Updated: September 20, 2021 by Owen Richardson
Should you freeze coffee beans? This is quite a controversial topic in coffee circles and one that sparks debates on the best way to store coffee.
Coffee enthusiasts will tell you never to freeze your quality coffee beans because the exposure to moisture will ruin the flavors. Others will tell you that freezing is a great way to preserve the bold coffee flavors for longer.
In this article, I will separate fact from fiction and explain whether you can freeze coffee beans or not as well as the best way to freeze coffee beans. Spoiler alert: you can freeze coffee beans, but it will depend on a few factors on whether you should or not.
How Important are Fresh Coffee Beans?
Before we get into the technical side of storing beans, I must stress how important freshness is when dealing with coffee beans. If you are after quality-tasting coffee, you will need to keep your beans fresh.
The freshest beans you can have are ones you have roasted yourself at home and brewed up as soon as the degassing process has finished. However, this is not always possible, and at times, you may need to freeze beans.
Conditions that are Bad for Coffee
As with any other food storage, some factors will significantly reduce the taste and quality of your coffee beans. Whether you choose to freeze your beans or not, these are a few factors you need to take into account. As long as you keep these in mind, you will be able to look after your beans and enjoy fresh coffee.
We store other perishable food items in sealed containers without thinking twice, and the same should go for coffee beans. If your beans are exposed to oxygen, they will slowly decay and release those bold flavors. It is therefore essential to keep them sealed in an airtight container.
If your beans are sitting in high-heat areas, the beans will start breaking down as the molecules agitate in the heat. This environment is also prime for bacteria to grow. To solve this problem, once your beans are in an airtight container, place them in a cool spot in your home; a dark cupboard works well, and, as a bonus, it also protects the beans from light, as I’ll discuss next.
Light is another enemy of fresh coffee, and it doesn’t matter what the source of the light is. Whether it is lighting in your home or exposure to the sun, it will start breaking down your beans. You can place your beans in a dark cupboard or in opaque containers to prevent this breakdown from occurring.
It is well-known amongst coffee enthusiasts that coffee beans need to stay dry at all times. This is also true for small amounts of moisture caused by humidity. If your beans are damp, it is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Keeping your beans free of moisture is essential to enjoy quality beans.
If you are leaning toward storing your beans in the freezer, you’re right that it solves most of these problems. The freezer is cold, dark, and doesn’t hold too much oxygen. The main factor you will need to worry about is moisture. However, this can be overcome.
Should You Freeze Coffee Beans?
Whether you decide to freeze your coffee beans or not will depend on your specific circumstances. If possible, you should use your coffee beans within a few weeks of roasting or buying them.
Raw coffee beans can last for over a year while still retaining freshness, but roasted beans are only good for about a month or two. (Of course, you can use them over a few months at a push, but you will sacrifice coffee quality.) On the other hand, ground beans are only good for a week or so, and ideally, you should only grind them up right before brewing.
However, you may have been given extra beans or ordered more than you can consume within a few weeks, and this means you need to find a longer storing method. Here is when the freezer is a prime spot for storing your beans.
If you can avoid it, keep your beans out of the freezer and in a tight container while storing them out of any direct light. If you have too many beans, then try out the freezer method. While beans can be kept fresh in the freezer, it is important to store them properly.
Freezing Coffee Beans — How to Do It
When storing coffee beans in the freezer, there is a right and a wrong way to do it. If you want to become a true coffee aficionado, I suggest committing to freezing your coffee beans the right way. It is pretty simple to do as long as you keep the above factors in mind.
When storing your beans in the freezer, keep in mind they will only stay fresh this way for a few months. So while it will help prolong the life of the beans, they won’t keep forever. Simply follow these steps, and you’ll have freshly frozen beans for when you need them.
Step 1: Replace the Packaging
Since all of the storage methods require no air and the freezer method is tricky for the moisture element, you will need to repackage your beans. The original packaging will likely let in air and moisture. So, place it in an airtight container or a ziplock bag before placing it in the freezer.
Pro tip: Don’t pack all your beans in one container, but spread them out instead. Measure out enough beans for a serving size or as much as you will use at a time. This will make it easier to take out the number of beans necessary without spoiling the rest.
Step 2: Store in the Freezer
Place your packaged beans into your freezer while trying to keep them away from other food items. You don’t want food odors to ruin your beans, so be mindful of where you place your beans within the freezer.
Step 3: Thaw Your Beans Properly
When you are ready to use your frozen beans, remove only the packages you need. You should not refreeze beans once they have been defrosted, and this is why storing them in serving sizes is ideal. Now the most important tip — leave the container or ziplock sealed until the beans have defrosted entirely.
You should leave them out to defrost naturally over a few hours. If you open the packaging soon after removing them from the freezer or before they have adequately thawed, you will have a problem with condensation.
Condensation forms as soon as frozen items are exposed to air, and this will add moisture to your coffee beans and ruin the flavor. Waiting until they are completely thawed and wiping the outer packaging before opening will keep your beans dry.
This last step is the difference between properly stored frozen beans and the reason why some critics advise against freezing your beans.
FAQs on Freezing Coffee Beans
What is the best container to use when freezing coffee beans?
Any completely airtight container will be good to use in the freezer. You can also store your beans in a zip-lock bag as long as you vacuum seal them. If you can, try using small containers and tightly pack (or vacuum-seal) your beans to remove any air pockets.
Can I freeze ground coffee beans?
While you can freeze ground coffee, it is not recommended. The oxidation process will start as soon as the beans are ground, and this process will keep going even in the freezer. Your frozen ground beans will not last as long as they would whole.
How long will coffee beans stay fresh in the freezer?
As long as you keep your beans in the freezer the entire time, they can keep relatively fresh for up to four months in the freezer. That is, if they are stored correctly in an airtight container and thawed properly before use. Bad packaging may cause freezer burn and can let moisture in, leading to spoiled beans.
Fresh Is Best; Frozen Is Next Best
The bottom line is that you can freeze coffee beans if necessary. If you can enjoy them fresh within about a week of roasting, that is the best way to brew up your beans. However, freezing is not the worst thing you can do to your tasty coffee beans. Putting them in the fridge is possibly the worst you could do.
Once your beans have been completely defrosted, it is time to grind them up using a high-quality grinder and brew some delicious coffee. Doing this step right before brewing will give you a fresh and delicious cup of joe.