“Should I store my coffee in the freezer?”
Without a doubt, this is the most frequently asked question I get from customers, so here it is….the unfrozen answer…..
Picture this…..There you are at the bakery. You point to the clerk…”I’d like one of those, and one of those, and one of those.” Just baked, and still just room temperature you run home to throw the perfectly delicious raspberry almond, peach, and strawberry pastries into the freezer so they will stay “fresh” for your afternoon coffee party with friends. You go to the freezer 6 hours later to pull your pastries out to thaw in time for your guests’ arrival. Not only are they hard as a rock, but they now smell like the Dino-Nuggets and fish sticks wedged deep in the freezer 18 months ago. You pretend like this doesn’t bother you, and let the baked goods thaw at room temperature, only to find that when finally thawed, the flaky crust, and chewy center, and fresh fruit have been turned into a soggy, flat and sad excuse for the once amazing baked goods you purchased earlier that day. Sure they still taste pastry-like, but you’ve moved them from a “10” to a “6” at best. Your friends officially think you suck, and would like never to be invited for afternoon coffee at your house again.
So what the does that have to do with coffee besides the fact that it’s coffee hour? Everything. If you are going to buy freshly roasted coffee (I mean freshly roasted, like in the past 1-3 days), and you’re going to be able to drink what you’ve purchased over the next 8-13 days, don’t put it in the freezer. Yes, a pastry’s freshness window is really only about 12 hours, whereas coffee is about 2 weeks, so adjust your imagination accordingly. If you can drink the coffee you have purchased during its freshness window, simply store in an airtight, opaque container and normal room temperature. Enjoy it every day until it’s gone. If your coffee came in a foil coffee bag with a one way degassing valve on it, and can be closed well, that’s also a great way to store it.
If you can’t drink the fresh coffee you’ve purchased within the 2 week freshness window, then here are your options. (Pay attention…none of this matters one bit if you’ve purchased old coffee already.)
1. Don’t care, and know that your coffee’s flavor will deteriorate during the time it takes you to drink it. Keep it all stored at room temp in an airtight container.
2. Try to make it better, and take the portion that you can’t drink in 2 weeks and store it in your freezer in an airtight, opaque container. Enjoy the fresh portion you’ve kept out at room temperature until it’s gone. Once your room-temperature stores have depleted, remove your frozen portion from the freezer, and store and use at room temperature from then on. Know that your frozen coffee’s flavor will be less amazing than the freshly -roasted-never-frozen-version of itself. Don’t expect your coffee to hold on in the freezer for longer than a month.
The most important thing to realize is that making a hybrid version of the above is a terrible idea.….thinking that by just KEEPING your coffee in the freezer day after day, that it will stay better. Not true! We all know that anything we freeze changes in texture and taste. Loaf of bread? That Marlin you caught in Cabo last fall? You get the point.
Think of it this way. You’re a young 15 year old girl has just discovered makeup (ok, hang with me here). You ever-so-slightly apply some mascara and eyeshadow to your eyes to highlight their green color, then brush a little lip gloss onto your perfect little lips to brighten your amazing smile. You go out on a date looking this way, and you’re georgeous. The world acknowledges your undeniable beauty and radiance, and compliments come from every angle. The next day, still enjoying yesterday’s compliments, you think to yourself “if some makeup was that awesome, then I’ll, like, just put more on, and everyone will think I’m INCREDIBLE!”
Nope. Wrong. Now you look like a hooker, and not the “good” kind. Don’t turn your coffee into a street walking train wreck by keeping it stored in the freezer. (You know who you are…you have that half-sealed bag sitting in there right now. Every day it goes in and out of the freezer, forms condensation on the beans, picks up the freezer’s odors, and breaks down the fantastic flavor and aroma characteristics to the point where your coffee just tastes like the old ice cubes on the top shelf behind the sad frozen open bag of broccoli).
The best world scenario is to buy only what you need for 2 weeks, get it fresh, treat it with respect, and enjoy it until it’s gone. Then, buy more fresh coffee and do it all over again. Think of the freezer as an emergency situation that’s only brought in when you get invited on a sudden beach vacation to Baja. When you get back, you’ll still be basking in your sun-tanned look and post Tequila fogginess, so you have a few days to burn up the frozen stuff before your brain kicks in to reality and tells you it’s time to buy more fresh coffee.