Should You Store Coffee in the Freezer?
I always wince when I see coffee stored like this picture - a paper bag in the door of a freezer. That is pretty much the fastest way to ruin good coffee! But it isn't true that you should never put coffee there either. You just have to do it the right way.
There is almost no question I get asked more often than "should I put my coffee in the freezer?" And it's a hard answer because the truth is that with PERFECT storage and thawing, using the freezer is a great way to extend the shelf-life of your coffee. But the key word there is perfect - most consumers don't freeze their beans properly which causes them to taste worse than if they were just stored in the pantry.
The purpose of freezing coffee is to limit the coffee's rate of oxidation. Oxidation is what makes your coffee taste stale. But worse than regular oxidation is moisture, odors and tastes from your freezer. Coffee beans are hygroscopic (fancy word for something that absorbs moisture) and storing your coffee in a non-air tight container in the freezer will cause moisture, smells and tastes to get into your coffee. It really ruins it.
So, if you really need to extend the shelf-life of your coffee using the freezer, here's how best to do it.
- Step 1: take a week's worth of FRESH whole bean coffee. Put it in an airtight container (the vacuum sealed canisters work great, but a mason jar is also a good choice) and put it in the back of the freezer. Anywhere near the door is likely to freeze and thaw more often causing condensation on the beans, and therefore freezer burn.
- Step 2: A day or so before you are ready to drink your coffee, take the whole container out of the freezer and BEFORE OPENING IT bring it up to room temperature. This is one of the most important steps because if you open your container while the beans are still cold, condensation from the air will form on your beans.
- Step 3: Enjoy your super fresh, and great tasting coffee!
Most experts agree you can store your coffee this way for a couple of months and still lock in the flavor from the roast. But remember, once you've frozen and thawed a batch of beans, you cannot refreeze - you have to commit to using it all up. This is why it is important to freeze only a week's worth of coffee in each batch!
So now that you know there is nothing wrong in principle with freezing your coffee, make sure to do it right. If you're reading this and feeling skeptical about freezing your coffee, set up your own experiment! This blind taste test done by Home Barista is great and has easily replicable methodology.