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To freeze or not to freeze?
By Picolofolkvento

19.09.18

 

 

 

According to some research and my experience as a barista, I believe that every kind of coffee - no matter how you preserve it - will inevitably lose its aroma and flavor due to the environment that it’s in.

 

Is it true that storing coffee beans in the freezer will allow the beans to stay fresh for longer?

According to some research and my experience as a barista, I believe that every kind of coffee - no matter how you preserve it - will inevitably lose its aroma and flavor due to the environment that it’s in. The factors that affect the quality of coffee are:

1. Oxygen - Coffee gives off carbon dioxide after it is roasted. If you keep your coffee in a zip-lock bag without letting oxygen in, the bag will eventually explode. But if you leave the bag open or let oxygen pass into the bag all the time, the flavor will get worse. The suitable container for coffee should have a valve to release carbon dioxide which will give your coffee beans a longer shelf life.

2. Humidity - Humidity has a negative effect on roasted coffee beans like changing its flavor and aroma. Therefore, a proper coffee bag should be able to prevent coffee from humidity and moisture.

3. Heat - Exposure to heat can cause coffee beans to lose its flavor. Low temperature, however, does a better job of preservation. The most effective temperature to preserve the quality of the coffee is at freezing point (0 degrees Celsius).

Jim Schulman, the founding member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), had experimented on this matter. He divided coffee beans into three sample groups. The first group is the coffee that had given off carbon dioxide (degassing) for five days. The second group is the coffee that had been frozen for four months. The last group is the coffee that had been frozen for a month. The beans from the second and the third group were freshly roasted and put into zip-lock bags before freezing. Schulman’s choice of coffee in this experiment was Ethiopia Sidamo Werka; he chose this particular beans for its signature delicate flavor and fruity notes. These were the qualities that Schulman believed would be most obvious to see the change after freezing. Schulman also decided to use the conical grinder in this experiment due to the fact that in his prior experiments of which he used an espresso machine, he had found no difference in taste among the groups.

Earlier this year, I went to the World of Coffee 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. At the event, I saw that many contestants had tried to freeze or chill their coffee to make it taste better. Kyle Ramage, who won the United States Barista Championship in 2017, was among these people who tried the same method. He froze his beans with dry ice at -50 degrees Celsius. Ramage said that, normally, the roasted beans would be more fragile than the green beans because of the difference in humidity levels. He also told me that freezing coffee would make it more fragile, which would create greater consistency and smoothness when grinding and brewing. This in turns, allows the natural sweetness of the coffee to shine through the cup.

As a barista, I think that freezing the beans is an interesting way to preserve the quality of coffee. However, before trying this, there are a few things that you be aware of. For example, you need to make sure that your grinder is a good-quality one that doesn’t absorb humidity. Also, don’t forget that even if you freeze your coffee, there will still be some humidity in a refrigerator. Thus, buying freshly roasted coffee beans and keeping them away from the air, heat, and humidity might be an easier and better way to enjoy your coffee than freezing it.

But do have a go and try the experiment for yourself, keeping coffee in the freezer can be interesting and fun. Here’s are two tips to get you started, all tried and tested by me!

  1. Allocate the amount of coffee you wish to freeze.
  2. Once you have taken out the coffee from the bag, try to grind it straight away. This will prevent the coffee from thawing and prevent the release of water content.

I look forward to hearing about your experiments! 

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https://rootsbkk.com/journal/to-freeze-or-not-to-freezeby-picolofolkvento/

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