No matter the time of day and year, it is no secret that fresh coffee grinds produce the most flavorful and aromatic coffee.
However, using a coffee grinder to produce fresh grinds during a busy morning rush is just not possible for many people.
If you are one of them, you probably have a schedule for grinding freshly roasted beans for a week’s or month’s worth of coffee needs.
If so, you ought to know the best place to store coffee grinds so that you can keep them flavorful for a longer time.
Why Does Ground Coffee Become Stale Faster Than Coffee Beans?
Like the rust forming on metals, stale or rancid coffee is what you get from the chemical reactions of coffee compounds to oxygen.
This process is called oxidation, and it will most likely happen to coffee beans or grounds put in storage for an extended period.
Ground coffee can oxidize faster than whole beans because more of the coffee is exposed to oxygen as they come in smaller pieces.
As such, coffee experts suggest only grinding the amount of roasted coffee beans you can consume immediately.
How Do You Avoid Ending Up With Stale Coffee?
First and foremost, only purchase whole coffee beans, preferably freshly roasted ones.
If you get pre-ground coffee, there’s no saying how long the coffee grounds stayed out in the open and how advanced the oxidation has accelerated.
The secret is to grind your beans as close to brewing time as possible and avoid grinding amounts you can’t consume in a short time.
If you can’t squeeze grinding coffee into your routine, you can prevent your coffee from becoming stale by learning how to store it correctly.
How to Store Ground Coffee
Let’s say your regular coffee store packs your coffee grinds in a bag for you to take home.
As you move into your house, don’t just leave the bag as it is in the pantry or on the countertop.
Transfer the bag’s contents into an opaque, airtight container, and close it tight.
If you do not have a canister, there’s still something you can do to keep your coffee away from oxygen exposure.
Seal the top of the bag with a sealer clip or a rubber band, and put the bag in a sealable plastic pouch.
As soon as you get an opaque, airtight container, remove your ground coffee from the paper bag it came in.
Since paper absorbs moisture, you would not want the bag to dry up your coffee grinds.
On another note, if you’ve overdone grinding or purchasing coffee, you might want to store the excess for use at a much later time.
While it is alright to freeze ground coffee, you should only take it out of the freezer when you plan to use it.
What to Avoid When Storing Coffee Beans
The best place to store coffee grinds is away from open air, light, heat, and moisture from external sources.
All three factors contribute to the oxidation of coffee, ultimately reducing its quality and shortening its storage lifespan.
Heat is the number one culprit that hastens and significantly increases the chemical reactions occurring around ground coffee particles.
As you expose coffee to heat, as in roasting or brewing with a coffee maker, internal compounds become volatile and find a way to escape.
Since these compounds are responsible for coffee’s rich flavor and aroma, you don’t want them escaping your coffee far before brewing.
When you purchase ground coffee beans, it means they have already gone through roasting.
While roasting is responsible for amplifying the flavor and aroma of the coffee, it also drastically reduces its shelf life.
Nevertheless, you will still need to keep your ground coffee away from direct sunlight or scalding cooktops.
To retain whatever is left of the taste and scent, store your coffee grinds away from these heat sources.
Like heat, too much light can also contribute to the oxidation and spoilage of oils and volatile compounds in ground coffee.
Different light levels carry variable spectra, and you will want to avoid the ultraviolet rays that can accelerate the oxidation process.
For this reason, we strictly recommend keeping your ground coffee in a non-transparent container.
To oxidize means to combine with oxygen molecules chemically.
If you leave your coffee grinds out in the open, you give free-floating oxygen molecules in the air a go-ahead to stale up your coffee.
Aside from your container’s opacity, its sealability is also essential.
While heat, air, and light exposure can deplete the compounds responsible for the flavor and aroma of the coffee, excess moisture can dilute these compounds.
Coffee beans and coffee grinds are inherently hygroscopic, which means they can freely absorb a surplus of moisture in proximity.
When water enters the coffee particles, it dulls the flavors and aroma.
In addition, too much moisture can be the beginning of a rotting bag of ground coffee.
On the other hand, leaving your ground coffee to dry for an extended period can also be problematic.
If you put your coffee grinds in a permeable container such as a paper bag, the rate at which it loses its moisture is so much faster.
When coffee particles are too dry, they no longer have the oils that give off the taste and scent that you want.
Instead, you will find your next cup of coffee having a much more bitter taste than it should.
How Long Does Coffee Last in Storage?
Most coffee grinds stay fresh for about a week after grinding.
It has a very short shelf life, so it would be best only to purchase the amount you can consume within two weeks or less.
If you bought roasted coffee beans, the lifespan is a bit longer, about four weeks, as long as they are in an opaque, airtight container.
Ground coffee frozen in sealable bags can last six months, while those kept in vacuum-sealed bags in the freezer can last more than a year.
Best Place to Store Coffee Grinds for a Longer Shelf Life
With the information you gathered, you could infer that the best place for your ground coffee is in a sealed container inside a cool cupboard.
If you don’t have the cupboard space, you can put it on the countertop, as long as it’s in an opaque container away from heat.
This way, you can be sure that you can get the flavor and aroma you need for the duration of its entire shelf life.