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Refrigerator or Freezer for Coffee Storage?

Postby dick-san on Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:29 am

Quite a number of times over the years, I've heard / read the admonition "don't put coffee in the refrigerator nor in the freezer."

Why not? Does the lower temperatures cause rapid deterioration of the coffee, even when in an airtight container? Or is it simply that opening the cold container leads to condensation on the cold beans, which I'm pretty certain does lead to rapid deterioration?

Of course, I'm hoping that the latter answer is the correct one -- I only drink one espresso double a day and would like to try some of the roasters sponsoring this site...

Thanks for any insights.

--dick floyd
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Postby niad on Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:42 am

In the freezer you get ice crystals that gives condensation when you take the bag in and out that is not good for the beans after what i have heard.

A dark and cool place and airtight or with one-way ventilation is probably the best. Maybe if you really want to store the beans you should use the ordinary fridge.

If you get the beans in their original bag i believe you should just store them dark and fairly cool.
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Postby HB on Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:11 am

dick-san wrote:Does the lower temperatures cause rapid deterioration of the coffee, even when in an airtight container? Or is it simply that opening the cold container leads to condensation on the cold beans, which I'm pretty certain does lead to rapid deterioration?

The short answer is that the coffee continues to stale, it's only a question of how quickly the process progresses. One-way valves, nitrogen flushed containers, cold storage, they're our attempt to put off the inevitable.

There's been lots of debate about the freezer life of coffee beans, though I don't recall a consensus on the issue. When I get an unusually large bounty of coffee at one time, I'll divide it up into 1/2 pound lots and store them in airtight Mason jars in the freezer. I defrost them individually before use (no going in and out of the freezer for the reasons you cite). The jar will "burp" loudly when first opened as the CO2 escapes. Ah, love the sound and it at least smells fresh. While I recommend truly fresh coffee for everyday use, an airtight container in the freezer will extend the freshness a bit longer. Note: The jar may be pressurized, but I've never had one burst. I've always jarred coffees a few days post-roast; homeroasters may need to wait for partial degassing if using an airtight jar. Rudedog has an innovative solution:

Image
From Reusing valve bags, do they wear out?

Related topics: Rapid loss of espresso richness past 5 days and What is the latest on the storage of greens? Bob's Storage of Roasted Beans to Maximize Flavor gives a chemist's viewpoint on the subject.
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Postby another_jim on Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:03 pm

The basic answer is

1. freezing retards staling, and very deep freezing (-40 C or F) eliminates it. Coffee in a home freezer stays fresh for at least a month.

2. it has to be done right, or it's useless. The coffee has to be stored airtight and allowed to warmup completely before reopening the package. Otherwise one gets condensation, which is worse than staling. It is best if as little moisture laden air as possible is stored with the coffee, vacuum pack is best, wrapping tightly or storing in a filled to the stuffing point jar also work well. I use freezer or valve bags which I roll up tightly to expel the air, then seal. This works fairly well, and keeps the coffee fragrant for at least three weeks.
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Postby Compass Coffee on Wed Oct 11, 2006 6:32 pm

Because of my consumption style of always having 3 to 5 single origins plus an espresso blend roasted and rest ready freezing roasts has long been a part of my routine. Primarily the espresso blend gets frozen since I'll usually only pull a shot or two per day of it and roast 1/2# batches. The SO 1/2# batches also get pulled as shots for Americanos, caps and straight shots but also get pre-ground and little vac bagged in individual 24oz press pot sizes for work then frozen so usually the vac'd mason jars don't last unfrozen more than a week from rest. When freezing I've always followed Sivetz advice as closely as possible. My version of "hermetically sealed" being vacuum sealed in mason jars. I also use this for having coffee waiting returning from travel.

Once frozen I do not defrost an entire frozen batch but rather measure out what's needed for the grind session and immediately re-vacuum seal the jar and return it to the freezer. This removes any negative moisture influences IMO. After letting the beans sit in the grinder 5 minutes or so grind away.

Here's a video of my 5 bean pre-roast Summer Jam Blend (3 DPs, 2WPs, zero Robusta). This was part of the pile I roasted Aug 29th for the Sept 4th Espresso Jam I hosted. Mason jar vacuum sealed and frozen the next day Sept 5th at 7 days post roast. FWIW it was mason jar vacuum sealed room temperature direct from roast cooling. It's been removed from freezer for a shot at least a dozen times since then.

(my first shot video, using video function Olympus C-750, primarily a still camera)


Lighting could definitely be better and should have zoomed in more. As may or may not be able to be seen end of shot crema was still a good 75% Guinnessing to ~30% or so. Total pull about 1.5oz, crema not what it was at day 6 before freezing over a month ago, but still quite tasty!
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Postby Ken Fox on Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:58 am

dick-san wrote:Quite a number of times over the years, I've heard / read the admonition "don't put coffee in the refrigerator nor in the freezer."

Why not? Does the lower temperatures cause rapid deterioration of the coffee, even when in an airtight container? Or is it simply that opening the cold container leads to condensation on the cold beans, which I'm pretty certain does lead to rapid deterioration?

Of course, I'm hoping that the latter answer is the correct one -- I only drink one espresso double a day and would like to try some of the roasters sponsoring this site...

Thanks for any insights.

--dick floyd


Here's what I do: I roast every 2-3 weeks, in quantities too large to use up before it stales. I also roast for a friend who happens to be my internist. All of my friend's coffee goes into sealed valve bags evacuated of excess air and frozen immediately. As a precaution I put a piece of tape over the valve because these valves use a drop of oil in them and the oil will freeze with the valve either open or closed. The tape is to be removed when the valve bag is removed from the freezer for use.

With coffee I will use myself, about 1/2 to 60% goes into mason jars, filled to the rim, and immediately frozen in a cold (between -10 and -20F) freezer. The rest is used over the ensuing 8 to 10 days. The frozen coffee tides me over in between roast sessions and for when I return from vacations.

I never keep coffee frozen for more than 3 months and generally it is for about 2-6 weeks. With this approach I have never detected any significant degredation of the coffee compared to the fresh/never frozen coffee that makes up about 1/2 of my overall home consumption. I believe but cannot prove that it is most helpful to freeze the beans within a very short time after roasting, say within an hour.

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Postby Compass Coffee on Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:23 am

Ken Fox wrote:I never keep coffee frozen for more than 3 months and generally it is for about 2-6 weeks.

One of these days (years) I'll find out just how long it can keep. Have a pound that I vacuum bag froze going on six years ago. :shock: It was part of the last shipment received of pre-roasted when just starting home roasting. But wouldn't really be a good staling test coffee 'cuz it was their Nawlins style coffee, darker roast with chickory. And so it sits abandoned in the freezer, just haven't had the heart to throw it away. Someday I'll bust it open and make a press pot to see if there's any life left. But will have to make a batch of Beignets first of course. :wink:

With this approach I have never detected any significant degredation of the coffee compared to the fresh/never frozen coffee that makes up about 1/2 of my overall home consumption. I believe but cannot prove that it is most helpful to freeze the beans within a very short time after roasting, say within an hour.
ken

Makes sense especially if taking the entire frozen batch out to thaw before consuming in the ensuing days. If only taking out for the grind and returning to freezer seems 3 days rest or so before freezing might be better.
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Postby Compass Coffee on Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:45 pm

Tried my hand at another video showing how 7 day rested then 6 week vacuum sealed frozen beans pull. Used clear glass demi rather than cut crystal, zoomed in closer and added some hi-tech lighting (19.2v Craftsman flashlight with I believe krypton bulb :lol: )



Appears to be a good 90%+ crema end of shot Guinessing to ~45% 30 seconds post shot. This is my blend of 100% Arabica Caffe' Rosto 15min gentle tickling a wee bit into 2nd profile roasted to light FC, 4min drying equalization stage to 300f, level ramp to start of 1st ~9:30, 15min end of roast cooled to 125f ~2min, pre-roast equal part blend of Aged Sumatra, Brazil Cerrado DP, Brazil Cerrado WP, Harrar DP and Kona WP. Shot pulled ~202f.

The proof is in the cup and it was delish! :wink:
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Postby Ken Fox on Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:06 am

Compass Coffee wrote:Tried my hand at another video showing how 7 day rested then 6 week vacuum sealed frozen beans pull.

There are several well known people who make very strong blanket statements about freezing coffee. It is my impression that these people have virtually no experience with it. It would be fairly easy to do a blind tasting comparison of previously frozen vs. never frozen, but equivalently "aged" coffee to see if good tasters can tell the difference. My guess is that they can't, but this remains to be tested. One of these days Jim S. and I might get around to testing this hypothesis, but we would be delighted if someone else would take it upon themself/themselves to do this instead, since this sort of testing is extremely tedious.

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Postby dick-san on Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:13 am

Thank you for all the insights and data -- I feel more comfortable about trying coffees from online roasters now.

The only time I ever froze espresso coffee was in 1992 when a former son-in-law, who liked to make big gestures, gave me a big steel barrel of Illy Cafe for my birthday. I can't remember how much coffee it contained but it must have been at least 8-10 pounds (his brother was an Illy distributor -- did get a nice 6 cup selected artist set from that connection too, tho the marriage didn't last long <g>). Since I'd only had the Cremina for less than a year, my palate wasn't developed enough to be very discriminating about any deterioration over time -- my main memory is of how much room the barrel took up in the freezer <g>

Thanks again.

--dick floyd
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