Freezing decaf vs. regular roasted coffee

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
Posts: 217
Joined: 15 years ago

#1: Post by SwingT »

Is there any difference between roasted decaf and regular roasted coffee? I mean, any difference in the cup.

My repeated searching of the site has not given a definitive answer. The best local barista - who seems pretty sharp - told me that decaf doesn't do nearly as well freezing as regular roasted coffees do.

I have read the major threads here on the subject (including part 2), and am thankful for the testing done by Ken and Jim, and all of the information has been excellent. However, there has not been much in the way of comments pertaining to freezing of roasted decaf - and how it might compare to regular roasts.

Any comments or experiences?

... split from Coffee: To Freeze or Not to Freeze? by moderator...
LMWDP #258

Ken Fox
Posts: 2447
Joined: 18 years ago

#2: Post by Ken Fox »

SwingT wrote:I have resurrected this thread to ask about freezing decaf, and if there is any difference between roasted decaf and regular roasted coffee. I mean, any difference in the cup.
I haven't roasted decaf in 3 or 4 years. I guess you could take the tact that that there is less to lose with decaf so it should do as well as regular in the freezer. I don't see any reason why decaf would do less well, compared to how it started out before it went into the freezer, than does regular. You could always do a little informal testing on your own. I think it would work fine.

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

Posts: 386
Joined: 17 years ago

#3: Post by Phaelon56 »

Quality specialty decaf will benefit from this just as regular coffee does. I have noticed that the process that causes coffee oils to migrate over time to the surface of the bean (I'm talking very small amounts here and there - not the oily sheen of over-roasted or ancient beans) seems to still occur in decaf even when frozen whereas don't see this in regular beans.

I roasted some SWP decaf Sumatran fairly light (as decaf roasts go it was about as light as it could be yet still have fully developed flavor). It was placed in one way valve bags within a few hours after roasting, sealed, placed inside ziploc freezer bags approximately 12 hours later after initial degassing, and then frozen in a new consumer style chest freezer that gets opened infrequently.

I roasted, packaged and froze a batch of regular beans at the same time with same methodology. When these two beans were thawed and opened about a month later the subtle spots of oil were visible on the decaf but not the regular beans. I expect to see this on decaf beginning at about 48 hours after roasting but usually no sooner (decaf stales faster than regualr and hits its sweet spot in a day or so instead of three or four).

The above is by no means a thorough test and I allow that the decaf may have had the slight oil develop during that 12 hours of degassing before it hit the freezer. I roast and freeze it primarily for my elderly parents and pull a bag about once every two weeks that is blended to make half-caf and then ground. Over a period of a few months it *seems* that the amount of oil seen on this batch has increased every so subtly but again - this is very subjective. I have tasted it and can confirm that it's rock solid. It is one of the better decafs I have ever worked with; two months after roasting it still maintains the same flavor profiel and appears to have the same nuances it did when first roasted.

User avatar
Supporter ♡
Posts: 7272
Joined: 15 years ago

#4: Post by yakster »

I roast decaf for my In-Law's, but don't regularly drink it. I'll sometimes put a few ounces in a small canning jar in the freezer to have some on-hand when they visit, and don't notice any big problems with freezing decaf, but again I'm not regularly drinking it.

The water process decaf beans have a particular vegetable smell that disappears after roasting, and Tom from Sweet Maria's says that the flavors hold up better in some beans then others when processed for decaf. Best to get specialty decafs where single origins or blends are selected for quality and sent to the decaf processor where you'll get a good result then buying bulk decaf processed beans where there's not much selection going on. More and more quality focused coffee roasters are sending out their flagship blends and beans for decaf processing.

The Sweet Maria's decaf page has more information and good links on this.

LMWDP # 272

User avatar
Posts: 1112
Joined: 15 years ago

#5: Post by GC7 »

I roast decafe for my wife who uses it for a fraction of her coffee consumption. I have been regularly trying to keep a stock for her by freezing a stock when I do other roasts. I freeze by vacuum packing the roasted beans using a foodsaver unit. We observe no detectable difference with the caveat that the beans are almost always consumed within a few days.

User avatar
Posts: 416
Joined: 17 years ago

#6: Post by Martin »

Whatever methods and cautions seem to work for regular, work the same for decaf. In my case freezing decaf is essential. First, irregular use. Some weeks we'll have nightly cappas and more for guests. Then there can be weeks with practically no use at all. IMO, decaf's don't show a gradual decline. They can remain at near peak for a few days but then seem to crash. That makes it really tough to plan roasting or purchases. When major grinder and other adjustments are required, that's a signal to dump the batch and thaw another 4-5 oz.
Heat + Beans = Roast. All the rest is commentary.