We hear it all the time, “How should I store my coffee?” What we normally tell folks is to store it as airtight as possible, away from drastic temperature variations, away from light, and certainly away from spices of any kind. The simplest thing you can do to extend the life of your coffee is to grind it as you use it. Think of freshly ground peppercorns: The vibrancy of the peppercorn is much more apparent when it’s freshly ground as opposed to already ground pepper. It’s really the same with coffee. If you ask just about anyone in the coffee industry, they’ll tell you, “DON’T freeze your coffee.” Meanwhile, your grandmother’s voice is in your head telling you they don’t know what they are talking about, because she froze her coffee for years, and it was just fine.
Recently, our very own Ian discovered a podcast that has turned the standard freezer answer on its head. The podcast suggests that coffee beans’ greatest enemies regarding freshness are air, moisture, heat, and light, but when it comes to the freezer, it really about the moisture. What role does moisture play in freezing your coffee?
Well, coffee looooooves to absorb water! Prolonged exposure to water can actually result in the dissolution of flavor molecules, thereby decreasing the life of the coffee. When you store your coffee already ground, it actually increases the surface area exposed to moisture and air, compounding the problem. This is why it’s so important to store your coffee whole for as long as possible. (Ask Santa for a burr grinder for Christmas. You’ll be glad you did.)
According to the podcast, cooling of coffee beans decreases the mass loss via evaporation, so, if it is ground COLD and brewed COLD, the result could yield an increase in aromatics and overall flavor. Again, it’s not the cold that affects the coffee, rather, it’s the moisture.
Intrigued, Ian decided to pursue his own experiments to test this theory out. He’s come up with some very surprising results. The coffee used was Ethiopia Gedeb and Colombia Vienna. Typically, the darker roasts, like Vienna, Espresso, and French, tend to show age a little quicker. The initial findings were surprising. He found that the podcast claims did seem to ring true! The Gedeb actually tasted as though the flavor volume was turned up a bit, and both displayed a lighter body, much like what he finds with cold brews he's prepared. Although the initial results are compelling, Ian still says there's still more work to be done, and still recommends that, while freezing your coffee does seem to extend the vibrancy, coffee stored in the freezer, under optimal conditions, should still be limited to only a month at a time. If you’re going to freeze your coffee, you should store it whole bean in a truly airtight container. Might we suggest one of the best coffee containers on the market: The Airscape.
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So whether you’re a purist, or you just love a good cup of joe, it seems the freezer option does actually warrant some exploration. The trick is to first, store it in a truly airtight container, only take out as much as you need, and finally, quickly return the coffee to the freezer. Still not convinced? Give it a shot. Do some experiments on your own, and let us know what your findings are. We’d love to know what YOU find! And remember, ultimately, there really is no "right" answer. It's all about what tastes good to you and your family.