It is normal for avid coffee drinkers to purchase their grounds in large quantities because running out of coffee is not an option, and the debate on proper coffee storage among coffee lovers lives on. It makes sense that any opened food package should be left in the refrigerator, but should ground coffee be refrigerated?
If you are a part of the coffee community that believes your ground coffee belongs in the fridge, we are here to debunk that myth and tell you that even though it can be refrigerated, it’s not the best idea.
Can You Store Ground Coffee in the Fridge?
Storing your ground coffee in the refrigerator can help keep it fresher for longer if you don’t plan to use it for a while, but how long can you keep ground coffee in the fridge? Typically, it can last up to 4 weeks in the fridge, but after that, its freshness will deplete, along with its taste and potency.
When coffee beans are roasted, they lose moisture, making them ready to soak up water. A refrigerator produces a lot of moisture, and by storing your coffee grounds in the fridge, the grounds will absorb it. The process of taking your coffee in and out of the fridge causes fluctuations in temperature, which builds up condensation. This type of moisture will affect your coffee, diminishing its flavor.
When you use grounds that have been stored in the fridge, you are using coffee that is partially brewed and stale. Not only do these elements deplete the quality of your coffee grounds, but other foods in your refrigerator may absorb the aroma.
What About Freezing?
Roasted coffee is hygroscopic coffee. This means it absorbs moisture from the environment it’s in. When coffee soaks up moisture, a chemical reaction strips away the coffee’s aroma and oils and breaks down its flavor. So, whether it’s the fridge or the freezer, the quality of your coffee won’t stay the same, and you need to decide if that’s a fair trade for shelf life.
Whole beans can be stored in a freezer for up to a month and are best stored in small portions and airtight bags. When you are ready to use them, allow the beans to thaw and brew them within 2 weeks.
What Is the Best Way To Store Ground Coffee?
Ideally, your coffee grounds should be stored away from light, heat, and moisture.
Air exposure is the number one factor that affects your coffee. Storing your coffee grounds in a dry, airtight container will help preserve them. A cool and dark place, like a cupboard, is an ideal environment for your coffee.
Sunlight or artificial light also damages coffee. It breaks down the molecules, thereby affecting and depleting its shelf life and flavor. Ironically, high temperatures also damage coffee. It sounds counterintuitive, but exposing your grounds to high temperatures before brewing speeds up the oxidation process, which depletes the flavor. It’s best to store your grounds away from areas like the stove, kettle, or any other location that may get hot.
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last?
Coffee begins to lose its freshness immediately after its roasted, shortening its shelf life by 2-3 months, while its flavor develops over the next few days. It is recommended to consume your coffee within one to two weeks of the roast date for the best flavor. If you need to buy in bulk, use a smaller container for your daily coffee, and store the rest in a larger, airtight container, out of light and away from heat.
How Do I Know If My Coffee Has Gone Bad?
Coffee doesn’t go bad in the way you might fear, like moldy bread or rotten fruit, and it is still safe to drink after the expiration date. Coffee loses its quality over time, and “bad” coffee can be identified by its lack of flavor and delicious aroma. The smell of coffee is an integral part of its taste profile.
While we believe the coffee storage debate won’t end soon, we think fresh coffee is best. If you can help it, keep your grounds fresh by keeping them away from the fridge or freezer and purchase your coffee in small portions. The primary guidelines to keeping your coffee fresh are to avoid the elements, air, moisture, light, and humidity, so storing it in an airtight, opaque container is best.
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