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View Full Version : Should you refrigerate ground coffee?


SmackFu
11-22-2003, 11:32 AM
I have a can of Maxwell House here. Says "Refrigerate to preserve flavor." OK, been doing that, and the coffee is fine. I don't drink many cups at home, so it's also lasted many months. Recently I was running low and I bought some Dunkin Donuts coffee. It strongly disagrees on the issue: "Never freeze or refrigerate it." I should note that I think the same instructions/bag design are used for whole beans and grounds.

What's up with the conflicting advice?

wakimika
11-22-2003, 12:18 PM
Refrigeration seems logical. Coffee contains oils which can turn rancid at room temperature.

Toddly
11-22-2003, 12:32 PM
I used to freeze our coffee beans but then I noticed that the oils were gone upon defrosting. The beans were always shiny with oil. I don't do it anymore but then again our coffee gets consumed pretty quickly.

kanicbird
11-22-2003, 01:03 PM
I think it depends on the alternative. IIRC the grounds should be kept cool, dry and dark. The fridge seems like the way to go, but perhaps it's too cold, I don't know.

Also Maxwellhouse and DnD are a world apart in flavor. MH is the typical, for the masses, coffee, nothing great and somewhat harsh, but not too much. Improper storage might not effect this type of coffee that much. OTOH DnD is (IMHO) one of the best coffees you can get on the 'higher but not all that high end'. Such flavor might require better bean treatment to preserve the delicate tastes. Also I noticed a big difference after refridgeatiin a bag of DnD coffee.

LSLGuy
11-22-2003, 01:04 PM
I tried Googling [coffee storage tips]. I didn't read all 146,000 hits, but the first-page concensus seems to be:

1) Maxwell House is garbage before you buy it, so storage is
immaterial. You can't significantly damage something that's already totally destroyed. Ditto any other brand you'd find in a grovery store.

2) Ground coffee remains good for maybe 2 hours after grinding, so never store ground coffee at all. Use it immediately or pitch it.

3) Beans must be stored in airtight containers in the dark. Warmth is definitely bad, but opinion differs on refrigerated vs pantry shelf. I'd say opinion is 40% always refrigerate, 40% never refrigerate and 20% agnostic. In any case, most sites say properly stored high-quality beans deteriorate within 3 weeks or so.

4) Almost everyone agrees freezing is bad, but maybe 10% indicate freezing is OK to extend the life a month or two.

5) I notice that at the fancy coffee stores they don't refrigerate their beans. And I often wonder how long those particular beans I'm buying have been sitting in that glass jar since roasting. For their high volume sellers, say house breakfast blend, maybe not more than a day or two. But for that weirdo specialty stuff, those 10 lbs in that big jar may have been roasted a month ago. So, according to 3) they're already pretty much trash before you get them home.

Me, I buy whole beans from the fancy store and store them in my fridge in glass jars with those old-tyme style clamp-on lids. They rarely stay more than 2 weeks inthe fridge.

kanicbird
11-22-2003, 02:26 PM
2) Ground coffee remains good for maybe 2 hours after grinding, so never store ground coffee at all. Use it immediately or pitch it.

Then again I heard that store grinders are far superior to the home kind and you are better getting it ground 'correctly' at the store then grinding it right before use 'improperly'.

That is unless some bozo grinds flavored coffee in the store grinder, I have thrown out some because of this.

LSLGuy
11-22-2003, 03:03 PM
Kanicbird,

There are a couple of different mechanisms used for home coffee grinders.

The ones that are essentially miniature cuisinarts, with spinning sharp blades do a poor job. The coffee beans are shattered and the shard size varies from, say, 1/8 bean down to talcum powder. And running it longer will reduce the maximum size shards, but will also produce an ever greater amount of undesirable powder.

The end result is no consistency in granule size, which makes for inconsistent coffee from batch to batch. It's also impossible to grind large quantities very finely, as for espresso.


Other home grinders use a different design, wher the beans are pulled between two counter-rotating toothed plates. The adjustable spacing between the plates determines the maximum grain size and the process tends not to produce powder since each bean is only subjected to one cycle through the plates and into the output hopper.

These type are the same mechanism as is used in commerical grinders. The only difference is the size of the machinery and hence the production rate.

I used to have a cuisiart-style grinder and it was a pain in the butt. I got the bnetter kind (burr grinder is the technical term)and it really is a night and day difference. And no worries about the jerk before you having ground the double cherry jamocha almond fudge flavored coffee.

Gotcha: Like most enthusiast products, many gullible folks like to pay 3 or 4 times what they're worth. My $50 machine is made in China and marketed by "Melitta" and I've handled the exact same machine in stores with fancier Italian names on it tagged at $149.00

Labdad
11-22-2003, 03:36 PM
Originally posted by kanicbird
That is unless some bozo grinds flavored coffee in the store grinder, I have thrown out some because of this.

Fortunately, the store where I buy coffee has TWO grinders- one for flavored, one for unflavored. Even more fortunately, people seem to obey the rules and not grind the flavored stuff in the wrong grinder.

w/re refrigeration or not, some movers told me a long time ago that to keep your refrigerator smelling fresh during the move, put some coffee in a clean white cotton sock and put it in the fridge during the move - the coffee will absorb any rancid odor far better than baking soda. Because of the odor absorbing properties of coffee, it is therefore essential to keep it in an airtight container if you chose to refrigerate it.

I keep mine in an airtight container on the pantry shelf.

BlackNGold
11-23-2003, 06:55 AM
I buy whole bean from a local roaster and freeze it. Once defrosted, I keep it in an airtight container unrefrigerated. My coffemaker has an integrated grinder, and my coffee never fails to get rave reviews.

I too have seen differing instructions on refrigeration. I believe the argument gainst had something to do with condensation.

If you want seriously good coffee, my tips would be:

Buy from a roaster, not a grocery store. I order over the internet and, including shipping, get my coffee no longer than 2-3 days after roasting.

All the usual maxims apply, filtered water, no elapsed time between grinding and brewing, and you get what you pay for. My personal favorites are the Hawaiian coffees (Kona and Kaanipali), but I have about ten different varities I buy on a regular basis. Comparing any of these to anything that comes in a 3lb pre-ground tub is blasphemy.

Eva Luna
11-23-2003, 09:29 AM
Originally posted by LSLGuy
[
I notice that at the fancy coffee stores they don't refrigerate their beans. And I often wonder how long those particular beans I'm buying have been sitting in that glass jar since roasting. For their high volume sellers, say house breakfast blend, maybe not more than a day or two. But for that weirdo specialty stuff, those 10 lbs in that big jar may have been roasted a month ago. So, according to 3) they're already pretty much trash before you get them home.



The best specialty coffee store around here puts their roasted beans at 50% off on the 7th day after roasting, and they pretty much fly out the door after that. I buy coffee there whenever I'm in that neck of the woods, but it's not in my usual path of errands and they're closed on Sundays, so that's not very often.

A good friend of mine used to work at a coffee specialty store/cafe which roasted everything on the premises. In fact, they kept most of their beans raw and roasted them to order. They were so crazy that they kept a little card file with individual customer preferences on roasting time, etc. The customer service was a little complicated, so they went out of business in the long run for a bunch of reasons. But they had a very loyal core clientele!

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