Can you freeze coffee beans? The answer is yes, as long as you know exactly how to freeze espresso beans in the proper way. For those not used to the idea of putting a grinder in freezer, this may sound like a strange choice, but rest assured there are benefits to doing so. By the time you are done reading this post, you will have pretty much all the answers.
Why Should You Freeze Your Coffee Beans?
Chances are that the main question on your mind right now is less about “can you freeze espresso?” and more akin to “why would you even want to freeze espresso beans?” That is an understandable reaction and a very good question which we will answer first. People freeze espresso beans in order to:
- Keep the beans and grounds fresh for a much longer period.
- Keep the coffee fresh and safe from scorching temperatures, unbearable humidity, or in worst case scenarios, both!
- Delay the onset of oxidation and bacterial growth on the beans, both of which account for stale coffee.
- Save money by buying coffee beans in bulk, without having to worry about them going stale any time soon.
It isn’t hard to guess that if you are asking how can you freeze coffee beans, or why you may even need to, you probably do not live in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, or Texas. If you have recently moved into the South after living in New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, or any of the other cold states, you should really get used to the practice of putting a grinder in the freezer soon. When the summer heat starts peaking, your coffee beans or fresh grounds won’t last long without it.
Is Putting Your Grinder in the Freezer Necessary During the Winter Months?
Can you freeze fresh ground coffee if it’s already winter? Rather, is it even necessary to do so? The answer is variable because winter across the states does not mean the same thing. It all depends on how cold it gets during winter and how consistently the temperatures stay low at your location. For example, consider the temperatures as recorded on Sunday, January 16th, 2022, across eight US states next:
- Fargo, North Dakota: -16.06°F (-26.7°C)
- Aberdeen, South Dakota: -13°F (-25°C)
- Alpena, Michigan: -13°F (-25°F)
- Caribou, Maine: -9°F (-22.8°C)
- Kahului, Hawaii: 82.94°F (28.3°C)
- Miami, Florida: 75°F (24°C)
- Redding, California: 72°F (22.2°C)
- Phoenix, Arizona: 71°F (21.7°C)
As we can see, whether putting a grinder in the freezer is required or not during winter depends entirely on where you live.
Do You Need to Freeze Coffee in Subzero Temperatures?
So, can you freeze fresh ground coffee during subzero winters? Even more importantly, is there a point to it when it’s already freezing everything around! Before answering this one, let us look at the ideal storage conditions which should be maintained to freeze espresso beans for longer storage in optimum conditions:
- The temperature inside the freezer should be between the -0.4°F (-18°C) to 4°F (20°C) mark
- Temperature fluctuations to any great degree will spoil the coffee much faster
- It must not be exposed to daylight or bright artificial light
As we can see, not only is it necessary to store coffee beans and grounds at subzero temperatures to keep them fresh for longer, but it is also just as necessary to prevent temperature fluctuations and light exposure. Since even the coldest places in the United States will always see a marked fluctuation between day and night temperatures, the answer is yes, you need to freeze espresso beans even during subzero winters. Besides, no place in the United States experiences perpetual, polar twilight for months! Consequently, light exposure is also a problem that subzero temperatures cannot save your coffee from.
It’s true that in locations where the blizzards blow in often during the winter months and the snow piles up high soon after, your coffee will last a lot longer during the winter months. However, the temperature fluctuations still make it necessary to freeze espresso beans when you have a lot to store. After all, nobody wants to be stuck at home during a freezing blizzard at home with stale coffee! Nevertheless, the need is nowhere as dire as it is in some of the Southern and Midwestern US states.
Can You Freeze Roasted Coffee Beans?
Can you freeze roasted coffee beans? Yes, you can. Should you freeze roasted coffee beans? Probably not! Make no mistake, it is a fact that even roasted coffee beans last longer when frozen. However, can you freeze roasted coffee beans and expect it last for a year? Absolutely not!
After being roasted, coffee beans will only retain relative freshness for a month or so, before starting to go stale. Within a period of two months at most, the roasted beans will become unusable, if not unsafe. Therefore, do not roast them before you freeze espresso beans for a long time. Since the expiration time is reduced so drastically, it makes little sense to make the effort necessary to properly freeze and store roasted coffee beans.
Can You Freeze Coffee Beans Raw?
Yes, not only can you freeze coffee beans raw, but it is also the only proper way to do so. To retain maximum freshness for the longest stretch, you should always freeze espresso beans while they are still raw. Can you freeze espresso coffee beans for a year? Yes, you can. When stored properly, frozen, raw coffee beans can retain most of their freshness for 12 months or more, depending on the beans and their freshness at the time of freezing.
Can You Freeze Fresh Ground Coffee?
The answer is yes, it is possible to store fresh ground coffee for a much longer period by freezing and sealing the grounds inside a freezer. However, there are a few key points to know before attempting it.
- Fresh ground coffee must be stored immediately after to maximize its lifetime inside your freezer
- Putting the coffee grounds in the freezer will not make it last for as long as raw, whole coffee beans
- Frozen, freshly ground coffee beans will still retain their relative freshness for a much longer period than frozen, roasted whole beans
- Pre-ground coffee beans at the store are always roasted, so it doesn’t count as fresh ground coffee
- Do not store roasted, pre-ground beans in the freezer for more than a week
How Can You Freeze Coffee Beans for Maximum Freshness?
Now that we have answered all the common questions regarding the practice, it is time to describe the process itself. To be able to successfully store your coffee for months and retain most of the freshness, follow the steps as detailed next:
You must repackage all your coffee beans in airtight containers first. This is the most important part, so it has a few important rules:
- If you will be putting coffee in the freezer for regular use, then do not stack it in tight
- If you are packing roasted coffee beans or grounds, the same rule as above applies
- If you are packing raw and whole coffee beans, make sure that the airtight containers are each as stacked with them as possible
- Pack your coffee in multiple small, airtight containers to prevent wastage
- The less space there is between the raw beans and the airtight lids, the less air will be present when you seal it up before storing the containers inside your freezer.
As roasted and ground coffee does not last for more than 1-4 weeks anyway, keeping the stack slightly loose should make it easier to open and close the airtight lid for regular usage.
Before you pack and freeze espresso beans in airtight boxes, ensure that you either have a separate freezer for them or your freezer has enough space to accommodate the boxes in an isolated, dark chamber. Special freezers for storing coffee are available and you will most likely need one.
Can you freeze coffee beans in a regular freezer? Most certainly, but there is an issue if you take that route. Regular freezers are opened regularly, multiple times in a day. They also light up as soon as you open them every time. Given that we are trying to prevent temperature fluctuations and light exposure, those two inevitabilities will shorten your coffee’s potential lifetime.
The beans must be thawed before they can be used for making coffee of course. To do this without making any mistakes, follow the steps as suggested next:
- Take out only as many containers as you need from the freezer
- Let them thaw in room temperature and away from light
- Do not open any of the sealed packs until the beans have completed thawing
- Wipe the moisture off the containers every few minutes
Coffee should not be repacked again for storage, after they have been stored and thawed once.
Now that you are fully aware of everything regarding how to freeze espresso beans for maximum freshness, let’s answer the final question. Can you freeze coffee beans without losing any of its original freshness and flavor? Sadly, the answer is no, you cannot. While it is possible and even advisable to store your coffee in the freezer to make it last longer, it is impossible to completely inhibit the oxidation process. Even the best sealed coffee will lose more and more of its original flavor and freshness with each passing day, albeit at a much slower rate. If you wish to always taste the best that your coffee beans have to offer, you will have to avoid buying them in excess. For cafes, sellers, and wholesalers though, it is absolutely necessary to freeze espresso beans to keep them fresh for longer.