Just like all other foodstuffs, coffee beans go bad. The moment roasting is completed, something called degassing begins, a process as inevitable as it is unstoppable. It’s the primary reason why you’ll see coffee drinkers fretting over roasting dates or disparaging over bags that are more than a few weeks old—while the coffee is 100% still edible, every day on the clock degrades more of the compounds and results in more oxidation. That's what's coffee storage containers are for!
Before you wage a war on the very air we breathe or, god-forbid, stuff that bag of beans in the freezer (for all that is good and holy, please, do not put your beans in the freezer. Beans that have been exposed to below-0 temperatures lose all of their flavor profile. It should be a punishable crime to put good beans in the freezer), let’s talk this through.
Most bags of coffee will say that they’re good for up to 12 months—before you get mad at me for all of the dramatics above, the fact of the matter is that good beans are best consumed closest to the roasting date, not the expiration date. They stale and can significantly lose their unique flavor profile, which, be honest, if you paid the money for a good bag of beans it makes the whole endeavor kind of pointless.
The standard recommendation from most experienced coffee brewers is to consume it within 2 weeks of purchase (which should be pretty close to the roasting date, as well) and if you’re buying your coffee one pound at a time as a daily drinker, this isn’t all too difficult. Coffee beans should always be properly stored, but the elements won’t have much time at all to do any marked damage to the composition even if you leave them in their original bag.
If you drink your coffee at a more leisurely pace or buy your coffee in bulk, it becomes more critical ensure you’re storing those beans properly so they don’t lose their unique flavor profile before you scoop out that last heaping spoonful.
There are four primary evils we’re fighting when storing coffee beans properly.
One of the primary features you want to look for is that it’s airtight. Some even come with special valves that force air out or vacuum seals them because hell knows when the last a vacuum was actually run across the kitchen floor but I’ll be damned if my magic caffeine beans go bad!
The same way that UV rays damage human skin, they also damage your beans. Even though they look cool, try to avoid the clear canisters unless you have a specific plan to put it nowhere near a window.
This one is less in regard to what type of container you intend to buy as it is where you’ll put that container. Avoid storing your beans anywhere near the microwave or stove.
Again, this more has to do with where the container goes. Beans need to be stored somewhere dry. It may seem like common sense, but better said than unsaid!
While these containers are amazing, again, they designed to reduce the oxygen and light that reach your beans. It’s up to you to put this them somewhere dry and away from any hot kitchen tools.
Airtight, moisture-free, and recyclable, the Coffeevac can hold 1 lb. of coffee beans and keep them at peak freshness. The patented Tightvac partial vacuum seal touts keeping the big bad oxygen out without suffocating the beans, aka letting the degassing process happen through a 1-way valve. Unlike many other canisters boasting valves, this isn’t specifically a CO2 valve, but that also means there aren’t any filters to swap out, which is one of the more involved aspects of having a fancy canister.
This Coffeevac comes in several different styles, too, including some with tinted and clear bodies, but the preferable options are the fully colored versions that can keep out the light. The only con to this option is that it isn’t dishwasher safe. We really don’t even consider that much of a con, because how often do you really wash a coffee canister anyway?
If stainless steel is right in line with the vibe of your kitchen, this Bean Envy Airtight Coffee Canister will fulfill your every wish. Made of rust-resistant stainless steel, it holds up to 16 oz. of beans and comes with a patent-pending clip on for a stainless steel scoop, also included. It adds another helpful feature in the name of freshness: a numerical day/month tracker embedded in side.
The canister also features a CO2 gas release Wicovalve, which lets the gases and carbon dioxide out during the degassing process but doesn’t expose the beans to oxygen. This does involve the use of a filter that needs to be swapped out routinely, though. This option is also available in three other striking colors, blue, red, and gray.
Made of premium food-grade stainless steel that comes in a variety of metal shades from copper to matte black, the OPUX canister is made to cradle your beans in the life of luxury they deserve with the look you want. This option also sports a CO2 valve, as well as a handy scooper (though the container doesn’t sport a place to hold it).
It can also be had in two different sizes, 16 oz. or 21 oz., so you can plan appropriately for your coffee habits. Similarly to the BeanEnvy model, it also has a day/month tracker as well as two replacement filters for the CO2 valve.
It’s made of the good premium stainless steel, but this time it’s military grade (or surgical grade, depending on how Coffee Gator is feeling that day). Yes, that’s right. If your coffee needs require a battalion of support, the Coffee Gator container can be your right-hand general.
It also boasts a month/day tracker, as well as a CO2 valve, but this one doesn’t require any replacement filters. While I dig the look of the OPUX a lot, having a vent that I should be swapping out but am not will always nag at the back of my mind. Eliminating that variable, the Coffee Gator canister could make a good option for people who don’t need one more thing to remember.
This canister has some nice surprises in store. On top of being made of food grade stainless steel and featuring an airtight silicone seal, it holds up to 18 oz. of beans and has a scoop magnetically attached to the inside of the screw-on lid!
The Airscape is the largest of the canisters on this list—able to hold 64 oz. of delicious java beans, this stainless steel container has a painted enamel exterior. It comes with a 2-lid process, the first of which functions as an airtight insert while the second is clear so you can also check how much of the good stuff you have left.
This is the only clear and/or plastic option on this list, and that’s only because it’s tinted to prevent UV rays from getting in and also because it’s uniquely useful for stashing in a pantry. Part of a modular stacking system, you can easily buy more of these and Marie-Kondo all of your kitchen goods. As a coffee container, it seals, airtight, at the push of a button, and is dishwasher safe. There’s one asterisk on this model, though: it’s not recommended for use with flavored coffee, which is likely because you’ll never get the smell out.
No matter what sort of coffee you’re purchasing or how much at a time, storing it properly is worth investing in a good canister. Especially if you pay for a recently roasted bag with a delicious flavor profile with hints of caramelly smoke and some sort of nuttiness, along with an earthy aroma that will convince of the values of communing with nature, you want to enjoy every single little bit of it.
Personally, we really like the Coffee Gator Stainless Steel Container. It takes all of the good features of the other CO2 canisters and subtracts a replaceable valve, which is particularly suitable for those of us with a somewhat forgetful lifestyle. If that inability to remember anything doesn’t plague your daily routine, the Bean Envy Airtight Coffee Canister is the ideal.
Whatever your preference, grab one of these coffee canisters and enjoy every delicious sip of your joe.