffee beans in a cool, dry cupboard ticks off the first three. But there’s no way to stop air getting in unless you have a vacuum-sealed container.
Luckily, there’s some great products on the market the moment that won’t break the bank.
My recommendation for the best all-round coffee container is the Airscape. You can check out the reviews and price on Amazon here.
It’s vacuum-sealed to keep your coffee fresh. Of course.
But this little gizmo has a neat trick – it sucks all the air out as you make the seal. Very cool.
It’s stainless steel, has loadsa color options, is BPA-free and made in the USA. What more do you need?
If you’re happy with that, check it out.
If you want to learn more, the rest of the article covers a few other options as well as all the information you’ll ever need on storing your coffee.
Do CO2 valves work? Can you keep coffee beans in the freezer?
All will be answered and more…
1. Airscape (by Planetary Design)
The Airscape is an airtight coffee canister with a twist – the seal itself sucks all the air out creating a near vacuum. What happens is this…
You have a seal which you push down inside the canister and onto your coffee beans. This forces excess air out. It goes kinda halfway into the canister if your beans fill it to halfway.
You can even hear the “swoosh” (Planetary Design’s word, not mine) of the air coming out. Then you put the lid on the top of the device.
|Size options||32fl.oz/64fl.oz (1/2lb/1lb)|
|Unique features||Sucks out all the air|
You can get this coffee storage container in a range of snazzy colors like brushed steel or candy apple red. All done with top-of-the-line enamel paint so it’s gonna look sleek.
This lid is clear so you can see how much is left without having to fiddle with the vacuum seal.
It’s made of stainless steel, it’s not too pricey, it’s entirely BPA-free and it’s also made in the USA, happily.
2. OXO Good Grips
The OXO Good Grips is sold as an airtight storage container for many products including flour, sugar and lots of other things that aren’t as good as coffee. What this means is they offer a larger size than some of the specialty airtight coffee container options.
Most coffee storage containers come in 1/2lb (225g) or 1lb (450g) options. This are enough for most coffee users as a typical bag comes in less than those. If you buy your coffee in bulk however then the larger 4 qt or 128 fl oz OXO will give you a monstrous 2lb storage space.
|Size options||8 options (0.5 qt to 4 qt)|
|Material||Plastic + Stainless Steel Lid|
|Unique features||Transparent case, large size.|
A nice touch is that when you push down the lid, you get a satisfying “pop” and your coffee is sealed. The case is transparent, so it’s super simple to see how much you have left. And its cuboid shape might be a better fit for your kitchen than the rest of these cylindrical ones. And they stack as well.
3. Coffee Gator
The Coffee Gator is a futuristic-looking device that could come from a Star Trek episode (and we know Kathryn Janeway loved her coffee).
The Coffee Gator comes equipped with a CO2 diffuser, aimed at reducing unwanted carbon in the container. How effective these are is a hot button topic and one I’ll talk about more later in the article.
If you ignore that though, it still keeps an airtight seal and has a lovely little feature not found on any other coffee storage container…
|Size options||One size – 1lb capacity|
|Unique features||Date wheel.|
On the top of this canister is a date wheel. This little gadget can be set to the roast date of your coffee or maybe 2-4 weeks after (best before date). Now you can throw away the bag and quickly see how much time you’ve got left with your coffee at peak freshness!
You also get a nice little stainless steel scoop for your coffee beans.
4. Tightpac Coffeevac
The CoffeeVac (Amazon link) is a perfectly functional coffee canister and is by some way the cheapest one I can find that works well. It’s airtight and will keep your coffee fresh.
There’s a boatload of options for colors and will do the job handsomely if you’re happy with a no-frills choice.
|Size options||Many (2oz – 5lbs)|
|BPA-Free?||No, has ps6 symbol|
|Unique features||Cheap, lots of size options.|
There’s a huge amount of size options too. Bear in mind that the largest size (5lb) is called the Breadvac, originally designed for… well, I’m sure you can work it out.
Regarding the price, at the time of writing/updating this article this was a good amount cheaper than the other options but prices are always subject to change so you’ll have to do the final check yourself.
When Does Coffee Start Getting Stale?
Coffee beans do not stay in perfect condition forever. They lose freshness after a while due to oxidation, the same process that causes rust. Oxygen molecules in the air interact with the compounds in the coffee beans and cause it to slowly lose flavor.
When you grind your coffee beans, flavor is lost within hours. Even with whole bean coffee, if you leave it exposed to the air it will go stale within days.
The smart move is to keep coffee in a cool, dark place where it has restricted access to air. The best choice is to invest in an airtight coffee storage container.
If you’re doing this you can keep that perfect ‘just roasted’ freshness to around at least the 15 day mark and up to around 30 days for those with a less experienced palate.
How To Store Coffee Beans
We want to avoid our coffee beans interacting with oxygen to prevent oxidization. This is why the key to keeping your coffee fresh is a container that is perfectly airtight.
So the number one quality to look for in a storage container is that it is airtight. The options I’ve selected all fulfill that. They all keep your coffee away from air in a way that keeps your coffee fresh for longer.
I’ve tried to select a few brands that have unique features that might be of interest.
You should understand that keeping your coffee sealed airtight is only half the battle, it needs to be in a place that is cool, dry and dark to really get the maximum freshness.
How Long Does Coffee Stay Fresh With One Of These?
Let’s get one thing out the way, these coffee storage containers aren’t going to make your beans last forever. Even after 30 days of perfect conditions, most people will notice a drop in freshness and flavor.
What you’re trying to do is keep it at 30 days and not 3 days.
A good rule of thumb is to buy coffee like you buy bread. Aim to buy enough coffee to last you two weeks or less. I buy a 1kg bag and that lasts me 7-10 days depending on how relentless my caffeine addiction is at that point.
One 30g coffee each morning? A pound bag (456g) is perfect.
Do I Really Need A Storage Container For My Coffee?
The following conditions are where I’d recommend buying a coffee storage container.
1. You buy preground. If you buy preground, which while not optimal sometimes is a good option then a quality storage container is an absolute must.
2. You buy high-quality beans. If you’re spending the premium on getting high-quality coffee beans freshly roasted (which by the way is about 60% of making great coffee), then you’ll really notice a difference in how long they last with a decent coffee canister.
The converse is also true. If you buy your coffee from the bottom shelf of the grocery store, you’re on the wrong article and the wrong website.
3. You buy green beans and roast yourself. If you roast your own coffee beans then you’ll probably know this anyway but I’ll repeat just in case, green beans can go off too and they are also very susceptible to mold.
They will last up to a year or more if properly taken care of, but can go south pretty quickly too if they’re in the wrong place.
On the other hand, here are a couple of reasons why you might want to hold off on the purchase of a coffee storage container for now.
1. You buy beans without a roast date. If you’re buying grocery store coffee or anything without the roast date then don’t worry about spending extra on something like this.
Check back in when you make the switch to freshly roasted coffee.
2. You’re inexperienced with making coffee at home. Unless you have five different methods, a quality grinder and are buying high-class beans on the regular then don’t waste your money on a storage device.
Invest it into things that’ll really improve your coffee drinking.
(High-quality beans, an effective brew method, and a decent grinder should be your first, second and third ports of call…)
Can’t I Just Keep Them In A Refrigerator/Freezer?
Freezing your coffee beans is a highly contentious subject in the important world of coffee. I used to believe you should never do it.
I was under the impression that the oils would separate and the defrosting would ruin your batch due to condensation. Luckily, we have the scientific method to call upon.
The conclusion, to save you a few pages of reading, is that given that the container is airtight and the coffee is fresh (i.e. recently roasted) then freezing has no noticeable impact on taste and can be relied upon to give another 8 weeks of freshness.
Now I’ve never frozen coffee, I’ve never needed to and I expect I never will, so I’m not speaking from experience. But it seems like freezing does not (noticeably) negatively affect freshness or taste.
So while I wouldn’t recommend it, if you have to then freezing your coffee beans is not the unmitigated disaster that some people make it out to be.
The big caveat is that while freezing works, you still need an airtight container for it to work. So scroll back up and pick your favorite.
Why Not Keep It In The Bag It Came In/Mason Jar/Tupperware?
The key when storing coffee is for it to be airtight. A ziplock bag or standard tupperware does not provide a full vacuum seal and nor does most tupperware.
A mason jar is airtight, at least it’s supposed to be, but it’s not always reliable. Some designs simply do not work as advertised and it’s very easy for the seal to not actually provide an airtight boundary. It’s also difficult to figure out if it is airtight or not.
By all means, you can try this, just accept that results may not be what you are after.
I Need One With A CO2 Valve, Right?
The little chips or valves you see on bags of coffee or some coffee storage containers – even a couple of the ones I’ve listed below! – are CO2 valves.
They allow the CO2 inside the bag that is released by the (fresh) coffee to escape without letting oxygen in. They work, but they don’t provide any benefit to freshness.
CO2 is an inert gas. Just to go all high school chemistry on you for a second… the reason oxygen is so potent is that it has a chemical structure that ‘wants’ an extra electron and so will react with just about anything that it can get an electron from.
CO2 doesn’t and so would have little effect on your coffee.
Want more evidence? Here’s an exceptionally well researched and written article on one of the coffee containers that didn’t make my list: the Friis Coffee Vault.
A lot of companies use this device but it’s nothing more than a marketing gimmick. One that works pretty well apparently.
P.S. I’m happy to be proven wrong on this, I know it’s another issue subject to fiery debate.
P.S.S I found another interesting piece since writing this article that agrees: CO2 venting is not necessary or desirable.