When I first started getting into coffee and taking it a little more seriously I started in the most obvious place I could think of, the back of the pack of the shop-bought ground coffee I had.
I got told to add 15g of coffee to a french press with 250ml of water, then to store the coffee in the freezer and take it out as needed.
But I assumed this would make an average cup of coffee with simple instructions for everybody, I wanted more than that, I wanted Above Average Coffee so I went ahead and did some a ton of research…
You can store coffee beans and coffee grounds in the freezer for up to 8 weeks as long as they are in an airtight container. If the coffee is not in an airtight container the bag can gather condensation which will then cause the coffee to lose flavor.
In theory you can leave the coffee in the freezer for a year or two but after 8 weeks the flavor starts to disappear. And if you want to know more, an awesome home scientific study was done at Home Barista which you should check out.
And if you do put your coffee in the freezer make sure you take it out and defrost it completely before you use it, don’t pull it in and out of the freezer every time.
In my opinion the best coffee is made from fresh coffee beans,and especially if you’re buying specialty coffee you’re going to want to just buy small batches, use them, and then buy more. Keep freezing and thawing your beans as a last resort.
How To Freeze Coffee Beans And Coffee Grounds
As I said, apparently the worst thing you can do is take your bag of coffee in and out the freezer every single day, this allows moisture into the bag which will cause your coffee to start going sour and have that “off” taste and smell to it.
What you want to do if, say, you’ve bought more coffee than you’re going to drink in the next two weeks is to freeze it in smaller batches. Portion it up into 2-week amounts, store them in individual air tight containers and put each of those in the freezer.
Then when you’re about to run out of coffee you can take a container out the freezer and leave it out overnight to defrost. But don’t open it until it’s completely defrosted otherwise you could get condensation.
This is the way the coffee experts do it if they’re going to be freezing coffee. Well, true coffee experts are going to have special freezers that can get down to -40 because that’s supposed to be the true ideal temperature to freeze coffee so there is no degradation at all but unless you have some liquid nitrogen to hand you’re going to be stuck with normal freezer temperatures.
I actually recently bought a 1kg of my favorite coffee thinking it would save money on postage buying it all at once. But of course I didn’t realise how much coffee is in a 1kg bag, it’s massive! So I had to store it properly, here’s what I did.
- Portioned up my coffee into the tupperwares I had to hand, which means a little and large but it’s OK. I’m just going to defrost as necessary. It doesn’t need to be exact after all, you just have to give yourself enough time to defrost it!
- Placed the tupper wares in the freezer away from anything that might be smelly. So no fish and no meat. Which don’t really give off any smell in the freezer but coffee cell structure is porous and it has this wonderfully annoying ability to soak up smells.
- Closed the freezer and made sure not to open it again for at least 4 hours so no thaw occurs while it’s freezing.
- Now when I need my coffee I take it out the night before I’m going to use it and place it by the sink where it can defrost and will be ready to go.
3 Reasons Not To Freeze Coffee
1. If you’re prone to leaving your freezer door open
I’m quite guilty of this because my freezer is in an outbuilding with no light. So I kick the freezer door open only to come out in the morning and realise it’s been open a crack. Luckily it’s pretty cold where I live so nothing goes off when I do this. And I don’t usually freeze my coffee if I can avoid it.
This leads to the problem of your coffee defrosting and then freezing again, which isn’t good for any food and can leave your bag of coffee like the bag of peas that has become more ice than pea. And I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that having ice all over your coffee isn’t a good thing.
2. You can buy your coffee fresh easily
If you can just buy it fresh, it’s easier, if you can go to your roaster it’s nice to have that little bit of community and getting to speak to them. And fresh is best, always, it’s the rule of all the top chefs in the world.
If you aren’t so fortunate and live more remotely then yes freeze away my friend, it’s the trade off to the peace and quiet I’m sure you get.
3. You want the best possible quality
LIkewise to freshness if you want the best tasting and the best quality then don’t freeze it. There are so many divided opinions and there are several ways it can go wrong leaving you with subpar beans that your best bet is just to avoid the situation all together.
What Coffee Container Should You Freeze Coffee In
These coffee storage methods all work for ground coffee and whole coffee beans. It’s better to freeze beans whole if you have a grinder at home because home ground beans used immediately taste the best.
1. The Original Bag
You can absolutely store coffee in the original bag it came in, this is ideal if you’ve bought a few bags while you were at your favorite roasters or cafe. Which if you did ask them what they recommend for long term storage, they’ll be more familiar with their coffee.
My only tip for storing coffee in the bag is to put a piece of tape over the valve that’s built into the bag (the white cap that makes it look like the bag has an outie belly button).
This is a one-way valve that’s there to let carbon dioxide from the beans off-gas to escape allowing the roasters to bag the coffee when the beans are still hot. But when it goes in the freezer this one-way valve can get stuck and become a two-way valve letting air and moisture into the bag and spoiling it.
If you’ve already opened the bag then make sure you squeeze as much air out of it as possible before putting it in the freezer.
2. Zip Lock Freezer Bag
These are good because they’re generally airtight and you can squeeze the air out of them. Easy to portion into and generally cheap to buy but you can also wash them and reuse them. Just make sure it’s completely dry before you put coffee in.
If you want to securely store your coffee you’d want to vacuum pack it, and while no one has a vacuum packer at home you can actually use a zip lock bag and a basin of water to create a good-enough vacuum seal.
Start by pouring in the coffee you need and closing the zip until only 1-inch is left open, then submerge the bag in water from the bottom (not letting any water in) until it’s just to the open part of the zip, then zip it closed and voila! You’ve just vacuum-sealed some coffee beans. I’ve put a video link below you can watch that might make it a little clearer.
Be aware when you defrost the beans there will be some off-gassing so the bag will fill with air again, that’s normal and doesn’t mean there’s a whole in your bag or that anything has happened to spoil the beans or the grounds.
3. In An Airtight Canister or Jar
This is the classiest way to store your coffee in the freezer, get an airtight jar that you’ve filled with your two weeks of coffee, or however much you’re storing and pop it in the freezer. Looks nice and it’s completely secure, although not the most space-efficient if you have a large amount to store.
No tricks necessary and the more full the jar is the less space for air. Just be aware of the off-gassing after defrosting means the jar will open with a pop so mind your fingers when you do.
Does Coffee Taste Different After It’s Frozen
It depends, if you’re a true coffee lover and have developed a coffee palate that’s capable of picking up the flavors on the bag then yes you’re probably going to taste a difference. If like me you just like coffee and couldn’t tell you anything about the tasting notes then no you’re probably not going to taste a difference.
Doubly so if you take it with cream and sugar.
I’ve sometimes managed to pick up a slight difference in taste in coffee that’s come out the freezer but generally no, you probably won’t notice much of a difference, and you definitely won’t notice enough for it to be bad, more like down from an A++ to an A+, both excellent and both still enjoyable.
Freshest is always… Bestest? But if you’ve gone and bought a bigger bag than expected then freeze away. I know I recently bought a 1kg bag of beans having no appreciation over how much coffee that really is!
Also you’re going to want to look out for freezer burn, which happens when you haven’t properly stored your coffee, if it’s not in a sealed bag then evaporation can occur leaving your roasted beans with discolouration or damage. This is why the proper storage containers are important.
How Long Does Coffee Last In The Freezer?
An important question.
It really depends on how refined your taste is, I could probably have a cup of coffee made with 2-year old grounds out of the freezer and have no idea, but some professional nosed coffee expert I’m sure would gag at the thought of drinking 2-year old coffee.
But we’re not about the snobs here, so I say if coffee is going into your freezer feel free to keep it there for 1-2 years whether it’s ground or whole bean coffee.
Grinding Beans From Frozen
This is a much more advanced technique that’s promising which is why I left it to bottom. Because yes grinding frozen coffee beans goes against what I’ve said above but here me out.
Your grind affects the coffee by changing what size the particles of coffee are right? If your grind is too thin it can taste sour and if your grind is too big it can taste bitter, so to get a truly consistent cup you need a completely even grind.
Nothing worse than emptying out your grinder and half a bean falls out.
Well, a scientific study was done to measure the size of particles after grinding with frozen beans and room temperature beans and the results showed a more even grind with frozen beans. But how do you balance the two of not opening your coffee bag but getting frozen beans?
I guess the answer is to freeze a week’s worth of coffee and try both. Defrost some of it completely and make coffee then compare it with coffee made from beans that are ground from frozen and see if you can taste the difference. If you can’t, don’t worry!
The experiment was done more to help coffee shop owners who need to adjust grind size throughout the day to account for their grinders overheating and the changing temperature of the coffee shop. At home, you won’t have these sorts of difficult environments to navigate so you do as you like.
But who doesn’t like a fun at-home coffee experiment?
Can You Freeze Instant Coffee?
Instant coffee has a very long shelf life, I’m talking 2-20 years in the cupboard so there’s really no need to keep it in the freezer.
But, if you’ve run out of pantry space and the only space you have is in the freezer, or you have your own reasons for keeping it in the freezer then you’ll be pleased to hear that yes, in fact, you can. Instant coffee can go into the freezer and be fine to take out and drink basically anytime in the next 100 years.
Again you’ll want to defrost it completely before you use it so if you are going to put it in the freezer then I’d consider portioning it first.