Here’s why we should start freezing our coffee beans

How long have you been storing your beans incorrectly?

Coffee is one of those things that’s inexplicably grown its own cultural movement. There are tasting parties, scores upon hundreds of fora and blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to the consumption, analysis, and appreciation thereof, and millions of people across the globe are regular drinkers. It’s as much a lifestyle as it is a product.

The coffee industry is massive

The world loves this drink so much that the coffee industry was estimated to be worth 4.9 trillion pesos in 2019, and it’s only projected to grow from there. With such a staggeringly large global following you’re bound to find people who are perfectly happy to debate trivialities that others might never fret over. This brings us to the question:

Should you really be keeping those nice single origin beans flown in all the way from Guatemala or that generous gift from your friends in Australia in your freezer? 

Caption: Black Sheep’s Blue Volcano beans are elegant with a crisp finish

Toby’s Estate’s Woolloomooloo—a mouthful of a name to match a mouthful of flavor

Clearing the air

One thing needs to be established right off the bat: This piece will be talking about whole beans because pre-ground will not keep for very long; exposing coffee to moisture before brewing is only ever going to degrade their quality over time and introduce the risk of mold growth, which is generally something you want to keep away from your consumables, and with much greater surface area ground beans will wick moisture in faster.

What you really need to do is keep your beans in an airtight container and only take out what you’re going to be grinding and brewing in small batches. Planning is important whether you’re going out for a grocery run while trying to keep socially distant or measuring out enough to prepare your daily espresso, pourover, or macchiato:

Assorted coffees from Xtremely Xpresso

So why the need to freeze?

Food stored at lower temperatures keeps for longer because it slows down the rate at which harmful pathogens grow, if it doesn’t kill them outright. One would imagine that the same would hold true for any foodstuff, but given how even the smallest changes in process can alter a coffee’s flavor profile carelessly chucking them in and pulling them out of the freezer could spell disaster for subsequent batches; the nuances of kopi luwak are subtle, and you want to preserve as much of its terroir as possible.

Maybe don’t Google where kopi luwak comes from though.

The Civet Coffee’s Hot Caramel Macchiato 

That’s not to say that freezing beans is immediately harmful, as there may be benefits for longer-term storage. Just be sure to keep moisture out so your beans don’t get freezer burn.

Header photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

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