Storing coffee

Depending on where you read, you could find all kinds of methods for storing coffee. There are all kinds of specialty air canisters and the like, but often it is the simple solutions that work best.

For the longest while I had been buying coffee from The Roasterie here in Kansas City. Typically I’d get their smallest offerings, a 12oz bag of whole beans. This would typically take me about 2 weeks to get through, so buying coffee to correspond with my pay cycle worked well. The Roasterie also has a coffee subscription program called "Autopilot" that sounded intriguing, which gives you a 10% discount for signing up. But the program only calls for the coffee to be sent weekly, monthly or bi-monthly, meaning I’d either end up with wasted coffee or not enough of it if I stuck with the 12oz bags.

So I looked into the 2lb bags, the next highest increment.

I have an Airscape, which can hold about a pound of coffee and is the perfect size for the 12oz bags. Obviously this isn’t going to be enough, and I didn’t want to buy another. Instead I looked into other options, namely vacuum sealing.

My research pointed me to the Waring Pro Pistol Vac (buy now on Amazon). A little more expensive than some other options, but after reading mixed reviews on other methods and offerings to vacuum store coffee, I figured it’d be the best shot. I didn’t want a counter-top vacuum sealer, nor did I need one. And FoodSaver’s handheld bags shouldn’t be used for coffee grounds or beans, as the oils from the coffee can get into the valve and prevent a good seal from being made. That’s due to the kind of valve they use on those bags. Instead the only mention for coffee on FoodSaver’s web site is with regard to using a canister.

Except my research led me to believe that negative-pressure storage shouldn’t be used either on fresh-roasted beans. I don’t buy the beans off the shelf at the grocery store – a lot of which has been nitrogen treated so they end up with a longer shelf life, but a muted flavor. The best way to tell if the beans are nitrogen treated is to look on the bag and see if there’s a "sell by" date instead of a "roasted on" date. Anyway, another option is what is called positive-pressure storage, basically storing the beans under CO2 pressure to also prevent degassing. Except that would mean having to buy CO2 as well and something to try to pressurize a container with it (somehow I doubt the SodaStream would do that).

But that is what vacuum storage is about: preventing degassing and trying to keep that freshly roasted flavor as long as possible by removing all of the air that could cause the beans to continue oxidizing. And that is what led me to vacuum sealing.

And the Waring Pro Pistol Vac seemed to be the best option available from all that I’ve researched.

I’ve been using it since February, and so far I haven’t had any issues. The 2lb bag of beans I get from The Roasterie lasts me now about 6 weeks, so still not the right increment for joining the Autopilot program, but oh well. The 2lb bags are a better value over the 12oz bags anyway – $26.94 for the 2lbs (about 84 cents/oz) vs $12.89 for the 12oz ($1.07/oz) – so being able to buy the 2lb bags and vacuum seal what I’m not immediately using, while keeping the Airscape for what I am immediately using, has so far allowed me to save both time and money – I’m not having to pick up coffee nearly as often, and I’m not spending as much for it.

But there is a caveat. If you vacuum seal the beans not long after roasting, you may need to check them every couple days to ensure the bag hasn’t puffed up and vacuum it again if it has. That doesn’t happen from air getting into the bag, but from continued degassing of the beans. It’s why beans tend to be sold in bags with one-way valves: allow the CO2 to escape but prevent more air from coming in.