Posted in Kafevend Blog
Like any perishable foodstuff, coffee is subject to the same madness concerning freshness that you would likely find in an advert about frozen vegetables ( 'we actually freeze our carrots before removing them from the ground'). However, given the multitude of wonderfully subtle tastes and flavours that variations of coffee tout, it would perhaps seem apt to give this freshness malarkey a good look to see how best to preserve them.
At first glance, it would appear the best way to store coffee is underground in air tight bunkers akin to radioactive waste; though for the sake of efficiency, this is not really possible. There are several areas that need covering- air, moisture, heat and light each have a hand to play in its degradation, along with that most pernicious of enemies, the passage of time. Given our inability so far to control the latter, ( though careful purchasing can certainly help) it is better to focus on reducing the effects of the first four.
First of all, when buying coffee you should seek to buy it as soon after roasting as possible, and only as much as you need for a week or two. You may even want to buy coffee beans pre roasted and do it yourself. At home, you should store it in an airtight container somewhere cool and dry, and off work tops away from sun light- you should also avoid placing it in fridges or freezers due to moisture in the air and a tendency for coffee to assume the taste of the contents. Furthermore, you should only grind the beans necessary for each cup as you make them, instead of grinding them all at once. These steps all help to reduce the effects of oxidation.
The reason for avoiding oxidation is to preserve various volatile oils in the coffee beans- it is these oils that provide coffees with their 'hints of this' and 'shades of that'- if you find yourself wondering when you were supposed to be able to taste a hint of wine in your latest batch of coffee, it may be because it wasn't stored properly.