So these two questions are asked at least a few times a week -
"How long will the coffee last ?"
"is it OK to store the coffee in the fridge ?, I've been doing that for years........".
The enemies of Fresh Coffee
Oxygen, Heat, Light and Moisture - not necessarily in any order.
Containers used for coffee storage should be preferably non-absorbant, e.g. metal and ceramic are the best, followed by glass and only just a small number of plastics - many plastics in use today absorb the aromatics and volatile compounds, but it's OK for a short time, e.g. say up to 2 weeks.
Containers should be air-tight.
Allowing CO2 to exhaust is not important. The reason that coffee bags contain 1-way pressure activated valves is to prevent the abnormal levels of CO2 from very fresh roasted coffee from expanding and exploding the bag.
Where to place the container
Away from heat, light and changing temperatures. We like the bottom of a pantry or a cupboard that kept relative constant in temperate, a cool area that stays between 15 -25 degrees is best, particularly if you live north of Sydney.
For many of our customers living in warm climates, keeping your coffee beans in an esky is ideal.
Never place coffee in the fridge - fridges have all sorts of moist vapours and aromas that are transferred into coffee. The act of taking a coffee container out of the fridge and placing it on the kitchen bench for just a few minutes will cause small microbeads of moisture to develop on coffee - more so in ground coffee (100 times worse).
What about the Freezer ?
Well, back in 2008 we ran tests over a 10-month period with 10x 250g packs of coffee. These packs were heat-sealed in the same way you receive your packs from coffee suppliers and the packs were not opened - but placed fresh in the freezer within 4 days from the Roast Date.
Each month, we removed a pack from the freezer, allowed the pack to thaw over 16 hours and then opened, poured into a grinder and made espresso shots.
Bottom line is that we did'nt enjoy the coffee - even Month 1 and Month 2 packs of coffee were not nice.
By the time we got to Month 6, it was not a task we were particularly enjoying. Yes, we could get crema from the espresso shots by setting the grinder quite fine, but the aromatics were almost gone and flavour was quite flat and generally lifeless.
Bear in mind, we are used to super-fresh premium coffee, so anything else that has aged or had it's cell structure altered by freezing is always going to be a struggle.
Our view is DO NOT freeze coffee - use it or give it away.
Zip-Lock Coffee Pouches
We often have customers asking us to pack coffee into zip-lock coffee bags.
Unfortunately, zip locks coffee bags do not provide an effective barrier protection for the roasted coffee and we believe the quality of the coffee will degrade faster in a zip-lock bag compared to an air-tight jar or tin.
First and foremost, the issue we are dealing with here is not just a method to control oxygen exposure like you would in many other food items.
Coffee is more complex and it has far more volatile compounds compared to say buscuits, crackers or fruit.
Coffee bags contain 3 layers - inner and outer poly layers with an essential metal layer in the middle that performs the critical barrier protection.
Without the metal layer, coffee would degrade very quickly.
Zip locks are made of plastic. The type of plastic that enable a chemical process called effusion to occur. The simple explanation is that compounds from coffee will "leach" through the open holes in plastic.
An example of this is........try storing fresh coffee in a plastic container. The aroma quickly disappears because it is absorbed and passes through the plastic.
Zip locks also do not provide effective oxygen seals.
So, in summary - zip locks are prone to degrade coffee and for this reason we do not use this type of coffee bag.
Zip locks are only intended for short-term convenience - a couple of days.
How Long should we keep packs of Coffee ?
A topic of furious debate amongst all coffee experts - and of course those that are not experts but have strong opinions.
We believe coffee should be used within 45 days of recieving the packs. Ideally, this should be within 30 days.
There are quite a few people out there spruiking that coffee is useless after 14 days - that bit of information is utter nonsense.
Most coffees we roast take around 7 - 14 days post-roast to properly develop. In fact, I prefer the coffee when it's about Day 16.
We keep control samples from every batch of coffee and I regularly open up coffee that is 35 days old and can pull amazing shots with the beans.
Hope this information has been useful in providing guidelines that help you enjoy your coffee.