Coffee, at its most basic, is just water filtered through ground coffee beans. So, it makes sense that to get the best-tasting coffee you need the best tasting beans and the best water. But often the weakest link to making subpar coffee isn’t buying good beans, which nowadays most folks have access to. It’s how those beans are stored!
Once roasted, coffee beans start to lose flavor via oxidation. "Airtight is the way to go with coffee," says Tim Schofield, Digital Marketing Manager of Ritual Coffee in San Francisco. "Basically, oxygen is enemy #1 when it comes to the freshness of a roasted coffee, as a process known as oxidation leads to stale or sour flavors by attacking the exterior surfaces of the bean." This explains why ground coffee goes bad faster, as there’s more surface area for the coffee bean to oxidize. Tim also mentions that UV light can damage the coffee beans as well. But John Maniquis, former coffee director at Pinterest HQ, says that he prefers to use a clear glass vessel, for both aesthetic reasons and so he can know how much coffee he has left. He just stores the container inside a pantry away from the light.
Thankfully, there are plenty of coffee containers out there that help mitigate this oxidation and maintain freshness. Whether it's for your afternoon espresso or summertime cold brew, we’ve searched all over and tested numerous vessels to find the best coffee canisters out there. Here are my picks on how to store your coffee beans, so you can make the best coffee possible.
Fellow Atmos Vacuum Canister
What We Love: Vacuum sealing lid, modern design, various sizes
What We Don't Love: Cannot store ground coffee in it, vacuum seal doesn’t last past a few days
The sleekest and most modern designed canister on this list also happens to be the best available. Fellow is known for its innovative designs, and Atmos, its vacuum sealing canister, is no different. Pour the coffee beans into the canister, replace the lid, and then twist the top until the indicator button depresses and turns green, indicating the air has been pumped out and a vacuum has been created.
A simple press of the center button releases the vacuum, and the lid is easily removed, allowing you to scoop out the beans. The Atmos is available in three sizes holding 6 ounces, 10 ounces, and 16 ounces of coffee beans. You can also select if you want a clear glass canister, which allows you to see how much coffee you have left, or a matte white or black canister, which helps prevent UV light from breaking down your coffee beans further and helps preserve their freshness even more.
During testing, I found that when I left brown sugar in the jar for a week, it didn't get moist or hardened in any way. It was easy to measure out your coffee beans, though I recommend refilling it often. It is hand-wash only, and not recommended that you get the lid wet.
Price at time of publish: $33
Capacity: 6.2, 11.1, and 16 ounces | Dimensions: 4.25 x 6 inches | Material: Stainless steel
Best Large Capacity
Planetary Design Airscape Kilo Coffee Canister
What We Love: Easy and intuitive to use, padded rubber bottom keeps canister from sliding around
What We Don't Love: Exterior matte finish scratches easily, secondary top lid can be difficult to remove
If you buy your coffee in large bulk batches, the Airscape coffee storage canister is your best bet for keeping the beans fresh. It is a simply designed canister that is intuitive to use. Simply place your coffee in the canister, then lower the inner lid until it is flush with the coffee beans. In the center of the inner lid is a tiny mesh hole that allows air to escape and makes it easier to push. Fold the handle down and the mesh hole is sealed, effectively sealing the canister from more air. To remove the inner lid, just fold the handle up and pull.
The Airscape comes in various sizes with the extra-large kilo container being the largest available. Though it’s often suggested that you buy coffee beans in small batches, allowing you to use them up for maximum freshness, the Airscape is a good compromise for those who prefer the convenience of buying larger batches of beans. As I tested it, I found that the seal did keep out moisture and produced a tight seal, though it is difficult to remove the top lid.
Price at time of publish: $41
Capacity: 8 ounces, 1 pound, and 2.5 pounds | Dimensions: 7.5 x 8 inches | Material: Galvanized steel
Friis Stainless Steel Coffee Vault Canister
What We Love: Simple, easy lid opens and closes, CO2 valve releases gas, affordable
What We Don’t Love: Not vacuum sealing, you need to replace the valve occasionally
Friis Stainless Steel coffee vault is a great option if you want a storage container that won’t break the bank. Easy-to-use, with a flip top that seals tightly, the canister is not a vacuum sealing one. But it does come with a plastic valve that allows the CO2 off-gassing that occurs with freshly roasted beans to escape.
The package does come with extra valves, as Friis recommends the plastic valve be replaced about every 2 months. But consumers have said the valve does last longer, up to 4 to 6 months depending on use. When I tested it, I found it easy to disassemble, so this shouldn't become a chore. Regardless, the stainless steel canister looks solid and durable on the countertop and will keep your coffee beans or grounds fresh.
Price at time of publish: $20
Capacity: 12, 16 ounces | Dimensions: 6.5 x 7.5 inches | Material: Stainless steel
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Best for Ground Coffee
Coffee Gator Stainless Steel Canister
What We Love: Can store whole beans or grounds, built-in date freshness tracker, great customer service
What We Don't Love: No vacuum seal, not dishwasher safe
Though it’s recommended by coffee experts to always store coffee as whole beans and grind them as you use them, some folks don’t have the patience or the equipment to do this. The Coffee Gator coffee canister is a great solution. Though you can certainly store whole beans in the canister, it also stores ground beans just fine, something a lot of other high-end canisters don’t since their filtering or vacuum seal would get clogged by the grounds.
The easy open and close flip top seals nicely with a small CO2 valve that allows the off-gassing of the coffee to escape. The package even comes with extra CO2 valves if the one installed becomes dirty or damaged. The top also has a built-in calendar so you can tell how old the coffee is inside. As a bonus, there’s also a coffee scoop included, which is a nice touch. When it comes time to clean, I found everything disassembles easily.
Price at time of publish: $28
Capacity: 13.2 ounces | Dimensions: 5 x 6 inches | Material: Stainless steel
Related: The Best Travel Coffee Mugs
What We Love: Simple to use vacuum airtight canister, sturdy BPA-free plastic, black canister keeps damaging UV light out
What We Don’t Love: No CO2 venting, vacuum needs to be refreshed once a day
If you’re prone to dropping canisters or you have a household of energetic children, a plastic container might be a good option for you. The Ankomn Turn-N-Seal canister is a vacuum sealing canister that is also lightweight and durable. Place the coffee beans in the canister, close the lid, and twist the top knob, until the button depresses. Air is sucked out, creating a vacuum inside. During my tests, sugar stayed dry and clump-free, and it was also easy to scoop or pour out my coffee beans.
Keep in mind that freshly roasted beans do emit CO2 for the first 3 to 5 days after roasting. The Ankomn does not have a CO2 valve for this gas, so you will want to reseal the vacuum lid once a day if your beans are very freshly roasted. If the seal begins failing, the lid does disassemble for a deep cleaning that will help to re-establish it. Otherwise, this vacuum sealing canister is a great way to store your beans safely.
Price at time of publish: $39
Capacity: 1.2 liters | Dimensions: 5 x 8 inches | Material: Plastic
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A sleek design and a push-button vacuum seal make the Fellow Atmos Vacuum Canister my top pick for coffee canisters. If you'll be buying your coffee in bulk, the Planetary Design Airscape Kilo Coffee Canister is large enough to keep up to 2.5 pounds of coffee fresh.
What Are the Other Options?
EVAK Airtight Storage Container: I also tested this EVAK coffee canister for consideration as a glass option. Its lid does give an airtight seal, but you have to remove it a certain way to avoid breakage. It can also easily be broken. The design is also too narrow for scooping up the last coffee beans, but might be cumbersome for some when pouring. If you're looking for a glass coffee canister, I recommend buying the glass version of the Fellow Atmos over this one.
How We Tested
Our tester and writer Irvin Lin sifted through dozens of highly-rated coffee canisters, closely looking at consumer reviews and available manufacturer information, to choose his top picks. We then purchased these products for Irvin so he could put them to the test in his home kitchen. First, he placed brown sugar inside it and left it for a week to test if humidity is able to get through the seal. He then placed coffee beans inside and assessed the comfort of scooping them out, an important aspect of enjoying any morning cup.
After testing, Irvin submitted feedback about what he liked and didn’t like about each product and rated each one on the following features: Design, Performance, Capacity, Durability, Cleaning, and Overall Value. Learn more about how we test products.
What to Look for in a Coffee Canister
Coffee canisters come in various materials, from sturdy stainless steel to durable plastic to delicate glass. Which material you pick is up to your lifestyle and aesthetic. Stainless steel is the most rugged of materials and will keep the UV light from breaking down the beans. Plastic is the most lightweight material and can either offer UV protection or the ability to show how many beans you have left in the container. Glass is an elegant solution for those who like to easily see the number of beans left for you to use coffee, though it the most fragile of the materials and might not be appropriate for all households.
Coffee experts will often tell you to buy coffee in smaller amounts for maximum freshness. The logic makes sense but can be less convenient for those folks who can’t run to the store or coffee shop every three days. Find the appropriate-sized canister for your lifestyle. If you have the option to buy coffee frequently or you have limited countertop space, then a smaller container is the best choice. If you prefer to buy your coffee in larger amounts, then a larger container makes sense.
Keep in mind that not all beans are the same size. A pound of roasted beans from one location might actually be volumetrically different than a pound of beans from a different brand or source. Peaberry beans specifically are smaller and denser than traditional coffee beans, and such more will fit into a container.
It’s important to occasionally clean your coffee canister. Coffee beans have oil that can rub off on the container and that oil can go rancid. Cleaning of the container vessel itself is recommended, though how frequently you have to clean it will depend on how often you use it. Usually, the canister itself (not the lid) is fairly safe to wash by hand and occasionally in a dishwasher, depending on the material and brand.
Vacuum lids and CO2 valves can get clogged by dust or grounds as well, which will compromise the seal. Occasional cleaning of the lid or replacement of the valve is recommended, especially if you are noticing the container is not sealing properly. Keep in mind a lot of containers are not dishwasher safe, due to the vacuum sealing lids. In fact, most vacuum sealing lids should not be submerged in water at all.
Always read the instructions that come with the canister to find out the best way to clean and maintain your container as well as how frequently you should do it.
Should you add activated charcoal packs to your coffee bean container?
There is no reason to add an activated charcoal pack to your coffee bean container. Activated charcoal, in fact, might absorb flavors molecules from the coffee, leading to a stale, less fresh-tasting bean.
How long will coffee stay fresh?
The coffee flavor in a whole beans notes starts to break down after about 7 to 14 days from the roast date, with a noticeable loss of flavor after 3 to 4 weeks. But a good vacuum container will extend the lifespan of the coffee beans for about 50 percent longer, letting a fresh bag of beans stay fresh for up to 21 days and a drinkable cup of coffee for up to 6 weeks.
Ground coffee should be used within 7 days, though again, a good container will extend the flavor of the coffee up to 14 days.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This article is written by Irvin Lin, a cookbook author of "Marbled, Swirled, and Layered" and an ongoing contributor to Simply Recipes. He runs his own blog Eat the Love, is a professional recipe developer and writer and a former barista that worked at an independent coffee shop right out of college. He continues to be an enthusiastic coffee drinker, along with his coffee snob husband, and has tasted and traveled all over the country and various different continents, sipping and sampling different beans and brews. He has a slight obsession with finding the elusive perfect cup of coffee.
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