Testing Freezer-Stored Coffee Beans

One of the most frequent questions that we’re asked is regarding how to best store coffee beans in order to keep them fresh. We have done several videos testing how beans hold up over time in their roast bags or a container such as the Airscape, but how about the oft-recommended freezer storage? How do beans perform after being frozen?

We put a couple of bags in the freezer back in October 2010 and then pulled them out of the vault three months later. Watch as Gail pulls shots using one bag that was completely sealed and another bag that was opened and then folded closed using the bag’s tabs.

7 comments for “Testing Freezer-Stored Coffee Beans

  1. Mike
    January 25, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I have enjoyed your videos (they have been very helpful for me as a new Silvia owner), but I don’t think you can conclude anything from this test. For one, you need to do several shots and have a control to be sure that whatever effect you are getting is due to the storage method. In this case, your grind likely needs to be adjusted as it would for any new bean (it might even be the case that frozen beans are more sensitive to improper grind for some reason). There were a couple of very thorough tests on this issue done a while back that basically found that frozen beans are not any worse than fresh beans. You can find them…
    here:
    http://www.home-barista.com/store-coffee-in-freezer.html

    and here:
    http://www.home-barista.com/tips/freezing-espresso-coffee-part-two-t10301.html

    • Kat
      January 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm

      Given that we had dialed in and used the machine with a fresh roast, and all of our tests have been using this previous method, we’re sticking with this. Additionally, I have tasted a ton of under-extracted coffee (due to grind) that was nowhere near the taste we had with this coffee. From my practical experience, I am comfortable with concluding that freezing beans has an adverse affect on them. But, obviously, everyone has an opinion — especially in coffee — so you can keep on freezing your beans if you like, we don’t judge. :)

      - Kat

  2. Gary
    January 27, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Kat,

    I enjoy the videos your videos. They give me the sense that you, Gail and the other folks at Seattle Coffee Gear are coffee experts. But I have to agree with Mike. You really need to dial in the grind before you can fairly evaluate the shot. A pull that’s too fast or too slow can completely ruin a shot. Every time you change the beans you have to recalibrate the grind. Even if you don’t change beans you have to recalibrate day-to-day as beans age.

    In my opinion I think you should redo this and the Airscape test because the current videos really hurt your credibility.

    Respectfully, :-)

    Gary

    • Kat
      January 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

      Hi Gary -

      I am very aware of the need to dial in coffee beans on a regular basis, but I disagree with your contention here. These are the practical assessments we decided on and will stick with, and I do not believe it hurts our credibility at all. In fact, we are specifically practical and do not do quasi-scientific tests for a reason — there are plenty of folks that do that and it is interpreted as overwhelming for the vast majority of people that we work with. They want practicality and that is the basis of these tests. Gail and I have tasted a TON of coffee, used over 100 different machines and have vast experience with tasting shots. Our assessment is accurate and we stand by it. You are free to disregard the experience that we bring to these videos and not agree with our tests :) This is coffee how we see it and we encourage others to test and make videos of their experiences, as well.

      - Kat

  3. Tom
    January 28, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Kat,

    Unless you do blind taste (and probably grind too) tests your tests don’t really mean anything. The difference could be how much beer you did (or did not) drink last night. Or any one of many other things.

    If you can’t pick the frozen beans out of several other types of beans without knowing which is which, you are not performing a good test. You probably need someone to do a blind grind too.

    • Kat
      January 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

      We are practical testers, period. The majority of people who we work with would not being doing what you suggest, would not be spending a ton of time dialing in stale beans and are looking for practical answers to simple questions. If you want to make this more complex than it really is, go for it — there are tons of people in the coffee community who do just that, and our decision *not* to do that is part of the service we provide to people who aren’t interested in engaging at that level. That has never been our story and never will be. Just because you and a handful of others personally disagree with our methods does not make them wrong. This is all subjective and practically based, and we’re sticking with that.

      I suggest that you do your own tests and videos to share your opinions.

      - Kat

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