How should a college kid store his coffee?
December 25, 2007 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Coffee beans behave like busses apparently. I went with preground for a year, and then I got a 5lb bag and a 1lb bag of roasted coffee beans and a grinder today for Christmas. How should I store them, accounting for my specific situation?

Here's my situation, which complicates things: I'm a college student, and I am on break until the 23rd, practically a month. I'd freeze it, but I've heard letting beans thaw after their frozen ruins them, which they would do on the trip back to school, which is about 45 minutes. Keep in mind I have a tiny college freezer, so I couldn't keep much that way, even if I were to bring over the coffee in a cooler or something. Or is freezing so bad for the beans, I should skip it altogether? What should I do?
posted by mccarty.tim to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Beans? Just let them be... Ensure that as little air gets to them as possible, and just let them be. They'll be fine. If they are already sealed in a bag it's most likely packed with CO2, which the beans also give off, so they are packed to last for a good while anyway.
posted by c0nsumer at 8:50 PM on December 25, 2007

Seconding cOnsumer's advice. If they're already in an air-tight container, just leave them at room temperature.
posted by amyms at 8:54 PM on December 25, 2007

Seconding. Once you open the bag, keep them in an airtight container (ziplock bag will do). Don't ever freeze them.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:55 PM on December 25, 2007

Freeze the 5 lbs and start working on the 1 lb. 5 lbs is too much for any individual to drink in a finite time period, so you may as well start freezing it now to use little bits of over time when you run out of your primary beans. Once you run out of the 1 lb bag, restock from your local roaster and start into a bit of the 5 lbs if you need to in the interim.
posted by kcm at 8:57 PM on December 25, 2007

I repeat: don't freeze. Either way, the beans are going to start losing flavor about a week after opening the bag. Keeping them as airtight as possible will slow that. Freezing will just suck the moisture out.
posted by Roman Graves at 9:02 PM on December 25, 2007

On postview, airtight is sometimes worse than the original bag. Outgassing needs to occur, especially directly after roasting, and the one-way valve on a lot of bags will allow that to occur whereas an airtight container will not.
posted by kcm at 9:02 PM on December 25, 2007

P.S. - I'm not saying I know more about coffee than kcm, not to freeze is just what I've always been told by baristas that I sleep with, and it seems to work well for me (the advice, not the sleeping with baristas).
posted by Roman Graves at 9:11 PM on December 25, 2007

I'm still working on some mail-order Gevalia that was delivered to me in the 1990s, and it's still decent coffee. You can overthink a pound of coffee.
posted by dhartung at 11:24 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Probably more than you wanted to know.
posted by chez shoes at 5:51 AM on December 26, 2007

Depends on how long it will be before you brew it. If you're not going to use them for a couple weeks, I think you're supposed to freeze them. I buy whole bean coffee about 5 lbs at a time. I bring it home, throw 4 of the 5 bags in the freezer and pour one into a tupperware container, which is what I take from to grind every morning. When the tupperware gets low I pour in another bag of beans and let them thaw before use.

nyc mefites: because everyone who has coffee at my house asks and subsequently starts buying it - Samad's Gourmet, 111th and Broadway. Look for the barrel marked David's Blend. One of the best cups of coffee you'll ever have.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:02 AM on December 26, 2007

The good people at and have looked at the issue of freezing at length and concluded that a reasonable fresh bean (one not more than a week post roast) will be almost exactly as flavourful after thawing as long as some effort to reduce exposure to light, air and moisture is undertaken in the freezers. I know home roasters who leave freshly roasted beans for MONTHS in the freezer and they come out as delicious as non-frozen. Freezing is FINE. DO IT.

Leave out a bit- say a pound- at time in a sealable container, an airtight one, and keep it out of the light.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:28 PM on December 26, 2007

Agree with ethno. Everyone says not to freeze, but in my experience as a home roaster freezing is okay, and vastly better than not freezing if you want to keep the beans beyond about 7-10 days. Ideally you get fresh beans once a week, but if you can't do that, stick them in the freezer. Just don't open the sealed bag when the beans are still frozen/cold, since then moisture will condense all over them.

If I were you I'd split the 5lb bag into small ziplock bags each containing enough beans to last you a week. Squeeze as much air out as you can manage before sealing the bags then throw them in the freezer. Take a new on out each week and let it thaw and then use those beans all week keeping them in a cool, dark place. I wouldn't get too worried about the trip back to school, it might not be ideal, but these beans will be dead in a few days if you don't freeze them it is better than nothing.

Incidentally this is assuming the beans are less than a week from roasting now, in my experience of receiving coffee as gifts it is probably already stale and undrinkable.
posted by markr at 6:47 PM on December 27, 2007

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