The subject of freezing coffee beans has always been controversial in the coffee industry. I’ve been told that it should never be done, and on the flip side, I’ve been told that it’s a great way to store coffee to seal in freshness and aroma.
So which is it? Is it OK to freeze coffee beans, and if so, what’s the best method for storing coffee to preserve freshness?
That's what I'll be exploring today in this complete guide, so let's get started!
Can You Freeze Coffee Beans To Keep Them Fresh?
Yes, you absolutely can freeze roasted coffee beans. In fact, this is a great method for storing coffee, contrary to what many coffee “experts” will tell you.
While the answer may be yes, there’s a very specific process that must be followed if you want to properly store coffee beans in the freezer.
I’ll cover these steps in detail later on, so keep reading to find out more!
Amazing Advantages Of Freezing Your Coffee Beans
Before getting into how let’s talk about why it’s a good idea to store coffee in the freezer. After freezing my first batch of beans, I found that these are the main advantages:
1. Preserves Flavor
Unlike wine or cheese, coffee does not get better with age - and that’s especially the case with premium coffee.
Rather than getting stronger and more flavorful, coffee begins to lose flavor every day following the roasting process.
Eventually, it will start to taste bitter and stale, which is why it’s recommended to use freshly roasted coffee within 14 days (ideally within a few days).
Luckily, it's possible to prevent this by freezing freshly roasted coffee beans. As long as it's placed in the freezer within a certain amount of time, you'll be able to lock in those flavors and lower the chances of bitterness, as freezing slows the process of aging.
2. Improves Grinding Quality
If you’re a coffee nerd like I am, you know all too well the importance of grind size.
When grinding whole coffee beans, a too-fine grind will over-extract coffee oils while brewing, which tends to create a bitter and overwhelming taste.
On the other hand, a too-coarse grind will under-extract, leaving you with an underwhelming, weak brew.
The main argument against freezing beans that have been ground is that it will lead to a clumpy, chunky consistency, but it's actually just the opposite!
Storing freshly-ground coffee in the freezer can actually improve the grind quality. Freezing helps to break down coarsely ground coffee, which ultimately increases flavor extraction when it comes time to brew.
3. Increases Shelf Life
For me, it always seems like a good idea at the moment to buy that massive bag of premium coffee at Costco.
Then I realize that there’s no way I’ll use 3 pounds of coffee within the recommended shelf life.
In situations like this, freezing has been a life-saver, as well as a money-saver! Rather than drink as much coffee as quickly as I can, it makes sense for me to keep it fresh for longer by freezing.
I typically freeze coffee for about a month before I use it, but if done correctly, you can store it much longer.
How Long Does Frozen Coffee Stay Fresh?
As long as you’ve used a vacuum-sealed air-tight container, frozen beans can stay fresh for as long as 12 months.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer for long-term storage, you can count on your frozen coffee to last about 6 months in an unopened package.
Even 6 months is much longer than the average lifespan of fresh coffee. After opening a new bag of coffee, it will immediately start losing its flavor within a few days and should be used within 2 weeks.
How To Freeze Coffee Beans (3 Simple & Effective Methods)
There are a few things to remember before you pack up those coffee beans to be stored in the freezer.
First off, whichever coffee storage method you choose needs to be airtight. This will prevent oxidation and keep moisture from getting into the container.
Both oxygen and moisture lead to chemical reactions that will spoil the beans, even if kept in the freezer.
Secondly, always store coffee beans in small batches. Smaller batches with a smaller surface area mean less oxygen in the container - a must for proper storage.
Lastly, make sure to thaw your coffee before opening the container. If you open the container straight from the freezer, the rush of air will come in contact with the frozen beans. This will lead to moisture, rendering all that hard work useless.
Keeping all of these things in mind, here are the top 3 methods for freezing coffee:
- 1Vacuum Sealing
- 2Lab Sample Method
- 3Freeze In Original Bag
Using a vacuum sealer creates the perfect airtight container, and it’s considered the best tool for storing coffee in the freezer for long periods of time.
Coffee geeks everywhere will tell you that a vacuum sealer is a must-have appliance. While it may be time-consuming, vacuum sealing has a lot of benefits.
It’s incredibly airtight, it can be used for beans or grounds, and it allows you to freeze different quantities based on the bags you use.
Lab Sample Method
Many people prefer single dosing their coffee beans with the lab sample method.
This is an ideal way to store coffee if you want to reach in the freezer and grab smaller portions of coffee just for that day.
All you need to freeze coffee with this method is small lab sample tubes. These tubes are airtight and small enough for a single portion of coffee grounds or beans.
Unlike vacuum-sealed bags, these small tubes can be reused, and they typically have the capacity to hold 20 to 22 grams - perfect for your daily brew!
Freeze In Original Bag
While freezing coffee in the original packaging isn’t the best method, it’s definitely the easiest.
Many coffee roasters and coffee shops offer deals and free shipping when you purchase more of their products.
Unfortunately, you have to use that product within a certain amount of time. This is where your freezer will be your new best friend.
Now you can purchase several bags of your favorite brew without worrying about the expiration date.
Just pop a few of the bags in the freezer, and pull one out a few hours before you’re ready to use it.
Common Coffee Bean Freezing Questions
Does freezing coffee beans affect taste?
As long as you use an airtight container for coffee storage, freezing coffee beans will not have a negative effect on taste or flavor. Some people even say that grinding frozen beans, rather than beans stored at room temperature, can enhance the flavor in a noticeable way.
Can I grind frozen coffee beans, or do I need to thaw them?
It’s possible to grind frozen beans without noticing any negative effects on your brew (or your coffee grinder). Grinding coffee (whole beans) that have been frozen has been proven to leave you with a more consistent and uniform grind quality.
Does freezing coffee affect caffeine?
No, there is no difference in caffeine content when comparing frozen beans to beans stored at room temperature. While brewing temperature, roasting time, water-to-coffee ratio, and grind size affect caffeine, freezing does not.
Can you freeze green coffee beans?
Yes, you can freeze unroasted coffee beans in airtight containers without worry that they will go bad. For the best results, defrost the beans only right before roasting.
To Freeze Or Not To Freeze?
It’s time to stop listening to those frozen coffee haters. It’s perfectly acceptable to store your coffee in the freezer, not only to increase its shelf life but also to preserve flavor and freshness.
For the best results and the freshest coffee, be careful to use a container that's airtight and separate your grounds/beans into smaller batches.
As long as it's done correctly, you can keep your coffee stored in the freezer for an entire year. So next time you're out shopping in bulk, feel free to stock up on more coffee.