Can You Freeze Coffee Beans in the Freezer, to Keep it Fresh?
[Let's Find Out]
If your anything like me who begins, continues, and ends the day with a tasty cup of black madness, storing your beans the right way is a no-brainer. Take bean storage for granted, and your favorite brew will lose its beautiful taste and aroma - might as well drink instant if you don't store it properly.
The ‘art’ of storing your beans (or grinds) raises a very common question (or myth, depending on how you look at it) - can you freeze coffee to keep it fresh for longer?
Let’s talk about the whys and how’s related to the overlooked issue of coffee storage and bust this myth once and for all.
Fresh Coffee = Great Coffee
Non-coffee enthusiast buddies have asked me plenty of times why I am so anal about making sure that my grounds or beans stay as fresh as possible before brewing. Here's what I usually tell em:
Cooking veggies while fresh makes them taste better. Brewing your coffee while fresh has the same effect
Coffee beans, once they’ve just gone through the process of roasting, generate their highest level of carbon dioxide. This is the product of what is called a Maillard Reaction, which is a reaction of enzymes in the bean to the applied heat.
Various roasting methods and stages cause differences in flavor, as discussed in the following video of Master Coffee Roaster Gareth Scully, and can take your brew from light and bright to dark and rich.
Whatever your taste preferences are, after roasting is when you’d find coffee at its most aromatic, flavorful, and yes, also at it’s freshest!
Over time, the carbon dioxide levels in coffee will naturally deplete, and its subsequent exposure to oxygen, moisture, light, and heat will also affect its quality, flavor, and aroma.
If what you’re gunning for is a full-bodied cup of coffee happiness, then the best time to brew after roasting is within about three days. It is also during that ‘in-between’ period that proper storage and packaging is most important.
Where Should you keep Your Beans (to ensure freshness?)
Keeping your coffee in a covered jar should be enough, yes? Well, we all want to think it is, but if you’re someone who wants all the goodness of coffee in your cup, then you would want to store your grounds in a more appropriate vessel.
The National Coffee Association USA offers a very simple requirement for coffee storage - what you need is an air-tight, opaque container.
Scott McMartin of the Starbucks Green Coffee Quality group stated in an interview that this minimizes the exposure of your precious grounds to their natural enemies - light, moisture, and heat.
But what kind of container is it that you’re looking for really? Your pretty ceramic jars will look beautiful on the pantry shelves, and may do the job of holding your freshly-roasted coffee for a few days at most.
However, if you’re looking for a more effective and long-term means of storage, then opt for a container that is made to minimize air space inside.
One kind that’s readily available is coffee bags equipped with a one-way valve. You may find coffee already conveniently stored in them in supermarkets and online on Amazon.com.
This kind of storage system allows for easy packing of freshly-roasted coffee while keeping as much carbon dioxide intact as possible to prevent the dreaded oxidation.
Once the bag is opened, consume the contents within a few weeks or transfer the contents to another air-tight container to extend the shelf-life and freshness of your coffee.
Coffee canisters like the Friis 16-Ounce Coffee Vault or the Tightvac Coffeevac 1 Pound Vacuum Sealed Storage Container fit the bill. They are durable and ingeniously designed to prevent the possibility of coffee going stale.
Freezing your Coffee
Now the all-important question to answer - can, and should, you freeze coffee? The answer is yes - you can freeze coffee as a means of long-term storage.
This applies most especially to coffee beans that you do not plan to use up for a stretch of weeks.
In addition to placing them in absolutely airtight containers, you must avoid taking them in and out of the freezer. The changes in temperature can cause moisture to form, and in turn damage the quality of your stored coffee.
Robert Nelson of the National Coffee Association advises those who freeze their coffee first to divide the beans into smaller portions, with consideration for the usual amounts you foresee yourself using within two weeks.
Keeping your coffee in its best form depends a lot on its preparation and proper storage. Your pantry shelves are as good a home for your coffee canisters as your freezer, but the former is more recommended.
If you prefer to freeze your coffee keep in mind:
- Choose freshly-roasted coffee and divide into consumable amounts.
- Put them into air-tight bags or canisters before placing them in the freezer.
- Bring out only the frozen coffee you intend to consume within the next few days.Thaw at room temperature before brewing to achieve best results.
Now that’s all settled, let’s have a cup of fresh brew! Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you have questions.