« Here's a coffee roaster in Tampa | Main | Roast Your Own Beans »



These days, the only coffee I believe should be frozen for long term storage is GREEN coffee. That's the coffee bean before it's roasted. George Howell, the "father" of specialty coffee on the east coast with the legendary Coffee Connection stores in Boston (bought by Starbucks in 1992) has recently pioneered the whole process of freezing green as soon as it's sent to his roasting works at Terroir Coffee. It's proving to be a boon, retaining flavours a year later that storing in standard jute bags never could do.

As for freezing roasted coffee? In a word, don't. The act of removing it from the freezer, grabbing some beans, then putting back in the freezer continually ads condensation to the beans, which then freezes too. The oils freeze and crystalize. Ever put a bottle of white (or red) wine in the freezer to give it a quick chill before dinner? Ever forget it in the freezer? Ever have an entire bottle go frozen? Would you drink it after it thaws? If you did, did you notice how the wine's been degraded?

Since coffee is the most complex foodstuff item in the world (over 800 uniquely identifiable chemical components make up the taste quotient of a bean! and over 1200 overall elements have been isolated and identified in roasted coffee - by comparison, second place is a red burgundy wine - with around 400 individual chemical components), it makes sense that if wine is affected by freezing / thawing, coffee will be affected even more so.

Just buy enough coffee to last you a week or less. Keep it in an air-tight container on the counter. Use it up. Enjoy, then buy some more.

Or you could learn to roast your own... ;)

Jonathan M. Chuzi

Mark has some good points, but I have been freezing roasted beans for several years and don't detect any off-flavors when brewing. The beans are removed from the freezer just long enough to measure the correct amount of coffee, and then returned immediately to their state of suspended animation.

I then grind the frozen beans and brew immediately.


i absolutely 100% agree with mark here. freezing coffee -- especially the beautiful single origin coffees we java lovers most adore -- are definitely harmed by freezing under home conditions.

the delicate aromas and zesty liveliness that make fine coffees so distinctive are definitely and noticeably reduced.


That scuttling sound you hear is me rushing to the freezer to throw out those beans.


I have to say that I respectfully disagree with Mark here. I believe that in the short term (less than 60 days), the freezing of whole, roasted beans is not as detrimental as one might think. The secret is to seal them extremely well, remove as much air as possible, and do not, under any circumstances, remove just a few beans and put them back in the freezer. You'll end up with condensation, and the beans will eventually get funky.

Instead, seal the freshly roasted whole beans in 1/4 lb quantities, and when you take them out, let the ziploc's come to room temperature before you open them. Then, store as you would fresh coffee beans and use them up in less than a week.

I have been doing this for years, after reading quite a bit on the subject in alt.coffee and doing some tests of my own. The effect is slight, if any, and certainly preferably to letting a lb. of beans sit around for 3 weeks. Not all of us have ready access to freshly roasted, and would rather not let the remainder go stale.


By the way, I should also mention that I use two ziploc's for each 1/4 lb of beans. Don't want to let any freezer air in there!

The comments to this entry are closed.