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Freezing coffee — why not?
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Discussions > Coffee > Q and A > Freezing coffee...  
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loftyb
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Posted Fri Jun 18, 2004, 6:22pm
Subject: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

Uniformly, I see advice not to freeze (or refrigerate) coffe, but to store it in an airtight container at room temperature out of the light.

Airtight I understand, I think, Out of the light I understand, I think. But why not freeze?

As I understand it, part of what ages coffee is chemical reactions. But just about every chemical reaction proceeds more slowly at lower temperatures.

I’ve read that freezer air is too dry and the coffee will lose liquid. Okay, I can see that over the long term. But if the coffee is in an airtight container, why will freezing it reduce the liquid content? I’m not talking long-term (months) here, I’m talking a week or so.

My own experimenting with ground coffee indicated that the batch left at room temperature aged much faster than the batch in the freezer; it was unpleasant within three or four days, while the freezer batch was fine.

A little experimenting with coffee beans didn’t show any difference. (Maybe I just have a bad palate, maybe the week wasn’t long enough to show a big difference with roasted beans.)

So - is there a reason that I shouldn’t freeze my beans for the week or so before I consume them?

-Lofty
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ljguitar
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ljguitar
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Posted Fri Jun 18, 2004, 9:29pm
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

loftyb Said:

--- Uniformly, I see advice not to freeze (or refrigerate) coffe, but to store it in an airtight container at room temperature out of the light.
--- Airtight I understand, I think, Out of the light I understand, I think. But why not freeze?
--- My own experimenting with ground coffee indicated that the batch left at room temperature aged much faster than the batch in the freezer; it was unpleasant within three or four days, while the freezer batch was fine.

Posted June 18, 2004 link

Hi Lofty...
A deeper search of discussions here and at alt.coffee would show that many people freeze surplus coffee beans for short term storage.

If there is a point of agreement it would be whatever method of storage you use, don't grind the coffee before you store it. Ground coffee deteriorates very quickly (minutes not days).

There is pretty uniform agreement on not refrigerating beans. It creates issues of condensation, and contamination of flavor (both of the refrigerator and the coffee).

Probably most common in this group is storage container sealed and out of the light for daily use. Frozen, double bagged as close to freshly roasted as possible for 4 - 6 week storage. Did I mention that there is a vacuum container gang too?

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CremaGuy
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Posted Fri Jun 18, 2004, 10:41pm
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

Lofty,
      I was very confused about this also when I was a "newbie"....

      If you research posts thoroughly you'll find that the final word on freezing is:

If you freeze the beans quickly after roasting - within a couple of hours - it does make a big difference.  You can delay the staling process by many weeks.  You can freeze them for weeks (perhaps months; not sure) then defrost them and from the time you defrost them you'll have nearly the full 10 days of freshness.    But if they are put into the freezer after they have had a chance to "degass" (10-12 hrs after roasting) the effect of freezing is so small as to be nearly negligible  ...ie. the freezing does not (for whatever reason: no one seems to have a rational explanation) delay the staling.

Of course, what this translates to for most of us is that if you roast your own, you can freeze if you freeze immediately after roasting.    If you buy your roasted beans freezing won't help (unless the roaster is your next door neighbor and you buy the beans from him at the time they are removed from the roaster !).

Patrick
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cafedj
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Posted Sat Jun 19, 2004, 7:33am
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

My experience is that vacuum freezing is effective at postponing staling even if done a day or two or three after roasting.  I routinely split a pound into smaller batches for freezing, which definitely extends the fresh taste of the beans.  I've kept beans frozen for up to 6 weeks with excellent results.

I would certainly agree with the recommendation that grinding should be done immediately before brewing.
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loftyb
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Posted Sat Jun 19, 2004, 9:27am
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

Thanks to all who replied! I feel much better informed (and a little embarrassed that my pre-posting search didn’t turn up what must be previous messages on the subject).

I drink two kinds of coffee — a lot of espresso, and about half a pot of lighter roasted, brewed (paper filter; alas, only rarely a Chemex, which has been my favorite for (yikes!) 43 years) coffee in the morning.

For the brewed coffee, shared and often made by my wife, we use pre-ground coffee, bought about once a week in half-pound lots. I believe it would be better if we ground our own beans but I haven’t the time, space, or energy to do that (and I’m happy to make the tradeoff whereby my wife gets up first and makes the coffee; if I ground, I’d get up first every day). That’s why I have experience with freezing/not freezing the pre-ground coffee. Happily, we’ve found a local source that roasts the beans and we usually get “whatever you roasted most recently” as long as it’s not a dark roast or something we’ve disliked. Gives us pretty fresh coffee, and a nice variety of flavors. Last time we got a blend, still warm from roasting and in fact mixed when I was standing around.

For the espresso, again problems with time, space, and SAF (spousal acceptance factor) cause me to buy preroasted beans. My few experiments with roasting convinced me that the small, cheap roaster I have won’t do for espresso, and convinced my wife that there was no way I was going to roast beans inside a house she lived in. So I buy the beans in half-pound lots, usually about once or twice a week, and keep them in the freezer. I have a fairly good (Rancilio) grinder, the no-doser model, and generally grind seconds before I brew, though sometimes I ground a few doses into a sealable glass container and use it for several cups throughout the day. There may be a difference between shots brewed immediately and shots brewed from coffee ground a few hours ago and sealed, but if there is I’d have to taste them side by side or keep very careful notes to notice it. I brew with an Expobar, and I suspect a larger variation comes from whether or not I’ve remembered to cool the grouphead, whether I used a little more or a little less coffee, and things like that.

Thanks again!

-Lofty
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PJK
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Posted Fri Jun 25, 2004, 3:04pm
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

I believe that the issue with freezing coffee is that moisture will condense on the frozen beans when you open the container.  If you freeze beans for long term storage,  pakage the beans in small containers which will be used in one day.  Remove the container from the freezer and allow to thaw before opening.

Phil

 
Philip J. Keleshian
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AndyL
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Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 2:11am
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

great beans have oil all around. Once you freeze it you can say bye bye. Put some olive oil in the freezer and then re-use it to dip bread.. .... Im sure it will be a terrible experience. Its the same with coffee.
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alanfrew
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alanfrew
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Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 4:02am
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

AndyL Said:

great beans have oil all around. Once you freeze it you can say bye bye. Put some olive oil in the freezer and then re-use it to dip bread.. .... Im sure it will be a terrible experience. Its the same with coffee.

Posted July 22, 2004 link

Mal, you might be a good barista, but you're a poor chemist. The temperature induced "change of state" of coffee oils has zero effect on the way they taste, which, believe it or not, is true of olive oils too. Freezing is not a chemical reaction, but if you freeze coffee with air and moisture in the container, you'll get ice-crystal formation which will ultimately affect taste. Oh, by the way, great beans DON'T necessarily have oil all around!

Alan
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afx
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Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 6:25am
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

great beans have oil all around.

Just the contrary.
Oil on the outside quite often means overroasted.
Oil on the outside will oxidate much faster than the oil within the beans, leading to rancid beans much quicker.

Put some olive oil in the freezer and then re-use it to dip bread.. .... Im sure it will be a terrible experience

Try it...
Works out nicely.

cheers
afx

 
Life is too short for bad coffee/wine/food  -  Project: www.crash.muc.de/wmf/
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ljguitar
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ljguitar
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Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 6:43am
Subject: Re: Freezing coffee — why not?
 

afx Said:

--- Oil on the outside quite often means overroasted.
Oil on the outside will oxidate much faster than the oil within the beans, leading to rancid beans much quicker.

Posted July 22, 2004 link

OK guys...can't we all just get along??? |: - )

Oil on the outside of beans means they were roasted to a higher finish temperature than beans without oil on the outside. Beans with a light carmelized coating of spotty surface oil are highly desirable to some folks too. To call them overroasted may just be an opinion.

I prefer the taste of many beans at City Full or Full Plus, but have friends who like them crispy and black all covered with oil. When they come to visit, I just do a FR+ load of crispy and black all covered with oil for them. I send any extra beans home with them.

The issue of Freezing Beans has been hashed around from an opinionated and scientific perspective, and serves to point out that people approach coffee roasting, storage and use differently - often with success. As the rumors and theories surface, are discussed and fade away...new ones will begin.

Won't the issue of rancid beans be solved if one roasts or purchases only enough fresh roasted beans to use up in 4 to 5 days?

There are no bean police to arrest us for misconduct, so experimentation is in order. Some of us are learning to do some experimenting before we post, and then to ask questions and offer suggestions instead of making theological statements about our results.

Viva La Group!

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L  a  r  r  Y          J

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