Product Guide: Roasted & Green Coffee Storage

How do I keep coffee fresh? Let’s talk about roasted coffee, then about green coffee beans…

What are the options for storing your roasted coffee? And how should you be storing your green coffee to maximize life span and quality?

After roasting your coffee, you have to put it somewhere! You can just use a ziploc bag or a mason jar…it’s up to you, but there are some nice containers available that are made specifically for coffee storage and others that are great for helping you share your roasted creation.

Regardless, it’s best to keep roasted coffee away from sunlight, oxygen, extreme temperatures and humidity (elements that will make your coffee stale). If you are gifting coffee or storing it untouched for a few days, you will want to use a bag or container with a one-way valve. A valve allows for C02 to escape and keeps oxygen out.

If you are accessing your coffee often, a valve isn’t totally necessary since you will be exposing it to oxygen on a daily basis but it will help a bit if you are storing larger batches. Freshly roasted coffee should be treated like fresh produce since it’s flavor will start to degrade after a week or so. The aroma will degrade first and the “cup quality” will follow.

Coffee Tin

Tin for roasted coffee with one-way valve for freshness
Tin for roasted coffee with one-way valve for freshness

These tins are very popular, affordable and work well. They store up to a pound of roasted coffee and there’s a one-way valve underneath. The sidewalls are a bit thin so it will dent easy if you are clumsy but will last for years if it just lives on your counter or in your cabinet.

Airscape

Airscape brand 7 inch roasted coffee storage container for freshness
Airscape brand 7 inch roasted coffee storage container for freshness

If you are looking for a more robust coffee tin that also holds up to a pound, the Airscape is really impressive. One issue with large storage containers is the amount of oxygen that sits with your coffee once your stash starts to get low. The Airscape presses all that air out, leaving only coffee and the space between the beans.

High barrier valve bags for roasted coffee freshness
High barrier valve bags for roasted coffee freshness

1 Pound and ½ Pound Valve Bags

These are the same bags we use to ship our roasted coffee in. They are extremely strong, with a thick foil barrier that keeps oxygen and light out. The one-way valve allows C02 a way out and you can use an iron to create a permanent seal above the zipper. Here’s a video showing how.

¼ Pound Valve Bags

Small clear 1/4 pound valve bags for roasted coffee freshness
Small clear 1/4 pound valve bags for roasted coffee freshness

We say light is an enemy of freshness so why do we offer clear valve bags? A ¼ pound of coffee is only good for a few servings so we imagine a day or two of sunlight won’t have a chance to do noticible damage to your coffee’s flavor. We don’t recommend these for long term storage. They are mainly for sharing and gifting.

55 gram Tins with Clear Lids

Small roasted coffee tin to keep home roasted coffee 55 gram size
Small roasted coffee tin to keep home roasted coffee 55 gram size

These are very handy if you like to weigh your coffee before brewing. You can pre-weigh your doses into a few of these put your scale away for a couple days. Aside from home use, they are great for travel or the office.

Paper Tin Tie Bags

Eco friendly paper coffee bags for roasted coffee
Eco friendly paper coffee bags for roasted coffee

These are great for gifting as long as your coffee isn’t planning an extended stay in the bag. They are affordable and look great but don’t have much of a barrier to keep oxygen away from your coffee. Make sure whomever receives your gift of fresh roasted coffee, brews it before they attempt to finish off their oily tub of “Dark Roast Supreme Bold Holiday Breakfast Blend”. A lot roasteries sell their coffee in paper bags just like this so using these bags are your opportunity to live out your professional roaster fantasies (unless they are already a reality). They are compostable minus the tin tie and come in two sizes.


Green Coffee Storage

Green coffee is tough, dense, hard and resilient, but nothing lasts forever. You can expect green coffee to remain fresh for about 6 months (some say up to a year). We ship green coffee to you in clear zip bags. These are LDPE (recycling symbol “4” for plastics). The plastic provides a bit of a protective barrier and the holes us to get the air out. LDPE means Low-Density PolyEthelyene.

We recommend storing your coffee in these bags if you plan on roasting within a few weeks after receiving your coffee, or up to 2 months.

If you plan to store green coffee longer we recommend transferring the green coffee to glass, with as little headspace as possible, or using our Ecotact high barrier bags for green coffee storage.

We have the Ecotact bags in 1, 2 and 5 Kgs at Sweet Maria’s now, as an add-on item.

Ecotact Green Coffee Storage
Ecotact Green Coffee Storage 3 pouch sizes

Learn more about our current understanding of green coffee storage and our Ecotact bags Here.

We don’t consider cloth or jute bags good for storing coffee long term any more. They look great but without a barrier liner, the coffee flavors might fade sooner than if stored with proper high barrier protection.

Consider that now we at Sweet Maria’s now import our coffee in typical jute or sisal woven bags but every single bag we bring in from all over the world has a high barrier inner liner. This is often referred to by the trade name of one brand, Grain Pro, because it was created to keep grain safe. But now it is a standard with high quality green coffee beans. We often use the brand Ecotact as well as GrainPro.

Sweet Maria's coffee jute bag with high barrier liner
Sweet Maria’s coffee jute bag with high barrier liner. 100% of our coffee is imported with the protective high barrier liner to maximize green coffee quality.

Cotton Drawstring Bags

Sweet Maria's brand cotton coffee bags for green coffee storage decoration
Sweet Maria’s logo cotton coffee bags.

We still offer these in 1 pound, 2 pound, 5 pound and 20 pound sizes with our logo on them.  They look nice but as you can see they are more for decoration now as we use a barrier liner inside all our green coffee.

Burlap Sacks

Jute coffee bags for coffee 150 pounds decoration
Jute coffee bags for coffee 150 pounds decoration

These are the same bags we receive green coffee in from around the world. They are probably too big for you to store coffee in but our customers really like them for projects, decor, etc.

Also see our article about Green Coffee, Defined !

What is the best way to store roasted coffee?

The right answer is anything with a high barrier value! What does that mean? A good barrier for coffee packaging is something that does not allow aromatics to escape, and does not allow oxygen to enter.

What is the cheapest way to keep roasted coffee fresh?

Glass! A mason jar or any resealable type used for food – provided you cleaned it really well and it has no smells!

How soon can I drink the coffee I just roasted?

Well, right away, but it will better if you can wait 12-24 hours. Even then you will see super fresh coffee emits so much natural carbon dioxide that water can’t fully saturate it. So use a “full immersion” brew method if that is the case: French Press, Clever Dripper, perhaps an Aeropress. For pourover drip of super fresh coffee, pre-soak the grinds for a long time.

In 2020 what is the best way to store green coffee?

We used to recommend cloth or jute bags, but now these are more for decoration. For short term storage up to 2 months, the plastic zip bags we ship your coffee in have proven to work fine. If you want to “cellar” your coffee for longer, consider using our high-barrier Ecotact zip pouches, or transfer your coffee to glass jars.

Where should I keep my coffee?

In a cool dark place, without excessive humidity, dryness, or heat.

What about freezing roasted coffee?

I think the net benefits outweigh the risks. For those who home roast their coffee it makes little sense. We don’t home roast a months+ worth of coffee … why? It’s fresh for 7-10 days, so long term storage of coffee doesn’t enter into it. Taking coffee in and out of a freezer damages it with each exposure to temperature and humidity change. Just store your home roasted coffee in a good barrier container with as little headspace as possible … glass, a valve bag, an Airscape, etc.

What about freezing green coffee?

There are some proponents of “cellaring” green coffee for long term use by storing it in high barrier vacuum packed bags in a commercial freezer. I tested this for a 1 year period and indeed, of all the combinations of material and storage I tried, the vacuum-packed (nitrogen gas flushed) bag that was frozen was best. By “best” I mean it had the least damage in the form or papery age taste when cupped beside the other methods I used in the 1 year trial. But when tasted next to the recent arrival of new crop coffee from the same origin (Kenya), my frozen vac pack sample paled in comparison. I don’t see the reason to use the energy and storage space to keep coffee that ultimately ends up being an inferior cup, unless you have some special circumstance that makes that worth doing.

19 Responses

  1. i know someone who stores their roasted coffee in the freezer. I’d be interested in your opinion about that.

    1. Yes! This definitely deserves some focus. I think freezing can indeed have some benefits, and this has been shown in terms of a simple freshness test: the amount of CO-2 outgassing from brewed coffee. Fresher coffee has more outgassing, and freezing roasted coffee in some cases will have greater outgassing versus same coffee stored at room temperature. BUT it really depends on the quality of the barrier provided by the packaging. And it depends on whether you might open and close a package. If left totally unopened and undisturbed, yes, freeze it for a while. If you are going to open it to take some out, and then put it back in the freezer, I wouldn’t. You can do more damage that way… but your questions really deserves a whole article and support material. I’ll make a note to do that!

      I just want to make a note about freezing green coffee too: I tested various storage methods and packaging types for green coffee. The test lasted 16 months, and the best result at the end was properly vacuum-packed green coffee that was frozen. To be more precise … “properly” means it was commercial vacuum backed material that was nitrogen-flushed in the process, forcing out any residual oxygen. And the other, and rather important footnote to this experiment was that the vac-packed frozen coffee did show some degradation in the form of a slight papery age taste. So it was not as good as the new crop coffee from that particular origin (need to check my notes, but I think it was wet-process Costa Rica). So the net benefit of long term storage like this was not really meaningful to me. The best thing was to simply be buying fresher arrivals of coffee as the harvest cycle occurs…

  2. I notice there are no “zip-lok” type bags, with one-way valves in them. Seems like a good idea… reusable and the right design; CO2 gets out, but no air gets in (“Zip-Lok” is air-tight). Why don’t I see those? The bags the green coffee comes in (the 1lb samplers) could easily have one-way valves in them and that would make them reusable for freshly roasted coffee!

    1. Yes – we have several zip seal valve bags we offer. Like this: https://www.sweetmarias.com/roasted-coffee-storage-resealable-valve-bag.html . They ideal for roasted coffee, because roasted coffee produces CO2 and therefore needs a valve to release pressure in a sealed package – plus the out-gassing of roasted coffee pushes oxygen out to prevent staling for a while. But green coffee would have to be force-flushed with a gas somehow to do the same thing, so the valve bag isn’t helpful generally for green unroasted coffee. That’s the general thinking on difference between green and roasted coffee at least…

  3. I typically roast enough coffee for about a week, would be unusual to be stored for more than that. I used to put just roasted coffee in storage containers with the lid cracked overnight, then seal the lid. I now use several airscape ceramic containers (which I really like, wish they were slightly larger), but the beans now don’t get vented overnight. Other than the really great coffee smell that I don’t get so much of in the coffee cupboard, am I missing something by lack of venting CO2? Does it work to leave handle up overnight?
    Thanks

    1. I’d love to hear some input on this question as it’s somewhat applicable to my situation. Any thoughts? Thanks.

    2. Lack of venting in fresh coffee really doesn’t hurt it at all. I see it as a positive. It simply means that when opening an airtight container you will have built up pressure released (and that great smell!)

      The real reason there are one-way valves on commercial coffee packaging, like those in a grocery, is so the package maintains it’s shape and looks attractive. If the coffee was truly fresh when packaged (it isnt always) then they would puff up like balloons. It’s about apperances…

  4. This article and the one you posted for commercial roasters/producers seem contradictory. In the latter, it is stated that freezing green beans is to be avoided, one reason being it will dry the beans out. So would vacuum packing yet both of those are recommended in this article for consumers. I began roasting a year ago and the results were great. I stored the green beans in mason jars I vacuum sealed using a vacuum sealing machine and stored at about minus 10F. After being away 4 months I did a new roast and the taste was stale. So now even after reading both these articles I’m unsure of the best way to store both green and roast coffee.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out. I will try to track down the other article, because this has been a big issue for us in terms of our online info on storage. As the thinking has changed on storage, for us and the coffee industry in general, there is a lot out there that can be considered outdated…

      So specifically on freezing green coffee for long term storage: I don’t do it. But I did a test a while back that compared various storage media and temperatures over a period of 18 months. I will say that the best result was the vacuum-packed frozen green coffee. However, it did show some degradation in the form of a papery taste. And that was simply a comparison between all samples stored 18 months, some at room temperature (in a cloth bag, some in plastic, in vacuum sealed/nitrogen flushed, in glass) versus frozen coffee in similar containers. (Actually I did not have frozen in glass though!)

      BUT (*and this is big) none of those were as good as fresh crop coffee that had arrived within 4 months or so.

      In the coffee trade you can look up George Howell to find the biggest proponent of storing green coffee in deep freeze vacuum packs for future use. However, considering the energy and storage costs of doing this at any scale, and the fact that any fresh arrival will cup better than any frozen archived coffee … why? Why freeze at all?

      One thing I have tons of experience with is using high barrier material to store coffee at room temperatures, and its also important to store it out of direct light and in a temperature stable, preferably cool environment. High barrier materials work well. Minimizing oxygen improves this too, which is why flexible bags that you can reduce air space are good… or simply filling your glass to the brim.

      I suspect that you might have had better results just putting those jars in a cool dark place for 4 months. I don’t know why they tasted bad when frozen, but I feel freezing introduces another unnecessary variable. Anyway, that’s the bets I can do to address your question! There isn’t a perfect answer … it’s doing the best you can based on experience and recommendations I suppose… Thanks Ross…

  5. Has anyone experimented with oxygen absorbers in containers of green coffee beans for longer term storage? And why does vacuum packing dry out green beans? I wouldn’t think it would affect the moisture content of the beans in that way.

    1. I haven’t heard of it before. They do ship some coffee in containers with moisture absorbers … I mean large shipping containers. I don’t think vacuum packing leads to moisture loss in coffee if it’s a good barrier material. In any case the goal for green coffee quality is temperature and humidity stability, whatever way that can be achieved.

  6. I’m curious to know how long I can reasonably store your green coffee beans in the 1lb. bags you ship. I ask because you’ve had so many excellent coffees lately and my supplies are getting “backed up” a bit.
    Thank you,
    Mark

    1. Hey Mark, thanks for the question! The backup is real, and I too have trouble getting through all the green I have lined up in a reasonably amount of time. The good news is, I almost never find a coffee unenjoyable because it’s sat around for too long. Some, even after storing for a year+!

      It’s hard to say what the exact pull date is for each coffee since there are a lot of variable (age of the coffee, bean moisture and water activity, climate you live in, etc). In general, your unroasted green coffee should be fine for several months in the bags they ship in as long as you keep them zipped shut, and store them in a cool, dry place. I like to keep my green coffee on a low shelf that is not exposed to direct sunlight.

      Flavors will change as freshness drops off. But I wouldn’t expect that to be significant for at least several months.

      Hope this helps!

      Dan

  7. Here’s a question specifically about vacuum packing without freezing. I have a FoodSaver, which is a vacuum packing system for home use. There are different ways to use it, including polyethylene bags (that are welded shut after vacuum is applied) and multi-use hard containers with a vacuum valve.
    Would you recommend storing either roasted coffee or green beans in vacuum (inside a cabinet, not in the freezer)? Or would you think it will degrade the beans (or have no impact)?

    1. I think using the foodsaver this way is a great idea. Many people have had good results with this, using the foodsaver but without freezing … just storing in a cool dark place. Commercial vacuum packing machines (we have one called the Mighty Mutt !) also add nitrogen gas flushing to this, as well as using an array of thicker materials. But from what I understand a standard PE (polyethelene) plastic as used in ziplocs etc, that is 6 mil or greater will have very good barrier properties for longer term storage. IMO I wouldnt bother vacuum sealing green coffee you will use within a month or so. Just coffee you want to cellar for the longer term (Well in the case of those nice reusable foodsaver containers, I suppose there is no harm in it, and some small benefit.) Thanks for the question!

  8. I asked around 2 huge companies and a few smaller specialty roasters about how they import their coffee to minimize ‘contamination’ (thanks @ the one smaller roaster to linked me an article about this on perfectdailygrind but didn’t answer my import question…).

    Most of them didn’t answer me. One said ‘in jute bags in shipping containers’ and that ‘nothing survives the roasting/brewing process’.

    I can’t find evidence of this or against this, but my question mainly is this:

    Why is it difficult for other specialty roasters (large or micro) to be transparent?

    (You are right above, all yours are imported in lined jute/etc bags. )

    1. Hi – I am not clear on what you mean by contamination? Green coffee can pick up odors of nearby materials if not in a barrier lined bag like we use. For example coffee shipped with onions will indeed pick up an onion aspect. But I wouldn’t say coffee shipped without a barrier liner like we use gets contaminated in some other way. When we receive direct containers, they are very clean, lined with paper or cardboard, very clean floors etc. Coffee is not shipped with any other product. There are standards for this… We did have a container where there was as small leak and some water dripped in. We had photos of stains on a coupkle outer jute bags. But the barrier bags totally protected the coffee. Without the barrier bag those whole bags of coffee would be ruined. But the contaminant would just be water…
      Thanks!

    2. Contamination as in molding, chemicals used in jute bag processing that should not be used in jute bag processing affecting the beans taste, etc.

      Other issues like storage on the farm before it’s shipped, etc outlined here that a lined jute bag in transit wouldn’t fix as some happen pre-transit: http://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/12/how-does-green-coffee-become-contaminated/ .

      The solution is to some of the issues is, as you stated, a barrier bag inside of the jute. It would protect somewhat (since by nature they must be somewhat air-permeable or else the natural moisture in the green would cause it’s own issues?) against water leakage causing activation of the mold spores that exist everywhere in life.

      One roaster pointed me to that article, which I’m grateful for. Another roaster who doesn’t import directly called me back and chatted with me about it. Both of them have/will get my future non-green coffee money. Because they just answered some questions.

      My issue is about transparency. If I ask a coffee roaster about this, shouldn’t I be able to get a clear answer? How do they insure no contamination as defined by the points in that article?

    3. Yes jute processing can be nasty when it is made with chemicals – that’s why all coffee bags use vegetable based solvent – they have no smell like the chemical ones do. I think nearly every jute bag we receive has a certification label sewn into it that it is vegetable -processed. And then of course our green coffee isn’t in contact with that jute at all, so good protection anyway…

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