Clear Lake Coffee Roasters: Industry Insider Series - Preserving Perfection: A Guide to Storing Green Coffee Beans for Optimal Flavor - Jan 6, 2024

Green Coffee Storage

Green Coffee Storage

The Importance of Proper Storage:

Green coffee beans are a canvas of potential flavors, waiting to be unlocked through the roasting process. However, this potential can be compromised if the beans are not stored correctly. Exposure to factors like air, light, moisture, and temperature fluctuations can accelerate the aging process and diminish the quality of the beans. Proper storage is, therefore, essential to preserve the integrity of the coffee and ensure a delightful cup every time.

Ideal Storage Conditions:

  1. Cool and Dark: Green coffee beans thrive in cool and dark environments. Exposure to direct sunlight can lead to the breakdown of compounds within the beans, affecting the flavor. Optimal storage spaces include cool, dark cupboards or pantries.

  2. Airtight Containers: Air is one of the primary culprits when it comes to the degradation of green coffee beans. Storing beans in airtight containers, such as vacuum-sealed bags or jars with tight-fitting lids, helps prevent oxidation and preserves freshness.

  3. Avoid Moisture: Moisture is the enemy of coffee beans. Humidity can cause the beans to absorb unwanted odors and flavors, compromising the taste. Ensure your storage area is dry, and consider using moisture-absorbing packets if necessary.

  4. Temperature Stability: Fluctuations in temperature can impact the aging process of green coffee beans. Aim for a stable, moderate temperature range. Avoid storing beans in places that are exposed to extreme heat or frequent temperature changes.

The Role of Humidity:

Humidity levels play a crucial role in green coffee bean storage. Beans should be stored in an environment with a relative humidity level of 60% or less. Excessive humidity can lead to the growth of mold, affecting the safety and flavor of the beans.

Time Matters:

While green coffee beans have a longer shelf life compared to roasted beans, they are not immune to the passage of time. It's advisable to purchase green coffee beans in quantities that can be used within a few months to ensure optimal freshness. Rotate your stock to use older beans first and continuously replenish your supply with fresh batches.

Quality Packaging:

When purchasing green coffee beans, pay attention to the packaging. Quality suppliers often use specially designed bags that provide a barrier against light, air, and moisture. If you're buying in bulk, consider repackaging the beans into smaller portions for more efficient storage.

Monitoring and Testing:

Regularly check your green coffee beans for any signs of deterioration. If beans show signs of discoloration, off-putting odors, or unusual moisture content, it may be an indication that the storage conditions need adjustment.

 In the journey from the coffee farm to your cup, the preservation of flavor is a delicate dance. Green coffee beans, the raw, unroasted gems that hold the potential for a rich and aromatic brew, require careful storage to maintain their quality. In this blog post, we delve into the art and science of storing green coffee beans, exploring the factors that influence their freshness and how you can ensure your beans retain their full flavor potential.

I don’t know who “they” are, exactly, but one of the things “they” don’t tell you when you first decide to start roasting coffee is how challenging it can be to store your green coffee when your business starts to grow.

In the beginning, it’s so simple. For years now, small roasters have had the option to buy less than 60 kilos of green coffee from places like Sweet Maria’s and Coffee Shrub. Maybe you even had your green coffee tucked away in plastic bins, stacked and labelled and safe. It was so cute. And even as you did start purchasing full sacks of 60 kilos or more, you never had more than a few bags on hand at a time.

But as you grow, storage can become a challenge. Things can get a little snug.

Although half of coffee roasters identify their primary business as wholesale, over 80% indicate they also operate retail and at least 20% are roasting coffee inside their coffeehouse. For a retailer roasting onsite, green coffee storage can be particularly challenging.

Best Practices

Before we touch on the logistical issues around growth and storage, we should review the best practices for storing any amount of green coffee waiting to be roasted. These guidelines will play a role in how you grow. Not everyone appreciates an acronym but if you don’t mind, here is a blast from the email past: HOTMAIL.



Think of your green coffee beans as little sponges and around 11% (give or take) of their weight is moisture and that’s how we like it. We don’t want to give away any of this water weight before we roast the coffee. We also don’t want to add to this water weight. Too much moisture can lead to icky things like mold.


In the late 19th century, when Arbuckle Brothers coffee was dominant, it is said that rival salespeople would bribe warehouse workers to store onions next to Arbuckle’s coffee. Even though green coffee beans are not as porous as roasted coffee beans, they are sponge-like enough to absorb odors. Roasting space is almost always multi-functional for small roasters and green coffee can share that space with any number of smells that might find their way into your coffee. If you can smell it, so can your coffee.


Aim for room temperature, in the neighborhood of 70 degrees. Heat leads to moisture and air that is too cold is dry and in extreme cold green coffee can freeze.


Heat and humidity result indirectly in moisture added to green coffee. You should also avoid allowing the coffee to get wet more directly. I’ve seen green coffee stored too close to an open door and get wet during a heavy rainstorm. If you have to unload coffee while it’s raining, cover it up. Also, from leaks in the roof to broken pipes, floors end up wet for any number of reasons, so keep your green coffee off the ground.


Well, not much you can do about oxygen. It happens. It helps that most green coffee these days comes inside plastic liners like GrainPro or Ecotact. Green coffee that does not come inside plastic should be ordered more frequently so the coffee spends less time on the shelf.


Insects and other pests are not generally a problem once coffee is safe and sound at the roastery but let’s not make it easy for them. Keep bags closed and off the ground.


Expose your green coffee to as little light as practical and out of direct sunlight if possible.


Most of these “HOTMAIL” issues are not super relevant to roasters who are moving small amounts of coffee through their roastery at a fairly quick pace. They require more thought as the volume of coffee you have on hand increases and the logistics as well as the quality of storage become more important … or annoying.


Growing Pains

Cash-flow aside, planning your green coffee purchases when you only have a few bags on hand at any time is relatively simple. You know how much of any given coffee you roast in a week on average (right?). When the weight dwindles to a two- or three-week supply, it’s time to order more. New coffee arrives and the bag that is almost empty sits on top of the new bag, easy-peasy, storage is not really an issue.

Your coffee is great, you’re meeting a need in your market, turns out you’re pretty good at sales since you care about the coffee and you have a point of view, that is, something you want to say or accomplish as a coffee roaster. So, your business grows.

Chances are you will outgrow your capacity to store green coffee before you outgrow the capacity of your coffee roaster. I mention this because the need to move into a larger space should be driven by the need to increase your roasting, packing, and shipping capacity, not green coffee storage.

Packing and shipping capacity includes the “flow” inside your roasting space. Ideally, green coffee flows smoothly in and roasted coffee flows smoothly out. If you’re tripping over bags of green coffee as you try and ship out roasted coffee, or continuously moving bags of green coffee around on a roast-day to reconfigure the space for the next process, you need to think about storage. It doesn’t mean you need to lease a larger roasting space.

These are growing pains that you might need to just live with for a time but before you consider committing to a larger space, consider off-site storage, a $2000 a year commitment rather than a $2000 a month commitment is worth the inconvenience. If you have the room outside, you can rent a storage container but you’re trading convenience for temperature control. This might be a good trade if you’re churning the coffee fairly fast.

Finally—and believe it or not this does not go without saying—don’t buy too much coffee. Buy what you need when you need it, not what you can because you can. Don’t buy green coffee based on your aspirations, buy green coffee based on your history.

Preserving the potential of green coffee beans is a crucial step in the journey to a delightful cup of coffee. By understanding the environmental factors that influence freshness and implementing proper storage practices, you can ensure that your green coffee beans maintain their peak flavor. So, let's raise our mugs to the art of preservation and the joy that comes from unlocking the full potential of these unroasted wonders.


 Six reasons for making Clear Lake Coffee Roasters - CLCR - your go-to coffee roaster:

☕️ We are a local family-run business located in the heart of Clear Lake, Iowa.

☕️ We go to great lengths to find only the finest and ethically sourced coffee around, from the top 2% of coffee beans in the world.

☕️ We only source 100% certified Arabica coffee beans, carefully hand-selecting each coffee based on specific quality and taste attributes.

☕️ Our roasting process has been refined over the years and each roast profile is individually designed to complement the nuances of the coffee we source, from Cup of Excellence (COE) award-winning producers.

☕️ By roasting in smaller batches, we can ensure our coffee is ALWAYS fresh, in fact, we roast your coffee only after you place an order - the same day your order ships out.

☕️ At CLCR, we are dedicated to a single mission: the unyielding pursuit of coffee perfection in every cup.

We would give you more reasons, but rather than reading it's better if you visit our website, purchase a bag or two, and experience a unique caffeinated or half-caff journey for yourself 😊!
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