Here's A Solution You May Want To Try - Freezing Coffee
There’s no escaping the fact that making speciality coffee at home is an investment. Whether that’s an investment in time to learn about the different brew methods and the countless variables involved in brewing the perfect cup of coffee, or the investment financially to purchase equipment and speciality coffee beans; but of course, it's always more than worth it to achieve a better tasting and more enjoyable coffee for all.
As you may now expect, coffee wholebeans from many of the best and most known speciality coffee roasters will cost more than a jar of instant or ground coffee as you will likely see on supermarket shelves, but there are many very good reasons for this and we believe it’s well worth the investment. As per GUSTATORY's Mission Statement, '...not all coffee is sustainable or ethical. In fact, far too much isn't...' and the reasons for such speciality coffees being more expensive involves ethics and sustainability factors as much as those quality orientated. Above all, it goes without saying that the better the bean, the better the coffee - all other things being equal.
When buying coffee wholebeans, and when delving deeper into our pockets to purchase them, the logical thing to do is ensure that the wholebeans last as long as possible - we want to get our money’s worth right?
Like most produce, coffee wholebeans are perishable and have ‘use by’ dates. If the bag is vacuum sealed with a one-way valve then the beans can theoretically last on the shelf for between 3-5 months after the roast date which is normally detailed on the bag itself. However, once that seal is broken and you start to use the beans, they should really be used within 2-3 weeks. If you’re making coffees for your family and you’re drinking coffee everyday then that might not be an issue, but if you’re an occasional coffee drinker or if you’re only making coffee for yourself, then typically a 250g bag may still have beans leftover at that 3 week mark and the last thing you want do is let them go to waste!
Freezing your coffee to help it last longer
So what are the solutions? In a seperate article we detailed the fundamental basics behind this question in so much as how to store your coffee beans at home, however diving deeper, how can you make your beans themselves actually last longer and retain all that lovely flavour? Well there are plenty of theories out there and plenty of ‘hacks’ but we’re going to wade through all the conjecture and provide you with the definitive answer. The simple answer is freeze them.
Freezing, as with any food produce, prevents oxidisation which prolongs the lifespan of whatever it is that’s being frozen. That is true of coffee too, however, freezing coffee has another benefit. It also slows down the release and dissipation of aromatics, meaning all those lovely tasting notes and that sweet coffee aroma is preserved. There is a caveat to this though. In order for coffee to be completely preserved indefinitely you need a freezer capable of providing a constant temperature of -40 degrees Celsius, a temperature unachievable by any domestic household freezer. Your typical household freezer will normally have a constant temperature of -20 degrees celsius, which is fine, but it just means you can’t leave your beans in there indefinitely and hope for the beans to be perfectly preserved - they will still start to go stale over a period of time.
How we recommend you freeze your coffee
There is method to freezing your coffee beans though, so don’t just open a fresh bag, make yourself one coffee, re-seal the packaging, throw it in the freezer and repeat daily - that’s not going to work. The key here is to remove any air from the beans before the process of freezing. Freezers are very dry and the air outside the freezer will be humid, and so you don’t want to continually trap that humid air in the bag and keep refreezing it time and time again. Instead, the best thing to do is to take your freshly opened bag of coffee and portion it up into 1 or 2 week portions either using Tupperware boxes, freezer bags, mason jars - basically anything with an airtight seal.
Next, when it’s time to start using your next batch of frozen coffee, take the coffee out of the freezer the night before and let it defrost naturally overnight in the sealed container - don’t open it as this will let air in which can lead to condensation on the beans which is just not beneficial for the coffee by any measure.
The freezing method is especially helpful if you’ve received or purchased multiple bags in one go. We’d happily recommend keeping one bag in your cupboard because that will do you fine for 2-3 weeks and put the other bags straight in the freezer providing they’re unopened. Most retail coffee bags are vacuum sealed, meaning there’s no air in the bags, and so you may freeze these directly as long as the seal is intact.
We feel this is the most effective way to make your coffee last longer without impairing the aroma and flavour of the beans. Simply freeze your unopened bags, or, if the seal has been broken, portion your remaining coffee into weekly portions using air tight containers and defrost each portion one by one as the time comes for it's use for that 1-2 week period. All in all, such an idea avoids waste and ensures you get the most out of your coffee.
Why does GUSTATORY dispatch it's coffee subscriptions monthly?
With the above said, it should also be noted that, in general terms, the better quality the roasted coffee, the longer it retains it's flavours for anyhow. As for GUSTATORY's coffee subscriptions, we've subscribers that subscribe to receiving one bag a month, as much as we have some who receive up to six or seven. Entirely dependent on your personal coffees needs and keenness, whether you're purchasing for a family and suchlike, our subscription service only offers monthly deliveries for two good reasons. Firstly, we curate international roasters from all over UK, Europe and USA, and to be able to deliver their coffees fresh, there needs to be a consistent delivery schedule that we carefully choreograph each and every time; but also, as above, we believe that a 4 week window is a good length of time to re-stock up on your coffee beans, that is, assuming you don't open all of your coffee bags at once.
GUSTATORY (adjective): curating excellence in taste.