Freezing coffee beans used to be a bit of a controversy in the coffee world, but nowadays, it's considered a smart move. But why should you freeze your coffee beans, and how do you go about it? Can freezing beans really enhance the flavor of your coffee?
Why should you freeze your coffee beans? Many folks wonder, "Can you freeze coffee?" There are two primary reasons why freezing your coffee beans after roasting can be a good idea:
Preserving Flavor: Freezing is an excellent method for preserving the flavors of food and preventing it from going bad. Just think about how your frozen spaghetti sauce still tastes great, if not better, a week later.
So, how does this apply to coffee?
The issue with coffee is that once it's roasted, it starts to age, losing its fresh, vibrant flavors and gradually becoming dull and bland. As time passes, you might even detect stale, somewhat bitter and unpleasant flavors as the coffee's oils become stale. Ideally, you'd brew coffee within 3-14 days after roasting, but that's not always practical. To store coffee for longer periods, freezing is the best solution. Freezing locks in the flavors and keeps the coffee nearly as fresh as it would be a few days after roasting. It might not be quite as good as freshly roasted, but it's close.
Improving Grinding Quality: Now, let's get a bit nerdy for a moment, but bear with me; I'll keep it simple. When you grind coffee, you get three types of particles: fines (very small), boulders (very large), and optimal-sized particles. The better your grinder, the fewer fines and boulders you'll have, and these particles are typically bad for brewing coffee. Fines over-extract easily, while boulders under-extract.
Freezing your beans and grinding them while they're frozen results in a more consistent grind size distribution, meaning fewer fines and boulders. It also grinds the beans finer. Both of these factors improve extraction, allowing you to extract more flavor from your coffee in a more even way. This makes your coffee taste sweeter and less bitter or acidic. In simple terms, grinding frozen coffee makes it taste better!
For more on why you should freeze coffee, you can check out a video from Maxwell Colonna-Daswood.
How should you freeze your coffee beans? Freezing coffee beans successfully requires two main things: an airtight container with as little air as possible. You have two options: vacuum sealing or some kind of tube or container. Vacuum sealing involves plastic bags and a vacuum sealer, which can be a bit more costly.
Many people used these tubes to freeze coffee. They're handy because you can fit about 20 grams of coffee in them (the exact amount may vary based on the coffee type, typically between 18-22 grams).
The key is to fill the tube as full as possible. After filling and sealing the tube, there may still be some air between the beans, so give it a good shake to pack the beans more tightly and add any missing beans.
Of course, you'll want to know what coffee you've frozen. Write down the coffee details on masking tape or painter's tape. If you want to be even more precise, you can note the perfect recipe you used, so it's ready for you in a couple of years when you retrieve the coffee from the freezer.
How long can you keep coffee in the freezer?
You can keep it for a really long time, so long that you may not even have to worry about it because you probably won't store it for so long that anything happens. Some studies suggest that a day at room temperature is equivalent to over 200 days in the freezer.
At a minimum, it should stay good for at least two years. In fact, some coffee enthusiasts, like myself, have started building a coffee collection in the freezer. I'm looking forward to revisiting my competition coffee from 2020 in three years to see if it still tastes as good as it does today.