Coffee Aroma: Storage and Shelf Life

Coffee Aroma: Storage and Shelf Life

Incorrect storage of coffee beans can lead to a loss of coffee aroma. Coffee is one of the classic natural products among food: After preparation, it unfolds its full quality best when enjoyed immediately. For storage, it is important to know what “natural enemies” coffee has. These are: heat, moisture, odor-causing agents, oxygen and light. Opinions differ on whether the refrigerator, or freezer are suitable places to store coffee.

Store Coffee to Avoid Oxidation

Coffee is a delicate natural product that requires sensitivity during production, preparation and storage. Only then will the coffee aroma that is so valued be retained. When oxygen reaches the beans, it sets in motion an oxidation process that reaches the oils, fats and waxes contained in coffee. This leads to a rancid taste and should be avoided when storing your coffee.

Contact with air has another disadvantage: the aroma is lost. As a fresh product, coffee is always at risk of losing its taste. Therefore, the packaging is very important when it is sold to the end user.


The best solution for this is the valve packing with aroma valve .


The reason for this is as follows: In the first few days after roasting , the coffee releases carbon dioxide (CO2) . It escapes through the aroma valve – without air penetrating inside. If this does not happen, the beans have to “outgas” after roasting, otherwise the packaging will burst without the aroma valve. If the coffee is vacuum-sealed as a briquette pack on the supermarket shelf, it may already have lost its taste. And that before it even reaches the end user.

Store Coffee in a Dark, Dry and Cool Place

The black, hot beverage lasts the longest if it is kept in the form of beans. Therefore, the recommendation applies to only grind as much as is necessary for immediate consumption. Because ground coffee should be enjoyed within a maximum of two weeks.

It is important to carefully close the package again after use and to place it in an airtight container. The best containers for this are porcelain or ceramic – and the closable Tupperware. This only contains the coffee, because otherwise it quickly takes on the smell of other foods. The classic pantry – dark, cool and dry – is then the right place to store the vessel.

Transferring Coffee to Another Container Makes it Lose its Taste

A mistake that is often made and that makes coffee lose its taste is this: The powder is transferred to another container. In doing so, however, it comes into contact with oxygen, which triggers the oxidation process. This effect is particularly strong with coffee that is packed in cans, because there the oil adheres to the edges and becomes rancid.

Unopened in the original packaging , coffee can be kept for up to two years – often beyond the best-before date. You can store coffee in containers made of stainless steel, as a mason jar, made of enamel, as a coffee pod or as a coffee capsule dispenser.

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Storing Coffee Correctly: Probably Not in the Fridge – Mayebe in a Freezer

Hardly any other topic is as controversial among coffee connoisseurs as the question of whether the refrigerator, or freezer are the right places to store coffee. The refrigerator is not totally discouraged, but it has several disadvantages. There is a damp atmosphere here, which the beverage does not like – and: The coffee absorbs the smell of the other food in the refrigerator. This falsifies the coffee aroma.

If you use your freezer to store coffee, this has advantages. The humidity here is very low.  Sealed airtight and frozen in portions is the correct approach. If a larger amount of frozen food is removed and the rest of the frozen food is kept frozen, the beans are exposed to temperature fluctuations: This damages the taste and aroma of the coffee. For the preparation, the removed beans either thaw in a sealed container at room temperature and are then ground, or: Since there is almost no moisture in the frozen food, the beans can also be ground directly after they have been removed.

What Does the Best Before Date Mean?

The best-before date is generally only a recommendation. It defines the day up to which a product will still be of full quality if properly stored. This also makes it clear that some foods can still be consumed after the best-before date – if they are not clearly inedible by appearance or smell. In addition to tea, rice, dry pasta and hard cheese, coffee is one of the products for which it even seems possible to do without the best before date: The European Union has been discussing this since 2014.

In the case of wrapped coffee, there is usually a minimum shelf life of one to two years. Roasters that sell high-quality varieties recommend a period of just six months. Of course, your roasts can also be kept for one to two years – but during this time they lose a lot of their aroma. The quality roasters fear for their reputation and set the best before date much shorter.

How Long Can Aroma Coffee Be Kept?

When it comes to the best before date, when it comes to aromatic coffee, the focus is not only on the beans, but also on the additional ingredients . These high-quality mixtures from good growing areas usually go through a gentle long-term drum roast.

Then they get their special note through additives with butter truffle, cool mint, Irish cream or other ingredients. The shelf life of the mixture depends on them as well as on the beans. It is clear that an aromatic coffee with Jamaica rum lasts longer than a variant with butter truffle: The alcohol also has a preservative effect, while butter truffles certainly “spoil” earlier. It is difficult to state a binding minimum shelf life for these coffee variants.

Conclusion: keep coffee

Coffee will keep for around two years in its original sealed packaging. After opening , it is recommended that the beans be consumed within four to six weeks, and the powder that has already been ground within a maximum of two weeks.

Ideal storage containers are made of steel, ceramic or porcelain and also glass; the closed container is always stored in a dry, cool and dark place. The refrigerator is not really suitable for storing coffee, the freezer is.