Now more than ever, people all over the world are going to extreme lengths to enjoy the best possible cup of coffee. Whether it’s sourcing the best coffee beans on the planet, trying all manner of wacky gadgets to get the job done or testing the waters with various odd additions and ingredients, coffee is a very big deal to a very large community. And of course, the larger the coffee community, the bigger the debate when it comes to the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of getting the job done.


One of the biggest debates of all that’s still raging as strongly today as it ever was is that of the very best way of storing freshly roasted coffee beans. You invest in the most outstanding quality coffee beans that have been freshly roasted prior to purchase, only to be painfully aware of the fact that from the moment you take them home, they begin to lose their flavour and quality. Not to a disastrous extent of course, but if you consider yourself to be a true coffee connoisseur, this isn’t the kind of thing that sits well with you. Which is why you take to the Internet, you search for advice on keeping coffee beans fresh and you find at least a thousand conflicting suggestions.


None debated more so than whether or not it is a good idea to put your coffee beans in the freezer.


Frozen coffee beans the truth


It’s a theory and a practice that’s been perpetuated for decades – fresh beans, quickly frozen to protect and preserve those precious oils. Some say it’s a no brainer, while others insist it does nothing but detrimentally affect the quality and flavour of the beans. However, a scientific study into the reality of exactly what happens when coffee beans are frozen has shed a little more conclusive light on the subject.


A team of scientists from the University of Bath were contacted by a local coffee shop, to request that an experiment be carried out to see exactly what effect temperature has on the breakdown of coffee beans. It’s been known for some time that temperature matters, as does the size of the grounds used to brew coffee. When coffee grounds are inconsistent in size, the flavour is extracted slower from the larger grounds than it is from the small ones. What this leads to is an inconsistent taste that’s not nearly as smooth and balanced as it might be.


What the team found out was that when coffee beans are frozen or chilled before being ground, they produce considerably more even and uniform particles when put through the grinder. And as this was the case, the grounds then went on to produce smoother, tastier and more balanced coffee.


“It’s important that all the particles in there are extracted at the same rate,” said Chris Hendon, one of the researchers behind the study. 


“It’s kind of cute that you can do that just by cooling the beans down before you grind them.”


And there you have – the science behind frozen coffee beans tasting better!