We spoke with barista and coffee aficionado Alicia Rae in San Diego, CA, who professionally brewed for a major coffeehouse for four years. “If you’re investing in the coffee experience and freshness matters to you, a canister is absolutely essential,” she says.
Why you need a canister
These canisters are all designed to keep out coffee’s two nemeses, she says. “Two elements that detrimentally affect the taste of coffee are light and air,” says Rae. “UV light speeds up the aging process, and air oxidizes the beans and speeds the staling process, causing the coffee to lose nuances in the flavor profile.”
It also does you a favor by saving you some freezer space (all the more room for your TJ’s cauliflower gnocchi). “With a canister, you don’t have to freeze your beans to keep them fresh,” she says. A bonus? “Frozen beans can mess up your (potentially very expensive) grinder—so use a canister instead!”
What to look for in a canister
The top things you need, according to the expert:
- A good seal (air blocking)
- Opaque exterior (UV blocking)
All Rae’s recommendations, she says, are similar—with one option surpassing the competition ever so slightly. “They’re all well-rated, dependable, and pretty much do the same thing,” she says.
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The all-time favorite
“This canister has a built-in vacuum pump in the lid to remove oxygen; you’ll twist the lid back and forth to express the air from the canister,” Rae says. “There’s a small dot on the outside, on top of the lid, that indents to show a bright green ring when the air is out—it’s pretty cool. To release the seal, push down on the circle in the center of the lid.” Keep in mind, she says, that if you’re not using these beans every day, you’ll need to refresh the seal every few days by twisting the lid.
This built-in vacuum seal is where Fellow Atmos edges out the competition; the rest (or at least the others on a similar tier) have a separate piece. “I don’t like to keep track of extra pieces,” Rae adds.
She also loves that Fellow Atmos’s canister is sleek; “Stainless steel blocks light, and neutral black or white color options offer a smooth profile to look elegant and understated on the counter.” She recommends steering clear of the glass version, unless you plan to store in a cabinet, away from any UV light.
Two more honorable mentions
The MiiR canister is Rae’s second favorite option; this one has a separate vacuum seal to remove the air, which sits inside the canister on top of the beans. “This ‘accordion’ pumps the air out to form a vacuum seal when the top ring mechanism is pushed down,” she says. “To release the seal, pull the ring up and remove the pump.” Important: “Do not wash or submerge the pump in water,” she says. “The water inside can’t be removed, and the pump won’t work.” The stainless steel exterior, like that of the Fellow Atmost, is great for blocking light, and it comes in neutral matte finishes in black, white, and copper.
“This brand has been around for a long time, and has a patented inner lid [there’s an outer lid, too] that works as a plunger to force air out through a valve, creating an excellent barrier against oxidation,” she says. “To secure the vacuum seal, flip the inner lid handle down. To release, raise the handle and remove the inner lid.” This product comes in two sizes—a small 8oz, and medium 16oz—and a variety of colors, giving you the most options aesthetically.
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