The world of coffee is ever-evolving, and one trend that's making waves is the freezing of roasted beans. This innovative method promises to combat the age-old problem of beans losing their freshness over time. Let's delve into this chilly innovation and understand its significance.
The Science Behind the Cold: Traditionally, coffee beans that have been stored for extended periods would yield a stale taste. However, industry pioneers are challenging this notion. By preserving beans at sub-zero temperatures, they aim to retain the beans' vibrant flavors and aromatic profiles. Freezing halts the cellular activity in coffee particles, effectively locking in the peak flavor window of the bean. This ensures that the vibrant flavors and aromas of the coffee are preserved, preventing the beans from becoming stale.
Historical Pioneers: George Howell, a coffee visionary, began freezing green coffee in 2001, aiming to capture its peak freshness. Fast forward to today, and Mike Chapman of the 1914 Coffee Company in Canada offers a menu of frozen coffees, showcasing the potential of this method.
Manchester Coffee Archive's Insights: Tom Finch, Co-founder and Archivist at the Manchester Coffee Archive, has been an advocate of freezing coffee since 2018. His journey began with the aim to preserve samples of each coffee he consumed. This method allowed him to preserve larger portions of coffee, changing his coffee buying habits and ensuring no wastage. The term "freezing" in this context refers to cooling the coffee to freezer temperatures. The benefits of this method are numerous.
It "stops the clock" on the aging process
Preserves coffee at its peak flavor.
Ensures a consistent supply of coffee.
Allows for a variety of coffees to be kept in stock.
Reduces the fear of missing out on limited-run coffees.
Improves grind consistency.
For every 10ºC reduction in temperature, most processes in the bean occur at half the rate. This means that coffee stored in a domestic freezer at -18ºC would age at a rate equivalent to 90 days at room temperature, showcasing the potential longevity of coffee preservation through freezing.
The Grinding Game: Once retrieved from its icy chamber, the coffee should be ground immediately. Due to its altered molecular structure, frozen coffee breaks down more easily, resulting in a finer and more consistent grind, enhancing the flavor and ensuring a smoother brewing process.
Beyond the Consumer: The implications of this method extend far beyond just a better cup of joe for the consumer. It presents a potential lifeline for coffee producers facing challenges such as climate change. By preserving beans at their peak, wastage can be reduced, and specific coffee cultivars can be made available even out of season.
Conclusion: The freezing method is not just a fleeting trend; it's a transformative approach in coffee preservation. As more cafes and roasters adopt this technique, the future of coffee looks both cold and promising.