Buy whole beans and grind them yourself. Don’t use scalding hot water. Clean your coffee maker regularly. Brewing a great cup of joe is a science, not an art, and we’re fully aware of lots of pitfalls.
But in a recent chat with Selina Viguera, barista and café leader at Blue Bottle Coffee in Los Angeles, we learned that there’s a surprisingly simple part of the process that most people are doing wrong: storing their beans.
Conventional wisdom says that storing foods—like nuts and coffee beans—in the fridge or freezer prolongs their freshness. And while that might be true for nuts, the same generalization can’t be made about coffee.
Ideally, Viguera says that you should store them in an airtight container away from moisture, heat and sunlight. Your pantry is ideal. Your refrigerator is un-ideal—in fact, it’s pretty much the enemy.
The moisture and odors inside your fridge (hello, onion and garlic) will permeate the beans, causing them to taste like last night’s dinner. (Coffee beans are actually so absorbent that some natural cleaning experts recommend using it as a deodorizer in your refrigerator instead of baking soda.)
So what about the freezer? It’s preferable to the fridge, but still not a great idea. There’s freezer burn to deal with, plus the change in temperature when you remove the beans from the freezer every day leads to excess moisture.
Sayonara, sad coffee beans.