Imagine the aroma of freshly ground coffee. The delicious smell immediately makes people feel at home and relaxed. The bitterness of its taste is refreshing in itself even before the caffeine kicks in. Of course, the fresher the coffee the better its aroma and taste. Unfortunately, for all true coffee enthusiasts the fine aroma of coffee doesn`t last well. Once coffee has been roasted and especially after it has been ground it loses its best flavours within two weeks. However, taking care when storing coffee will at least preserve its fine qualities a little longer.
Fresh coffee beans undergo a lengthy process to arrive at the finished product. As part of this process coffee beans are roasted, which gives them their dark appearance. During roasting coffee beans are dried out to release the aroma of the bean`s essential oils. The beans themselves become porous and can easily be ground into a dry powder afterwards.
The dry and porous nature of good coffee means that it readily attracts moisture from the air, which would completely ruin its taste. Therefore, coffee needs to be kept as dry as possible. The only way to do this is to keep it in a sealed and air-tight container after purchasing it. Contrary to popular belief one should never store coffee in a refrigerator as it will immediately absorb moisture from the cold environment.
Additionally, coffee also does not like heat or light very much. Sunlight can quickly bleach the rich dark colours out of coffee, which indicates a breakdown of the valuable essential oils in coffee. The same happens if one stores coffee too warm or exposed to variable heat, for example, close to the cooker in the kitchen.
The ideal environment for coffee is a dry, air-tight container made from enamel, ceramic or stoneware. All of these types of containers are impervious to sunlight and do not heat up easily. Additionally, the container should be stored in a cool place without direct sunlight shining onto it.
Coffee also has a habit of absorbing other smells or tastes easily. Therefore, it is important to store coffee in its own dedicated storage container, which is not used for anything else. Coffee keeps its aromas the longest when stored as whole beans as this minimises the surface area, which can react with the environment. Ideally one would only buy a small amount of coffee at any one time, about as much as one tends to use within two weeks and only grind the coffee just before brewing it.
Unfortunately, most of us do not have enough time to either buy coffee in small quantities or to grind it each day. Therefore, investing in a good, dedicated storage container is important. If one has to buy a larger quantity it is possible to freeze coffee to preserve most of its quality. However, once frozen coffee should never be defrosted and then re-frozen again. Therefore, it is advisable to freeze larger quantities in smaller batches of approximately two weeks` worth of supply.
In summary, coffee needs to be kept in an air-tight, cool container away from moisture, heat and light. It is also important to invest in a dedicated container rather than store coffee intermittently in containers with other foods. Traditional enamel wares or stoneware such as those sold by Wares of Knutsford work best as they stay cool and keep coffee dry and away from light. The perfect cup of coffee is worth it.