The best coffee is fresh. If your beans (or grounds) sit out and get exposed to air or moisture, they lose precious flavor. Leave them out too long, and they become stale. If you’re going to the effort of making good coffee at home, you need to make sure you’re storing your raw materials properly.
Let’s look at the best gear for the job.
Update, 7/30/21: Verified that all picks are still up to date and recommended.
But first—a quick primer on storing your coffee.
The best form to store coffee in is whole beans. The increased surface area of pre-ground coffee means it’s more exposed to the air and so goes stale faster. We really recommend you grab a good coffee grinder and grind your beans just before you brew.
However, whether you store your coffee as whole beans or grounds, you still need to look after it. It should be kept in a cool dry place. Really, your coffee should be stored anywhere that’s out of direct sunlight and away from your stove, and where there’s no risk of it getting damp.
Also, make sure you don’t buy too much coffee. A week or two’s supply is the right amount to keep on hand. Any more and you risk it getting stale.
There’s absolutely no need to keep your coffee in the refrigerator. At best, it won’t make a difference. At worst, the cold will cause the moisture already in the air in the container to condense dampening—and ruining—your coffee. If you need to extend your coffee’s storage life, say because you’re heading off on vacation or you accidentally ordered too much, you can freeze it for a few months in a sealed bag with the air squeezed out. Just let it defrost before brewing.
So, when it comes to coffee storage gear, you’re looking for a container that can help you do three things:
- Keep air away from your coffee.
- Keep your coffee cool.
- Keep your coffee moisture-free.
This means it needs to be:
- Airtight. So no air gets in while you store it.
- Waterproof. So it can’t get damp even if you accidentally splash the container while you run the tap.
- Opaque. To prevent your coffee from getting accidentally reroasted if you leave it on the countertop in the sunlight.
- Good looking. You’re going to be looking at your coffee container every day (or even a few times a day) for a long time. It’s worth taking the time to get one that you love.
Also, it’s worth noting that the resealable bag with a CO2 valve that most specialty coffee comes in is a really good way to store coffee. If you’re going to get a dedicated container, make sure it’s better than the original packaging!
Freshly roasted whole beans contain quite a bit of CO2. This is why when you brew with just-roasted beans the coffee “blooms” and releases a load of gas when you first add water. It’s neither a good nor bad thing, but it is something you should manage. It’s the reason most good coffee roasters package their coffee in bags that have a CO2 valve.
That’s why the Airscape Ceramic Coffee Container is perfect for storing whole beans. It has a second patented inner lid with a one-way CO2 valve that lets your beans off-gas—without letting any air back in.
Aside from that, the Airscape is just a gorgeous coffee container. The ceramic will resist a bit of kitchen heat and keep your beans nice and cool. And, with the two lids, it’s extra moisture resistant. It won’t look out of place in any kitchen—and it’ll keep your coffee tasty.
The Airscape’s available in a few sizes, but we’d recommend the small model. It can store an 8oz bag of coffee without leaving room for any extra air. If you buy bigger bags, go with the medium.
Airscape Ceramic Coffee and Food Storage Canister | Patented Airtight Inner Lid with Two Way Valve Preserves Food Freshness | Glazed Ceramic with Bamboo Top (Cobalt Blue, Small)
The Airscape's clever double lid lets CO2 out without letting air in. Perfect for storing whole coffee beans.
With all the extra surface area, you have to be really careful about letting your pre-ground coffee get exposed to the air. It really will go stale much faster than whole beans.
Thankfully, the Miir Coffee Canister does a great job of minimizing just how much air gets stored with your coffee. Like the Airscape, it uses a second inner-lid—however, the Miir’s accordion lid is designed to expand to fill any extra air space. Just press it down on top of your ground and they’ll be locked in a near-vacuum.
Otherwise, the Miir ticks all the boxes we’re looking for: it’s good-looking, watertight, opaque, and can hold a bag of coffee. If you buy your coffee pre-ground, it’s the container for you.
Miir Coffee Canister
The Miir’s innovative accordion seal keeps air away from your pre-ground coffee, making it stay fresher for longer.
I never travel without my Aeropress and fresh coffee beans. I’ve tried all sorts of storage systems, but the best I’ve found is really simple: film canisters. Each one will hold about 13g of whole beans and a little more pre-ground coffee: perfect of a single cup serving. There’s just no need to complicate things more than you need to.
35mm Plastic White Film Canister with Lids, Pack of 50. Perfect for Alka-Setzer Rockets, Geocaching Containers
Don't overcomplicate things. A film canister is the best way to store coffee on the go.