What Happens When You Freeze Coffee?
Lots of people stock up on coffee, buying several pounds at once to avoid having to buy it so frequently. They see their favorite coffee, buy five bags, and head back home where they place their beloved beans straight into the freezer, thinking it will be the best way to preserve the coffee. But is this a good idea or does freezing compromise the quality of coffee? What happens when you freeze coffee?
Well, unless the coffee is stored in a completely airtight container of some kind, it doesn’t really stand a chance against the obstacles found in a freezer. The first thing we need to understand is that roasted coffee has a very low moisture level, which means that it will absorb most moisture it comes in contact with. As soon as coffee begins to absorb moisture, the flavors become contaminated, muted, and much less diverse. Things that are typically found in a household freezer are not doing roasted coffee any favors. In addition to the moisture found in bagged frozen foods, there are also plenty of flavors that can seep into frozen coffee (onions, brisket, frozen stew, whatever other leftovers you may have in there). While these are all fine enough foods on their own, no one wants to taste notes of roast beef as they sip their morning cup.
Storing coffee in an airtight container in a freezer can be effective on one condition. When you take the coffee out, it is imperative to wait to open the container until the beans have reached room temperature. If the container is opened while the beans are still cold, condensation will rapidly appear, tainting the nicely preserved coffee, and therefore canceling out all the work that went into keeping the coffee somewhat fresh. So while it is not absolutely impossible to preserve an amount of freshness by storing coffee in the freezer, the Specialty Coffee Community recommends simply buying fresh coffee to provide the highest quality cup.