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Good coffee is fresh coffee. And coffee is only going to stay its freshest inside of (roughly) two to three weeks of when you bought it. If you buy coffee from a grocery store instead of a good coffee shop or online source that takes this into consideration, then it’s less than three weeks. Learn more about the Golden Rules of Good Coffee.
I go through approximately a pound of coffee every 2-3 weeks. That means I shouldn’t have much more than a pound in the house at any given time. The problem is that for various reasons, I now have over SIX pounds of coffee in storage. Here’s how I handled it and some tips on how you should manage your own overstock of coffee to ensure it stays fresh.
These tips are alternatives to freezing the coffee, as many people do. Unfortunately, coffee is different from other perishable goods and freezing your coffee is NOT a good idea. Learn more about Storing Coffee. We need to be more creative.
1. Don’t roast your green coffee
Most coffee drinkers don’t roast their own beans at home, and I do so mostly as a hobby. As you’ll see going through these tips, I have way more roasted than unroasted coffee. Coffee only really starts going stale after it’s been roasted. Unroasted coffee can keep for up to two years. So if you’re working through a coffee overstock at home, put your green coffee at the back of the cupboard and focus on what’s been roasted.
In my stock, that includes a pound of Guatemalan coffee and a pound of Hawaiian coffee that I bought from the Fire Roasted Coffee Company (FRCC) on my first visit there. It also includes a pound of Nicaraguan coffee recommended to me by the Green Beanery‘s roastmaster on my recent visit there.
2. Pick your spots.
A logistician will tell you that there are at least two ways of managing inventory: first-in first-out or last-in first-out. You either want to brew the coffee that’s been roasted the longest so that you can enjoy it before it goes any more stale, or you want to brew the coffee that’s been roasted the most recently so that out of your overstock, you’ll at least get some amazing pots of fresh coffee. If you brew in the order that the coffee has been roasted, it means you will KIND OF enjoy all of the coffee on hand. If you brew what’s been roasted most recently, it means you will REALLY enjoy half of what’s on hand while the other half continues to get more stale before you get to it.
This one is to your personal taste. Because I buy my coffee carefully and from good sources only, all of my coffee is relatively fresh. For that reason, I’ll brew what’s been roasted the longest before it gets any more stale and will miss out on that amazing pot of the coffee that was more recently roasted.
For me, this includes working through two coffees right away. First of all, the last of a pound of Starbucks House Blend that I’ve had for over a month now. I really like this coffee and even after a month, it still tastes great to me, if not quite as fresh. Following that, a pound of Kauai Coffee Company’s Blue Mountain Peaberry. I bought this one right from the plantation itself so I’m confident it can sit a little longer before showing signs of starting to go stale.
3. Invest in a vacuum sealer.
Meant to keep perishable items lasting longer, this is my last resort for coffee I can’t get to within the next three weeks. I have two pounds of coffee in this category, both of which recommended to me by David Cook of the FRCC. One is a Kenyan coffee, the other an Ethiopian Harrar. These remain in the FRCC’s retail and airtight packaging and even before giving them the benefit of opaque, room-temperature storage behind the cupboard door, I have vacuum-sealed the packages themselves. This will add a few days to the fresh clock of these coffees as they are now truly airtight, if even there was some air escaping from the retail packaging.
Oh yeah, there’s always the option to share with other coffee lovers. Why let good coffee go bad when you know people that would help you enjoy it, and enjoy it while it’s still fresh? I have a friend with a soft spot for New Guinea, and while it has nothing to do with their coffee necessarily, I knew he’d enjoy one of the more underappreciated coffees of the world, so I passed on a half-pound of it. This friend doesn’t have a grinder at home, so I had to grind it for him. Ground coffee expires at a faster rate than even roasted whole beans, so I’ve let him know he’s got to drink it fast!
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