The Ultimate Guide to Buying Coffee in Bulk: Everything You Need to Know

23 February 2024

Purchasing coffee in bulk can be a cost-effective and convenient way to ensure you never run out of your favourite brew. Whether you’re a coffee shop owner, a dedicated caffeine enthusiast, or simply prefer the convenience of having a well-stocked pantry, buying coffee in bulk offers numerous benefits. Iron and Fire offer a wholesale bulk buy coffee solution for businesses across the UK and worldwide with discounted prices on award winning fresh roasted coffees. Free shipping for orders of 10 bags or more, same day dispatch!

Click here to request a wholesale account to buy your beans in bulk.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into everything you need to know about how to buy coffee in bulk successfully. From understanding different coffee bean varieties to exploring the best storage methods, we will cover all the essential aspects to help you make informed decisions when you decide to buy coffee in bulk.

Understanding Bulk Coffee Buying

Why Buy Coffee in Bulk?

Buying coffee in bulk is not just about saving money, although that is a significant advantage. When you buy coffee in bulk, you also ensure a consistent supply of your preferred beans. This can be particularly important for businesses like coffee shops and restaurants, where running out of coffee can mean a loss in sales and customer dissatisfaction. For individuals, it means fewer trips to the store and more time enjoying your morning cup. Moreover, bulk purchases often reduce packaging waste, making it a more environmentally friendly option. Lastly, buying in bulk gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with suppliers, potentially leading to further discounts or access to exclusive or limited batches of specialty beans.

How to Ensure Freshness

Ensuring freshness when you buy coffee in bulk is paramount. Freshness affects the flavour and aroma of the coffee, which is why it’s crucial to understand how to keep it at its best. Once coffee is roasted, it begins to oxidise; exposure to air, light, and heat can speed up this process and degrade the quality. To preserve freshness, store coffee in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. If you buy whole beans, grind them only as you need them to maintain their flavour. Consider purchasing from suppliers who roast beans to order or who have a high turnover, ensuring that the coffee hasn’t sat on shelves for extended periods. It’s also wise to buy amounts that you’ll use within a month or two to enjoy the coffee at its peak quality.

Types of Coffee to Buy in Bulk

The World of Coffee Beans

When you decide to buy coffee in bulk, you’ll encounter a world of diverse bean varieties, each with its unique profile of flavours and aromas. The two primary types of coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are known for their smooth, complex taste and are generally favoured by coffee connoisseurs. Robusta, on the other hand, has a stronger, more bitter flavour with a higher caffeine content and is often used in espresso blends. Within these categories, there are numerous single-origin coffees and blends, providing a spectrum of tastes influenced by the bean’s origin, including the soil, climate, and altitude. When buying in bulk, consider a variety that suits the general preference of those who will be enjoying it, or choose a selection to offer a range of options.

Choosing Between Roasted and Green Beans

When you’re looking to buy coffee in bulk, one of the decisions you’ll face is whether to opt for roasted or green beans. Roasted beans are ready for grinding and brewing, but they have a shorter shelf life due to the roasting process that brings out the flavour and aroma. Green beans, which are unroasted, can be stored for much longer without losing quality, making them a good option for those who don’t mind roasting their own coffee, as some businesses opt to do. Roasting green beans at home also allows you to control the roast level, tailoring it to your personal preference or experimenting with different profiles. However, roasting requires time, equipment, experience and significant skill, so it may not be suitable for everyone. Ultimately, the choice depends on your commitment to the art of coffee-making and the practicalities of your consumption habits.

How to Store Bulk Coffee

The Importance of Proper Storage

Proper storage is critical when you buy coffee in bulk to maintain its freshness and flavour. Coffee is sensitive to air, moisture, heat, and light, all of which can adversely affect its quality. To keep bulk coffee fresh for as long as possible, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark cupboard away from any strong odours that could be absorbed by the beans. Avoid clear containers unless they’re kept in a dark place, as light can cause the coffee to go stale more quickly. If you’ve bought a large quantity, consider dividing the coffee into smaller portions and sealing them separately. This way, you only open what you need, reducing the amount of coffee exposed to air. Remember, proper storage is just as important as the quality of the beans you buy.

Best Practices for Long-Term Storage

For those who buy coffee in bulk, implementing the best practices for long-term storage is essential to preserve the coffee’s quality. If you have an excess that won’t be used immediately, we do not recommend freezing it in an airtight container. Although it is said freezing can help retain the freshness of the beans, it’s crucial to ensure the container is completely sealed to prevent moisture, one of coffee’s biggest enemies and we do not recommend this. If you do advocate freezing your beans, when you’re ready to use the frozen coffee, let it thaw at room temperature before opening the container to avoid condensation. It’s also a good practice to label containers with the date of storage to keep track of freshness. 

Our recommendation for storage of coffee beans is to buy whole beans and grind as you use them. Wholebeans will keep for longer than pre ground coffee. If you do buy pre ground coffee, buy these in smaller bags and ensure that once opened, the bags are tightly sealed or rolled in between use and stored in a cool, dry and dark place out of direct sunlight. 

Where to Buy Bulk Coffee

Supermarkets vs. Speciality Stores

When looking to buy coffee in bulk, you can choose between supermarkets, online stores and specialty roasters, each with its advantages. Supermarkets offer convenience and competitive pricing for bulk coffee. They typically have a variety of brands and blends, which is useful if you’re not looking for anything too specific. However, the freshness and quality of supermarket coffee is low with coffees often poorly roasted, bitter in flavour with very long shelf life affecting the flavour and quality significantly. The selection may also be limited to mainstream choices.

Specialty stores, on the other hand, cater to the coffee aficionado. They often provide a higher quality and fresher selection of beans, with the opportunity to discover unique single-origin coffees and artisanal blends. Staff at these stores are usually knowledgeable and can offer valuable advice on the best coffee for your needs. While specialty stores may be more expensive, they are likely the better choice for those who are particular about their coffee’s source and flavour profile. The UK customer today expects excellent coffee to be served in their local coffee shop. A high quality coffee, only pennies per cup extra over a poor quality coffee, is more profitable for a number of reasons which we talk about here.

Online Shopping for Bulk Coffee

Online shopping has become an increasingly popular option for those looking to buy coffee in bulk. It offers the convenience of browsing and purchasing from the comfort of your home. Online retailers often have a vast selection, including specialty coffees that may be harder to find in physical stores. Additionally, shopping online can provide access to detailed product information, reviews from other coffee enthusiasts, and sometimes better prices due to lower overhead costs.

When buying coffee online, if the supplier does not roast fresh to order then check for roast dates to ensure you’re getting the freshest beans possible. Also, consider the shipping times and costs, as these can impact the overall value and freshness upon arrival. Some online stores also offer subscription services, sending you a regular supply of coffee at intervals that suit your consumption rate, ensuring you always have fresh coffee at hand without the need to reorder manually.This is something that businesses can benefit from with Iron and Fire. Sign up for a wholesale account here.

Making the Most of Your Bulk Coffee Purchase

Grinding Your Beans

To make the most of your purchase when you buy coffee in bulk, it’s important to consider the grinding process. Grinding beans just before brewing is key to achieving the best flavour. Pre-ground coffee can lose its nuances quickly after exposure to air. For those who buy whole beans in bulk, investing in a good quality grinder is essential.

There are two main types of grinders: blade and burr. Blade grinders are more affordable but can produce uneven grinds, which may affect the taste of your coffee. Burr grinders, while are on the slightly more expensive side, offer a more consistent grind size resulting in better extraction and more clarity in the coffee flavour.

To buy coffee for your busy coffee business, contact us to find out how we can support you with award winning coffees, coffee machines and equipment, support and barista training.

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