Wondering how to keep ground coffee fresh?
Wonder no more because this article outlines 12 tips you can start using today to keep your coffee fresh and flavorful.
But if you don’t have time to read, here’s the quick answer:
The best way to keep ground coffee fresh is to store it in a vacuum-sealed, airtight container. And then put this container in a cool, dark, dry place like your pantry.
That’s it! If you did nothing else, this one tip alone will help you maximize the freshness of your coffee for longer.
But if you’re looking for more info, the 12 tips we’ve outlined are as follows:
- Don’t buy coffee in bulk
- Buy your coffee locally
- Check your dates
- Drink your coffee as soon as possible
- Don’t grind your beans right away
- Freeze your grounds
- Avoid the fridge
- Store grounds in a vacuum-sealed container
- Use containers made of non-reactive material
- Store in a dark, dry, cool location
- Combine vacuum sealing and the freezer
- Use oxygen absorbing packets
We describe each of these tips in a little more detail below. So when you’re ready, grab a cup of fresh java and dive in.
Oh and by the way, if you’ve already used your fresh grounds to make coffee, you might be wondering what to do with them. Check out this article and discover 23 cool things to do with your used grounds.
Why Does Coffee Lose its Freshness?
Before we dive into these tips, it’s important you understand why coffee loses its freshness in the first place.
Coffee has four main enemies – air, light, moisture, and heat.
Air – Oxygen absorption leads to chemical reactions that cause coffee to go stale – which is why air tight containers are the best way to store your grounds. Air exposure oxidizes coffee and breaks down the oils that contribute to its aroma and flavor.
Light – The UV rays in sunlight can degrade the compounds in coffee. In turn, this causes the coffee to go stale. Storage in a dark place helps to prevent this.
Moisture – Ground coffee easily absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. This moisture can promote the growth of mold, causing the coffee to go bad much faster. It can also make your coffee grounds clump together, making it difficult to brew. So be sure to store it somewhere dry (ie. not your fridge!).
Heat – Heat can speed up chemical reactions like oxidation. And this causes coffee to lose its flavor. So keep your coffee cool.
As you can see, keeping coffee fresh simply means storing it in a way that avoids these four elements.
All four will contribute to your coffee grounds losing their freshness and becoming stale. Which means you won’t be able to maximize your enjoyment of that morning cup of java.
Now that we have the background covered, let’s jump into the first tip for keeping your coffee fresh.
Tip #1 – Don’t buy coffee in bulk
To ensure maximum freshness, aim to finish your grounds within 2 weeks of purchase. More than this and your coffee will start to lose flavor.
Buying less coffee in one go, and not buying in bulk, is a great way to make sure you actually do this.
If you have bags and bags of coffee sitting around your kitchen, it’s going to be difficult to get through it. Unless, of course, you have a monster coffee habit, in which case you probably don’t need to read the rest of this article ;).
Tip #2 – Buy your coffee locally
Here, I don’t mean from your local supermarket, since coffee tends to sit on shelves for weeks in large grocery stores.
Instead, head on down to your local roastery or coffee shop and buy your coffee there. This is a great way to ensure your coffee is fresh once you buy it, and not a week or two old.
Many coffee shops will sell grounds or beans (and may even grind your beans for you). So do some research and avoid the big supermarkets or shops.
Tip #3 – Check your dates
By dates, I’m talking about the expiration date and roasting date on the bag of coffee.
The expiration date is obvious – any coffee that’s past its expiration date should be thrown out.
But if you’re serious about drinking the freshest coffee possible, then you also want to pay attention to the roasting date. As the name suggests, this is the date the coffee was roasted. As a rule of thumb, aim to finish your grounds within one month of the roasting date.
Tip #4 – Drink your coffee as soon as you can
The longer you leave it, the more flavor your coffee loses. So don’t delay!
Of course, this needs to be balanced. You don’t want to drink 10 cups of coffee every day just to get through your grounds quickly. Remember, 400 mg per day is the recommended daily caffeine intake. So don’t over do it, please.
Tip #5 – Don’t grind your beans right away
This tip only applies if you’re buying beans and grinding them yourself. If you buy ground coffee, then you can skip this one.
Coffee grounds become stale faster than beans because of the higher surface area. So you’re actually helping the coffee to lose its freshness simply by grinding.
The solution: don’t grind your beans until you want a cup of coffee.
Of course, the other solution here is to grind your beans straight away and then store the grounds in the freezer for the week. Simply take them out when you’re ready for a coffee.
And this leads us onto the next tip…
Tip #6 – Freeze your grounds
If you would rather not grind beans every morning before enjoying a cuppa Joe, then one option is to grind a large batch at the start of the week. Then freeze the grounds.
Each morning, you can take out just the grounds you want for your morning brew. This saves you time since you don’t have to grind the beans.
Now, if you spend any length of time searching online for tips on storing coffee, you’ll often see conflicting advice on freezing. Some sources say you shouldn’t freeze and some sources say that freezing is perfectly fine.
My take on the matter is that freezing is OK as long as you use the grounds when you take them out. In other words, don’t freeze and thaw the same grounds multiple times. Once you take them out of your freezer, don’t put them back in.
Tip #7 – Avoid the fridge
Freezing is OK (see the above point), but you should definitely avoid storing coffee in the fridge.
Why? Well, your fridge contains lots of moisture. Your coffee can get damp in the fridge and can also absorb odors from other foods nearby due to its porous nature. When coffee absorbs moisture, it loses its natural oils, leading to moldy beans or grounds. So keep them out of the fridge.
Tip #8 – Store your grounds in a vacuum-sealed container
Probably the most important tip on this list. If you do nothing else, this one piece of advice will help you keep your coffee fresh for as long as possible.
Containers that are vacuum-sealed and air tight will lock out moisture and air. They also keep out light, unless made of glass.
Do a quick search on Amazon for airtight coffee containers and you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Zip lock bags can sometimes work, but they won’t be as effective as a dedicated container.
Tip #9 – Use containers made of non-reactive materials
Following on from the previous tip, you’ll want to use a container that’s made from the right materials.
What do I mean? Specifically, materials that are non-reactive and so don’t leach contaminants into your stored coffee. Ceramic or metal work best. But glass is also fine, as long as you remember to store it in a dark place away from sunlight.
Speaking of which…
Tip #10 – Store in a dark, dry, cool location
I realize I sound like a broken record here, but wherever you store your coffee needs to be dry, cool and dark.
So the best place to store your coffee grounds is in your pantry. Failing this, you can also store it in a cupboard, which is what I do since I don’t have a pantry. Just make sure the cupboard meets the “cool, dark, dry” criteria.
Combining this tip with above advice on using a vacuum sealed container and you’ve got a fool-proof way of storing your coffee for maximum freshness.
Tip #11 – Combine vacuum sealing and the freezer
Why not combine tips for extra freshness? If you combine freezing and vacuum-sealed containers, then you’re definitely future proofing your coffee.
Depending on how much room you have in your freezer, you may want to try vacuum-sealed bags instead of solid containers. But the best way is to take an airtight container made of ceramic or metal and put it in your freezer.
Tip #12 – Use oxygen absorbing packets
When I worked in science labs, we used these things called desiccators. These are sealable containers with “desiccants” for preserving moisture-sensitive items. The desiccant was usually silica gel, which did an admirable job of absorbing any kind of moisture.
Well, the same principle applies here. You can add oxygen absorbing packets, usually containing iron powder, to absorb oxygen from the surrounding environment and protect your coffee.
They’re easy to get – just do a quick search on Amazon for “oxygen absorbing packets for coffee”.
So How Do You Keep Ground Coffee Fresh?
The most important tip in this article is to keep your coffee grounds in a vacuum-sealed, airtight container and store it in a cool, dry, dark place.
Your pantry is ideal for this, but if you don’t have a pantry then a cupboard is the next best thing.
If you can do this, then that’s most of the work done right there. After that, you can add in a few other tips like using oxygen absorbing packets or freezing your grounds.
So your first step is to buy an airtight container – if you don’t have one. A quick search on Amazon will help you here.
Once you have your container and you’re using it to keep ground coffee fresh, your next step is learning how to make this coffee using a French press. Or you can discover 23 cool things to do with your grounds after you’ve used them.