Why and How Should You Freeze your Coffee Beans?
So, why should you freeze your coffee beans?
As you probably already know, freezing any food keeps its flavours intact and stops it from going off as quickly as it would if it was simply refrigerated. It is widely known that freezing a meal today will result in it tasting either exactly the same or even better when you defrost it and eat it next week. But does this actually apply to roasted coffee beans?
Quick Note: This principle only applies to roasted coffee beans, not to raw beans! It is never appropriate to freeze raw beans as it could damage the integrity of the bean. And there is absolutely no difference between darker and lighter roasts, it is all down to personal preference for that one.
Fundamentals Of Coffee Bean Storage
Before we get into the nitty gritty, keep in mind that coffee bean storage isn’t as complicated as one might think. In fact, storage, most of the time, only requires the use of common sense from the coffee lover.
With that in mind, here are 4 different conditions to think about when storing your coffee beans:
- Be wary of exposing your coffee beans to oxygen. Oxygen can kill coffee, as much as it would with other foods. If you need to store your beans in a place where you can’t avoid their exposure to oxygen, then put them in a tight seal container to reduce the likelihood of oxygen getting to them when they’re being stored.
- Next, keep your coffee beans away from light, since it can kill them. It doesn’t matter what type of lighting – the sun, or a simple lamp – any light can break down organic cell structures inside the beans, causing them to degrade. So, don’t ever store the beans in containers that will let any light in (i.e., clear plastic containers).
- In addition, don’t place your coffee beans in or near heat. Heat can also kill your coffee beans, because the hotter the container or environment, the more likely the beans will break up and allow bacteria to fester.
- Finally, watch out for humidity, because that can be harmful to your coffee beans as well. Like heat, humidity allows bacteria to grow, and it can affect the beans’ moisture levels. If the moisture is affected, then your beans won’t give you the right flavor (or any flavor).
Since coffee beans are vulnerable to certain conditions, it’s important to store them properly, so that they don’t deteriorate or go bad.
So now that you know what conditions to look out for when storing your coffee beans, it’s time to look at how freezing your beans is better for them, and then how to freeze them the right way.
1: First of all, Freezing Helps Retain Flavour
Once coffee has been roasted, it starts to age almost immediately. Once coffee ages, it loses the majority of its flavours and becomes dull and not as delicious. Although coffee beans do not go off necessarily very quickly; they do lose their ‘spark’. The best way to prevent this is through freezing your coffee beans! Mark Rollinson, a journalist at Study Demic and OX Essays, commented, “Do not refrigerate them as a substitute for freezing, as this will not help retain their flavour and could damage the beans.” The process of freezing allows coffee beans to taste just as good after a long period of freezing as they would a few days after originally being roasted.
2: Freezing Coffee Beans Increases Quality of Grind
It sounds very weird to suggest grinding coffee beans frozen, but it actually increases grind quality. Hazel Lovett, a food expert at Essay Roo and Writing populist, noted, “Freezing coffee beans and grinding them in this frozen state will result in a more even grind size overall and better particle distribution over the space of the whole grind.” ‘Why does the grind size matter?’, you might be asking in your head. The finer grind of beans and more even distribution of the particles will result in increased extraction and a sweeter more enhanced taste. In Layman’s terms, it will make your coffee taste better.
Now, it’s time to think about the ongoing concerns about placing your coffee beans in the fridge. For years, the specialty coffee community has been against storing your coffee in the freezer for a number of reasons. We’ll explore the most concerning reasons why some coffee experts believe that storing your coffee in the freezer is a bad idea:
- Turns Funny-Tasting
Since roasted coffee beans tend to have low moisture levels, they’re prone to absorbing moisture from whatever environment that they’re in. That means that coffee beans are considered hygroscopic, due to their ability to soak up moisture at any time.
However, when the beans start soaking up the moisture, that jeopardizes the original flavors of the beans, Yes, moisture can make coffee beans muddy and tainted in flavor, when you try to make your coffee.
Plus, the coffee beans may absorb the moisture that’s coming from other foods and beverages in the fridge or freezer, which can affect how you’ll taste the coffee once it’s brewed. Just imagine getting either a garlic or cheesy flavor when drinking your coffee in the morning – that would be weird.
Humidity also contributes to decaying. Like any other foods, coffee beans can decay over time. These beans have chemical structures that are much vulnerable to decaying; and it doesn’t take long for hundreds of chemical reactions to contribute to moisture affecting the beans.
- Condensation Aggravates Things
Finally, condensation can definitely put a damper in your morning brew. It all starts when you open your container once you pull it out of your freezer. Yes, even when you open your dry, airtight container, condensation can happen at an instant, bringing humidity with it.
Notice how those arguments stem from the concern of humidity affecting the coffee beans. While critics of this method may have their concerns, other people believe that freezing your beans can be achieved when done correctly.
So, How Should you Freeze your Beans?
There are two simple requirements for freezing your coffee beans. The first is that you need an airtight tub or container (or at least as close as you can get). You need to either choose a vacuum sealed bag or packet, or a sealed tub or container. Whichever option you go for, you need to ensure no air can enter in.
I often use sealed tubes to freeze my coffee personally, as they normally fit around 20 grams worth of coffee beans in each tube, which is perfect for a double shot. The important thing with tubes which is easy to get wrong is ensuring that you fill the tube all the way to the top. If you do not, too much air will remain in the tube and compromise the freezing process. Make sure that you seal the top of the tube completely, or the lid of whatever container you may be using. My trick of the trade is to give the container a good shake to rustle the beans together. This will pop any spare beans into holes which just had air in them and allow you to fill the container as much as possible. I would personally pop the type of coffee you are freezing or even a recipe if you are feeling really detailed. from the coffee. If you want to be even more detailed, you could write the perfect recipe on it as well. This will ensure your coffee is good for up to 2 years! Crazy, right?
How Long can you Freeze Coffee Beans For?
Absolutely ages. You heard right! Ages are the answer.
Some scientific studies have shown that one day in a room temperature environment equates to more than two hundred days in a freezer. According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, many canned goods, as well as those in food storages, have a long shelf life in room temperature, but the refrigerator’s short time limit guarantees that food won’t spoil or rot.
Most people say two years is the cap, but I would say it actually could be longer. There is no way to know without testing it.
One trick of the trade is to place the beans away from the door of the freezer to avoid risking freezer burn. While this method can work, the beans still need to be stored securely to make it suitable for storing.
An airtight container helps with this as well, since it keeps out oxygen, which can affect the beans. But again, the method has to be done properly in order for it to work.
Never EVER Refreeze
Just because you can get away with refreezing certain food items doesn’t mean that it can be done with coffee beans. In fact, coffee beans aren’t like other foods, because they’re carefully made to be used for coffeemaking only once. Even if you’re saving the beans for a little later in the day, it’s still not good to refreeze.
The quality of your beans will deteriorate over time. So, there’s no sense in refreezing your remaining beans, if you only use some of them for your morning brew. To get the best out of your coffee from jump, freeze or refrigerate only once, so that your beans are in the best quality that they can be.
Or, consider storing your beans in a different – yet dark and cool – place, rather than place them in the fridge.
Your Best Bet
So, what’s the best solution, if you don’t feel that storing coffee beans in the fridge is a good idea? The good news is … well, the good news are – you can do this in small doses, you can use airtight containers, and consider a coffee grinder. We’ll explore each alternative:
- You can store small batches of coffee beans. Doing so can actually preserve freshness to a certain degree. Besides, taking baby steps is totally worth it.
- Invest in containers that can be sealed and airtight to help better preserve your beans. Also, make sure that your containers are designed to keep your beans from heat, light, humidity, and oxygen exposure.
- If all else fails, invest in a coffee grinder. You can turn your beans into ground coffee that you can brew within minutes. With this method, you’ll know that you’ll not only get the flavors that are supposed to be in the coffee, but you’ll also save your beans from being exposed to outside forces before being brewed.
Remember: There’s no such thing as a substitute for freshly roasted and ground coffee. Period. Something may say “freshly roasted and ground”; but that solely depends on how the brewer brews the coffee. So, your best bet is to plan ahead when brewing your coffee. That means making sure that you have enough thawing time, once you get to work brewing.
So, there you have it!
As a recap, this article took your through the ups and downs of freezing your coffee beans, with the overall consensus being that doing so takes time, effort, and skill. So, if you’re new to storing your coffee beans, play it safe and not freeze. However, if you’ve been brewing for a good while, then you can store your beans the way that you see fit.
Although this method of coffee bean storage has been tested and questioned throughout the years, when done properly, the beans should last longer until your next brew. The key here is to evaluate how many coffee beans you have, and how much you can use. In this way, you won’t waste beans, and you won’t be restricted to a few beans.
If you’re a true coffee lover, then we hope that this guide will help you store your coffee beans the right way, so that you can keep having your next good ol’ cup of joe the way you’d like it!
About the Author:
Elizabeth Hines is a writer and editor at Student writing services and Via Writing. She is also a contributing writer for Academized. As a content writer, she writes articles about the latest tech and marketing trends, innovations, and strategies.