What sets apart a good cup of coffee is its freshness and flavor. While there can be a specific way to brew your coffee to achieve the two, it mainly starts with how you store your coffee beans.
The quality and shelf life of coffee beans depends on the packaging. Their greatest enemies are light, humidity, air, and heat. These four things will determine how long your coffee beans last.
So how do you keep these four dangers away from your coffee beans? Several packaging solutions can help you in this regard, from eco-friendly coffee pouches to traditional airtight containers. This article will give tips on packaging your coffee beans to keep them fresh for a long time. Keep reading to learn more.
How Moisture, Air, Light, And Heat Affect Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are sensitive to humidity since they absorb moisture. High humidity levels promote mold growth, which can prompt staleness and loss of flavor.
On the other hand, exposure to air can lead to oxidation. It occurs when oxygen molecules in the air come into contact with compounds in the coffee. When these compounds oxidize, the coffee beans lose their flavor and smell, affecting their overall quality.
Moreover, exposure to light and heat quickens the process of oxidation. Every 10°C-increase doubles the chance of oxidation and loss of quality. Therefore, you want to keep your coffee beans in a cool, dark place.
Light also speeds up the decay of your coffee berries, breaking down their compounds, including proteins, vitamins, and fats. As a result, the beans begin to decay and lose their taste.
Lastly, heat also causes coffee beans to lose their flavor.
Now that you know the biggest dangers to your coffee beans, here are some packaging tips to help you maintain their quality:
1. Use Airtight Container Or Bags
They’re the best way to package coffee beans as they protect them from air, moisture, and heat. The airtight packaging prevents them from absorbing any odors from the environment. They also help maintain optimal humidity levels and prevent the seeds from drying. Furthermore, such packages prevent oxidation, which can quickly occur when the beans are exposed to air.
You can opt for common packages that include vacuum-sealed bags, mason jars, Tupperware, and zip-lock bags. However, metal cans and laminated bags are the most recommended. The latter are usually comprised of several layers with specific roles, providing strength and preventing air entry.
2. Use Degassing Valves
These are special valves designed to release gas trapped in packaging. They're commonly used in coffee packaging, allowing the built-up carbon dioxide to escape while preventing oxygen from entering.
Degassing valves usually contain a valve membrane, sheet, and body. Roasted coffee sealed inside these bags releases gases, and the diaphragm expands when it reaches a certain pressure (overpressure). As the gases increase, the membrane rises to the valve sheet, which will then be forced outside, forming a channel. The excess gas is then released through this channel. Once the gas is expelled, the valve closes, and everything goes back to its initial position. Ultimately, the items inside the valves are reliably protected from oxidation.
3. Packages With Resealing Features
Resealing features can guarantee freshness, especially if you consume the beans straight from the package. Furthermore, such features help maintain optimal humidity and temperature by preventing moisture and air exposure.
Examples of resealable features for coffee bean packages include zippers, Velcro, and adhesive strips. While adhesive strips are the most commonly used alternatives, zippers are the tightest. Some containers also have reclosing caps.
4. Vacuum-Sealed Containers Or Bags
Vacuum sealing is the process of removing air from a package before it's sealed. It's an effective way to keep coffee beans fresh, as it prevents oxygen from entering the packaging and affecting the flavor.
It’d be best if you considered using vacuum packaging. It’s one of the best options for storing your coffee beans for a long time. It’s also great for refrigeration since it doesn’t allow freezer burn.
Use a vacuum sealer and an accessory hose to remove all the air from your container or bag, and it’ll be tightly sealed until you open it.
5. Use Opaque Containers
Many people like to store their coffee beans in clear containers for aesthetic purposes. They can be visually appealing. However, light quickens the decay of your beans, as discussed above. Therefore, it helps when you use opaque containers. If you don't have one, consider painting your coffee containers to keep light away.
6. Use Eco-Friendly Packages
Sustainability should be a top priority. Therefore, you should use flexible packs with low carbon and water footprints. You can use kraft papers, rice paper coffee bags, and recyclable paper made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polylactic acid (PLA).
Sustainable packaging doesn't only apply to the material. The inks and labels you use also matter since they can significantly impact the bag's carbon footprint. So, use water-based inks and coatings that have low volatile organic compounds.
7. Use Multi-Layered Packaging
Using multi-layered packaging to store your beans is more effective in maintaining quality than single-layered ones. These layers have different functions: the inner one must be resealable and safe for food—in this case, beans. The outer layer should be firm, printable, and protect the inside items from external elements. Most importantly, ensure all the layers are fully biodegradable.
Things To Avoid When Packaging Coffee Beans
Now that you know what to do, here's what not to do when packing your coffee beans:
- Don't Let The Package Explode: If the package explodes, the beans can become exposed to oxygen, which can cause them to lose their taste and aroma. Additionally, they may become contaminated with dirt, dust, and other particles, reducing the quality and taste of the coffee.
- Don't Store For Too Long: Lastly, avoid leaving the seeds in the package for extended periods. The seeds will start to draw moisture from the air, which can make them stale and lose their taste.
Proper packaging is essential to preserve coffee beans' flavor, aroma, and freshness. This can be achieved by using airtight resealable packs, such as opaque glass jars or vacuum-sealed bags, storing coffee beans away from direct sunlight, and not leaving them in the package for extended periods. Therefore, to ensure you get the highest quality coffee, it's essential to consider the above tips to ensure that your beans are correctly stored.