Don't Freeze Your Coffee (But If You Do.....)
To freeze, or not to freeze—There are lots of voices on both sides of this question in the coffee aficionado community.
Some people, including at least one fairly famous culinary celeb, recommends freezing coffee for freshness.
Is the rule to “never store coffee in a freezer” just a myth?
No, this is one rule you should definitely follow—if you care about how your coffee tastes.
I don’t care what Alton Brown says—don’t waste great coffee by storing it in the freezer.
Why You Shouldn’t Freeze Coffee
A few years ago, Sprudge interviewed Chahan Yeretzian, a true coffee freshness expert with a PhD in chemistry.
He admits that coffee does age slower at cooler temperatures, but here are some of the other key takeaways in regard to freezing coffee beans:
“It has been proven that aging is slowed down if you keep coffee cold, but by no means does this mean you should freeze your coffee. In fact, I would say you should not freeze specialty coffee—freezing might change its structure, and cause individual beans to crack.”
He goes on to describe the other issue—un-freezing coffee.
“Once you take your coffee out of the fridge and you open it, introducing it to warmer air, this will result in considerable condensation on the coffee, which is extremely damaging in terms of aroma and structure.”
As you see, any potential de-aging benefits of storing coffee in a freezer are negated by the damage that occurs to the coffee when it warms back up.
In other words, it’s not the freezing that’s the problem. It’s the unfreezing. And you have to unfreeze coffee before you can grind it or brew with it.
The Best (Least Bad) Ways to Store Coffee in the Freezer
If you are going to freeze your coffee and no one can change your mind, here are some tips to do it the best way possible:
- Only put unopened packages of coffee in the freezer.
- If you can, make use of a deep chest freezer rather than a freezer attached to your refrigerator that gets opened and closed frequently.
- When you take the coffee out of the freezer, allow it to come to room temperature before you open the bag and expose it to the ambient air.
- Definitely don’t try to grind frozen coffee beans! Believe it or not, as powerful as coffee grinders seem, you can very easily break your grinder blades/burrs on hard, frozen coffee beans.
It kind of defeats one of the main reasons you’d freeze coffee beans in the first place (buying in bulk) if you end up having to replace a burr grinder at the end of the process.
Remember that even using the best possible practices, putting coffee in the freezer will likely permanently change the way it tastes.
Besides altering the coffee’s flavor profile, it can also affect the texture of the brewed coffee, how it brews/extracts, and even how it grinds.
In short, don’t do it. But if you’re going to, make sure you follow the 4 tips above for best results!
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