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Coffee Basics

Storage

Should you freeze or just refrigerate your coffee? Store it in jars, paper or plastic bags? Does it matter if it's whole bean coffee or ground coffee? These are the questions that plague most coffee buyers.

Well, the answers vary, depending on what form your coffee is in.

Coffee containerGreen beans store the best. If they are stored in a cool location, in a tightly sealed container, they can last over a year. Even after all that time, they will still produce a flavorful and aromatic cup. The problem with green beans is that there is a lot more work involved to turn them into a cup of coffee. You'll have to roast them and then grind them. This is not acceptable to most coffee drinkers. Green beans can be harder to find too. Quality coffee shops may sell them, but grocery stores rarely do.

So, the next best way to store your coffee is to store it in roasted whole bean form. Grinding your own beans is pretty simple, and will be worth the effort. Roasted whole bean coffee will last 1 to 2 weeks, when stored at room temperature. You should keep it in an airtight container that blocks the light. Plastic or some metal containers may contaminate the taste of your coffee, so try to use ceramic if possible. If you must use clear glass, then store in a dark cupboard.

Coffee beans in a jarOne other thing to consider is gas. Freshly roasted beans create a lot of gas (carbon dioxide). For the first few days, you should open up your coffee container each day to vent out extra gas. This is why quality roasters package their beans in valved bags shortly after roasting. These bags have one-way valves in them to allow CO2 to escape but don't allow oxygen in.

If you can't use up your whole bean coffee in 2 weeks, then consider freezing it. Coffee stored this way will last about a month, maybe two. Wrap it up in several layers of plastic wrap, or use an airtight container with as much air removed as you can manage. Once your beans have been frozen and thawed, do not refreeze. You don't even have to thaw them out before grinding. Frozen beans will grind up just fine.

Don't try to compromise by storing in the fridge. That is the worst place for your coffee. It's just not cold enough to prevent your coffee from going stale. With all the other foods in your fridge, your coffee is likely to pick up flavors and odors too. That's just not good.

The last kind of coffee would be ground coffee. This is the most volatile form, and isn't really good for storage beyond a few days. Again, use an airtight and lightproof container. Don't bother trying to freeze ground coffee. With all that extra surface area, it's going to go stale anyway.

The bottom line is that the best coffee is fresh coffee.

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Did You Know?
That Finland has the highest per capita rate of coffee consumption ?  In 2002, the average Finn consumed 28 pounds of coffee !

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