Should you freeze coffee beans? That question is contentious in the coffee community for several reasons. First, four primary elements cause coffee to go stale: air, moisture, heat, and light. Because of this, a freezer seems to be the perfect place to retain its freshness.
However, as with many things coffee-related, it’s not quite as simple as just putting your bag of coffee into the freezer until you need it. If you do it correctly, you can extend the beans’ freshness. Do it wrong, though, and it can have the opposite effect.
For most coffee drinkers, a good coffee storage container is enough to keep your beans fresh. If you want to go further, keep reading and find out the best way to freeze coffee beans.
Does freezing coffee beans keep them fresh?
Yes, if it’s done correctly, freezing coffee can keep coffee beans fresh for longer. Here is a quick summary of freezing coffee beans.
As long as you store beans in airtight bags or containers in smaller batches before storing coffee in the freezer. And you let the cold coffee beans thaw to room temperature before opening the airtight container. Additionally, you don’t want to freeze ground coffee.
Benefits Of Freezing Coffee Beans
Freezers are, of course, designed to keep food fresher for longer. Meanwhile, coffee beans have very low moisture, so in theory, you should be able to keep them in your freezer for months without them going stale.
Cold temperatures slow down certain kinds of chemical reactions. Most domestic freezers store food at or below 0F (-18C), which is cold enough to prevent goods from going stale. However, while it can’t completely end the staling process, and you can’t store beans there for years, a few months is usually fine.
Additionally, dark, dry, and cold places are perfect for storing coffee, making the freezer ideal.
A good example is Cometeer coffee, they first brew the coffee from the top roasters then flash freeze the brewed coffee at -321°F to lock the flavor. So coffee drinkers just need to melt the frozen coffee pods to enjoy great coffee.
Drawbacks Of Freezing Coffee Beans
There are some drawbacks to freezing coffee beans. Firstly, bags of coffee take up quite a lot of freezer space, so storing beans in a freezer can be inconvenient, particularly if you don’t have a big one.
Secondly, storing beans in the freezer involves more steps than you might assume. For example, the beans need to be airtight, divided into small batches, and thawed before you use them. In other words, it makes more sense to buy the amount of coffee you need for grinding and brewing at that time.
Another issue is condensation. This is why some coffee lovers are reluctant to freeze beans. When warm air reaches a cold surface, it hits its dew point and condenses. This leaves water on the surface of the beans, which is detrimental to keeping them fresh. All is not lost, though; by following a few simple steps, you can avoid this issue. Read on to discover the most efficient ways to freeze coffee.
Best Way To Freeze Coffee Beans
Step One – Separate The Beans Into Smaller Batches
Don’t freeze the whole bag if you have a kilogram of beans. Instead, work out how much coffee you drink a week, then divide the beans into smaller one-week batches.
Don’t: freeze the entire bag. Instead, take out the coffee you need and refreeze.
If you take out the frozen coffee every morning to get the coffee you need, humid air will get into the bag causing water droplets to form on the beans. When you refreeze the bag, the droplets will freeze on the beans, leading to deterioration.
Step Two: Store The Beans Properly In An Airtight Container
Airtight containers limit the airflow and minimize the contact between the beans and the outside environment. Also, they prevent the odors of other foods in a freezer from reaching the coffee.
If you have a food sealer machine, vacuum sealing the beans is the best practice. However, some consider this excessive, while vacuum sealing several batches of coffee creates more waste. For these reasons, we only recommend you do this if your coffee is very costly or rare.
Don’t: just put the beans in a jar and freeze them. You want to avoid odors from food like meat and fish reaching the beans, meaning airtight containers or even vacuum sealing the beans are the best bet.
Step Three – Thaw The Beans Overnight Before Use
Thaw the beans to room temperature before opening the bag or container. Leave the beans in the container on your countertop overnight at room temperature, then use them.
The coffee beans you’d frozen will only stay fresh for around a week. Store coffee beans in proper coffee storage containers as you would for freshly roasted coffee beans. Then, use them as soon as possible and don’t refreeze them.
Don’t: open the bag or container as soon as you’ve taken them out of the freezer.
That’s because condensation will form once frozen beans are introduced to the air. One of the main advantages of storing coffee beans in your freezer is to ensure they are dry. Allowing condensation to reach the beans is counterproductive.
The steps outlined above are the best practices for storing beans in your freezer. If you follow the steps correctly, you won’t have any issues with doing so.
How Long Can You Freeze Coffee Beans?
If you follow the steps correctly, you should be able to freeze the beans for around two months without much deterioration. You can even keep them in the freezer for longer if you don’t take them out during that time.
However, we don’t recommend doing this if you can avoid it. Fresh coffee beans are always the best – particularly specialty coffee.
When To Freeze Coffee Beans
When The Coffee Beans Are Just Roasted Or Extremely Fresh
We recommend freezing freshly roasted whole beans, not coffee grounds or stale coffee.
If you buy regular beans from the supermarket, it’s not worth freezing them as they are already likely to have sat on a shelf for months, so that they won’t be at their most fresh anyway.
It’s also not worth freezing beans that are either out of date or already stale. Likewise, storing ground coffee in the freezer is not worth it either, and once beans are ground, the flavor and aroma of the coffee start to degrade. That’s why it’s best to use a good coffee grinder so you can grind your beans before brewing.
Overall, we only recommend freezing specialty beans.
If You Have More Coffee Than You Can Consume
It’s best to buy only the amount of beans you need for a few days, but that’s not always practical. So, if you buy several bags because they were on sale or have several bags of beans for another reason, it’s best to freeze them.
However, remember that it’s only really worth freezing fresh whole beans. You can also keep them in a coffee container and consider cold brewing the coffee for maximum flavor.
If You Have Premium Beans
If you have a rare and extremely expensive bag of coffee that you don’t want to use immediately but would rather save for a special occasion, such as sharing with your loved ones, you can freeze your coffee to keep it fresh for longer. Just do all the steps correctly, and you should be fine.
Freezing coffee to retain its freshness seems like an obvious solution to the issue of too much coffee. However, as this article has shown, there’s a little more to it.
The best practice is only to have the fresh beans you need for a short time. That way, you won’t need to freeze beans. However, that’s not always practical, so if you need to freeze your beans (particularly specialty beans), it’s a good idea.
Nevertheless, you should still take some steps to ensure the beans retain their freshness for as long as possible. Thankfully, they’re simple to carry out, so as long as you follow the guidelines we’ve laid out, you can freeze your beans knowing that when using them, they should be almost as fresh as they were when you put them in your freezer.