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To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
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Discussions > Coffee > Q and A > To freeze or not...  
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MochaManiac
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MochaManiac
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 1:30pm
Subject: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

I know this is an old topic, but I had to bring it up given my recent experience at a local roaster.  

From my research on this site over the years, it seems to me that the consensus is that freezing your coffee beans is bad.  Freezing beans draws moisture from the air that collects on the beans (and is absorbed), especially when you take the beans out of the freezer (they're cold and draw moisture out of the air).  Even if you use the beans right away and put the rest back in the freezer, the frozen beans can be very hard on your bean grinder.   At least, this is my understanding of the topic.

Well, did I ever get a dressing down by the local roaster after telling him these things.  I was informed (more like forcefully told) that he (as opposed to other people) does NOT use water to cool his beans.  Therefore, his beans are "completely dry" and do not consist of any water.  Hence, freezing his beans has absolutely no negative effects on the beans (and does not make them any harder) and is THE best way to preserve freshness.  I told him that I had researched that the best way to preserve beans is to put them in a dark "air tight" container.  He mentioned that the containers aren't actually air tight, and that every time I open it I let more air in which robs the beans of freshness (of this I understand).

Now, I ask you, which is it?  Is this roaster correct or should I continue my practice of not freezing the beans?  (I typically use a pound of coffee beans within 10 - 12 days).  

Oh, he also indicated that freezing could preserve freshness almost indefinitely (he provided the anecdote of a couple of his customers who purchase 1 - 2 months supply of coffee at once and freeze it).  I cannot see how coffee frozen for two months could be as fresh as coffee roasted yesterday!

Thank you very much!
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coffee_monkey
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 1:38pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

Why don't you just try it? Not very difficult test I imagine...


- Ben

 
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MochaManiac
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MochaManiac
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 1:43pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

Well, I certainly will try it, but to be honest with you, I can't imagine I will be able to tell the difference in flavor within a 10-day time frame (and I certainly am not going to buy beans and just let them sit in the freezer for 2 months!).

But, I would appreciate some insightful answers, if possible (as I'm sure you would be able to provide, coffee_monkey!).

Thanks!
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Mizspresso
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 1:59pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

I believe Mark Prince did a study on this and the results were favorable. He packed beans into mason jars and froze them. As I remember, he was able to store them for 4 months without loss of freshness. My understanding is that you don't put them back in the freezer after opening as you have introduced air and moisture and this will cause degradation.

For my part, I have been freezing my beans for the past, well 4 months, since I got into this pursuit!

I have a vacuum packing machine. I break up my coffee into 4 oz packets, which I vacuum pack and pop into the freezer. Sometimes I like a coffee in the evening and prefer decaf after about 6pm. Since this is less frequent than my morning cappuccino, the decaf has to last longer. Last night I broke open a packet roasted on 12/10 and made a capp. Got luscious creamy crema. This is not 4 months, but I bet if those beans had been sitting in a container on the counter that the crema would not have been nearly as good.
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coffee_monkey
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 2:10pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

MochaManiac Said:

Well, I certainly will try it, but to be honest with you, I can't imagine I will be able to tell the difference in flavor within a 10-day time frame (and I certainly am not going to buy beans and just let them sit in the freezer for 2 months!).

Posted January 10, 2008 link

Well, it sounded like you've already made up your mind, but in case you want some further reading material:

Coffee Collective Experiments
Ken Fox/ Jim Schulman Experiments
Roast magazine article

My two cents: try it for yourself and ALWAYS question what you've read/told.


- Ben

 
www.barismo.com
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MochaManiac
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MochaManiac
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 2:11pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

Thank you for your response, Mizspresso!

My understanding is that you don't put them back in the freezer after opening as you have introduced air and moisture and this will cause degradation.

 This is precisely my understanding as well.  As I would be opening the bag ever day (to get only the portion of beans I need for that cup of coffee) and putting it back in the freezer, I would think this would be worse than simply leaving them in a opaque container on the counter.

Or, perhaps, would you think it would still be better to freeze the beans in this case?

Thanks!
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MochaManiac
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MochaManiac
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 2:15pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

coffee_monkey Said:

Well, it sounded like you've already made up your mind

Posted January 10, 2008 link

Forgive me.  The manner in which I posted (and, certainly, the written form is notorious in not allowing the reader to fully understand the emotion, sentiment, and actual intent of the author) was an attempt to get across the manner in which I was spoken to: it was very . . . not so polite, if I may.  He acted as if (and assumed) I knew absolutely nothing about coffee, and I needed an impromptu lesson.  

My two cents: try it for yourself and ALWAYS question what you've read/told.

Thanks.  I know this site has many VERY well informed, knowledgeable, and experienced people.  I can hardly imagine that the combined discussion of such people could so readily be discredited.  Even so, your point is taken.

Thank you for the links.
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MochaManiac
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MochaManiac
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Location: West Michigan
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 2:58pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

Oh, I forgot to add: the local roaster also informed me that it does not matter if I had him grind it for me or left it whole bean (for me to grind later).  He said it made no difference to the freshness if one were to freeze the coffee.  I said that, surely, coffee loses its freshness much more quickly when ground.  He said that everyone wrongfully assumes that the simple act of grinding makes coffee fresh (which is not what I was saying at all).  He let me know that grocery store coffee will still be stale whether or not you wait to grind it  (with that point I let him know I had no contention).  I reiterated that taking freshly roasted coffee and grinding it allows the flavor to degrade more quickly.  He re-affirmed his stance that that was not the case if I were to freeze it!

At that point, I simply shut my mouth and bought a pound of coffee (against my better judgement).
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Mizspresso
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Mizspresso
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 4:08pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

MochaManiac Said:

Oh, I forgot to add: the local roaster also informed me that it does not matter if I had him grind it for me or left it whole bean (for me to grind later).

Posted January 10, 2008 link

Sounds to me as if your roaster is not quite the expert he thinks he is!

on your other point, I never put the beans back in the freezer. This is why I freeze in small, quarter pound packets. I keep very small quantities in a canister in the cupboard. I buy most of my coffee locally at Barefoot and am able to freeze beans that were roasted the day before or only a couple of days after roast. So, leaving the beans from opened packets in a canister is really just allowing them to continue outgassing.
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farmroast
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Posted Thu Jan 10, 2008, 4:27pm
Subject: Re: To freeze or not to freeze . . . ?
 

Just get your coffee as you said you can use up a pound in 10 or so days and with basic care, cool dry, dark and mostly air tight container and you should be ok. But the preground advise I don't understand at all. To me the coffee would be trash before I could even get home with it. All the co2 would be lost and extraction will be poor and stale.

 
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