To Freeze or Not to Freeze Coffee Beans after Roasting
Coffee brewed from freshly roasted coffee beans is just divine and nothing beats the flavors and aroma that you get from this coffee. But to enjoy this amazing coffee, you need to store your freshly roasted beans properly to maintain their freshness.
And while there are different ways of storing roasted coffee beans, freezing is one method that seems to elicit a lot of reactions from coffee lovers. There are as many coffee drinkers who advocate for freezing as there are those that think it is a bad idea.
While ultimately the decision on whether to freeze your roasted coffee beans will depend on your specific preferences, it is important to know the facts about it to ensure you make an informed choice.
There are different schools of thoughts on freezing roasted coffee beans and even seasoned coffee experts still do not seem to agree on whether to do it or not. But perhaps looking at the arguments for and against it should help shed more light on the contentious matter.
Arguments for Freezing Coffee Beans
On the other side of the debate, there are proponents of keeping your roasted coffee beans in the freezer who will swear by it as they find it an easy and convenient way of storing their coffee beans before they get to use them. And here are some of the reasons why they advocate for freezing roasted coffee beans.
1. Freezing Coffee Beans Extends Shelf Life Greatly
Freezing your coffee beans immediately after roasting can help increase their shelf life significantly. And this, in turn, allows you to buy your favorite coffee beans in bulk which saves you cash and is quite convenient.
By freezing your coffee beans, you will be lowering the temperatures of the gasses produced by the beans and hence slowing down their rate of dissipation to increase the life of the beans. For every 10 degrees Celsius decrease in the coffee beans temperature, you can prolong the coffee beans' shelf life by up to 50%.
2. Preserves Freshness and Flavors
When done correctly, freezing is one of the best ways to preserve coffee beans freshness and flavors. And this is because with freezing you can easily keep out things that destroy the coffee flavors such as heat, air, and moisture.
By vacuum sealing or storing the beans in an airtight container, you can keep the elements out which in turn means that the beans will be as flavorful and as fresh as freshly roasted ones when you get to use them to make coffee.
3. Freezing Makes Coffee Beans Easier to Manage
Nothing is more annoying for a coffee lover than waking up in the morning and realizing you do not have coffee beans for your daily cup. But, by freezing your beans you can easily help avoid this by buying coffee in bulk.
Also, because freezing coffee beans requires you to store them in small batches, you can easily tell how many packs you have and how long they should last you. Hence, for most coffee lovers it will be hard to run out of coffee beans without noticing it way in advance.
Arguments against Freezing Coffee Beans
For some coffee drinkers, nothing is worse than taking coffee made from frozen coffee because besides not tasting the same, the overall brew quality is wanting (at least according to them). Generally, here are some of the most common arguments that opponents of freezing coffee beans will always bring forward.
1. Freezing Cracks the Coffee Beans
One of the most common arguments against freezing roasted coffee beans is that it causes the beans to crack. Because the coffee beans contain some water inside freezing them causes the water inside to expand which then causes the beans to crack. These tiny cracks then speed up the staling process of the coffee beans which means they will not stay fresh for long.
2. Freezing Breaks Down the Flavor Oils
Moisture, air, and heat are the greatest threats to roasted coffee beans freshness. And while in the freezer, the coffee beans will not be exposed to heat, opponents of freezing beans believe that they will be at the mercy of moisture and air if not kept properly. Moisture in the refrigerator and exposure to the air if not kept in an airtight container or bag then causes the flavor oils to break down.
3. Frozen Beans Degrade Fast after Thawing
With frozen coffee beans, you will at some point need to take them out of the freezer to make your coffee. This stage of the process can be problematic because immediately you open that airtight container or bag that you used to store the coffee beans in the freezer, condensation will form rapidly on the surface of the beans. And as the thawing starts, the moisture and water build-up causes the beans to degrade fast.
4. Beans Attract Odors in the Freezer
When roasted, coffee beans become more porous, and so they can easily pick up the odors in the freezer. Hence, in the end, you will end up making coffee with beans that have different foreign odors which diminishes both the flavor and aroma. But, keeping the beans in an airtight container and ensuring you do not have these serial odor generators like onions or garlic in the same freezer compartment as the coffee beans is enough to prevent this issue.
5. Freezer Burns
Because most home storage containers will hardly ever be completely airtight, they can still allow some minute amounts of oxygen in which can lead to freezer burns on your coffee beans if you freeze them for a long time. And with freezer burnt coffee beans, your coffee will lose some of its rich and bold flavors and will hence not be very enjoyable to drink.
Note: While these are the most common reasons why many coffee lovers will avoid freezing coffee beans, they are not the only ones as every person has their specific reason. However, it is important to note that no research backs any of the above claims, and so, for now, they are just unproven assumptions.
Tips for Freezing Coffee Beans Correctly
- Always keep your coffee beans in small batches to ensure you never need to refreeze any leftovers after taking them out of the freezer.
- Make sure the container or bag you use to freeze your coffee beans is completely airtight and if you can vacuum seal it the better.
- Keep the beans away from other foods in the freezer that can pass on odors to them.
- When it comes to using the coffee beans always allow them to thaw first before you can open the container.
- Always freeze the brand new roasted coffee beans bags as they are more likely to be completely airtight when compared to regular household containers as they are properly sealed.
What Do Experts Think?
Just like the average coffee lovers, coffee experts also seem divided on this issue with some approving it and others discrediting it.
However, some like the National Coffee Association (USA) has clearly stated opinions on the matter and many coffee drinkers seem to follow their lead given that it is a respected authority in the coffee sector not only in the USA but globally.
According to the National Coffee Association, freezing is not recommended for the coffee beans meant for short term use. The reasoning behind this is that taking coffee beans in an out of the freezer leads to exposure to moisture which then degrades their flavor oils and hence ruining the taste.
But, the association recommends freezing as a good coffee beans storage method is done correctly and only when storing the coffee beans for long term use
Should You Freeze Coffee Beans or Not?
Whether to freeze or not to freeze coffee beans after roasting is all up to you as different coffee drinkers seem to have varying opinions on how best to preserve their coffee.
However, nothing still beats the freshness and flavors that you get from making your coffee with freshly roasted coffee beans. But, if you have to freeze your beans, it is important to make sure that you do it correctly.
The best way to freeze your beans is by using an airtight container, and if you have a vacuum sealer, it will even be better as you can make sure the beans will be completely airtight in the bag or container.
And lastly, also make sure you handle the frozen coffee beans properly by allowing them to thaw completely before you can use them and also ensuring you never thaw and refreeze them again.