A great cup of coffee is the product of excellent roasting and knowing how to properly store green coffee beans. Great roasting skills can help to accentuate the flavor and aroma of the coffee, however, it won’t help fix issues caused by improper storage.
Depending on where you order your green coffee from it can take several months to arrive. There’s nothing worse than purchasing some amazing specialty coffee, only to have it arrive in poor quality due to bad storage.
The shelf life of green coffee beans is longer than that of roasted coffee beans, however, not knowing how to store your beans will dramatically shorten that life expectancy. With proper storage, you can easily store your green coffee beans safely for at least up to one year.
Why Store Green Coffee Beans?
When it comes to drinks, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Although roasting is an important part of the coffee-producing process, coffee bean storage is far more important in producing quality coffee. The reason that the storage of green coffee beans is so important is due to a number of factors.
Things like uncontrolled temperature, lighting, and moisture levels all have a profound effect on the quality of your stored green coffee beans.
Effects of Poor Green Coffee Bean Storage
One important factor to consider when storing green coffee beans is the temperature of the area they are stored in. When it comes to storing coffee beans, especially green ones, you’ll want to make sure to keep them someplace with a cool consistent temperature. As a rule-of-thumb temperature-wise, if you’re comfortable, then so are your coffee beans.
Air temperature is so important because it affects how much water or moisture the air contains. The warmer the air temperature the more moisture in the air. In contrast, the cooler the temperature the less moisture in the air. For the ideal temperature for storing green coffee beans keep the area they’re stored at room temperature. Most experts agree this can range from 60 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although it’s a common practice to freeze roasted coffee for storage, that may not be the most ideal place for green coffee beans. If not properly packaged for storage you run the risk of ruining your beloved coffee beans.
When storing green coffee beans, something else you’ll want to be considerate of is the amount of light that they are exposed to. Normally its a common practice for coffee bean growers to use sunlight to aide in drying and removing excessive moisture from the beans.
While leaving green coffee beans in the sunlight is great to remove the excess moisture, it is only helpful to a certain point. Originally the moisture levels are around 50 percent, but with properly drying the level comes down to around 11 percent which is ideal.
Once green coffee beans reach an 11 percent moisture level you should avoid leaving them in direct light further. By leaving them exposed to light longer than they should be you risk your beans aromas and flavors becoming less pronounced.
Humidity and Excessive Moisture
Humidity and excessive moisture in the air can be a real problem when storing green coffee beans. Coffee beans are hygroscopic, meaning that they tend to absorb moisture from the air. Once picked, green coffee contains about 50 percent moisture. By the time that it gets to roasters and others buyers the beans, have dried out some and contain around 11 percent moisture.
11 to 10 percent is the ideal amount of moisture that you want your beans to contain. With improper storage, the moisture content of green coffee beans can change rather quickly. For storing green coffee beans you want to keep them in a location with a consistent humidity level of about 60 percent.
Any higher than 60 percent humidity and you will risk losing your coffee beans to mold In contrast if your humidity is lower than 60 percent you risk your beans drying out and losing flavor and aroma. This will result in a bland and dull cup of coffee, which nobody wants.
Storing Green Coffee Beans in Ziplock Bags
When it comes to preparing to store your green coffee beans, it’s important to determine the length of time that you plan on storing them. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of storing for roasting is by using ziplock bags. Ziplock bags are readily available and can be found at nearly every grocery store in America.
As a short-term solution, ziplock bags are ideal for storing your green coffee beans as long as you plan on using the beans within a few months. If you plan on storing them for a longer period of time you should instead use burlap or cotton bag to keep your beans in. While storing your green coffee beans in ziplock bags, be sure to leave the bag open to the air. In contrast, air exposure is an enemy to roasted coffee and will cause it to go stall very quickly unlike green coffee beans.
It’s important to remember that green coffee beans stored in burlap or ziplock bags need to “breathe”. These bags offer better air movement and allow the beans to better handle changes in humidity. You especially need to keep this in mind when using ziplock bags. If you aren’t careful changes in humidity can cause mold and ruin your beans. Burlap bags are always a great option in place of plastic bags because of their breath-ability and natural fibers.
Storing Green Coffee Beans by Vacuum Sealing
Another popular method of storing green coffee beans is by using vacuum-sealing bags and containers. Using a vacuum sealing container or bag allows you to store larger quantities than ziplock bags, depending on what size you choose. When green coffee beans are properly stored in vacuum-sealed bags or containers can last a year or longer. Although vacuum sealing requires a bigger financial investment they’re essential for preserving your green coffee beans long-term.
One of the major pros of vacuum sealing your green coffee beans is that they’ll stay fresher for longer periods of time. Vacuum sealing not only preserves your coffee bean’s flavor profile but also their unique aroma as well. Green coffee beans can be left in the open air but will still lose quality over time. However, it should be noted that green coffee’s quality deteriorates at a much slower pace than roasted beans.
Another benefit of using vacuum sealing containers for storing green coffee is that the container can help shield your beans from excessive light. In addition, because these bags and containers are airtight the beans don’t need to “breathe”. The changes in humidity in the air have no effect on green coffee beans that have been vacuum-sealed.
Storing your green coffee beans in a vacuum-sealed container allows you to be able to safely freeze them. Traditionally, the refrigerator is too moist and the freezer is too dry for storing green coffee beans. Without first vacuum sealing your beans you risk ruining your beans by placing them in either place. It’s important to remember, your coffee likes to be in cool dry locations for storage. As long as the area doesn’t have big fluctuations in temperature or humidity it’s a good place for long-term storage.
A great cup of coffee starts with quality green coffee beans that is properly harvested and stored. There are a number of things to consider when looking into storage for your green coffee beans. Things like how much and how long you plan on storing your beans can make a difference when deciding how to store your green coffee beans .
Choosing to store your green coffee beans in ziplock or burlap bags is a great short-term storage solution. Especially if you only plan on using up your beans in just a few months. This method is great for smaller quantities and for storing your beans prior to roasting. In addition, storing green coffee beans in open ziplock and burlap bags allow for essential air movement
If you plan to go thru your coffee quickly then you can save some money by storing in ziplock bags. Again, you’ll just want to be sure to store your green coffee beans in a dark cool location. What is comfortable for you will most likely be good for your beans.
Vacuum sealing your green coffee beans is one of the best ways to preserve your coffee and its unique characteristics. When compared to other options like ziplock and burlap bags, vacuum sealing is a much more expensive option.
When it comes to the question of is ziplock or vacuum sealing better for green coffee bean storage, it depends. Each method has benefits and ultimately it comes down to understanding how soon the beans will be used. However, regardless of how long you plan on storing your green coffee beans, your coffee beans will last much longer using a vacuum sealing container or bag. In addition to lasting longer using vacuum sealing will help to preserve the quality of your coffee beans. Months after storage you’ll still be able to taste the unique subtleties of the coffee variety.