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We’ve heard this one again and again, and again; people freezing their beans to keep them fresh, be it whole bean or ground. I’ve even seen instructions to refrigerate grounds on a can of coffee recently. WELL, STOP! It does nothing for the beans, can actually harm them, and may even cause damage to your machine.
It’s long been held, mainly through the “old wives’ tale” that putting beans in the freezer and/or refrigerator will keep them fresh. Most things that you put in the fridge do last longer, when kept cool or frozen -- we don’t keep milk in a cupboard, so why wouldn’t we keep beans in the freezer or fridge to keep them fresh longer?
The reality is, whole beans actually get outright damaged in the freezer. The water content in the beans freezes and causes little cracks. As a result, when you do take the beans out of the freezer, the cracks provide even more surface area for carbon dioxide (CO2) to escape. (CO2 is what makes that lovely crema). And to further compound things, if you add the beans directly to your grinder or hopper, as the beans thaw, condensation forms. Since most of the burrs in grinders are metal (steel), this could result in oxidation: RUST!
Ground coffee does not keep any better in the fridge. While freezing isn’t as detrimental as freezing whole beans, condensation can still occur. Frozen grounds could clump, and quickly become stale also.
So what should you do? Keep your beans in a dry, airtight container, and out of sunlight. We sell CoffeeVac and Vacu Vin Storage Containers, which are both designed to preserve your coffee beans. In a pinch, for an inexpensive, low-tech solution, keep your beans in a Ziploc disposable container (the blue tops).
Do you have a creative way to store coffee? We'd love to hear about it.