Bulk coffee storage?

wallycatAugust 24, 2012

If anyone buys their coffee in bulk (2# costco, etc.), how do you store your coffee?

Any fancy canisters?

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breezygirl

When I bought from Costco before, I stored beans in their bag in the dark pantry. DH is now bringing home better beans from work in a one lb pack that I'm able to store in their bag in my tea/hot cocoa/coffee drawer near the espresso machine.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 12:12PM
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Yvonne Albertyn_Brazil

A subject near and dear to my heart - I love a good cup of coffee in the morning! We found cannisters at Peet's coffee (stainless steel), that have two lids - one that you press down inside the cannister to get the air out,and the other sits on top (it also has a rubber gasket). I bought 3 to store the costco coffee, and I rotate them on the counter.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 1:33PM
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localeater

Like yandj, I use an Airscape canister. Saw it at a coffee shop but it had their logo on it. You can buy them online.

Here is a link that might be useful: Coffee Storage: Airscape

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 1:36PM
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angie_diy

I store bulk coffee in the freezer.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 1:57PM
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writersblock

I believe the coffee industry doesn't approve of the freezer, Angie DIY, for all that the instructions for my coffee grinder suggest it. I just use a regular canister, but I don't buy more than a week's worth or so at a time.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 2:18PM
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deedles

I always thought freezer too?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 2:22PM
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ginny20

We use the freezer, too, but my friend, a certified nutritionist, told me years ago that the freezer dries out the coffee, especially if it's ground. We go through it pretty quickly, so it may not matter to us. Maybe I should try a canister and see if I can tell the difference.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 2:28PM
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Audry Barber

We buy those 2 lb bags at Costco... In our old kitchen that we just tore out, I had a pretty rectangular basket with a liner that I set on top of the microwave. I think I found it at Target. It is exactly the same footprint as the microwave, which was sitting on the counter next to the coffee pot, about 16" x 12". It held the 2lb bag of coffee (which we put in a large ziplock bag once opened), blade grinder, a small jar with screw top lid (my husband will grind one jar's worth at a time - kind of a compromise between buying ground coffee and grinding fresh every day) a coffee scoop, brush, coffee filters, and the little VIA instant packets I use. At 8" high, it just about filled the space between the microwave and the bottom of the upper cabinet, so we didn't see the coffee stuff, but it was very handy to just move the basket down to the counter, do the prep and put it back. In the new kitchen I'm planning to put all that stuff in a drawer right below the coffee maker, but if it doesn't work out, I'm sure I could find a place for that basket again. It worked really well for us.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 2:36PM
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breezygirl

Apparently the storing beans in the freezer myth was discounted several years ago. Better for the beans is a dark place. Who can keep up with these dos and don'ts? ;)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 2:49PM
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angie_diy

Apparently the storing beans in the freezer myth was discounted several years ago.

Which way do you mean that? I cannot tell if you mean that current understanding is that "freezer is good" or that "freezer is bad."

Better for the beans is a dark place.

Uhhh, my freezer is a dark place. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 2:54PM
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writersblock

I believe the currently popular theory is that freezing destroys the volatile oils in the beans.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 3:41PM
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localeater

I did some research on this before I bought the Airscape container. And I bought the Airscape because I noticed that my coffee was losing flavor. I buy whole bean, fair trade, organic coffee at Trader Joes and it comes in a 2 lb can. When you open the can the beans are yummy, dark and glossy. We noticed a distinct difference in the beans we ground at the beginning of the can and at the middle of the can.
What I learned is that freezer is better than fridge. Fridge is too damp. Open coffee should be protected from light, humidity, changes in temperature. So we keep our open can in an Airscape in a cool pantry. We keep extra, unopened cans in the freezer. We have noticed better flavor.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 3:49PM
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breezygirl

Here's a fairly good article explaining freezer storage. I live in the coffee-centric PNW. The word here is not to store beans in freezer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bean storage

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 3:49PM
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may_flowers

Pondering what makes an oil volatile....

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 3:50PM
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weedmeister

a lit match?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:24PM
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williamsem

DH loves his coffee. We buy whole beans roasted at a local place, 1 lb each of two varieties and mix them at home. Whatever doesn't fit in the bean hopper of the coffee machine goes in a plastic container in the freezer. Usually lasts us about 2-3 weeks, which is longer than ideal to store beans, but DH finds it an acceptable compromise since we can't make weekly bean trips. I rarely have coffe, so if he says it keeps well enough, I have to believe him. I suspect older beans or longer storage might make a difference.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:26PM
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ginny20

"Pondering what makes an oil volatile...."

A disadvantaged upbringing?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:26PM
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natebear zone 10B

I buy the bulk Starbucks coffee from BJs. I shamelessly (my DH, rather) prance into Starbucks and have them grind the beans for me. LOL I use the 10.2 cup Rubbermaid modular canister to store it.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 5:48PM
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angie_diy

I am perfectly happy to believe that freezing is bad for coffee, but I have yet to see a compelling case presented for that. There are a lot of misinformation and misconceptions floating around. For example, this is from the link that Breezy provided:

When you break down these oils by freezing, you are removing the flavor.

You basically cannot "break down" an oil by cooling it. Heating it, yes. Cooling it, no.

And may_flowers, everything is volatile, including all oils. The lighter the oil (i.e., (the smaller the molecule) , the more volatile it is. Heating an oil (or any other substance) makes it more volatile.

One thing that I am pondering (without resolution) is whether a freezer is actually a drying environment or not. People have experience with freezer burn that dries out the surface of meat in the freezer. However, the vapor pressure of water is actually vastly reduced at freezing temperatures. Freezing does not dry out the meat, it greatly SLOWS DOWN the rate at which it dries. Think about it this way: which do you think would be drier, a steak you put into the freezer for 6 months, or one that you left on your kitchen counter for 6 months? Yes, the one in the freezer will have some freezer burn, but the one on your counter would be pemmican. On the other hand, the absolute humidity in a freezer is very low, and I *think* the relative humidity is also low. Still thinking about this one.

Now, admittedly, there are issues with freezing coffee beans. The most compelling story I have read is that the danger really comes from taking it out of the freezer: water condenses on the bean (or grinds), and extra water is widely said to be the enemy of coffee beans. So perhaps that is the real problem (if there is one)?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 10:57PM
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bmorepanic

fwiw, I use the freezer too. We buy and store whole beans. I understand the oil argument, but its still the lesser evil for us. The beans are kept in light-tight packaging.

We just don't have a cool, dark place.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 10:58PM
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chiefneil

"Yes, the one in the freezer will have some freezer burn, but the one on your counter would be pemmican."

Can we use a ham rubbed in salt instead? I'd rather end up with a nice prosciutto than pemmican to nibble on.

Anyway for the volatile oil thing, maybe the freezer causes the oils to precipitate out to the surface, then they evaporate.

I'm going to guess that absolute humidity is low in a freezer, but relatively humidty is high. Hence the need for frost control.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 11:17PM
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angie_diy

Anyway for the volatile oil thing, maybe the freezer causes the oils to precipitate out to the surface, then they evaporate.

I don't think so. By "precipitate," do you mean "migrate from the interior of the bean to the surface"? The mobility of the oil in a bean will be a lot lower when it is cold than when it is at room temperature. In other words, if this happened in the freezer, it would happen much, much more quickly in the pantry. And again, the oil evaporation rate of any oil that is at the surface will be drastically lower in the freezer compared to the evaporation rate at room temperature.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 11:30PM
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angie_diy

I'm going to guess that absolute humidity is low in a freezer, but relatively humidty is high. Hence the need for frost control.

Good point and good insight. For a manual-defrost freezer, you make me realize that relative humidity is about 100%. (Hence the presence of frost.) However, you also make me realize that the implementation of frost control, err, controls frost, and makes a frost-free freezer have (at least some of the time) low relative humidity. What they do is periodically raise the temperature in order to lower the relative humidity. The low relative humidity causes the frost to sublimate faster than it is being redeposited.

So a frost-free freezer will dry things out; the question (which I believe I answered above with the pemmican example), is: will it dry things faster than in your pantry? All other things being equal, I don't see how it could.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 11:46PM
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covingtoncat

I buy espresso in 5 pound increments, break it down into quart sized glass mason jars and put them in a chest freezer. Take out the night before needed and let defrost on the counter over night. There are numerous articles on coffeegeek and HomeBarista about optimizing coffee freshness.

Freezing is a well accepted practice.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 12:29AM
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chiefneil

"The mobility of the oil in a bean will be a lot lower when it is cold than when it is at room temperature. In other words, if this happened in the freezer, it would happen much, much more quickly in the pantry."

Unless the pores of the bean close up due to expansion as the bean freezes, forcing out the oils and other liquids. Not saying that actually happens, but since we're throwing out conjecture, that's what I had in mind.

Assuming the volatile oils and such are forced out to the surface, they will evaporate either in the fridge or very quickly once brought up to room temperature.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 12:51AM
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aliris19

Me, I got so addicted to coffee in my deep dark past that it is worth a lot to me to minimize delectablility; I need to stay away from the stuff but am sorely tempted, each and every day.

Therefore, having less-good coffee around is a priority. I buy the cheapest org, free-trade in the largest quantity possible, leave it in a un-refrigerated, air-filled canister and call it a day. DH makes the worst coffee going anyway. Whatever's left gets tossed, unreflectively, in a freezer, sometimes.

There is never a time when I do not pass by the Ferguson showroom near me and hanker back, longingly, on the coffee their in-wall Miele I think it was? made ... easy flowing, sales-pitch lulling. That stuff was gooood! And all I would have to do is pretend to need another faucet....

*bad girl*! Being addicted to coffee is a life-long affliction and trying to stay on the wagon seems every bit as hard as what I've heard in AA meetings.

I love the biochemistry reflections, I remember it argued that keeping herbs in a freezer is good by virtue of retaining its oils.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 2:38AM
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wallycat

Thanks all and yikes on the digressions.
If anyone has any further comment on WHAT they store their bulk coffee in and not where, I would love to hear more.
I will not allocate freezer space for beans simply because it is prime real estate I am unwilling to part with, never mind the benefit or determent to the bean.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 10:03AM
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lazy_gardens

If you just toss the opened bag in the freezer it's going to lose flavor quickly. If you are going to freeze coffee, you have to use absolutely air-tight containers. And let the beans warm up to room temperature before you grind them.

We have dispensers for the beans in use:
http://www.spacesavers.com/Storage/Food-Dispensers/Indispensable-Dispenser-Premier-Design-Edition-by-Zevro

And air-tight odor tight freezer storage for the rest.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 12:37PM
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melaska

I used to store my coffee beans in the freezer but stopped when I stopped buying the beans. I'm not a coffee aficionado so I guess I'm missing out? :)

I lost my coffee grinder so just got the Costco coffee & ground the whole bag there. (We live 300 miles from Costco.) I do love a good cuppa coffee, though, & when I tasted a friend's burr-ground coffee I was hooked.

Next trip to Costco...purchased a burr grinder and I love it. I got 2 bags of the kind of beans my friend got (organic). I opened one bag & put about a week's worth of beans in a ziploc bag...I make sure to squeeze out the air & then put in a glassloc container & put in a dark place in my kitchen.

I squeeze as much air out of the original bag...put in large ziploc bag...more squeezing & store everything in my cool, dark pantry.

I'm enjoying the coffee! I do plan on buying the Airloc cannister some day - Amazon has a great price & their color choices are great. :)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 1:29PM
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