How to Store Whole Bean and Ground Coffee

Tips to Maximize Freshness and Flavor

coffee beans spilling out of storage container

Getty Images / serezniy

Coffee does best stored in a dry, airtight container. When stocking your favorite blend at home, avoid air, moisture, heat, and light. Here are the fast facts on how to store coffee beans and ground coffee correctly for maximum freshness and flavor.

Coffee Storage Locations

While convenience is key (who wants to go hunting for coffee at 6 a.m.?), you want to store your coffee so it stays fresh and flavorful. With that in mind:

  • Choose a cool, dark, dry place, such as in a pantry or cabinet.
  • Do not store coffee in the refrigerator or freezer; the humidity can cause moisture to infiltrate the packaging.
  • Avoid warm spots, such as above/next to the oven or in cabinets that get hot from exposure to sunlight or cooking equipment.
  • It's OK to keep your coffee on a counter if it's in an opaque, airtight container out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source.

Coffee Container Types

Once you open vacuum-sealed packaging, coffee starts to lose freshness quickly. For that reason, it's a good idea to transfer coffee to another appropriate container as soon as possible.

  • For best results, use an opaque glass, ceramic, or non-reactive metal container with an airtight gasket seal.
  • Clear glass or plastic containers should be kept in a dark location.

Coffee Freshness Over Time

Coffee begins to lose its freshness immediately after roasting; the flavor peaks in the following few days. Ground coffee tastes best consumed within one to two weeks of roasting, whole beans within one month. Here are some tips for keeping your coffee at its tastiest:

  • Buy just-roasted coffee often, in quantities to last one to two weeks, and then store it properly.
  • Store larger quantities of coffee tightly sealed in an airtight container in a cool, dark area, keeping a smaller quantity in another container for daily use. Open the larger container only when you need to refill the smaller container. This reduces air exposure for the bulk of the coffee.

Ground Coffee vs. Whole Beans

Ground coffee, with its higher proportion of surface area, goes stale more quickly than whole beans. If you have the time, energy, and equipment, grind your own coffee beans each morning. If you're not ready to take on that level of commitment, you can still have delicious fresh coffee if you use whole beans within a month of roasting and ground beans within two weeks of roasting.

DIY Roasting and Grinding

If you're a coffee connoisseur, you might want to try buying, roasting, and grinding your own green coffee beans. Green coffee beans are often available from high-end coffee retailers. Green beans store better and last longer than roasted coffee beans; stored properly, they can stay fresh for more than a year.

With a little work, you can roast green coffee beans at home and then grind them as needed for the freshest coffee possible.

In the first few days after you roast your coffee, the beans will put off a lot of carbon dioxide. Store them in a valve-sealed bag or put them in an airtight container and open the container once a day for the first several days after roasting to release the built-up carbon dioxide.

Purchasing Tips

For the freshest coffee, choose brands that use valve-sealed rather than vacuum-sealed packaging.

Vacuum-sealed coffee must be aged before packaging because coffee releases gas that can cause the bag to expand or even burst. Valve-sealed coffee, by contrast, allows gasses to escape from the coffee packaging but doesn’t let air in, so it can be packaged immediately after roasting.