Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Barry Gray
I get asked a number of different questions regarding all aspects of coffee. While many follow the same lines as other questions, there are occasions when someone asks something completely new. This happened recently when someone wanted to know if it was possible to freeze coffee beans. So, what’s the answer?
The answer is you can freeze coffee beans, but it’s not something I would recommend. It’s always better to use fresh coffee beans to get a great coffee. However, it is possible to freeze and then use coffee beans, but you need to use them within a maximum of two months to get a good cup of coffee.
So, even though I would not do it, it is something I’ve tried out to get the correct answer to then give to you.
Through the process of trying it out, I’ve discovered a couple of things that I feel will make a difference when it comes to helping any individual who may wish to freeze their coffee beans, for whatever reason that may be.
But I’ll be honest with you, I did mess up a few of my coffee beans.
Hopefully, you won’t make the same mistake as I did, which is why I think it’s important to read the entire post to help you to still enjoy your coffee.
Freezing Coffee Beans Has Been Controversial
The coffee industry has long been against the idea of freezing coffee beans. Still, I admit that momentum has shifted lately regarding the potential benefits of freezing them.
However, not everyone is convinced by a long shot.
What I see is that some people worry about how beans deteriorate after the roasting process. This is because the roasting process does kickstart a process whereby the taste and flavor of the beans will begin to diminish from day one.
The fear is that old beans will begin to taste stale and completely change your experience, and I do get that it’s a real issue.
I know this is due to the oil from the beans becoming old. I’ve experienced beans that are clearly very old, and the coffee comes across as quite dull and lacking any substance.
From that perspective, you can see why freezing the coffee beans could make sense. It would certainly stop the beans from deteriorating even more, so I understand the theory as to why you should then have better coffee at the end.
Will Freezing Coffee Beans Help with Longer Storage?
I’ve heard numerous people stating you need to use the freshly roasted coffee beans within the first 14 days of them being roasted to get the full flavor. But honestly, is that even possible in most instances?
I don’t think so, but I also agree there’s an upper time limit after which your coffee beans cannot deliver that flavor you are looking for.
So, if you plan on keeping coffee beans for a couple of months, even after buying them, will freezing them help?
I’ve no doubt freezing would make a difference.
Here, it will help lock in the flavor at that moment and improve the chances of you having a better coffee experience in the future. However, that all depends on you freezing them correctly and also then how to defrost them before using.
These are the two areas I had to experiment with to get the best results.
How Does Moisture Affect Coffee Beans?
Freezing coffee beans helps with one enemy of coffee: moisture.
There’s a reason even ground coffee is sealed in specific bags: to eliminate the possibility of condensation developing in storage.
Moisture will speed up the decay process and ruin the flavor of your coffee. I do see how freezing can stop this from happening if you know you will not be using all of the coffee beans you just bought in a relatively short time frame.
Freezing your coffee beans does work from this perspective, but I did notice an issue when it came to thawing out the coffee beans and moisture.
That’s something I will deal with later as I take you through how to thaw coffee beans.
How Do You Freeze Coffee Beans?
First, I had to work out how to freeze them correctly, and this was the best possible solution I came across.
I see the key as being the container you use.
It must be airtight as you do not want any air in that container beside your coffee beans. Opt for a quality container as cheaper versions will often leak.
Having air leaking in will change the end result you then get when freezing your coffee beans.
But there was another approach I found to be better regarding storing my coffee beans: a vacuum-sealed bag.
I felt a vacuum-sealed bag gave me the confidence that all the air had indeed been extracted. Air trapped beside your coffee beans will still be able to change the taste and flavor of the beans.
Without this, it would have made freezing them pointless.
But here’s another tip. Store your coffee beans in small amounts.
I added too many to the one container, making it more problematic when it comes to using them in the future. I discovered it was easier to work through smaller quantities at a time rather than freezing my coffee beans in one bulky bag or container.
How Do You Thaw Coffee Beans?
I’m aware some individuals will grind frozen coffee beans before using them, and that’s not something I’ve personally tried.
So, I’m not sure how useful that approach will be, even though some argue it gives you a better grind and unlocks more flavor. Honestly, it’s something I’m going to have to try.
But what I discovered was that the best way to thaw your coffee beans is to use the approach mentioned earlier of only freezing small individual batches. It takes too much time to thaw out when you have added too many.
It’s annoying, and it’s less likely that your beans will thaw out correctly, and I’m just not happy about the impact that could have on the quality of your coffee.
Can I Put Frozen Coffee Beans in Direct Light to Thaw?
When it came to thawing out my coffee beans, I tried several different approaches to see which one was best. One option was to place it in direct light with the theory that sunlight would help thaw the beans faster.
Well, that does happen.
However, it didn’t mean it was best for the coffee beans, and the biggest problem was something I mentioned earlier: moisture.
My vacuum-sealed bag of frozen coffee beans quickly developed moisture on the inside of the bag. That’s not a surprise because of condensation due to the difference in temperature between the frozen beans and the heat from sunlight.
That was something I kind of expected to happen, but not to the extent that did eventually occur.
The moisture will immediately start to work on your beans, and I already knew moisture is an enemy when it comes to flavor and taste.
But that’s not the only reason why putting your frozen beans in sunlight to thaw out is a bad idea.
Look at how your coffee beans are stored.
Bags are sealed and dark, so light is eliminated. That’s because light negatively affects the stability and quality of coffee beans.
By forcing beans into the sunlight, even though they were frozen, I felt it kickstarted the deterioration process. I admit it automatically made me feel that I was watching a good cup of coffee vanish before my eyes.
Also, I’m not talking about putting the frozen beans in front of sunlight for only 20 minutes; it takes a couple of hours, and those few hours really will be your enemy.
The Best Way to Thaw Your Frozen Coffee Beans
So, what do you do if you don’t put your coffee beans in light to help thaw them out?
I found taking the bag out of the freezer around 12 hours before I planned to use them and placing them in a dark area away from the heat was the best solution.
Thawing slowly is best. Some people argue you should allow them to defrost for up to 24 hours.
Still, I feel that storing the beans in small amounts negates having to do it for an extended period.
My Main Issues with Freezing Coffee Beans
I tried freezing coffee beans in different containers with varying degrees of success.
First, I discovered freezing in small containers or bags works best. Larger containers give too much space, and too much air can develop in the container.
Freezing in small batches leads to easier thawing and also fewer wasted beans. You must use your thawed beans in under 10 days, so freezing a large batch at one time is problematic.
Thawing the beans slowly and naturally getting to room temperature was best. Keeping them away from direct light or any heat source works well.
A slightly cool, dark place reduces the chance of too much moisture developing, leading to better coffee beans.
I tried thawing some in the fridge but felt it still allowed too much moisture to develop, so I would avoid that.
Also, keep the bags sealed when thawing. I had a bag where I allowed some air to enter, and it can change the quality of the coffee you can then pull.
A Recap on Freezing Coffee Beans
I know I started off by saying you can freeze coffee beans but that I prefer to use fresh beans, but there are undoubtedly moments where it does work, and it can be a good idea.
So, here are my key points to consider when it comes to freezing those coffee beans.
- Do freeze the beans as soon as you get them
- Freeze the whole bean, and don’t grind them first
- Freeze in small batches to make it easier to thaw
- Freeze for up to two months
- Use an airtight container or a vacuum-sealed bag
- Seek to limit air as much as possible
- Thaw slowly in a dark area away from light
- Do not place the frozen coffee beans in direct light
- Avoid developing condensation due to issues with moisture
- You can grind frozen coffee beans or even partially frozen
- Use your freshly thawed coffee beans within a maximum of 10 days
So, it does work to freeze coffee beans; if you worry about preserving the quality over an extended period, then I do see this as the only option available.
You can freeze coffee beans, but you must freeze the beans in an airtight container. Keep them for a maximum of two months, but try to avoid freezing your coffee beans, as fresh will always perform better.