When it comes to whole coffee beans, the fresher they are and the less oxygen they are exposed to, the better quality and taste they will have. Coffee beans can, in fact, become stale if you leave them exposed after opening the bag, that’s why it’s always recommended to store them in an airtight container. But can you freeze coffee beans? In this article, we are going to take a look at freezing coffee beans as a method to keep them fresher for longer.
Also related: Can you grind coffee beans in a blender?
Can You Freeze Coffee Beans
As long as things are done correctly, there is nothing wrong with storing coffee beans in a freezer to preserve freshness. However, if the freezing and storage are not done properly, it can destroy the taste of the coffee, leaving the drinker with a flat, flavorless cup of coffee.
So, yes, you can freeze coffee beans, but it is important to do so carefully.
What Are the Reasons for Freezing Coffee Beans
Environmental factors like oxygen, light, heat, and humidity (or moisture) can damage coffee quality and flavor. Putting aside the risks, if coffee freezing is done properly the biggest benefit is the preservation of its flavor. Once the coffee beans have been roasted, they begin to lose their flavor and the coffee’s essential oils begin to dry and become stale.
Freezing the beans can lock the flavors and oils into the coffee, allowing the coffee taste and quality to be the same as when it was first roasted (if fresh) or purchased.
Another benefit of freezing is that frozen beans grind more consistently. Due to the hardness of the frozen beans, they grind more uniformly and can be ground finer, resulting in better extraction, and consistency.
Also related: How to grind coffee beans at home.
What Are the Downsides of Freezing Coffee Beans?
The biggest risk for storing coffee in the freezer is humidity and moisture. Roasted coffee beans are a naturally dry item, so they are prone to absorbing moisture from their environment. With the freezer being a cold and humid storage environment, freezing increases the risk of moisture absorption. This moisture can expedite the chemical decay of coffee beans, deteriorating the flavor and quality of the coffee.
Also, the moisture absorbed in a freezer is not neutral. Usually, there are food items stored in close proximity, and the coffee can absorb those smells and tastes along with the moisture. The unpleasant reality is that a cup of coffee using frozen beans runs the risk of tasting a little like old lasagna.
Also, when removing the coffee from the freezer for grinding and/or brewing, the rapid temperature changes cause condensation to form on the inside and outside of whatever container the coffee is stored in.
Again, this introduces additional moisture and risk of deterioration to the coffee beans. Despite the risks of freezer storage, when done correctly, it can be perfectly safe and helpful to freeze coffee beans.
How Do You Freeze Coffee Beans?
One of the most important parts of coffee storage is minimizing air exposure. This is especially vital when considering freezer storage. So, the first step is to use some type of airtight container to store the coffee before freezing. While some instruction suggests various tubes for storage, not every at-home user has access to such things.
The easiest at-home option is some kind of vacuum-sealed storage bag or container. These can be found and purchased at many large retail stores. If not available, a high-quality zipper-sealed bag can be suitable.
Another important step is to divide and store the coffee in smaller portions. It is important to remove enough coffee for a couple of days without disturbing the rest of the frozen beans. So, only put enough beans for 2-4 days in each bag or container, to minimize moving coffee in and out of the freezer multiple times. This limits oxygen and moisture exposure from condensation.
Once the coffee is portioned, place the beans in the freezer. Frozen coffee can last for up to a month when stored correctly. Temperature control when removing coffee from the freezer is also important. It has been noted that frozen beans can provide a more uniform grind. So, if all of the frozen beans are being used, it is okay to put them straight in the grinder.
However, if only some of the frozen coffee is being ground and brewed, it is important to allow the beans to thaw to room temperature before opening the container. Immediately opening the container of frozen coffee allows a large amount of oxygen and moisture to contact the beans, damaging the quality if not used immediately.
Immediately opening frozen beans and then allowing them to sit for a few days completely undermines all of the benefits of freezing the coffee in the first place.
The Final Sip
To summarize, you can store coffee beans in the freezer to preserve some freshness. However, you must follow some of the steps in this article to ensure they remain fresh and flavorful. We do, however, recommend that you try to use coffee beans immediately when they are fresh before resorting to freezing them.