Fresh is best when it comes to food and drink. Steaming veggies for dinner a week after you brought them home from the farmers’ market? Still edible, but you may as well have opened up a can for that kind of stale flavor.
The same is true for coffee beans. You won’t see or smell the loss of freshness and flavor like you do with produce. But the further your beans are from their roast date, the less likely they’ll be to produce a quality and delicious cup of coffee.
The solution? Buy a week’s worth of beans at a time, and store them in an airtight coffee canister. We found a handful we think not only get the job done, but will look great on your kitchen counter.
How Coffee Beans Go Bad
Well, it’d take quite a while for your beans to actually go bad. (Are you picturing coffee beans with little tattoos, cigarettes dangling from their mouths, spraying graffiti in your kitchen? No? Just us? OK, then.) You could store coffee beans for a year, and they’d still brew a cup of coffee that doesn’t taste spoiled, per se. But it wouldn’t taste very good, either.
Something else that happens over time is that coffee beans lose their carbon dioxide content. The gas builds up inside the beans during the roasting process. This is actually a good thing because it’s carbon dioxide that produces the coffee bloom, which is responsible for your coffee’s flavor. It’s also why you don’t want to keep coffee beans too long as the gas gradually dissipates through a process called degassing. The older the beans, the less carbon dioxide, the weaker the flavor.
And if you’re spending a little extra for high-quality beans, then you really want to make sure you’re keeping them fresh and not letting their quality and flavor (and your money) go to waste. But how does that even happen?
Coffee beans lose flavor simply by being exposed to oxygen. This process is called oxidation, essentially the same process that causes some metals to rust, and it starts the moment a batch of coffee beans completes the roasting process. Unless you live outside Earth’s atmosphere, you can’t prevent oxidation.
But oxygen isn’t coffee’s only enemy. It’s also up against light (specifically UV rays), heat, and moisture, all of which rob your coffee beans of their freshness, strength, and flavor. Not only that, coffee contains antioxidants which can be good for you, but which are also lost through time and exposure to the elements.
Your job as a bean keeper is to protect them in order to maintain the highest quality taste, hold onto those potential health benefits, and end up with the best brew possible.
How To Store Coffee Beans
Now, hold on a minute. Why do you need a special canister to store coffee beans when they come in their own handy little bags?
OK, we’ll admit, some packaging is pretty sophisticated. For example, bags with triple-ply foil are designed to prevent air from getting in. Once the seal is broken, though, the air comes pouring in. Plus, it’s a lot easier to scoop coffee from a canister than a bag that develops lots of nooks and crannies for those beans to hide in.
And that glass jar you already own may be tempting to use for coffee storage, and it seems like everyone on the internet is using Mason jars to store, well, everything. But glass won’t protect against sunlight on the kitchen counter or heat from a nearby oven, and remember, light and heat are two of coffee’s nemeses.
So yes, an actual coffee canister is the way to go.
Look for containers that are air-tight, or even vacuum sealed. Some canisters keep oxygen out to prevent oxidation while also allowing carbon dioxide to escape. If you keep your coffee in a sunny spot, find an opaque canister. No matter what features are important to you, we think you won’t have any trouble finding something that complements your kitchen décor. See for yourself!
1. Friis 16-Ounce Stainless Steel Coffee Vault
The aptly named vault has a sleek design offered in black, red, and stainless steel. Free from lurking danger, safely stored inside the airtight chamber, your coffee will feel like a million bucks, and taste like it too.
The vault uses a valve to vent carbon dioxide gases. Your purchase includes a one year’s supply of freshness valves, so go nuts and buy all the coffee you want. Or nuts. It’d probably store nuts too.
3. Kiltrea Pottery Handmade Airtight Coffee Container with Wood Lid
If you’re looking for something less high-tech and more rustic for your farmhouse kitchen, consider storing your coffee in this ceramic canister made by hand in Ireland.
The wood lid is also handmade, and uses a food-grade, airtight seal to keep 40 ounces of coffee at its freshest. The glazing technique used on the pottery creates a unique, multicolored pattern, making every canister one of a kind.
4. EVAK Glass and Stainless Airtight Coffee Storage Container
If you love to look at your beans almost as much as you enjoy smelling and drinking them, this is your canister. Made from borosilicate glass, the container locks in flavor while staying stain and odor resistant.
Proprietary technology ensures an airtight chamber when you push down on a lid and evacuate air. While we’re not crazy about glass canisters that let light and heat in, if you plan to keep your coffee in a shady, cool spot in your kitchen, you’ll also get some aesthetic enjoyment out of this one.
Wait a minute. A see-through container? Doesn’t that let those harmful UV rays in? Well, maybe a regular canister would, but this one is tinted to block about 99% of UV rays. No sunburn for your beans here!
BPA free, and at 1.5 quarts, is the perfect size for a one-pound bag of coffee. Be aware, though, that it’s not recommended for storing flavored coffees.
A nice change from the usual silver or gray brushed stainless steel look, this copper-toned canister will add a bit of sophisticated color to your countertop. But it’s got a lot more than just looks going for it.
A built-in valve allows carbon dioxide to escape while keeping oxygen out. The lid also has an adjustable calendar wheel that allows you to select the date you store your coffee so you know exactly how old it is, and when it’s time to buy more.
7. BlinkOne Airtight Coffee Canister with Magnetic Scoop
For a completely stainless steel option, this airtight silicone-sealed canister will render any counter more sophisticated. Its magnetic scoop won’t get lost when you’re hosting a holiday and the counters are bombarded with the makings of a feast. The next morning, there it’ll be, dangling from the lid, awaiting its daily task.
If you ever outgrow your coffee habit (we hope that doesn’t happen), this container can double for tea, sugar, spices, nuts, or similar storage.
8. Chef’s Star Coffee Canister with Gas Vent Valve and Date Wheel
An alluring vacuum seal choice, the sixteen ounce canister has a cool design perk: a built-in date wheel to keep track of your coffee’s freshness, so you don’t have to!
Pre-coffee brain doesn’t need to do much thinking to take care of the beans with the date wheel in charge, accompanied by a valve to filter out carbon dioxide, making this a fine canister for the person whose circadian rhythm is not tuned in to the early morning.
Pump up and down to twist, lock, and seal away air that wants to congregate with your beans. Not with this canister, thank you! This is best for storing whole beans, rather than ground coffee. The vacuum on the canister is strong enough to suck up the coffee grounds and cause the vacuum to not work properly. Grinds in a bag is another story and would work just fine.
The stainless steel canister is offset with a stylish, tinted lid: bye-bye UV damage. And, it’s dishwasher safe which is always a welcome timesaver for busy living.
Pack up to a pound of coffee in this spiffy, airtight canister, where it’ll be well protected from the elements. Sure, this is yet another stainless steel canister, so why buy it instead of any other in its class?
Well, its logo blends two words we happen to really like: love and coffee. Love Your Coffee is the message. If you want to sing it to the world, this is for you. It holds a pound of coffee, and comes with a scoop.
11. Kitchables Coffee Canister with AirFresh Valve Technology
If you love a Pedro Almodovar film set, then buy this coffee canister. It screams, “I’m destined to be on set in an Almodovar kitchen.” You won’t be disappointed by the bright colors that meet your eye, and neither would Almodovar’s set designer. Its pop art aesthetic is a stand out among its stainless steel brethren, even if it doesn’t make the big screen.
Color aside, you get a free scoop, an airtight seal with valve technology, and a built-in calendar to track expiration dates. What more could you want?
How you store your coffee beans affects their flavor, but so does the state of your brewing equipment. Remember to
clean your coffee maker on a regular basis to maintain the best flavor. Then store your coffee beans at room temperature, in an airtight canister, and you’re on your way to the best coffee you’ve ever made.