Coffee develops an off or stale flavor if it's stored improperly or for too long. Air and moisture are its biggest enemies, but the natural aging process of the ground beans also impacts the quality. Properly storing the coffee for the minimum length of time results in an aromatic and flavorful cup each day.
Unopened cans of coffee can store for up to two years, but coffee flavor changes during storage; a shorter storage period is recommended for optimum flavor. Ideally, store unopened cans in the pantry for no more than a month. Once opened, the coffee declines quickly and should be used within 12 days. Most of the aroma and flavor is released from the beans soon after roasting and grinding, so long-term pantry storage results in less aromatic and flavorful coffee.
Store the coffee in a container with a tight-fitting lid to keep out moisture and retain the quality for as long as possible. If the container holds more coffee than you can use within two weeks, divide it into multiple smaller containers to limit the exposure to air of the unused portion. This extends the life of the coffee by several weeks.
Freezer storage is best-suited for unopened cans and packages of coffee. You shouldn't store the coffee in the freezer once you have opened the can because the coffee absorbs odors and moisture from the freezer, which compromises the flavor. Enclosing the can or package in an airtight freezer bag further keeps air out and helps prolong the quality of the coffee during freezer storage. Much like pantry storage, you can keep the coffee in the freezer for up to two years, but it's best to use it within a month to ensure the best flavor.
Beans and Instant Coffees
Whole coffee beans retain their flavor better during storage than ground coffee, but use the same storage methods and time tables as you would with ground. Grind just enough coffee for daily use. Instant coffee stores best in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. You can store the unopened cans for up to two years, but use open containers within one month.