The trick to keeping coffee fresh

There are few things more disappointing than making a pot of coffee and discovering that the pricey beans you purchased a few weeks earlier have gone stale. Fear not, caffeine fiends, keeping your coffee fresh is actually pretty simple. 

When it comes to storing your coffee the big question most people seem to have is: To freeze, or not to freeze? Let's just cut to the chase — most of the time you're going to want to keep your coffee in the pantry. Roasted coffee beans keep best when they're stored away from heat, moisture, air, and sunlight, according to the National Coffee Association. Because coffee beans begin to lose their freshness almost immediately after being roasted, it's recommended that you skip the 10 pound bag of coffee and only buy what you'll use in a week or two. Keep it in an "opaque, air-tight container" in a cool, dark location. A kitchen counter in direct sunlight or in a cabinet next to the oven probably isn't the best place. If you don't have an air-tight container, you can still keep your coffee fresh from the elements by sealing the bag with a rubber band and then throwing it inside a zip-top plastic bag — just remember to squeeze all the air out. 

Generally, you'll want to avoid keeping your coffee in the freezer. Starbucks Green Coffee Quality group member Scott McMartin told Real Simple that this is because when you throw that bag of coffee back in the freezer after every pot you brew, the fluctuating air temperatures create unwanted moisture. "The cell structure changes, which causes a loss of the oils that give coffee its aroma and flavor," McMartin said. What you'll be left with before you finish the bag is coffee that tastes about as good as chewing on a paper cup. 

There are some occasions, though, when storing your coffee in the depths of your freezer isn't a bad idea. But you should only use your freezer to store whole beans for up to a month (sealed air-tight, of course), and even then you'll want to divide the beans into smaller portions that you know you'll use within a two week period once you thaw them. 

Easy enough, right? Now you really have no excuse for serving your guests stale coffee ever again.