In the past, most coffee drinkers bought their coffee in big tin cans or bags and brewed them using that iconic Mr. Coffee coffee maker (try saying that five times fast). It was a big thing that your coffee maker had a timer on it. Just leave the beans or grinds in the coffee maker overnight (I know, I know) and voila, when you wake up in the morning, the smell of coffee would fill your home. People would store their coffee in the cupboard, on the counter or the freezer to keep their coffee “fresh”. The idea is that coffee stored in the freezer would be preserve the coffee’s flavor. Fast forward to today and if you mention the freezer, you can seem out of touch or not even care about how your coffee tastes. Somehow this way of storing coffee is accepted by some and a cardinal sin by others. Let’s take a look at what happens when you store coffee and why others still swear by it.
Supermarket coffee, you will notice, has a best before date instead of the roasting date. This is because that coffee may be months old. Large coffee roasting companies do need to roast way ahead of time in order to keep up with demand globally. To preserve their coffee for consumers, it’s likely that they are freezing it to preserve it. Just remember a fair amount of coffee that is sold in the supermarket isn’t specialty coffee.
What happens when coffee comes in contact with moisture or precipitation, the cell structure (bring out your science book for just a little bit) of the bean starts changing and thus the flavor does too. There isn’t much moisture in the freezer you say? That is right, however putting them in the for a lengthy period of time (say more than a month) just like other food can damage the beans. Additionally, defrosting beans is the challenging part. If defrosted and brewed correctly, then you are pretty good to go and won’t lose much flavor in your coffee. The other important thing to remember that coffee is fantastic for absorbing odor. If you have something with a strong odor in your freezer, expect your coffee to absorb it and you are likely to have some surprising new flavor notes when you taste it. I for one am not a fan of catfish coffee. Yes, take a moment and then let that thought go.
In the end, if you are looking at enjoying your coffee at its “peak brewing time” then freezing your coffee shouldn’t be an option for you. Store beans in an airtight container, with no light or moisture. If that peak time isn’t important to you, then you can surely store your coffee in a nice container in the freezer for 1.5 months. I would highly encourage you to try testing frozen and non-frozen beans yourself. Put some beans in the freezer for 2 weeks, and then brew them side by side with some fresh roasted beans. You might be surprised with what you discover.
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