Freezing Coffee – A Short Term Experiment in Preservation

It's no surprise...

that the internet is filled to the brim with opinions about the benefits, or consequences of freezing your coffee.  We all know what they say about opinions, and we all know its true.  Yet, when it comes to freezing coffee there are two schools of thought.  Each is backed by science, but only one backed by the man who invented the Starbucks Frappuccino, and is now serving "vintage" coffees more than two years old in his cafes. That man is George Howell.

But first, lets talk about why some people believe freezing coffee is detrimental. The freezer is humid, humidity is moisture, and moisture is coffee's enemy.  At least when it comes to storage.  A coffee bean is a sensitive little thing.  It has a cell structure and oils that create the flavors that us roasters work so hard to develop.  These things are undoubtedly effected by moisture, but there are steps to prevent, or at the very least slow the damage.

George Howell, and some other notable coffee folks, have split away from this opinion.  George has taken it so far as to freeze coffee for years and serve them.  Even his baristas compete with them.  He claims that its by far the best way to store both roasted and green coffee.  He's also gone as far as to say that "most" of the coffees his cafes serve have been frozen at some point in time.  If this is true, it definitely didn't negatively effect the experiences I've had with George Howell's coffees.

With these two competing opinions drawing a divide I decided I should try this for myself.  Both in a short-term and long-term way.  So for this experiment I placed half of a bag of Piexoto in my hopper, and the other half sealed in an airtight tupperware in the freezer.  I pulled shots of the unfrozen coffee, took some notes. Then a week later thawed and pulled shots of the coffee that was frozen.

My results showed little to no difference.  I pulled the shots under the same grams in, out, and timeframe.  The acidity seemed a bit muted on the previously frozen coffee, but I don't know if that was due to being frozen of some atmospheric conditions beyond my control.

So for the upcoming long-term experiment I've decided to place an entire 12 ounce bag into my freezer for six months and to pull shots at that point to see if the time frozen can be a contributing factor to coffee quality and proper storage.  I may also even attempt an even longer term freezer experiment using green (un-roasted) coffee and see how that may or may not effect its flavor and aroma.


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