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elbanditoroso's avatar

Does coffee dry out in open air?

Asked by elbanditoroso (14766 points ) December 20th, 2011

Situation: to save time in the morning, I put a couple of spoonfuls of coffee into the coffeemaker the night before, and fill the water tank. So the next morning I just need to flip the little red switch and the coffee will be ready.

But in doing so, I am exposing the coffee to air for a 6–7 hour period. Not much time, true, but certainly not the same as being in the tightly sealed can (or silver lined bag) where it was before.

Am I doing perceptible damage to the taste of the coffee in letting it oxidize for 6–7 hours?

(I’m discounting the potential danger that ants or coffee-eating insects could crawl into the coffee maker – while potentially true, it’s not a major concern.)

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13 Answers

SmashTheState's avatar

If you can smell it, then volatile oils – the stuff that gives coffee its flavour – are escaping. You are also allowing the chemicals to freely oxidize, which changes the flavour of the coffee. The whole reason you grind coffee is to provide the maximum possible surface area to interact with water. This surface area also releases volatile oils and absorbs ambient oxygen at the same vastly increased rate.

zenvelo's avatar

I grind my fresh beans the night before too, about 6 hours before brewing. I lose some flavor compared to the weekends when I do it in the morning. It still tastes pretty good, and worth it for the convenience.

I do store the beans in an airtight container. I think that is more important than the time after I have ground them.

bongo's avatar

Yeah, I keep my coffee in a airtight container. Keeps it fresh for longer. Coffee goes stale very quickly and an opened packet should be used within 2 weeks really although it will stay fresher for longer if you freeze it I have heard although I have never done that.
You will loose some of the flavor by letting it sit out for so long. If you can’t taste the difference and you would prefer to have the time in the mornings then I think its a good idea. Personally I can taste the difference between stale coffee and coffee that has been kept airtight and feel that it is worth it to measure it out just before I pour the hot water.

ArabianKnightress's avatar

EBR!!!!!! :)

Okay you got me a little ill about the bugs but I just checked my coffee pot and its pretty sealed lol ..To answer your question, yes you probably do lose some flavor to your coffee. Lemme ask you this when you take that first sip of that brewed heavanly goodness do you really miss it? If so, keep an empty can of coffee, lets start with 5 coffee filters..Place the desired amount of coffee in one filter and gently place it in the empty coffee can, repeat with the rest, now seal it up and place in the fridge, that is if that is where you keep your coffee. In the morning grab one of the ready measured coffe filters and pop it the coffee machine. :) Hope that helps :)

marinelife's avatar

You are losing some flavor. I choose not to save time in the morning.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Theoretically there is a difference. However, since we are all individuals, that difference might be so slight for you as to be imperceptible.
Try it a few times both ways. If it does not matter, then do what is most convenient.

—Personally, I can’t tell the difference between freshly brewed or day old microwaved. It all tastes like cream and sugar to me.

zenvelo's avatar

@elbanditoroso Do you grind your beans? Or do you buy ground coffee? Buying fresh whole beans and then grinding them the night before will be much fresher than keeping ground coffee air tight until just before you brew the coffee.

@bongo Yes, freezing beans will keep them fresh, although they should be frozen in a moisture proof bag so they don;t get frost on them. But for best effect you have to defrost the beans before grinding.

downtide's avatar

I suppose it depends on the humidity of your environment. Where I live, it’s always damp and humid so the coffee wouldn’t dry out.

judochop's avatar

anything that can evaporate will do so in open air.

john65pennington's avatar

Form many years, I made my coffee at night in order for it to be ready for me at 430 am.

I did not notice any measurable difference in the taste.

I do keep an open can of coffee in the fridge. It does keep it fresher.

I do not do this routine now that I am retired.

The choice is soley between you and your taste buds.

YARNLADY's avatar

I was always taught that air is the enemy to food.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@ZENVELO, RE: GRINDING – sometimes, but not always

@ArabianKnightress -didn’t mean to scare you

JilltheTooth's avatar

I find that the convenience of having the coffee already made (I have a machine with a timer) far outweighs any flavor that might be lost. Anyway, I’ve been drinking cheaper coffee lately so it’s no big, it all tastes a bit off. When I use the quality stuff as a treat, I’ll brew it fresh.

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