There's been a lot of debate in recent years as to how coffee should be properly stored.
Placing coffee beans in a freezer was often acceptable, until specialty coffees came along. Then all of a sudden, freezing coffee beans was bad. Recent research has indicated that freezing coffee beans can be beneficial in some aspects.
The issue can be rather puzzling.
I'm going to use this article to see how placing coffee beans in a freezer affects them. It's time to filter out the facts from the myths.
The information provided should help you determine how to preserve your coffee beans so that you can continue to enjoy them for as long as possible.
Fresh coffee is the best coffee, as we already know. This article may be a little more technical than most.
However, if you really want to get the most out of your coffee, you'll keep reading all the way through to the end.
Coffee Bean Storage Fundamentals
Let's start by going over what we already know about how coffee beans should be stored. These rules are not meant to be broken. Any statements made about storing food items in a freezer have to be consistent with the following facts:
1. Oxygen can affect coffee and other foods. All food stored in freezers should be stored tightly. All packages should be closed or seal to prevent freezer burn.
2. Light is harmful to coffee. Photodegradation occurs to food stored in clear containers when they are exposed to light for significant periods of time. The light causes organic cell structures in foods to decompose. That's why coffee and other food products should be stored in opaque containers or containers that do not allow outside light to enter.
3. Heat accelerates bacterial growth. Bacteria tends to thrive in warmer conditions. The hotter it is, the quicker molecules separrate and move away from each other.
4. Humidity is detrimental to coffee. Humidity can affect the liquid content in coffee. It can make coffee taste sour, and it can accelerate the growth of bacteria.
Freezing Coffee Beans - Cons
Fans of specialty coffee have been spoken out against freezing coffee beans for several years.
Their logic usually revolves around the amount of humidity that has been found in refrigerators and freezers.
There is very little moisture in roasted coffee beans. They are hygroscopic, which means that they can absorb moisture from their surroundings. Their original flavors can become muddy, polluted or awkward if too much moisture is absorbed. When this happens, the coffee beans can taste totally different from when they were first roasted.
Humidity also brings the flavors from other foods stored in freezers.
None of us wake up anticipating garlic, onions and other unexpected flavors in our morning coffee.
Humidity also causes the chemical compounds found in coffee beans to break down at a much faster rate. A slight increase in overall moisture can create hundreds of chemical reactions in a short amount of time.
These breakdowns are perfectly acceptable when we're making our morning brew, but not when they're being stored for later use.
Humid areas are prime targets for microorganisms. They thrive in humid climates because there's more moisture available. You probably won't have any issues with microbial growths in your freezer as long as it's cleaned out regularly.
You're probably saying to yourself, "I can avoid all of these problems by storing my coffee in a nice, airtight container." That's what I thought at first, until I learned an important fact.
Whenever you take an airtight container out of a freezer and open it, condensation forms on the coffee beans or other food inside that container quickly.
Condensation can cause all of the humidity concerns that we just addressed.
There are plenty of things that can go wrong when you freeze coffee beans.
There's really only one sure-fire way to prevent your coffee beans from going bad after they've been taken out of your freezer.
Freezing Coffee Beans - Pros
People who favor freezing coffee beans remind us that it can help keep our coffee beans around for longer periods of time.
It's not easy to achieve, so I'm going to describe how it can be accomplished.
Freezing is often recommended if you have coffee beans that you plan to use in the next several weeks. They can be stored safely in a sturdy container that's airtight. You'll have to discard the bag that the coffee beans originally came in. The beans will need to be repackaged.
For better results, store your coffee beans in smaller amounts. Each container should have enough beans to last for a week or more.
Let the coffee beans thaw completely when you remove them from the freezer. They should be kept at room temperature long enough to avoid condensation that can spoil your coffee's taste.
Cold Grinding Controversy
Cold grinding is another topic of debate.
Some people swear that cold coffee beans are ground more evenly. This would probably lead you to believe that the coffee beans that are ground cold taste better than those that aren't.
Research conducted on this issue is correct. However, the conclusions from this research hasn't been reported to news outlets in a consistent manner.
Studies compared and contrasted the uniformity of coffee beans that were ground at various temperatures. The resulting particles were more consistent at cooler temperatures.
They found that coffee beans that were ground at freezer temperatures generally had more consistency throughout. They also noted that coffee beans ground at 320 degrees below Fahrenheit (or at liquid nitrogen temperatures were even more uniform.
The research was focused on the consistency of the coffee beans that were ground at different temperatures. Researchers did not examine what effect those temperatures may have had on coffee flavor.
We all know that condensation will occur on coffee beans as soon as they're removed from a freezer. This fact says nothing about the coffee beans' flavor.
There's no scientific proof that frozen coffee beans are more flavorful.
There's also no clear-cut evidence that more consistent coffee grinding techniques are effective at resisting the effects of condensation on coffee beans.
What You Should Do
Placing coffee beans in an airtight container can help to preserve their freshness to a certain extent.
The container should be sealed as tightly as possible. You shouldn't have any problems using these coffee beans after placing them in the freezer as long as they are completely thawed out before use.
All you need to do is allow enough time for them to properly thaw.
Fresh ground and roasted coffee is unequaled.
A burr coffee grinder is essential for creating the best coffee possible. Coffee grinders transform coffee beans into grounds that can be safely brewed.
Coffee flavor and quality are greatly affected by the use of a good coffee grinder.