I am not an expert on coffee freezing. This is my experience and an invitation for anyone to share their thoughts on freezing coffee, too. I hope what I share encourages more experimentation with freezing coffee beans.
It has been a couple of weeks at least since I posted my last blog post on coffee. I did stop drinking coffee for a brief time due to an injury that made it difficult for me to grind coffee. However, I am now back, drinking delicious coffee on a regular basis, and eager to write more about my coffee experiences.
I want to take some time to talk about freezing coffee beans. I have seen quite a few people on the internet talk about or ask if you can freeze coffee beans. I think this is an important discussion to have. Freezing coffee beans helps preserve longevity of coffee, thus eliminating scenarios where one ends up with more coffee than they can reasonably drink and wants to save some for later. This can happen easily. You can buy too much coffee or decrease your consumption and realise you have another bag or two that you might not get to for at least a month.
I started freezing coffee because I had a bit too much and wanted to make the most of what I had. I did not want to have a bag of coffee sitting in my cupboard for weeks during which time it would decline in quality. Coffee does keep in a cupboard for a few weeks before noticeably declining in quality (I have had coffees six weeks or so post roast and they have been good) but if you let more time pass you are likely in for a less-than-could-be coffee when you finally get to open the bag you have. More recently, I saw some interesting coffee that I wanted to buy—from Onyx Coffee Labs—and I could only buy bags at a specific time because it was part of a subscription box. So I froze some of that coffee for later.
To freeze coffee, I first did a bit of research on freezing. I came across an excellent guide by the Manchester Coffee Archive, a team of people who have saved coffee samples from dozens of origins, roasters, and periods of time in the last few years. They save coffee to bring out at tasting events so you can experience a coffee that might be years old and taste it next to another interesting coffee. Their guide talks extensively about saving coffee, from how coffee declines in the freezer to what approaches you can take. I'd recommend looking at the guide. But don't leave my blog yet. I have more I would like to say (!).
After doing some reading and talking with some other people who have been in my shoes, I decided on this process (which has been talked about by many people in some form or another):
- Keep the coffee in its original bag, as long as that bag will hold in the freezer.
- Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible.
- Tape over the one-way valve on the coffee bag. While the valve may be described as one-way, often air can still get into the bag. I used brown masking tape to cover the valve so that I was sure there would be a good seal between the tape and the valve.
- Put the coffee in your freezer. I kept mine at the back.
These steps are simple but have worked for me. I have used this approach for two bags of coffee so far and both have come out tasting excellent. Both coffees were left in my freezer for at least six weeks, sometimes a bit longer. They tasted fresh. I did not do a side-by-side comparison with frozen and freshly roasted coffees as that would be hard to do with my system. Instead, I let my taste buds be the judge, and I was happy with the quality of coffee I tasted.
A step up would have been to vacuum seal the coffee and take it out of the freezer. This may give me more assurance that there has been as little air in contact with the coffee as possible. However, I do not think this is necessary for a home enthusiast like myself who is not archiving coffees for years. I prefer my system system where the instructions are simple and I do not require any extra equipment. But, I haven't tried vacuum-sealed coffee yet. Maybe I am missing something.
I would not call this post advice on what you should do, rather a call for you to experiment with freezing some coffee if you know you have too much and see what you think. I would recommend starting, like I did, with a bag of coffee that you would be willing to lose if your freezing did not go well. My coffee tasted great on my first try but I was prepared for the coffee coming out in a way that I did not want. If you are happy with the quality of the coffee you have frozen, you can replicate the same process with other bags you have.
Ultimately, however, you don't always need to freeze coffee. If you plan to freeze coffee for a week, I would suggest keeping it in the cupboard instead. I would also recommend leaving coffee a few days after roasting before freezing it, just in case there is any excess CO2 that needs to be released from the beans and thus your bag which you will need to fully seal to freeze.
Are you an expert on freezing coffee? Have you tried the system I discussed earlier? Am I missing something in my freezing process? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to learn more about this topic.
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