Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Barry Gray
The problem I have with coffee beans is I buy too many at the one time. So, I need to know how to preserve them to ensure I continue to get a decent cup of coffee when it comes around to me using them.
There are various ways and methods where you can preserve coffee beans, but I want to focus on just the one option right now: vacuum sealing.
So, is this even possible with coffee beans, and is it worth doing?
Yes, you can vacuum seal coffee beans in order to preserve them for longer, and it’s a fantastic way of achieving this. In an instant, you can remove oxygen and stop various chemical processes from taking place that will ultimately result in your coffee beans degrading and ruining your cup of coffee.
Of the various methods available to you, I see vacuum sealing as one of the best. However, if you are perhaps slightly unsure about all of this, then don’t worry because I will explain why it’s such a good idea and also take you through how to do it all.
Why is Preserving Coffee Beans So Important?
Before I start talking about how to correctly vacuum seal your coffee beans, I think a quick explanation as to why it’s important to do this is best.
Years ago, I thought coffee stayed the same until the expiry date on the pack of ground coffee. However, I was wrong.
Coffee degrades in quality after both roasting and grinding, and that’s a major issue.
The problem is you start to lose some of the flavor and aroma, leading to a poorer cup of coffee at the end of it all. So, if you know you will not be using those beans for even a couple of weeks, then doing something to slow down the degradation is key.
But how quickly will things change with your coffee? Well, it’s faster than you think.
Take ground coffee you purchase in a grocery store. Yes, it’s all packed away nicely, and it may still have a lovely aroma when you open the bag, but the ground coffee will still be more on the stale side of things compared to fresh.
That’s because the aroma and flavor of the coffee start to drop within an hour of it being ground down. You can imagine how long the coffee in those bags has been sitting there, so you are only getting a small amount of the authentic flavor of those beans.
The same applies to coffee after it has been roasted.
When you roast coffee beans, it’s generally accepted they will only stay fresh for between two and four weeks. Some people argue it’s closer to the two-week mark rather than anything else, and I would certainly err on that side as well.
All of this means you need to work at counteracting what’s going on with the coffee beans, and that’s where vacuum sealing can help.
Why Does Coffee Go Bad?
I’ve just painted this horrible picture of coffee becoming stale and losing its appeal almost immediately after you have roasted it or ground it down, but why?
Well, I know of four different components that all play a role in effectively destroying your coffee.
Oxygen is a major enemy when it comes to your coffee. It will mean your coffee beans encounter something called oxidation, which happens within the first couple of days of your beans being roasted or ground.
I would say oxygen was the main issue here. But that’s why we use vacuum sealing, and this is something I will delve into later.
Another thing to watch out for is moisture. If you have moisture on your roasted coffee beans, it’s very possible you will have bacteria start growing on the outside of the beans.
Nobody wants that, and moisture can also effectively result in your coffee beans starting to rot.
Light is another enemy, and it’s the reason why those bags of pre-ground coffee you see on shelves are dark, and you cannot see the coffee inside. It eliminates light penetrating the bag and causing even more problems for the coffee.
But coffee beans are just as susceptible to light, and their issue with it starts as soon as they have been roasted.
The problem with light is it kickstarts a chemical reaction in the beans. This chemical reaction breaks down key components of the beans, resulting in a loss of flavor and aroma.
Considering aroma and flavor are the two things we look out for with the coffee, you can understand why it’s important to keep light away from the beans.
I admit vacuum sealing will not do this, thanks to using clear bags, but I’ll shortly explain why you don’t have to worry about it to the same extent.
Heat is yet another problem as you are more likely to then have condensation start to develop on your coffee. Condensation is obviously moisture, so you can see why heat is your enemy.
That is why you need to keep your coffee in a cool location to stop this from happening.
Why Does Vacuum Sealing Coffee Beans Work?
The four elements above are all enemies of coffee beans, so why does vacuum sealing work?
The primary way in which it benefits your coffee beans is by removing oxygen. Removing oxygen means you have eliminated the major degrading factor when it comes to coffee beans.
But even with sealing your beans this way, there’s a problem.
The problem is with the beans themselves. Even after roasting, they will release carbon dioxide, and that too can pose a problem.
The major issue with carbon dioxide is it will gradually inflate the bag. If you have ever noticed a pre-sealed bag of salad where the bag has expanded to bursting point, then it’s due to carbon dioxide.
The exact same thing can happen with coffee beans.
But all that air in the bag will still make your coffee beans stale and not taste nice.
So, what do you do if you vacuum seal your coffee beans but it can still result in your beans deteriorating?
The answer is with how you store those vacuum-sealed coffee beans, and I have a tip for you: freezing them.
Can You Freeze Coffee Beans?
Freezing coffee beans is a great way to slow down those processes that will mean your coffee beans are deteriorating.
This is also why I would suggest vacuum sealing in small amounts. You are going to add those bags to your freezer, and it makes sense to only allow small batches to defrost rather than an entire load of coffee beans at one time.
The freezer is fantastic. It stops those gasses from developing, allowing it to preserve your coffee beans for longer.
How to Correctly Vacuum Seal Coffee Beans
One thing I’ve really understood with vacuum-sealing coffee beans is the importance of getting quality bags.
I know it can be tempting to use inexpensive bags when vacuum sealing, but please do not do that.
Cheaper bags can often leak and will not give you the same seal quality as the more expensive bags. That does mean you end up effectively wasting your time when it comes to sealing your coffee beans, and who would want to do that?
So, how do you seal them correctly? Well, it’s easier than you think.
If we just jump to the point where you have the bags to save some time. Just remember to get your hands on those quality bags.
After that, you have three different options when it comes to vacuum sealing.
The Regular Method
Also known as the regular vacuum sealing method, I see this as doing a fantastic job. What happens here is that the beans are completely sealed in the bag with all oxygen taken out.
But that’s not all.
There will be no space for those gasses to develop and fill the bag, so you do manage to effectively slow down the deterioration of your coffee beans.
The One Way Valve Method
Another option is known as the one-way valve method, and this option also has some merit to it.
With this method, special vacuum sealing bags have a valve that allows the carbon dioxide inside to escape. Still, it doesn’t allow air to then enter the bag. This is impressive as it does stop the carbon dioxide from building and destroying the beans.
I know this may not be the most popular method, but it’s a fantastic way of dealing with vacuum-sealing coffee beans. It’s certainly one I need to try out.
The third and final option is canister sealing, and it too can do a fantastic job of protecting your coffee beans.
This option works for any individual who does not want to vacuum seal bags, and these special canisters still do a fantastic job of protecting your beans. Also, you can open and close them without posing too many problems, and that’s a real advantage.
But these canisters are expensive, but they can be reused, so it’s not all bad.
My Recap on Vacuum Sealing Coffee Beans
Vacuum-sealing coffee beans is not only something that works, but I really recommend you do it. However, here are the main key points that I feel you should remember regarding this subject.
- Vacuum sealing coffee beans will preserve them for longer
- It will stop oxygen from attacking the beans and destroying them
- It can prevent carbon dioxide from building in the bag
- You have several options for vacuum sealing
- Seal in small bags to avoid having to seal the beans several times
- Store in the freezer if kept for some time
If you are serious about preserving your coffee beans, then I can’t think of a better method than vacuum sealing, and that’s why I feel it’s something you need to do.
If you want to preserve your coffee beans until you are ready to use them, then vacuum sealing a bag of beans is the ideal way to achieve this. It removes the oxygen and stops the air from getting to work on destroying the beans.
Vacuum seal small amounts at a time to stop you from having to continually repeat the process of sealing when you want to use some. When done correctly, you will be able to continue to use your beans and enjoy the end results for some time to come.