Should you store coffee in the fridge?

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It may be controversial, but we’re going to debunk a myth. It’ll prove divisive. Some of you won’t believe us. But gosh-darn-it we owe it to you, your coffee and our own sense of self-worth to get stuck in on the notion that coffee should be stored in your fridge or freezer. Here’s how it all started…

A little while back…
…We put the question out to our community. We wanted to know where your coffee lived – meaning the nook you’ve allocated for it at home. We got some pretty excellent responses, but in among the answers a few mentioned that they keep their coffee in the fridge.

Far be it from us to be coffee bossy-boots, but a few of the hardcore coffee geeks at Pact HQ compelled us to intervene.

In a nutshell.
The thing is, coffee has a bit of a love and hate relationship with moisture – coffee attracts moisture, but moisture is very bad for your coffee. The problem isn’t that there’s moisture in your fridge (or freezer), it’s the change in temperature the coffee experiences going into and out of the fridge, which results in a build-up condensation. This is the moisture that the coffee hates so much and that can diminish the flavour.

Where did the fridge thing come from?

To be honest we have no idea. It’s kind of intuitive to think that fridges and freezers are designed to keep stuff fresh. So perhaps that’s how the idea that a fridge is the best place for your coffee spawned in the first place.

Treating your coffee right.
When it comes to storing coffee, the main things to protect it from are excessive air, moisture, heat and light (in that order). All these things are just desperate to suck that fresh-roasted flavour from your precious coffee grounds.

The best place to preserve those marvellous flavours is in an air-tight container, in a cool dark place. We’ve actually specially chosen the bag your Pact comes in to fit these requirements perfectly, but any air-tight container will do, of course! A little tip is to choose a cupboard away from hot ovens and steamy kettles, which will tend to make your cool dark place a lot less cool.

So there we have it. As with all things coffee we’re happy to enter into a debate (that’s kind of what we do for most of the day at Pact HQ anyway), so do feel free to comment below. We hope you don’t mind us giving you our two cents!

Pact Coffee Happy Coffee

 

58 thoughts on “Should you store coffee in the fridge?

  1. I keep my coffee in a fridge as well. On every packet of supermarket ground coffee I’ve bought are the instructions ‘once opened store in an air tight container in a fridge’ – so I assumed that Pact coffee would be no different.

    1. That’s very interesting. We were looking for the source of this fallacy for a little while, and we might’ve just found our culprit. We’re added a small correction/clarification to our article now.

  2. Thanks for this. Can finally tell my boyfriend he is doing it wrong with evidence to prove it! Although he can have some points for keeping it in a Kilner Jar.

    1. You’re very welcome. Glad we could help out. Kilner jar is great, but just make sure he keeps it in a dark place.

  3. Everyone I know keeps their coffee in the fridge! I never really liked the idea of it though. Most things taste better when not stored in the fridge… Thanks 🙂

  4. Errrrr, fridges are actually very dry and have a relative humidity of 10-15% co pared to ambient of around 50%. So by your reasoning the fridge is the perfect place to store coffee.

    1. Yes, but the problem is the change of temperatures when taking it out of the fridge and back in:
      “The problem isn’t that there’s moisture in your fridge (or freezer), it’s the change in temperature the coffee experiences going into and out of the fridge, which results in a build-up condensation.”

  5. Hang on. Surely keeping it in an opaque and airtight container in the fridge/freezer keeps it out of light and also keeps the “cold moisture” at bay. The cooler temperature slows down bacterial activity (or whatever juju it is that takes away the coffee’s freshness and flavour).
    McGee’s Food Encyclopedia, the food Bible, has 7 very interesting pages about coffee and says whole beans, once roasted, keep for a couple of months in the freezer or a couple of weeks at room temperature.
    It makes more sense to store it chilled in the right container to last longer. Basic schoolboy science, how can you say otherwise? Next you’ll be saying the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn’t exist!

  6. A fridge is a fine, cool, dark, place, so I store it in there, but only in an unopened, sealed packet, tin, or however it comes. Once opened, I it’s in an airtight tin the kitchen cupboard, at the right temperature to use (my kitchen temperature seldom gets above 18 C unless I’m doing a mammoth cook!

  7. ummm, you guys really lose credibility around your coffee knowledge making statements like the fridge/freezer being “bit white boxes of cold moisture”! Fridges (especially frost free ones) and freezers are deliberately designed to be dry environments – it’s only the vegetable crisper drawer at the bottom of the fridge that’s designed to be more humid so as to stop veges and fruit drying out! Come on guys – do your homework better next time!

  8. I keep mine in the freezer in the original unopened package until I’m ready to use it. This was recommended by a very good local coffee supplier. Once opened I keep it in an airtight tin on the kitchen counter where it gets used within about 14 days.

  9. For what it’s worth, I’ve just measured the relative humidity of our Smeg fridge (83% in the door shelf) and the shelf next to the kettle (53%) where my Pact bag currently resides. Arguably not the most accurate hygrometer (+/- 4%), but I’m going with the premise of the post on this one. Whittards used to train their staff to tell people not to put coffee in the fridge for this very reason, too.

  10. Excellent. Thanks. After all these years I’ve now found something which vilifies my laziness. After it’s been delivered I put my coffee in my bottom desk drawer at work instead of going to the kitchen. So there you have it….brilliant !!

  11. It probably depends on the kind of coffee you are storing, the period of storage time and the taste you prefer. According to non-scientists, a valve bag is the best way to store coffee, and probably the freezer or fridge is not a good idea. This article describes a flavour test for one batch of coffee: http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2010/10/taste-test-to-freeze-or-not-to-freeze-coffee-beans-v20.html
    Real research has a different opinion. In this paper (published in Japanese, but with an English abstract, in the Journal for the Integrated Study of Dietary Habits), researchers from Shokei Gakuin University explain that although caffeine content does not change, total coffee acid content, chlorogenic acid content (despite the name, this is an antioxidant in coffee), color and foaming are affected by different storage modalities (freezer being best): https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jisdh/19/4/19_4_356/_pdf
    Both studies share considerable weaknesses; the first one only stored coffee for 14 days and the second for 28 days. To get an idea of how long-term storage affects coffee you could read this paper, that tracks coffee during 15 months of storage from the harvest (storing at room temperature results in a progressive increase in flavour intensity and chemically in the oxidation of proteins and lipids but also with the decrease of 5-caffeoylquinic acid): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613013885

  12. Presently, I’m a an office gollum but was once a Costa Barista Maestro. We were trained to keep our opened bags of beans in the fridge. However, in our store, we actually stopped doing it cuz we were also trained to do several “grind checks” throughout our shift and noticed that the differing temperature of the beans (already opened and stored in the fridge or a fresh bag off the stockroom shelf) played havoc with the checks. During opening hours we decided to keep the opened bags near the grinder and only put opened bags in the fridge overnight. Our grind checks were much more ‘uniform’ (is that the right word?) once we started doing that. It seems temperature (as well as moisture) makes a big difference when storing beans.

  13. I’ve been storing my coffee in the fridge and it tastes great. I used to keep it room temperature on the counter sealed in the can until I got the idea to put it in the fridge and since then it’s tasted way better.

  14. Too many people on the internet make blanket statements claiming them as factual, especially using terms such as ‘fallacy’ without citing one single objective fact. This spreads misinformation like a bad meme on Facebook.

    It’s really important that you back your claims with some evidence. At the moment your post is opinion and speculation.

    You have a hypothesis so please back that hypothesis with supporting evidence. Especially on such sensitive and divisive issues as how to store coffee 🙂

    Incidentally two studies, into this very problem, contradict your claims:
    http://hrcak.srce.hr/index.php?show=clanak&id_clanak_jezik=48135
    http://www2.hcmuaf.edu.vn/data/lhquang/file/Coffee/Effect%20of%20storage%20conditions.pdf

    Also, this interesting double blind trial:
    http://www.home-barista.com/store-coffee-in-freezer.html

    I wouldn’t dare claim that the scientific world has conclusively answered this problem (especially given taste is very subjective). I think the best advice is to try it and figure out what works best for you and for your coffee.

    1. Good comment. If only more people were so wise and humble. So far we keep it in the fridge (never the freezer) but we’re prepared to be convinced…. by trial or science!

  15. I have for many years stored my coffee in an airtight container in the freezer, whether it is the beans or ready ground for the espresso or filter. I have stuck with this as the taste I have found is just as good whether it is the first or the last “brew”

    1. Hi Dave,

      It’s not the actual conditions of the fridge that cause the moisture which ruins coffee, fridges tend to be pretty dry places. What can damage the coffee is bringing it in and out of the fridge and the condensation which can form from the changes in temperature this causes. Obviously if you’re having a good result from your coffee, it must not be out of the fridge/freezer for long enough for condensation to form – the reason we recommend against storing in the fridge is this condensation can be damaging if it forms and it’s easier to avoid the risk entirely by storing it somewhere else. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying you’re coffee though, and I hope this helps.

  16. Those quoting how dry the fridge air is etc. are overlooking the basic laws of physics! In that it is not the air in the fridge per se that matters it is the probable moist warm air inside your recently opened container that will then condense. It matters not how dry your air in the fridge is, it is just the fact that it is colder than the air inside your container. Hence dew will likely be created inside your container and the reason the sound advice given out by pact coffee.

    1. You’re exactly right, Christopher. It’s not the actual conditions of the fridge which can spoil the coffee, it’s the condensation that will form when you move the bag between a cold and warm environment.

    2. Halle-sodding-lujah!!
      Someone who knows what they’re talking about. It’s what’s happening INSIDE THE CONTAINER!!
      Thanks for making sense and having an excellent name.

  17. Storing the coffee beans is the trickiest part. You want them to be stored at a cold temperature but you cannot refrigerate it. Yet, you can store these beans in a plain Jane home air tight container.

  18. Why not try all types of storages you can and see if you can tell the difference. Instead of just talking about it.

  19. Why does Folgers coffee tell you to store theirs in the refrigerator after opening plastic container?
    And is it a good idea to keep it in their plastic container?

    1. Yes I just started drinking coffee. I bought Folgers. It says to store in the fridge after opening. I’m sooooo confused!

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  21. I have stored coffee in the refrigerator but as the taste of coffee is a personal prefrence, that will determine where coffee is stored. I agree with pact regarding the condensation that takes place weakens the taste of coffee which is great if you don’t like a too strong but mild cup of coffee. I prefer my cupboard. The coffee is dry and dissolves quicker in boiling water or milk than cold coffee.

  22. I think it probably depends on how often you use the coffee, and your lifestyle.

    I currently live alone. After opening a package of ground coffee, I close it with a bag sealing clip, put the package into a rectangular tin box with a latch lid, and I keep this in the fridge in order to slow down the now-accelerated process of rancidification. Usually, I don’t drink coffee at home every day. When I do brew coffee at home, I only remove the container from the cold in order to spoon a set amount of coffee grounds into a French press or a percolator (I keep the measuring spoon in the coffee tin as well), before re-sealing and putting it back into the fridge; this step comes before my continuing with the actual brewing part of preparing coffee. The tin is only out of the fridge for up to a couple of minutes, and often not even daily, if I regularly get coffee elsewhere. I avoid drinking coffee late in the afternoon, due to the long half-life of caffeine; I have struggled with sleeping issues (difficulties falling asleep and chronic sleep deprivation). Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors, interfering with your ability to fall asleep.

    Currently, though, I’m seldomly in environments where I drink coffee away from home due to lifestyle changes (unemployed; mental health issues; apartment with a mini fridge with freezer compartment), so I am using up opened coffee packages at a faster-than-usual pace. So, for now, until my lifestyle returns back to normal, I’ll probably switch to keeping my coffee container on a shelf in order to free up some fridge space + for ease of access.

  23. I think it is because it comes from hot countries, where you have to keep everything in the fridge (including rice, sugar etc) because otherwise you get bugs. It Brazil, Malta etc it would be too hot if not kept in the fridge in an airtight bag… in the UK we don’t have that problem so best kept not in the fridge.

  24. I found my coffe was getting very wet an difficult to pour from the container I had it in. (I was spring it in the fridge) so I am now putting it in the cupboard. We shall take the test. I’m very anxious to see what the outcome is.

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