Refrigerator or no refrigerator? False myths and truths about coffee storage


When we open a new packet of coffee, even before we see the dark, compact powder, we are hit by an unmistakable aroma that permeates our nostrils: strong, intense, full-bodied, assertive, and persistent.

Especially when it’s hot, when you don’t finish it very quickly, and if you store it the wrong way, coffee loses its aroma-or worse, it ends up tasting like something else.

Preserving the magical sensation of the first moment for as long as possible is everyone’s goal, but how do you interpret the classic statement “in a cool, dry place”? Against the most fanciful false myths and urban legends of storage, here’s how to do it. And why.

From the producer to the consumer

When you buy it at the supermarket, coffee is sold in jars or in soft or vacuum packs.

To preserve its qualities in jars, the air present is replaced by inert gas, that is, gas that does not harm the product, while coffee packets are vacuum-packed-and the air is removed completely during the packaging process. The packages are always dark; no clear ones can be found.

Imprisoned in the package of freshly purchased coffee are all the aromas of the freshly roasted bean, perfectly preserved on the way from the producer to the shelf, and then to our kitchen.

Fat Matters

When the bean undergoes roasting, it increases in volume and becomes more porous and more hygroscopic, thus more penetrable by air and moisture, than the green bean. In addition, coffee is rich in fat, which is particularly concentrated on the surface of the bean due to the roasting process. Fat, like oil or butter, goes rancid and oxidizes in contact with air, a process accelerated by the presence of moisture and heat-this is why coffee fears air, water, and light.

Ground coffee, compared to coffee beans, has a greater surface area in contact with the elements and is therefore even more delicate.

It is useless and indeed harmful to add an apple peel, cork, or other elements that should preserve the moisture in the coffee since they risk spoiling and rancidifying the precious beans. Flavors are volatile, dispersing into the air, and surface fats are powerful odor catalysts. Coffee should therefore always be stored in an airtight container to limit as much as possible the loss of aromas to the environment or the absorption by the coffee of other odors in the air. The reverse exchange is not to be underestimated; in fact, among the most popular grandmother’s tips for removing odors from the refrigerator is precisely to use a small jar full of coffee powder (never to be used in the mocha, of course!).

One of the simplest rules to get an idea of how quickly coffee can change its characteristics is the so-called rule of 2.

50% of the aromas of coffee beans degrade in 2 days, 50% of ground coffee degrade in 2 hours, in espresso in a cup 50% degrade in 2 minutes.


The best place to store coffee is the famous “cool, dry place,” which is a kitchen cupboard or wall unit, away from the oven or refrigerator motor and where the sun does not shine. Also no to transparent jars, because light catalyzes the rancidity process.

Too much heat will rancidify coffee, just as “too much” cold will block flavors. Therefore, the refrigerator is not the best place to keep coffee, unless it is summer and you have a better place available and close enough to the coffee pot to store it-a frequent situation in many kitchens. Be careful to use an airtight jar, however, because the refrigerator is damp, and full of odors.

Best practices

One solution that is always advisable is to buy small packages or those that are as suitable as possible for consumption, so as to avoid drinking coffee from packages opened months before, which have inevitably lost aroma and taste.

Also, another shrewdness to follow is to wash the container, jar or box, every time fresh coffee is added to it. Coffee connoisseurs who seek perfection buy a coffee grinder and coffee beans so they can grind them freshly, just like at the coffee shop.