Coffee Bean Vacuum Savers

Published January 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.

These storage containers promises to help coffee beans stay fresher longer, but is it any more effective than a zipper-lock storage bag?

Overview:

We tested three models (two with manual vacuum pumps and one battery powered), placing fresh-roasted whole coffee beans in each container and leaving them sealed for a week. While manual pumps initially created a tight vacuum, by the end of the week, their seals had broken, allowing moisture to condense on the beans, leaving them oily and odorless. The battery-operated product maintained its seal perfectly; its contents were dry and boasted a rich, fresh aroma. Now came the real test: After another week, we made three pots of coffee from beans stored in the winner, in a zipper-lock bag, and from a freshly opened bag. The differences were marginal. If you only make coffee at home on weekends, the winning product would be a great choice. But if you make coffee every day, that vacuum seal does you no good: We compared the it to our usual storage method of a zipper-lock bag with the air pressed out, opening and closing both daily over 12 days (the outer limit for optimal freshness) to simulate daily use. At the end of 12 days, we… read more

We tested three models (two with manual vacuum pumps and one battery powered), placing fresh-roasted whole coffee beans in each container and leaving them sealed for a week. While manual pumps initially created a tight vacuum, by the end of the week, their seals had broken, allowing moisture to condense on the beans, leaving them oily and odorless. The battery-operated product maintained its seal perfectly; its contents were dry and boasted a rich, fresh aroma. Now came the real test: After another week, we made three pots of coffee from beans stored in the winner, in a zipper-lock bag, and from a freshly opened bag. The differences were marginal. If you only make coffee at home on weekends, the winning product would be a great choice. But if you make coffee every day, that vacuum seal does you no good: We compared the it to our usual storage method of a zipper-lock bag with the air pressed out, opening and closing both daily over 12 days (the outer limit for optimal freshness) to simulate daily use. At the end of 12 days, we compared coffee made from each to coffee brewed from fresh beans. Turns out the fresh coffee didn’t score much higher than coffee from the our favorite vacuum saver, which in turn was only slightly better than brew from the zipper-lock bag. (After 10 more days, coffee from both the zipper-lock bags and the Bean Vac was stale and bitter.) For those who make coffee daily, these products are a waste of money. For occasional coffee drinkers, it’s a good storage solution.

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  • Product Tested

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended with Reservations

    Exceptional Designs Bean Vac Coffee Canister

    The tight, battery-activated seal kept coffee beans dry and fresh for two weeks—provided the canister was only opened once a week. Easy to use, it offers settings to control how often the unit will reactivate its vacuum seal (at 12-, 24-, or 48-hour intervals). However, it only holds 1 pound of coffee, and while we hoped this expensive gadget would preserve the beans in better condition even if we opened it daily, a taste test revealed that it wasn’t any better than storing beans in a zipper-lock bag.

    $39.99

  • Not Recommended

    1.3 Liter Clear Tightvac

    Basic in design, this canister created a vacuum seal as the cap was pushed down. But after a week, the seal was completely broken, and the beans were wet with condensation.

    $14.99

  • Not Recommended

    Vacu Vin Vacuum Coffee Saver

    Although this canister was easy to use, there was no way to gauge how many times to press the pump. As a result, we produced a vacuum that was too extreme, drawing moisture out of the beans, which condensed on their surface. After a week, the beans were saturated with moisture, and their aroma had disappeared.

    $22.90

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