How (and Why) to Brew Frozen Coffee Grounds

Brewing frozen coffee grounds might sound unrealistic, but we are here to tell you that it is possible- and can result in an incredible cup of Joe. Of course, fresh coffee grounds hold the most robust flavor, but brewing frozen coffee grounds has its place, too.

Interestingly, there is no difference in brewing frozen coffee grounds versus brewing those at room temperature. Just be sure to remove a small amount from the freezer bag and seal it back up as tightly as possible to limit oxygen exposure. Frozen grounds can last up to two years if unopened. 

While several studies have been done to verify the taste differentials between frozen and fresh coffee grounds, the most important detail is the oxygen exposure that the grounds have after they escape the bean. As long as you are able to limit the oxygen exposure of the coffee grounds, they should taste the same when frozen and brewed. Continue reading to figure out how to brew frozen coffee grounds, how to store them, and why freezing coffee grounds might be the right move for you.

How to Brew Frozen Coffee Grounds

While some people prefer to use fresh ground coffee every single morning, others are more accustomed to the quicker pre-ground coffee in small batches. Otherwise, a trip to the local coffee shop can become just as convenient compared to the at-home brewing method of grinding your coffee beans daily.

Still, another option is to grind your coffee beans and freeze them immediately. While this might seem a bit daunting, you will notice that the taste does not grow stale so long as the coffee grounds are frozen soon after the grinding process. Then, the coffee grounds can be brewed rather simply.

Not everyone has the luxury of a fresh ground coffee every single morning. For those of you that do, I applaud your lifestyle – or I really need your at-home brewing method. If you need to save those grounds for a later date though, don’t be afraid. A freezer can keep them tasting just fine, but first, let’s dig just a bit deeper into the pot of how to brew frozen coffee grounds. 

Will Freezing Coffee Grounds Affect the Coffee Flavor? 

Of course, before we get into the critical steps of how to brew frozen coffee grounds, you will likely want the certainty of knowing that these grounds are not going to provide you with a stale cup of coffee in the morning. After all, there is nothing quite as bad as being woken up by a poor tasting cup of coffee- something every night owl fears.

Among very finely aged and educated coffee drinkers, there is a very long conversation that ends in the conclusion that it is almost reckless to free coffee grounds. What fuels this conclusion is that when coffee is ground and frozen, rather than ground and brewed, the flavors are lost through their release of CO2 and exposure to oxygen over long periods of time. Neither of these factors fares well for the flavor of your coffee. 

Fortunately, when you are able to properly store your freshly ground coffee beans with minimal oxygen exposure, you can avoid the effects that this will have on the flavor of your coffee. So, as long as you adhere to proper storage and brewing steps, your coffee flavor should not be noticeably affected.

Even though the best of the best say to forget it, do not be so sure just yet. Yes, your grounds may lose a tinge of flavor after leaving their nice icy hideaway, but if you properly store them (we will get to that later) it should be a difference that only the most finely tuned pallet could notice. 

Do not let the naysayers stop you. If you want to keep your grounds fresh and need to buy some time with their life span, throw those bad boys in the freezer, and never look back. 

Brewing Steps 

Even though your coffee grounds have been frozen, there are really no extra steps when it comes to getting them all hot and bothered. Still, it is recommended to follow these steps to brew your frozen coffee grounds.

  1. Avoid condensation. The only concern in this equation is condensation. However, if you have stored your grounds properly, condensation should not present itself. Moisture is your coffee grounds enemy and when moisture comes in contact with them before brewing, it can hamper the flavor and stale them.  
  2. Place the portion you intend to use in moderate temperatures. If you want to be a coffee grounds superhero and go the extra mile, remove your grounds from the freezer and place them in an area that is moderate in temperature. 

Again, this has to do with moisture, too. If you live in a climate that has humidity and is not nice and dry, allow your grounds to thaw completely before opening the bag. This will help them to get to room temperature at a slow rate without releasing too much CO2 due to the bag being open and without allowing moisture inside.

If you live in a dry area, go ahead and skip right over this because condensation is not going to be an issue for you. Once you have ensured that your grounds are safe from bad guy moisture, you are ready to rock and roll.

  1. Only remove what you need, and then completely seal the bag to refreeze the remaining frozen coffee grounds. If you plan to only use part of the grounds, be sure to remove the amount that you need quickly and seal the container up tightly to make sure that no air gets in and the freshness of your grounds does not waver. 
  2. Brew your coffee per usual. When you have retrieved the amount that you need, simply place them in whatever it is you use to brew your cup of joe and get down to business. 

Truly, there is no wrong way to brew frozen coffee grounds and they are just as capable as their room temperature counterparts. Just dump in the frozen coffee grounds, and begin your morning brew.

How to Store Frozen Coffee Grounds 

A few tips on how to store frozen coffee grounds include the following:

  1. Avoid moisture by using an airtight container. As mentioned earlier, your greatest challenge when storing coffee, whether it is in the freezer or not, is moisture. Moisture for your coffee grounds will turn your coffee stale and leave you with a bitter taste in your morning cup of Joe. If you want to keep your grounds free of moisture, you have to store them in an airtight container.

Fortunately, a freezer is (or at least should be) dry, so this will not be an issue for your grounds. However, if you do not have them locked down in a container that can keep every little bit of air out, ice will creep its way into your grounds, create condensation, and soil your frozen coffee grounds.

  1. Minimize extra space in the airtight container. Choose an airtight container that will prevent moisture and condensation from reaching your frozen coffee grounds. You want to make sure that there is as little air as possible within the container, so be sure not to get one with too much space. 
  2. Choose a high-quality freezer bag if an airtight container is unavailable. If you do not have a handy dandy container laying around, grab a high-quality freezer bag. These are fine for storing your coffee, but to be absolutely sure that your freezer’s smells do not permeate your grounds, go ahead and double bag it. 

The same goes for freezer bags as it does for airtight containers – be sure to remove as much air as possible from the bag before you store it. If you have air you leave room for moisture and even the oxygen in the air itself will stale your grounds.

  1. Bag your grounds in small amounts. I know that it is tempting to throw the whole lot of it into one big container, but this could mean stale coffee for you in the end. Every time you open what your coffee is stored in, your grounds are exposed to air (remember, this equals stale coffee). So if you only have enough stored for a few days in every bag/container, you will likely have a fresher batch than it was all together. 

Why You Should Brew Frozen Coffee Grounds

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but coffee doesn’t stay fresh forever. Sadly for all of those half brewed bags on your shelf, they do expire and you have got to take heed to this powerfully sad fact. Still, this does not have to mean that you waste your precious coffee money by continuing to pour out your pot’s worth of coffee grounds.

Instead, you can grind your coffee and freeze the grounds in an airtight container immediately. This helps to minimize CO2 and oxygen exposure that could otherwise alter the taste of the coffee beans. Brewing frozen coffee grounds is just as simple as room temperature, but the grounds will last longer when properly stored.

Still, with this in mind, it is important to take a further look at why coffee goes bad in the first place. Understanding this as well as how long ground coffee can last in the first place can help give insight into why you should brew frozen coffee grounds. 

Why Does Coffee Go Bad? 

Coffee doesn’t go bad in the way that we usually think of things to go bad. It is not going to mold the way your fourteen-day old Mexican leftovers do, it will not grow the same weird fungus that the brie cheese in the bottom drawer of your fridge has, and it will not turn black like the three-month-old apple in your fruit basket. Honestly, if any of your food looks this way, you may just want to stick to the boxed stuff. Coffee will not go bad like this, but it will go stale. 

Coffee is an organic substance and thus is racked, like other organic substances, by oxygen. The more your coffee is exposed to oxygen, the faster it is going to go bad. Exposure to oxygen dampers the overall taste. It can cause your coffee to be acidic or even have just a very flat flavor profile. 

While some people are accustomed to drinking stale coffee, or they do not have the pallet that is as refined as coffee snobs like me (and maybe you, too?), once you know good coffee, there is no turning back. Drinking a bad cup of coffee- especially one that has grown stale- can truly be offensive. That will be a hard pass for me.

Consider this example. Think of your most favorite chip in the world. For me, it’s super thin, outrageously crispy, and has just the right amount of grease to chip to finger ratio. When I crunch down, the sound could be played in some of the world’s most famous Cathedrals, bells could mimic its tone, choirs could imitate its beautiful song. The taste follows suit and there is nothing more satisfying on this Earth. Now, imagine chomping into the same chip brand, but it is stale. 

You expect this beautiful melody to follow the crunch, but no crunch is heard. Even more, the taste is horrifying and resembles something more of the bag rather than a perfectly fried potato. This same thing can happen to your coffee grounds. No, I know you aren’t eating them, so crunch is irrelevant. However, when you brew a cup of stale coffee, the offensive taste that it brings is undeniable. You are able to feel it with every inch of your tongue.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Stay Fresh? 

If you want your coffee to be at peak freshness when you brew it, the sooner you use your grounds, the better. Now, don’t go dumping your entire bag into the pot. Hold on a second. If you have fresh grounds, you have a little time before the flavor profile begins to change. This amount of time is different for coffee grounds that are stored at room temperature and for those that are stored in the freezer. 

Fresh coffee grounds stored at room temperature last between 1-2 weeks before they will begin to get stale and before the flavor starts to change. For coffee grounds being stored in an airtight container in the freezer, the grounds should last about a month once opened. Unopened bags last around 5 months.

You may be thinking “Seriously?! One to two weeks!? I have house flies that live longer than that!” I see your point, but think of your average-sized bag of coffee. For most people, they are not going out and grabbing the jumbo family pack. 

It is likely that you have a smaller-sized bag in your cupboard and if you are drinking coffee at least once a day, it will likely take you anywhere from one to two weeks to get through it. If it takes you longer than this, then you should be drinking more coffee, my friend. I’m kidding, caffeine control is important, but if your grounds are out on the shelf and have been opened, they have a lifespan and you will start to notice once they are nearing the end of it. 

As mentioned, for a freezer, you have a bit more time before your grounds stop doing their flavor bomb jobs. If you are storing your grounds in an airtight container in the freezer, you have about a month before they begin to lose their freshness once opened. 

Just remember that you absolutely must keep your grounds in an airtight container, otherwise, they are as good as gone. Keep the air away from your grounds and your grounds will be much more cooperative in keeping their flavor. 

Now, bags that have not been opened sing a different tune. If you have an unopened bag of coffee grounds that are sitting at room temperature, they will last about five months before starting to become stale. Big coffee drinkers advise that you do not wait that long, but if you are dying to buy in bulk, it will not hurt the flavor all that bad enough to be noticeable assuming it is quickly consumed.

Even more, if you have coffee grounds that are unopened and are making their way to be stored in a freezer, those can last a good one to two years before needing to be thrown into the trash can rather than in your coffee maker. This is awesome for those of you that only drink coffee once in a blue moon or for those of you that just forgot about the freezer bag, just remember that it has to be 100% unopened to last this long.  

All in all, your freezer is going to give your coffee grounds a bit of a longer life than your pantry shelf can afford them. If you are someone who tends to take your sweet time when brewing your coffee, maybe consider tossing your bag into the freezer and extending the warranty on your grounds. Some may argue that the flavor can change, but be sure to keep air out of your storage container, freeze in small batches, and if you still like it, drink up! 

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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