Before we get to far into this – lets review what we already know about coffee storage.
- Oxygen kills coffee. Or any other kind of food, for that matter. Oxidisation causes breakdown, so less oxygen (seal bags) is good.
- Light kills coffee. Regardless if it’s the sun or artificial light – light causes photodegradation and beaks down the organic cell structure in the coffee.
- Heat kills coffee. Hotter the enviroment – the quicker things break down.
- Humidity kills coffee. They encourage bacterial growth which in term again speeds up breakdown.
And what do I mean when I say kills coffee? I mean it changes (and not generally for the better) the flavour. It makes the beans go stale. Stale coffee is why new beans (I am going to skip a few steps here and suggest if you are not grinding your own beans, this article is going to be waaaaayyy over the top for you), straight out of that new bag smell better and taste more ‘robust’. After a week to so – the flavour doesn’t necessarily get back, it just gets a lot more subdued.
Now. There is also a simple answer here – buy fewer beans more often. However, I like to order at least a kg of coffee at a time – in order to save a bit on freight (I tend to be ordering a lot of coffee from the other end of the country these days) – and I find that by the time I get through the bag (it’s just me here drinking coffee these days) the end of the bag is not the same as the start of the bag.
So. Let’s make things more complicated than they need to be aye!
Viking Coffee got me onto the idea of freezing beans. You essentially stop the ‘staling’ or oxidation process by reducing the temperature. However, you can’t just dump a bag of beans in the freezer and hope for the best. You still are allowing air to circulate with the beans. Some will vacuum bag pack individual portions of beans to get around this – so you only use what you need, however, that seems like a lot of work and a bit of a waste of plastic bags, so I thought I would experiment with Food Saver containers instead. I take what I need out, reseal, suck all the air out of the container and put it back into the freezer.
You can read online that freezing your beans can also help with a more consistent grind. If you read the articles fully however, you also find we are talking about -40 (Which, coincidently is the same in both Celsius or Fahrenheit!) and below – beyond the -20 Celsius that freezers tend to be around. So, not really relevant.
But does it make a difference?
Well. Better pallets than mine seem to think so. What will be interested to find out, long term, is if the containers also help with keeping the humidity under control around the beans. I will be looking for ice crystals!