Should You Store Gourmet Coffee in the Freezer?
One of the most common questions we are asked is whether storing coffee in a freezer will preserve its freshness longer. You may get different answers from different people and since education is important to us at Grumpy Goat we want to help separate fact from fiction.
Fact: Coffee should be consumed as quickly as possible after it is roasted.
You deserve better than dull flavored coffee so don’t accept it. Gourmet grade coffee is very affordable and offers tremendous flavor profiles. But, improper storage will quickly compromise those flavors.
The Enemies of Coffee Storage
Before we answer whether to store coffee in a freezer, first take a quick glance through the main enemies of coffee freshness. If you are determined to enjoy the freshest cup of coffee it is important to know what to avoid during coffee storage.
Fact: Preserving peak freshness and flavor of gourmet coffee requires proper storage.
Enemy #1 – Light
Store coffee in an opaque container. Opaque means that no light can reach the container contents. The original package that your gourmet coffee comes in may be suitable for short-term storage. For example, Grumpy Goat selects coffee packaging suitable for you to store your gourmet coffee in a cool, dry, dark place such as a kitchen cabinet.
Enemy #2 – Air
Store gourmet coffee in an airtight container. Effective food and coffee storage includes limiting the access to air flow by using a tight seal. Plastic containers tend to be a poor option because the lids are not airtight and plastic can retains flavors and odors from foods previously stored in them.
Enemy #3 – Humidity
Storage temperature can affect the flavor of your coffee. Growth of bacteria is promoted in higher heat and humidity where moisture can form. For example, storing coffee in a kitchen cabinet next to your oven will be exposed to heat when you bake and broil so select a cabinet further away.
4 Secrets to Effective Coffee Storage in a Freezer
So, should you store gourmet coffee in the freezer?
We don’t recommend it but if you choose to freeze your coffee beans here are the secrets to do it effectively and minimize the risks of ruining your supply.
Fact: Coffee absorbs moisture (aka hygroscopic) from the air around it. The flavor of your gourmet coffee will be altered by odors in the air it is exposed to.
Secret #1 – Be Quick
Quickly remove as much as you need for no more than a week at a time, and return the rest to the freezer before any condensation forms on the frozen coffee.
Why do we suggest quick removal?
Condensation will quickly accumulate on your frozen coffee as soon as you open the airtight storage container. This moisture causes humidity – enemy #3 – and gives rise to potential bacteria growth and can compromise the intended coffee flavor.
Secret #2 – Airtight Storage
The key to storing gourmet coffee in the freezer is to avoid freezer burn. Food and coffee that is not securely stored in completely airtight containers will be damaged by the air that reaches it. This exposure causes oxidation and dehydration and can alter the flavor of the coffee. The moisture will crystallize on the coffee and transfer various freezer odors to it.
Imagine, the chicken, steaks, ribs and fish and other items stored in your freezer may contribute to the flavor alteration of your coffee. Not exactly a refreshing thought.
The ultimate airtight storage for coffee is vacuum-sealing. But most people do not own a vacuum sealer and practice this at home with their foods so it’s not a practical solution for everyone.
Secret #3 – Make Batches
If you purchase coffee in bulk and intend to freeze it, we suggest that you create batches that will last you a week at a time and store each one in a completely airtight container.
Plan for enough time for your coffee to thaw and reach room temperature before brewing it.
This coffee storage system will help you avoid the condensation challenge explained in Secret #1 above.
Secret #4 – Deep Freeze
If you have deep freezer at home and choose to store excess coffee beans they will keep better there than in your refrigerator’s freezer.
Should You Store Gourmet Coffee in the Refrigerator?
Easy answer. No !
Coffee (whole beans or ground) will suffer in a refrigerator for a couple of reasons. First, your fridge is not cold enough to maintain coffee freshness.
Second, the coffee roasting process, the beans lose moisture and the moisture in a refrigerator is the perfect culprit to ruin the quality of your beans. Worse, since coffee also absorbs aromas. all the other items in your refrigerator will put your coffee taste at risk, even if you’re using an airtight storage container.
Our Recommendation for Coffee Storage in a Freezer
Freezer storage of coffee beans is not an ideal solution if you want the freshest, most flavorful gourmet coffee experience.
Our recommendation to enjoy peak freshness and flavor is to buy enough coffee as you will brew in a 2-3 week period. Store it in a cool, dark, dry place away from heat and humidity.
If you choose to store coffee in the freezer follow the secrets described above for deep freezing and thawing your whole beans. Ideally. take the vacuum-sealed route. Otherwise, use resealable freezer bags and squeeze the air from them before sealing.
Now that you have the pros and cons regarding freezer storage of coffee beans you can make an informed choice that works best for your daily coffee ritual.