'How do I keep my coffee fresher for longer?'
It’s a question we get asked frequently. So we decided to sit down with our very own Dan Lacey, Extract’s Regional Manager for the South West and do a bit of a deep dive into coffee freshness.
In this post, we’ll share the best way to keep your coffee fresh at home, why not to keep it in the fridge or freezer and what you can do with that old coffee instead of letting it go to waste.
Cool, dark and airtight is best.
Our 250g bags are resealable and block light so just push as much air out as possible and seal.
With our kilo bags just roll down the top and hold in place with a strong rubber band. Or decant into a tight-fitting airtight container. The less air, the better!.
Store in a cool cupboard. Oxygen, UV (sunlight) heat and moisture will all cause coffee to degrade.
Despite what you’ve been told by friends, family or trusted sources, keeping your coffee in the fridge or freezer often leads to damp coffee as the cool air condenses. So, avoid storing your coffee in the fridge or freezer.
Interestingly there was a pretty promising experiment done a few years back. It was, however, in lab conditions with super fast deep freezing of vacuum-sealed whole beans that were roasted, cooled then packed in the same hour.
You could open a bag of coffee that’s been in the cupboard for several years, grind it, brew it and drink it and you won’t get sick, but it will taste pretty dull and bitter.
You won’t see much of any crema and that’s a good indicator of (lack of) freshness.
All of the volatile aromas, acids and sugars will have broken down over time and if the coffee was a particularly dark roast (not ours) then the oils which collect on the surface will have oxidised and taken on a stale oil taste.
As coffee ages, its sugars and oils break down. This will affect how the coffee extracts. If your coffee is more than 2 months old it’s really past its best. You’ll see less crema (the oily residue at the top of your coffee) and it will taste more bitter than usual.
By grinding coarsely, you can still use your coffee in a cafetiere. Brew at 70g per litre and whilst you may lose some of the more nuanced flavours, it’s still drinkable and a tasty brew.
In an espresso machine, fresh coffee is much more important. As the oils and sugars break down, the water will rush through the bed of coffee faster than usual and your coffee will be under-extracted. If you continue making your grind finer and finer to reach your usual extraction time, eventually you will jam up your grinder.
Alternatively, if you want to get creative, here are 11 ways you can reuse your coffee grounds by The Guardian.
Now, we all know that old coffee is bad and here at Extract, we've tried to impress upon anyone who'll listen that fresh is best. But, it's also pretty well known that coffee, especially espresso, can in fact be too fresh.
This is down to the build-up of carbon dioxide (C02) inside the bean that naturally occurs during the roasting process. We at Extract and the cafes you know and love usually control this by 'resting' the coffee before it's used, but this is usually a week or two at most. This gives some of the C02 time to escape and the barista can make adjustments on their professional grinder to pull you a delicious shot.
By the time you order and we deliver, your coffee is perfectly crafted for brewing up your morning cuppa.
Dan Lacey is an Accredited Trainer for the SCA (Speciality Coffee Association) and has been a Head Judge for SCA competitions in the UK.
Dan joined Extract from London School of Coffee in 2014 and has been a champion of innovation leading projects in sustainability and community, product development and sharing coffee knowledge with baristas and bartenders across the world.
Join our exclusive Extract Coffee Club. You'll get special offers and discounts, invites to our roastery events, details of new coffee launches and stories from behind roastery doors. Expect one to two emails a month, never more than one a week and only ever from Extract (third parties are definitely NOT in the club)