In a pinch, instant coffee is better than nothing, and a Keurig machine might be a welcome sight in a conference room, if you’re jonesing for a pick-me-up and don’t have access to a more legit brewing method. But if you’re a self-proclaimed coffee snob and like your morning java smooth and fragrant, you’re probably buying really good beans and grinding them just moments before you brew. Here’s an important caveat: ownership of excellent coffee beans does not guarantee a great cup of coffee every morning. Because, if you’re not taking good care of your beans before you grind them, your coffee could taste as terrible as if it came straight from an expired K-cup. So how do you treat your beans with the respect they deserve? Never, ever store them in your freezer.
“In the freezer, condensation produces moisture that makes coffee stale, and unless the coffee is vacuum-packed, it can pick up smells from other food in the freezer,” Margaret Nyamumbo, a third-generation coffee farmer and the founder and CEO of Kahawa 1893, explained to MindBodyGreen. No one wants their coffee to smell like tater tots, correct?
Frozen beans make coffee taste like cardboard
Odor issues aside, freezing also will destroy the coffee’s taste. In an interview with Real Simple, professional coffee taster Scott McMartin, who has tasted more than half-a-million cups of coffee as a member of the Starbucks Green Coffee Quality group, compared the taste of a coffee brewed from frozen beans to cardboard. “The cell structure changes, which causes a loss of the oils that give coffee its aroma and flavor,” he said.
Instead, your best bet is to keep coffee beans in a dark, airtight container, away from direct sunlight and heat, advises the National Coffee Association. You can keep that container in a cabinet or pantry, as long as it’s not located right next to a source of heat, like the oven. And even though you probably love the look of a coffee bean—it’s what’s making your workday bearable, is it not?—don’t use a transparent canister left in the middle of your kitchen counter for the world to see. Those beauties need to be kept under wraps; exposure to light is almost as bad for their flavor as freezer burn.
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