5 Things That Ruin Your Coffee

Coffee can be ripe with flavor, crisp with acidity, and refreshingly sweet. It can also taste like mud, ash, or burned leather. Yes, those are scientifically-confirmed possible flavors of coffee.

Written by: GARRETT ODEN | Resident Coffee Educator
If you want to avoid leathery tasting coffee (trust me, you do), you need to make sure you’re not falling into some bad habits or using low quality ingredients.

I’m going to break down the most likely things to ruin your coffee. There are more than five, but these are some of the biggest, baddest coffee killers out there. If you cannot control these things, no special technique or brewing device will help you.

However, if you are able to eliminate these coffee ruiners and build healthy habits, you’ll have nothing stopping you from brewing rich and delicious coffee.

It all begins with the coffee beans and how they’re stored. If you set your new bag of coffee in the right place, it could remain at peak freshness for two or three weeks. The wrong place, however could bring it to its doom in half the time.

Coffee is an agricultural product that needs to be stored correctly to maintain maximum freshness, just like any other fruit, meat, or cheese.

A Dark Place- X-rays, UV rays, and other unseeable realms of the light spectrum are damaging to foods, including coffee. These are in high concentration with sunlight, but even light from regular lamps can still damage coffee’s flavor. Ideally, you want to store your coffee in an opaque container.

An Airtight Container - Oxygen is the great killer of food freshness. It causes aromatic oils to evaporate, causes coffee cells (and flavor) to collapse, and even provides a setting for microbial life to grow. Store your coffee in a container that you can seal after opening.

A Cool Location - Chemical reactions in food (coffee included) happen more quickly at higher temperatures than lower. Avoid storing your coffee beans in a location that periodically heats up, like next to the oven or a warm window. At the same time, don’t use your fridge or freezer. The cool end of room temperature works well.

Did you know that light can cause food to break down at an accelerated rate? Light is a form of energy, only some of which we can see. Ultraviolet light, X-rays, and radio waves are invisible to our naked eye, but they still affect the world around us, including our food and coffee.

Photodegradation is the process of light-induced decaying that breaks down pigments, fats, vitamins, proteins. This destruction results in flavor and nutrient loss, which simply means our coffee becomes less fresh and enjoyable.

The only way to keep photodegradation at bay is to store your coffee in an opaque container. That means no clear plastic and no open bowl. Keep those beans away from light!

Warm environments cause things to decay more quickly than cold ones, which is why we love our refrigerators and freezers. They keep our foods from spoiling and falling apart quickly and preserve freshness by slowing down physical and chemical changes.

The same is true for coffee: cold beans decay slowly, while warm beans decay quickly. If you store your beans next to the oven or in direct sunlight, they’ll heat up more than they should, which causes them to stale more quickly than they need to.

To avoid this, keep your coffee beans in a cool part of your kitchen, away from heating elements and sunlight. This inevitably brings up a controversial question.

Should I Keep My Coffee In The Fridge Or Freezer?
The quick answer: probably not.

The long answer: coffee beans absorb moisture, flavors, and aromas like a sponge. If you’re not careful, your coffee will take on these things while it sits in the fridge or freezer or when you take them out.

The only way to store your coffee in the fridge or freezer without causing them harm (as far as current science tells us) is to put them in an airtight container and allow them to thaw to room temperature before you open that container.

This means you can successfully prolong your coffee’s fresh qualities by storing small amounts in airtight bags, pulling enough out for a few days at a time, letting them thaw to room temperature before opening that bag, then moving them to a proper storage container.

So yes, it’s possible, but buying smaller amounts of freshly roasted coffee from a roaster is so much easier.

We talk a lot about oxygen here at JavaPresse because it’s the #1 coffee killer for most people. Oxygen has a special way of causing things we love to decay and fall apart. Apples brown, iron rusts, and coffee gets stale.

Most of our foods contain enzymes that catalyze when they interact with oxygen, causing rapid strings of chemical reactions that destroy flavor and create strange aromas. Coffee is no different, which is why airtight storage is so important.

Coffee’s natural aromatic oils are also prone to evaporating extra quickly when they come in contact with oxygen, eliminating much of the zing and vivid flavors we love about fresh coffee.

Avoiding oxygen entirely is impossible, but you can delay its effects by storing your coffee in an airtight container and being stingy about how much time it gets with the lid off.

If you can build your coffee storing habits around these three principles, your coffee will retain its fresh qualities for up to three weeks before you start to taste a decline in quality. And the best part is that it’s easy to accomplish: find an airtight and opaque container and keep it in a cool place. Easy!

Just remember that excellent coffee storage only really works if you're starting out with freshly roasted coffee. The best way to always stay stocked with fresh coffee is through... our very own JavaPresse Coffee Subscription!

We source coffee beans from some of the world's best farms. They're environmentally conscious, pay dignifying wages to local workers, and grow blow-your-mind coffee. We're thrilled to roast these beans and ship them right to your door.

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