Freeze 'n' Re-freeze

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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#1: Post by Marshall »

I am here to plead guilty to coffee abuse. Because of the shipping cost and time, I rarely order East Coast coffees. But, Counter Culture's free shipping promotion this month was too good to pass up. I figured that, even if I only had a couple of days to enjoy it, at least it would have been a reasonable investment.

But, events conspired against me. My order of Espresso Toscano arrived while I was in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime Experimental Blend from Ecco. Decisions, decisions. I froze the Toscano, while it was still unopened. When I finished the Ecco, I opened the Toscano, was loving it and then was called out of town. I did something I never did before. I re-froze it. Someone once warned me about the terrible damage that re-freezing did to food. I don't know if it is true, but the advice stayed with me.

This morning I defrosted the Toscano, expecting a disaster. But, no! That sweet, nutty flavor and thick crema came right back. A revelation!

I obviously can't predict how every coffee will react, but if you have to leave town midway through a bag, have no fear, freeze it (or re-freeze it.).
Los Angeles

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#2: Post by lberg »

I've also re-frozen beans before, without negative results (that were noticeable to me, a newbie).


#3: Post by zoroaster »

Marshall how did you freeze them both times? First time in the travel bag alone, or bag in bag? Do you use mason jars or always in a different vessel? Dave. BTW, I have yet to find a Toscano match. What are your other favorites (not to hijack, but perhaps we have similar tastes).

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Marshall (original poster)

#4: Post by Marshall (original poster) replying to zoroaster »

Second time in a mason clamp jar.
Los Angeles

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Team HB

#5: Post by another_jim »

Refreezing food with water destroys the cell walls as the water crystallizes. I don't know why this doesn't happen the first time you freeze anything. Roasted coffee has no moisture content, nothing crystallizes, and nothing is damaged. As long as you freeze and refreeze dry or vacuum packed beans, extra staling is the only bad thing that can happen. And on this front refreezing is obviously better than leaving the coffee out.
Jim Schulman

Ken Fox

#6: Post by Ken Fox »

People talk of "condensation" that appears on beans after they are frozen and which supposedly damages them. This is one of those great truths handed down from on high that people are supposed to accept as received wisdom without further thought. The only problem is that no one has proven in any sort of reasonably verifiable experiment that condensation that might or might not occur on the surface of defrosted beans has any effect. But to listen to some whose wisdom comes from on high, it is undeniable fact :mrgreen:

As one of the very few people who has actually tried to study in a controlled fashion the effect of freezing on coffee, I have no opinion on the effect of refreezing previously frozen coffee (in all honesty I don't think I've ever done it). In fact, the overwhelming majority of coffee I drink has never been frozen, although there are times when I do consume my own previously frozen coffee as a matter of convenience, when I get very busy and don't have time to roast, or when I'm coming back from an extended trip. I've never been able to convince myself that I could tell the difference as long as the coffee hasn't been out of the freezer for an inordinate period or been frozen for more than a few months (with freezing in my hands occurring immediately after roasting, as detailed in the "freezing article.")

There are some issues that have been raised by others and some I've had myself with the original study reported here on this website. These issues do not cause me to doubt the results but do encourage me to repeat a limited comparison with another trusted taster, Jim S., on his next visit here whenever that might occur. I'd like to run a limited comparison of more "reasonably" sized dosed shots (14g) comparing 2 or 3 month old frozen coffee vs. never frozen fresh of the same bean roasted to exactly the same profile. I'd expect the same results as before, but you never know. In any event, I don't see any point in testing the effects of refreezing and would suggest letting one's taste buds be the guide. My impression is that Jim has the correct take on this in his earlier post on this thread.

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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Marshall (original poster)

#7: Post by Marshall (original poster) »

Welcome back.
Los Angeles

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#8: Post by JohnB. »

So since the roasted beans have no moisture can they actually be "frozen" or are we just putting them in cold storage?

As far as the condensation issue I will confess to using beans directly out of the freezer on several occasions & I have yet to see any signs of moisture on the beans while they were being weighed or when they went into the grinder. I also have not noticed any difference in the taste of the shot whether the beans were ground when warm or cold.

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#9: Post by stefano65 »

We buy coffee for our home use by the 5lb bag
we vacuum seal it and put it in the barn's deep freezer
i can never tell the difference from the 3-4 day fresh one
beats leaving a 5lb bag around for 2-3 weeks getting older
Stefano Cremonesi
Stefano's Espresso Care
Repairs & sales from Oregon.

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#10: Post by Ozark_61 »

I don't know where the refreezing no-no started, but doesn't really matter - but AFAIK, cellular damage to plants that make them mushy happens via water inside the cell walls of the material, not externally. The frozen water crystals in the cells puncture the cell walls and make mush. Makes for a great quick 'n dirty way to make cabbage rolls rather than the pita steaming :) but can't see how it would damage the coffee even if you sprinkled water on the beans and then re-froze them. Good to bring this up though, hadn't even thought about refreezing.
LMWDP #570