The Single Best Container to Store Your Coffee Beans, According to a Former Barista

published Sep 18, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

It might be easy to think that coffee beans last forever because they don’t really have an expiration date. But while they might not go bad sitting on your counter, coffee will begin to go stale almost immediately after you open the bag it came in. 

There are hundreds of containers you can buy to store your coffee. As a former barista, I’ve often found myself with half bags of coffee split between co-workers or a few grams of a special roast given to me by a colleague.

So which container do I rely on to keep my beans fresh? One of my favorite containers is the Fellow Atmos Vacuum Canister

Credit: Ashley Rodriguez
The Atmos Vacuum Canister is my favorite way to store coffee.

Why Coffee Goes Bad

Before I get into why I love the Atmos, I want to explain why proper storage is pretty important to drinking coffee. See, a coffee at the peak of freshness is kind of like an exciting symphony, and a good coffee canister can keep that ride alive for weeks. A great coffee should be dynamic, a balance of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness that is somehow distinctly compelling and harmonious at the same time.

Credit: Getty Images/ Julie Villamizar
A good coffee canister can keep beans fresh and full of flavor.

There’s nothing more disappointing than brewing a coffee you absolutely loved a week ago, only to discover that the punchy and bright flavors are now muted and dulled. 

Coffee is generally best a few days after it’s roasted. Roasting creates carbon dioxide, which acts as a barrier to flavor. Once some of the carbon dioxide degasses, a coffee is ready to shine. But then you have to worry about another gas: oxygen. At this point, it’s helpful to think about coffee like a fruit — which it is, technically, as coffee beans are the seed of a fruit.

Credit: Ashley Rodriguez
Coffee can go stale when it's exposed to oxygen.

Like most foods, coffee will begin to go stale as it’s exposed to oxygen. There’s no definitive moment this happens, but coffee can start to taste “stale” around two to three weeks after roasting.

I usually tell folks coffee is best between five to 12 days after it’s roasted, but this range can vary on a number of factors: roast profile (darker roasted coffees will go stale faster), if the beans are whole or ground ahead of time (ground coffee will go staler significantly faster), and preference.

I usually like my coffee about seven days after it’s been roasted, but I’ve had excellent coffee weeks — even months — after. And, surprise! That’s usually because they’ve been stored properly. 

Credit: Ashley Rodriguez
The Atmos is super effective at keeping my coffee fresh.

My Honest Review of the Atmos

This brings me to why I love the Atmos. When it comes to coffee storage, keeping out oxygen is the name of the game. Most coffee canisters either create an airtight seal to keep coffee safe from the elements without removing oxygen or use some sort of mechanism to displace oxygen, but not really remove it.

The Atmos is a vacuum canister, and a lot of vacuum canisters have an external pump that “sucks” out the oxygen and pressurizes the container. What makes the Atmos different is that it doesn’t have a pump — instead, you turn the canister’s lid to pressurize and remove oxygen. There’s even a little green dot on the lid that indicates the canister is pressurized.

Credit: Ashley Rodriguez
A green light on the lid indicates that the canister is pressurized.

Fellow recommends you re-pressurize the canister every four to five days, which you can check by looking at the green dot (you’ll know because if it’s no longer green, it’s time to pressurize). Fellow makes canisters in a few different sizes and colors, including a clear glass model, but I like the matte finish because exposure to sunlight can also cause coffee to go stale.

Credit: Ashley Rodriguez
The Atmos creates a vacuum seal by sucking out all of the oxygen, which causes coffee to go stale.

What makes the Atmos better than most coffee canisters is that it creates a vacuum seal for your coffee. It sucks out all of the oxygen, which is what causes coffee to go stale in the first place. As the Fellow website describes, “This ubiquitous gas sucks the flavor and moisture right out of your beans, rendering them dry and bland — and nobody likes a bland bean.” 

Credit: Ashley Rodriguez
All you do is twist the lid every four to five days to maintain a vacuum seal.

Hands-down, the Atmos is an awesome and incredibly effective tool. But if you’re not ready to invest in a vacuum-sealed canister (surprise, surprise — these are generally the most expensive type of canisters out there), you’re likely to be just fine keeping your coffee in its bag as long as you keep it sealed shut in between uses and squeeze out the oxygen. 

You can also step up your coffee freshness game by grabbing a Mason jar or a simple chip clip. All you need to do is seal your coffee bag, and stash it somewhere away from sunlight. You’ll still have something delicious to drink in the morning!

What do you use to store your coffee? Tell us your tips in the comments below.