In March 2023, after consulting with our customers, we made the brave decision to break all the rules in the coffee rulebook. We switched to only offering double the coffee (450g) in the same sized pouches. Overnight this halved the amount of packaging we used, halved our deliveries and so halved our outbound carbon footprint. It was a huge win for the environment. It also meant we made cost savings needed to prevent us having to increase the net price for subscribers.
However, as much as we’re passionate about creating the most planet-friendly coffee brand we can, we want it to be as healthy AND as delicious as it is sustainable. Juggling the three demands is no mean feat.
This guide is designed to keep you drinking the same ridiculously healthy and sensational tasting coffee you know and love.
Why fresh coffee is better
Freshly roasted coffee is both healthier and more delicious so ideally you would drink it soon after it’s been roasted. However, if you use an espresso machine you should wait a week or two for it to degas before using it or your extraction will be all over the place. More on degassing below.
How soon after it's been roasted you need to drink it depends on a ton of variables as well as what you're looking for from your coffee, but hopefully it should be clear by the end of this article!
We roast all our coffee fresh weekly for that week’s orders so at Exhale you’re already getting some of the freshest coffee available.
It’s not been sat on a supermarket shelf for months before you buy it. So you’re starting from a good position.
But with our new, extra-large, bags of coffee you will naturally take longer to drink it, meaning it will be less fresh as you get through the bag. Fortunately there are some basic principles to follow to keep it fresher for longer which this article should help explain.
The benefits of grinding your own coffee
I can’t recommend grinding your coffee at home (or on a mountain top) highly enough.
It’s primarily coffee’s exposure to oxygen that makes it lose it’s freshness and begin to stale. Grinding coffee increases it’s surface area exposed to oxygen by thousands of times over speeding up staling and so should be done as close to drinking as possible. Here are some considerations:
Grinding and taste
Coffee afficionados will tell you within minutes of grinding, coffee starts to lose it’s wonderful aroma and taste.
But if bought wholebean and ground at home just before brewing, it should stay at it’s best tasting for a couple of months (if properly stored, more on that below…).
Grinding and health
Coffee’s healthy compounds, however, are a little more stable with reports showing coffee’s healthiest compound, chlorogenic acid, degrades at a rate of 20% in 6 weeks if bought ground.
From our own testing, our wholebean coffee lost 12% of it’s chlorogenic acid after 6 weeks which isn’t too bad considering you’re starting from such a high place to begin with.
The ritual of grinding
Adding the step of grinding your coffee at home also adds to the ritual of making coffee. Caffeine can spike the stress hormone cortisol but studies show that spike is less pronounced if you take the time to enjoy the preparation of coffee and savour the moment while drinking it.
Smash out a pod and neck it while racing out of the door is a one way ticket to caffeine jitters!
Which grinder should you use?
If you don’t have one already we’ve sourced the best grinders on the market. Check out our Timemore hand grinder or Wilfa if you’d rather an electric one. If you suffer from RSI or any wrist sprain then hand grinding my even have a knock-on benefit of helping you cure it!
Where should you store coffee?
The basic principles of coffee storage are to keep it in a cool, dark, dry place in a container that’s well sealed to keep out any possible contaminants. Avoid heat sources like an oven or direct sunlight. An opaque container in a dark utility room or cupboard is ideal. These are the non-negotiables!
Should you store coffee in the fridge?
We don’t recommend storing coffee in the fridge. Coffee is a wonderful room deodoriser and absorbs any smells floating around in the air, or in your fridge. Your fridge also will likely have microscopic moulds floating in the air (whether you like to admit it or not!) so you run a greater risk of contamination.
Probably the worst thing you can do is take coffee in and out of a fridge to use it. This can cause condensation to build up on the inside of the pouch or container and moisture is coffee’s worst enemy (unless it’s intentional, and poured hot from a kettle, then it’s coffee’s best friend).
Moisture in the pack will speed up staling and create a breeding ground for those nasty little moulds we’ve tried so desperately to avoid.
Should you store coffee in the freezer?
Coffee can, however, be stored in the freezer. But for reasons mentioned above don’t take it in and out of the freezer.
If you think you will take longer than about 6 weeks to drink your coffee we recommend freezing it, or potentially freeze half of the pouch while you drink the first half.
We lab tested our wholebean coffee left in it's pouch. It lost 12% of it’s chlorogenic acid (the polyphenol which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects) in 6 weeks and when kept in the freezer it lost 11%.
This shows the benefits of grinding your own coffee and to be honest, means it isn’t worth freezing beans if you drink it in under 6 weeks.
Watch this space for our results on ground coffee which I expect will be a bigger drop. And also our results for 3 months frozen vs unfrozen.
To freeze coffee pop it in a food/freezer bag and seal it tightly. We don’t recommend freezing in the pouch we send it in although haven’t tested it specifically.
It defrosts enough to be ground within minutes. Or if you freeze it already ground you can technically brew with it immediately. We know of some people who freeze ground coffee, but again, we haven’t tried it and think it should be a last resort.
What should you store coffee in?
Our pouches are made from 100% plant-based, renewable sources. From a food safety perspective, coffee is a very shelf-stable product.
We advise for maximum health benefits coffee can be kept in it’s pouch for up to 6 weeks.
We don’t recommend any longer, even though it’s technically safe to do so.
A storage container
I have personally searched for the perfect coffee storage container for the last few years. I have tested many different ones, from the Coffeevac/Tightvac to the Fellow Atmos and beyond.
My hunt for the perfect container struck gold when I discovered the Airscape by Planetary Design.
Here’s why I love it:
As mentioned earlier, oxygen is the primary cause of coffee’s staling. So any container used should have an airtight seal as a minimum. The Airscape uses a plunger mechanism and so has a ‘better-than-airtight’ seal. How it works can be viewed in my demo video.
2. One-way valve
Around 1% of the weight of freshly roasted coffee is CO2 gas formed during the roasting process. This is released by the bean, called degassing, for about one month after roasting. This is why coffee pouches have a valve on them. Not so you can squeeze it in the supermarket and have a good sniff, but to stop the pouches bursting on the shelf as the gas is released. Ideally any storage container you use should also have a one-way valve. The Airscape has a one-way valve.
3. Oxygen reduction
Some sort of method to create a vacuum or remove the oxygen from inside is also ideal. The Airscape uses a plunger, which as you push it down to nestle on top of the coffee, pushes most of the air out.
The same goes for all packaged foods, push the air out before sealing it to keep it fresher for longer.
While oxygen is bad, CO2 actually forms a protective atmosphere for coffee preventing oxidative degradation and staling. So when coffee degasses and releases CO2, it can push the remaining oxygen out of the Airscape through it’s one-way valve keeping it fresher for even longer.
4. Design and durability
Aside from the above, the Airscape has a sleek design which would work in any kitchen. It’s made from galvanised, restaurant-grade steel and is truly built to last. Planetary Design also donate to a local food charity with every container bought.
Conclusion and specific recommendations
One 450g bag of Exhale coffee will make about 30 cups. Here is what I recommend for you:
If you buy ground coffee
However fast you drink it, I’d recommend buying a grinder. But if you don’t want to do that, storing it in an Airscape is highly recommended to slow staling and to keep it tasting delicious for longer. You just have to be a little gentle when removing the plunger, or don’t push it so hard into the ground coffee as some grounds can stick to the bottom of it. See my demo video here.
If you drink our recommended 2 cups of coffee a day
That’s a bag of coffee every 2 weeks. Perfect. It will be fine kept in it’s pouch, especially if you buy wholebean.
If you’re an infrequent drinker, perhaps a cup a day.
You would get through one 450g bag a month. I’d recommend considering an Airscape. Even if you grind yourself. But it depends how important getting the absolute best out of your coffee is to you.
For very infrequent drinkers, drinking one bag in 4 to 6 weeks.
If it takes you this long to get through a bag, I’d highly recommend storing your coffee in an Airscape. I wouldn't bother freezing it and definitely don't be tempted to refrigerate it.
If it takes you longer than 6 weeks to drink a 450g bag
For truly optimal results, I recommend immediately emptying half of the pouch into an Airscape when you buy it. And don’t touch it until you've drunk the other half which can be left in it’s pouch.
This will mean the CO2 released from the 225g of coffee in the Airscape will push out the remaining oxygen in there replacing it with CO2. This creates a protective atmosphere (see above) around the beans and so dramatically extending it’s life. If you do this, you can happily take 2 or 3 months to work your way through a full 450g.
If you take longer than 3 months to drink a bag
It’s totally safe by food safety standards, and hence why we put a use-by-date of 6 months, but you just won’t be getting the maximum health benefits, or best taste from it. I highly recommend reading my article on ‘How much coffee should you drink for maximum health benefits’.
But if this is you, I recommend freezing half of the 450g pouch immediately and then defrosting the whole bag when you've worked your way through the first half (which I recommend keeping in, you guessed it, an Airscape).
Finally, if you're yet to try a bag of Exhale then now's as good a time as ever! Click the link to shop below...
Hope you found that useful. Let me know if you have any specific questions below. We’re actually running some lab tests to verify more of this ourselves but we have to wait a few months for the results!
P.S. Due to shipping delays our Exhale branded Airscapes are due for public launch early May, apologies for the delay.