Today I walk you through one question: should you freeze your coffee?
Well, it is not only about this, but also about why and how you decided to go for it.
Alert: we are not going to talk about any pre-ground coffee or instant one but just about whole coffee beans. That is because (what we know so far) once we grind beans we have a small time available to use them. Just after 10-15 minutes, we have lost most of the volatile compounds that are responsible for getting the best flavours out from those grounds. This happens because coffee is hygroscopic which means that it tends to absorb humidity from the air. For this reason, it was never recommended to freeze your coffee until when discoveries were made. So, let’s have a look at the improvements that the industry did in the last few years.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR ABOUT FREEZING COFFEE
Freezing coffee has become a trend and it’s become quite popular in the past years that even coffee shops have started freezing coffee, widening their menu and raising interest to their customers. But why we freeze coffee?
First of all, there’s no doubt you can freeze your coffee. We freeze coffee not just because we want to keep the flavours intact: we freeze it because it helps to get tastier coffee but also because we want to taste it in the next 6 months or year.
It has been proved that freezing coffee help slowing down the ageing of it and so keeping its complexity. It’s recommended to vacuum seal every portion, ready to be brewed singularly. For instance, just 15 grams might be enough to brew a pour-over coffee and at least 17 grams and you’re ready for an espresso-based drink. We don’t want to freeze an entire bag of coffee as for every time we open it we let the beans absorb the moisture.
Secondly, once the coffee is removed from the freeze, it’s recommended to grind it straight away to ensure to get the most out from those beans. A coffee that has been frozen not only has its complexity preserved but make it easier to even get out more sweetness and clarity.
Thirdly, grinding freezing coffee works better. That’s the main reason why it became popular among the competitors. A few years ago, they started to use frozen coffee on their routine (in 2017 the Kyle Ramage won the US Barista Championship using a coffee that was frozen with dry ice) as it helps to get more score.
So, what happened inside a frozen bean? The coffee that comes out from the freezer has its particle size altered which means it differs in particle distribution. There’s a greater amount of finer particles and less difference between the larger particles and the finer ones. Having said that, a frozen bean ensures a more uniform grind so a higher extraction with more flavours in the cup.
Fourth, another important thing to consider is that you should go for fresh coffee beans (learn about the Best Uk online Coffee subscriptions in 2020) every time no matter if you’re going to use it or freeze it. Simply because it’s tastier and within a month or so it does its best in term of complexity. Just do not use it too fresh though; any coffee beans need their time to degas as C02 is formed while in the roasting process. I suggest you wait at least 5-6 days before opening your coffee bag and grind it otherwise a taste of vegetative is likely to be found in the cup.
WHEN YOU DON’T NEED TO FREEZE YOUR COFFEE
Unless you want to experiment with this technique, you do not have any reason to go for it.
You also do not want to stock coffee beans just because that online offer that gives you a huge discount if you buy several bags of coffee (it sounds a wastage to me). Anyway, in that case, you should freeze your coffee but you can easily avoid this by buying fresh coffee and brew it to get the most out while it is fresh.
Always keep off your coffee from heat, moisture, light and air to make sure your coffee is stored correctly and doesn’t get worse than it normally would. So, look for a dry, cool and dark place like a cupboard for example but not put coffee in the fridge or close to anything that generates heat such as the oven.
As I said before, coffee is hygroscopic which means we cannot store it in the fridge and take it out every time we need to make a brew. Taking out a bag of coffee from the fridge that often and you are going to introduce warmer air, causing condensation and so damaging the coffee. Also, the fridge doesn’t slow the ageing of the coffee as it’s not as cold as the freezer.
And lastly, a good reason to freeze some coffee is to play around them later on making cupping. Freezing different coffee is great for this reason: just take some grams of coffee of different ones; if you want to be more precise, you would need 34,75 grams of coffee for each sample to make three different cups. According to the SCA ratio, you should weight 8,25 grams of coffee to 150 ml of water. Cupping three different cups of the same coffee help to isolate any defects. As you need to purge some beans to clean the grinder in between different samples, consider to freeze 4-5 grams more.
This is what I normally do. I always save the best coffee I had of a certain period and then I taste them doing cupping with some friends. This gives me the possibility to go back to when I first tasted and to compare to each other. Also, in the case of some micro-lot coffee or some experimental one, I just put it in the freezer just because it was too good to not enjoy it any more.
What about you? Have you ever tried to freeze your coffee?
I am an Italian coffee lover that pushed for the love of this “amazing drug” decided to come to London to study about coffee and its different extraction procedures and tastes.