To Freeze Or Not To Freeze These Coffee Beans
There is some debate over whether or not you should freeze coffee beans. Some people swear by freezing coffee beans, and the first thing that they do when they buy a new bag of coffee beans is to throw it into the freezer. While others cringe at the very thought of freezing coffee beans all together.
I wanted to find out for myself whether or not it really is a big deal to freeze coffee beans. This is what I’ve found out…
– Why Not To Freeze Coffee –
Freezing Is Rough On Beans
Maintaining the flavor of roasted coffee beans is a delicate balance. Whether you’ve roasted your own coffee beans, or bought them from the store, once roasted they are ready to be used. Inside each roasted coffee bean is an intricate balance of chemicals and moisture. Anything that can affect and change that balance will adversely affect the flavor of the beans and ultimately the brewed coffee as well.
Most people don’t take something nice and freshly made and throws it directly into the freezer. If you think about it, have you ever taken an extremely cold glass dish and then exposed it to heat? I have, if its not really sturdy glass can shatter and exploded. This is the sort of violent temperature change you are exposing you coffee beans to. If the flavor wasn’t already destroyed by the freezer that drastic temperature change would surely do it.
Coffee beans are porous. They can absorb thee flavors of whatever they are around. This is good for making those flavored coffee roasts you find in the grocery store, like French Vanilla or Creme Brulee. However, in the freezer there can be much less appetizing flavors to be absorbed by the beans, Fish Roast anyone? It sounds gross, but if you do happen to have anything smelly in the freezer, like fish, and your beans aren’t in an airtight contain, usually just a bag, then they can absorb those stray odors.
– A Little At A Time –
Buy, or roast a little at a time. Only have enough coffee on hand for around a week. Roasted coffee beans will easily last for a week as long as you keep your beans stored in an airtight container.
If you do this you always have great fresh tasting coffee!
If you are ever going to freeze your coffee beans only do it if you have more than you can you can use in a week or two. Seal the bag tightly with no air, and only thaw out the beans once. Make sure to thaw your beans completely before you brew them.
– The Never Ending Debate –
If you want to read more about the freezing coffee beans I’ve found two website that have conducted blind taste test of coffee both frozen and unfrozen. They are both very detailed, and get a little more sciency about the reasons to not freeze your coffee beans.
Serious Eats actually did some interesting tests on how freezing affects the flavor of frozen coffee beans. They found that freezing coffee beans does negatively affect coffee flavor when brewed.
Home Barista also did a much more intense experiment to see if flavor is negatively affected by freezing. Their experiment is much more intense and scientific than serious eats test, and they found that freezing beans does not negatively affect the flavor of coffee beans once brewed.
– My Experience –
I haven’t done my own blind taste test, yet, but I may in the future. Personally I agree that freezing beans is extreme. Simply buying or roasting a small batch at a time ensures that the best quality cup of coffee is the end result every time.
To brew yourself that perfect cup of coffee check out how to roast coffee beans at home or how to make french press.
Let me know your experience with freezing coffee beans in the comments.
Sunday 28th of March 2021
I freeze coffee beans. It doesn't change the smell, or the flavour. Sorry but this article is just nonsense.
Thursday 1st of April 2021
You are completely right Kry! Thanks for commenting. This is an old post an my opinion on this has changed over time. I will update the post in the future! In the meantime, James Hoffmann has an excellent video about freezing coffee beans! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uT5_IWWb00
Monday 28th of October 2019
Intuitively, it does seems like freezing would destroy the delicate balance as you mentioned, but I think another variable is whether you buy the full beans and grind your own in a one to two day allotment vs buying already ground. This may be a good option for those against freezing beans! (and yes- I would still refrain from freezing the stored beans)...my wife and I disagree on this age old question, so it was nice to find your opinion on the matter! Stay calm and sip on!