Learn how you should properly store your coffee at home; the science behind it
So, you’ve accepted that fresh coffee, whether in whole coffee beans or ground coffee form, is the way to go. You’ve thrown out the instant and vowed to go for the best quality coffee from now on. Congrats! Now, while coffee at home is now going to be better than ever, there’s something important to remember: knowing where to keep your coffee to keep at its absolute best. Your instant may have sat at the back of the cupboard, in the fridge or on the windowsill next to your favourite mugs, but your lovingly roasted fresh stuff needs a bit more love and some specifically thought out coffee storage. We promise it’s worth it, and ensures your coffee quality is retained to make the very best coffee drink your home can offer!
Beyond being aware that freshly ground coffee goes stale more quickly than whole beans, storage of whole beans and ground coffee remain largely the same. Whether you go for whole or ground beans is a personal preference. We love grinding our beans fresh for each cup of jo – plus the beans undoubtedly retain their freshness and flavour for longer as their oils remain intact; degrading less quickly. Equally ground coffee has a bigger surface area meaning it can go stale more quickly as there is simply more space for it to do so. However, ground coffee is very convenient, means your route to a good cup is quicker, and removes the necessity for a grinder. It’s entirely up to you.
The science and how to apply it
We’re going to get into the details, but to give you some background on why it’s worth putting in the extra effort, we’ll cover the science behind what keeps coffee at its optimum flavour makes it last. Here’s a clue: not the fridge or freezer!
There are four factors at play here when thinking about coffee storage requirements: light, heat, oxygen and humidity.
Firstly, oxygen. Like any other food source, oxygen, or free flowing air, encourages coffee to go stale thereby leeching the flavours from coffee: so make sure not to leave your coffee out in the open air in a bowl or open cup. Keep your coffee in its original bag to give it an extra layer of freshness, then you need an airtight container in which to store that. There are many versions of this available with a simple search for ‘coffee storage pot’ or ‘coffee storage jars’.
Second, light. Light breaks down organic cell structures, which – you guessed it – leads to stale and flavourless coffee. You want to keep your coffee in a dark place, preferably a cupboard, in an opaque storage jar to minimise the light that can get to your delicious beans and grounds.
Next, heat. It comes to no surprise that coffee should be kept at a cool temperature to avoid excess heat. There is no optimum temperature as such, but excess heat encourages molecules to grow apart and allows bacteria to grow more quickly. This doesn’t, however, mean you should keep your coffee in the fridge or freezer! Coffee is an organic substance and happily soaks up the odors around it. Keeping it in your fridge will mean last night’s leftovers could creep into your beautiful single origin aroma. So remember, dark cupboard! It is also worth choosing a cupboard away from large heat sources such as ovens or stoves as these cupboards are likely to have a higher overall temperature than those further away.
Finally, humidity. Another reason why we don’t keep coffee in the fridge or freezer, which can have humid environments to them. Humidity affects the moisture level of your coffee; which can kill the flavour of your beans. Roasted beans and grounds naturally have a low moisture level, meaning if given the chance, they’ll soak up anything around them – reiterating our point when discussing heat that the fridge and freezer will just give plenty of opportunity to soak up your other food smells. Equally, keeping your beans away from steam (so near a kettle or stove, for example) will reduce humidity chances.
With all of this, the more you open up your container the quicker the coffee will go stale and lose flavour. It is always best practice to buy as fresh as you can, whether that be beans or grounds; as coffee loses its peak flavour within a week of it being roasted. We recommend buying smaller quantities but more regularly if you want to get maximum flavour. Why not try our subscription service to make sure your coffee is always fresh? It’s UK roasted on our own site, so we know just where it’s been, and we get it to you as quickly as we can as soon as you put your order in. A subscription will also mean that you’re never without!
So, to summarise: you want a dark, cool space like a cupboard or pantry that is kept away from areas in the kitchen involving lots of steam and heat; in its original bag in small quantities, then in a sealed, opaque container. It’s not that complicated after all!
How do I make home espresso?
First question: do you have an espresso machine? We’re not talking pod machines here – but a machine in which you can put fresh ground coffee (or beans if you a true speciality coffee drinker) in order to pull a shot. Have one of those? Then it’s simply a case of filling, pressing a button, and you’re ready to go. Now skip to ‘how is it best served?’.
No espresso machine? No problem! There is something rather satisfying to our alternative method. While there are a few different brewing methods around, the most affordable, and straightforward method, utilises a french press (otherwise known as a cafetière). You’ll need pre-ground coffee, a kettle, a french press and some espresso cups (or mugs!).
- Get your ground coffee ready. For every cup of espresso you’re going to make, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per person.
- Fill your kettle with half a mug of water per espresso. Bring to the boil, then set aside for 30 seconds.
- Add your coffee grounds to your french press. Add a few splashes of water to the coffee to allow the flavours to amalgamate, and the key oils to release (remember the cream we talked about? You don’t want to miss out on that!). Leave for a few minutes.
- Add the rest of your hot water. Do not stir it! This could disturb the oils and flavours that are slowly working together to make your deletable cup of coffee.
- Close that lid and let sit for at least 4 minutes. For a darker brewed coffee you might like to leave this for a minute or so more, but no longer- it will overheat the beans and lead to a dry cup.
- It’s time to take the plunge – but read on. Plunge half way into your mixture steadily, raise back up, then plunge the whole way down.
- Pour straight into your espresso cups and enjoy!
How is it best served?First and foremost, we would always recommend at least trying your single espresso straight, as above. It’s a coffee experience like no other and a beverage in its own right. If you’re feeling particularly in need of caffeine you might like to make yourself a doppio – simply Italian for ‘double’, doubling up the above recipe. Whichever route you go down, make sure to give it a good stir (unless the crema mustache is a look you go for) and sip. This is not one to shot like you might an alcohol shot – not only because of the heat of the drink, but also to ensure you savour it. Feeling traditional? Drink it like the Romans do: stood up in an espresso bar! Want to use your newfound espresso skills in an alternative drink? Take a look at our flat white and cappuccino how-to’s. Alternatively try out the below alternative espresso drinks:
- Drip coffee: 50ml espresso mixed with 75ml of hot water.
- Latte: 50ml espresso and 250ml steamed milk
- Mocha: 60ml espresso, 30ml steamed milk and 50ml of melted chocolate
- Con panna: 50ml espresso and 75ml whipped cream
- Affogato (a luxury!): 50ml espresso mixed with 75g of vanilla ice cream