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I'm Italian and, as you know, we make a big deal out of coffee.

I found some people to be very much convinced that ground coffee preserves its taste better when stored in the fridge. On the other hand, there's a whole lot of other people claiming the exact opposite.

The National Coffee Association, suggests airtight and cool but it discourages the refrigerator, in order to avoid the contact with moisture. But if the container is airtight, shouldn't this issue be greatly mitigated? The fridge looks like a great candidate for the cool requirement, and an airtight container seems to be a good solution to the moisture issue.

Another downside, as mentioned in this article, is that coffee tends to catch odors. Again, this issue can be easily overcome with the help of a sealed container.

On the other hand, Lavazza (a big Italian manufacturer of coffee products) explicitly advises to keep the coffee in the fridge in an airtight opaque container in a Tip for freshness section on its packages. (click to see the full-size picture)

However, I couldn't find satisfying scientific support to either claims.

Is storing coffee in an airtight container in the fridge the best way to preserve its flavor?

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    You could also try this question on Seasoned Advice, the network's cooking site. Yeah, we consider beverages on topic there. – derobert Nov 26 '13 at 22:11
  • @derobert thanks, I'll give it a shot in case I don't get any answers here. – Gabriele Petronella Nov 29 '13 at 18:13
  • Regarding the airtight container / moisture when refrigerated part - I suspect they mean that if the temperature of the container drops too much, moisture already present in the air inside the container will condense, ruining your coffee. Basically, cold air has a lower capacity to retain water, so I guess you want it cool, but not cold (unless you can expel the moisture prior to storage). – Daniel B Dec 6 '13 at 13:20
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    Good heavens, my friend! If you consider coffee important, what in the world are you doing with pre-ground coffee? No matter how you store ground coffee, it's going to lose its oils once it's not vacuum-sealed. (Open a fresh bag/can beside one that was opened and resealed for 2 weeks -- you'll see.) Switching to grinding your own coffee (takes 20 seconds) is probably the single biggest quality jump there is (short of moving next door to a roaster). (Even roasted whole-ground coffee loses its oils and flavors, but not as rapidly.) – Larry OBrien Dec 6 '13 at 18:27
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    @LarryOBrien it's more a cultural thing. Pre-ground coffee is the most common to find in Italy and it can be found in almost every kitchen. Despite that, there's a lack of consensus on where to store it, hence my question. I like coffee, but I'm not maniacal, rather just curious :) – Gabriele Petronella Dec 6 '13 at 20:58
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There is some evidence that refrigeration can help preserve aromas

K. MARIN et al.: New Aroma Index for Aroma Quality of Coffee During Storage, Food Technol. Biotechnol. ISSN 1330-9862 (FTB-1827)

The samples stored in a refrigerator preserved their aroma for a longer time, with decreased staling rate

...

For consumers, an alternative to preserving their roasted coffee in airtight packages is to store it in a refrigerator.

The staling of coffee was found to be the result of evaporation or degradation by oxidation of important coffee odourants, such as 2-methylpropanal, 3-methylbutanal, 2,3-butanedione, 2-methylbutanal, methanethiol and 2-furfurylthiol, rather than of formation of off-flavour compounds.


A study that might be slightly less relevant but whose conclusions seem at least consistent with the notion that lower temperatures preserve flavor.

EFFECT OF STORAGE CONDITIONS ON THE SENSORY QUALITY OF GROUND ARABICA COFFEE

The results indicate the importance of proper storage of ground coffee and the idea that freezer storage may be more effective at retarding some of the attribute changes during storage.

  • Thank you for finding the two studies! Very interesting read, indeed! – Gabriele Petronella Aug 28 '14 at 13:28

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