Oh man, we're hitting up something a bit too controversial for a Sunday evening today, aren't we? Heck, I'm just preparing myself for the social media backlash as I press the 'publish' button.
There's only so many times I can listen to customers talking about buying a huge hunk of 1kg coffee beans and storing them in the freezer before I have to turn around to them and tell them to stop. Equally, you should see the tense look in my eye I get when I hear baristas in the speciality coffee shops 'advising' customers to be storing their coffee beans in the fridge or freezer.
So, to prevent myself from having this huge as heck outburst to an unknowing victim of a barista or coffee lover, I'm writing this little blog post for you today. After all, I did study chemistry at A Level and thus I feel I have a bit of knowledge in the matter. I'm not just going to throw random advice at you without some supportive evidence.
The fiends of your coffee friends are exposure to moisture, oxygen, heat and light. Of course, many supermarkets list storage instructions on their packaging which state to keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer, which may be where the misleading is coming from. However, unless 100% airtight and with extreme precaution, the fridge and freezer both contain a considerable amount of moisture. Most airtight containers available in your average shop won't actually be 100% airtight, and thus you'll be doing more damage than good to your beans. Once your beans come into contact with moisture, they soon lose their flavour and freshness.
Not only are these places high in humidity from the high levels of moisture, but they also suffer from extreme temperature changes (think whenever you open the door). This fluctuation in temperature contributes to an even higher level of moisture evident in the unit, as a result of there being an increased chance of condensation occurring in the packaging. Not only this, but there are also claims that with temperature fluctuations comes considerabe cell changes in the coffee bean, impacting the flavour and quality of the coffee beans relatively dramatically.
The National Coffee Association states that the only time you should ever consider freezing your beans (but always keep them out of the fridge!) is when you have a huge bulk item. However, once removed out of the freezer, the beans should most definitely not be going back into there as a result of the temperature fluctuations and increased risk of condensation.
Lastly, the Co2 gas escaping from the beans during this 'staling' process is definitely something to consider in more detail, as this seems to be the biggest reason as to why your coffee no longer seems fresh and doesn't taste as, well, lovely. Hasbean makes a valid point, who states that to preserve the CO2 and keep it from escaping (through freezing), liquid nitrogen would have to be involved - not to mention a freezer with a temperature exceeding -200 degrees celsius, which is out of the question for the average domestic environment...!
Because of this, there really doesn't seem to be any benefit of keeping the coffee in the fridge or freezer. However, there is definitely factors of this storage which could deeply impact the beans if not stored properly in these cool places. Much like Hasbean, I'm a firm believer that your coffee, because of the release of CO2, will become stale very quickly no matter where it is stored, so you may as well remove the chance of increased moisture exposure by keeping it in a cool place, out of the light.
However, if you're adamant in keeping your beans in the fridge, then I would definitely recommend you package off your beans in smaller 'portion' sizes, to stop the large batch of beans from being affected every time you go to make a 'fresh' cup of coffee.
Until next time, lovelies. x