BCC How To - Keep Your Coffee Fresh

BCC How To - Keep Your Coffee Fresh

Coffee beans grow inside the cherry-like fruit of the coffee plant, with some of the best coffees in the world grown at high elevations in wet, tropical rainforests on the steep hillsides of dormant volcanoes. The people that pick these cherries traverse treacherous landscapes with baskets tied to their backs carefully picking each cherry one at a time. The coffee is then sorted, peeled, washed, dried, and eventually roasted.

Each cherry contains two coffee beans, which are actually the seeds of the plant, and it can take up to 100 coffee beans to brew a single cup of coffee. Needless to say, a lot of work is put into your morning cup of joe and the best thing you can do is keep those beans fresh. Luckily, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find tips to keep your beans fresh and we’ve also included a couple of coffee canisters that we recommend.

Helpful Tips

Once a coffee bag is opened, it’s best to enjoy it within four weeks for optimal flavor. Oxidization from the air will begin prematurely degassing the roasted beans, as we discussed in our Coffee Grinder Review. This is why we always recommend waiting to grind your coffee until you are ready to brew, which limits the amount of surface area exposed to the air, reducing the amount of degassing that takes place.

The best way to keep your coffee fresher longer is by limiting it’s exposure to air. A vacuum canister is a great way to keep your coffee fresher for longer. Most vacuum canisters use a one-way valve to expel the air trapped inside of the container, which helps to minimize the oxidation process. Other contributing factors to the degradation of roasted coffee are light, heat, and moisture, so it is a good idea to pick out a canister that is not clear and to store this container in a cool space, but not the refrigerator or freezer. We’ll discuss this later in the article.

Shelf Life

Coffee doesn’t ‘go bad’ in the same way other foods will visibly rot or get moldy, but after about four weeks, you’ll start to notice a definite dulling of flavors. But rest assured, it’s still safe to drink - it just won’t taste as good. One of the best ways to avoid stale coffee is by buying coffee in smaller quantities. While the big Costco bag is a tempting bulk buy, you may want to opt for a smaller amount if that big bag will take you more than a month to consume. We offer 12 oz. bags and 2.5 lb bags on our website.

You may notice baristas cringe when you ask them to pre-grind your entire bag of coffee. In fact, we only ship whole-bean coffee. The reason: Quality coffee tastes best when it's ground right before it's brewed. When you grind coffee, you increase the amount of surface area that is exposed to the air. If the coffee is ground too soon, it will be exposed to air for too long and result in a stale, dull cup of coffee. We recommend grinding the coffee no longer than five minutes before you brew it. If you’re reading this, you’re probably somewhat invested in good coffee, so why not invest in a good home grinder? Check out our Grinder Review.

Can coffee be too fresh?

Oddly, yes. Freshly roasted coffee needs a few days to release Carbon Dioxide. Coffee that is super fresh will bubble up and expand quite erratically when hot water is added. The uneven nature of the bubbles causes the coffee particles to be exposed to differing amounts of water, resulting in dryer pockets of coffee that will be under-extracted by the hot water, which gives the cup of coffee an uneven taste.

The roast of a coffee also plays a role in the degassing process. Darker coffees are more porous and ready to brew sooner than roasts that are lighter and less porous. For example, our Dark Roast coffee is usually good to brew 2-3 days after being roasted, whereas our Light Roast starts to taste really good after 4-5 days. We like to make sure our coffee is available to purchase as fresh as possible, so we mark each bag with the date it was roasted, ensuring you are able to get peak enjoyment from your Bicycle Coffee.

Brewing methods will also affect the length of time you’ll want your roasted coffee to rest before using. Pour-overs are usually more forgiving of chaotic blooms, whereas espresso shots can be hard to calibrate when using overly fresh beans. In our cafes, we pull shots with bags of our Espresso Blend that are 5-7 days from the roast date.

Say No To The Fridge or Freezer

Coffee absorbs moisture, odors, and flavors from the surrounding air due to its porous nature. If coffee is stored in the refrigerator or freezer, there’s a good chance it will absorb the odors and flavors from the other foods. You might ask yourself, “Do I want my coffee to share the same air as a salmon filet?” The correct answer is no.

Coffee Canister Recommendations

As you know by now, one of the best ways to keep your coffee fresh is to store it in an airtight container. There are lots of coffee canisters out there, but in our opinion there are only two that you should consider. While lots of canisters on the market are airtight, these two also remove air from inside the canister, keeping your beans in an optimal storage environment. We have used these both extensively and our reviews are based on first-hand experiences. While we are obviously biased towards one, we feel it would be unfair not to include the other.

Our Favorite: Bicycle Coffee x Airscape Vacuum Seal Coffee Canister ($30 w/ free shipping)

This stainless steel coffee canister has a matte black finish and white lettering, giving it a super sleek look that is great to display on any countertop. It has a patented inner lid that actively removes and locks out air to preserve and protect the freshness and flavor of your coffee, while the exterior lid effortlessly pops on top to create a secure, secondary seal. It’s easy to use and holds up to 1 lb. of coffee and comes in a cute cloth bag. We use this coffee canister daily in our cafes & at home. We also offer this canister in a bundle pack that includes your choice of 12 oz. coffee variety.

Runner-Up: Miir Coffee Canister ($30) 

A fine-looking stainless steel coffee canister that offers a hardshell powder coat in black, white, or copper. We think the copper one is super sexy. Miir uses an inner accordion-style lid that compresses and pushes out oxygen when locked in place. It also features an exterior screw top lid, which is useful if you plan to travel with it. Here’s the catch, the accordion lid can be a little tricky to lock in place, especially when the bean level is low. Also, if the canister is super full, the top locking mechanism on the accordion lid blocks the exterior lid from screwing on. As with most Miir products, it’s aesthetically pleasing and travels well, but the mechanics on this one could use a little work.