Coffee is such a versatile drink; you can drink it hot and bitter, with or without crema, with lots of cream and sugar, with ice, and you can also make mouthwatering dessert beverages with it. But can you make a batch of it and freeze it for days?
If you are a serious coffee drinker who also likes to sleep in, there is a way you can get your morning cup of joe without resorting to instant coffee (yuck). All you need is a batch of your favorite brewed coffee, an airtight container, and a bit of space in your freezer.
In this guide, we will educate you on whether you can freeze brewed coffee and if the process will affect the flavor or caffeine content – Does Altitude Affect Coffee Flavor?
Why Would You Freeze Brewed Coffee?
A lot of us are not morning people and the condition only worsens if we don’t get coffee without delay. Apart from this, frozen coffee can be a convenient option for you if you have sudden unexpected guests over at your house and you need to get them a cup of hot coffee in an instant. In these cases, getting out a container of freeze brewed coffee and quickly defrosting it in the microwave can get you coffee for a large group of people in less than five minutes.
When it comes to freezing coffee, though, they are quite a lot of schools of thought. Some people believe that placing the coffee in the freezer can make it lose flavor and go sour. Others experimented and contended that it is alright to freeze brewed coffee for certain periods of time in certain containers.
For people who want to freeze brewed coffees, many people agree that this is the best way to go about it:
Firstly, make a large batch of coffee, preferably concentrated coffee that can last you a week. However, this amount depends on how much coffee you drink each day. The average American drinks 2 to 3 cups of coffee every day, but others may drink more than 6 cups of coffee. In the latter case, this means your frozen coffee supply will not last as long, particularly if you do not have a large enough container or freezer. Still, you can freeze enough coffee to last you for about three days.
Regardless of how much brewed coffee you want to store, it is imperative that you do so in an airtight container. We prefer using a glass container since it does not stain, retain the aroma, and cleans easily. If you want to use a plastic container, make sure you use it exclusively for storing coffee then onwards as it can stain and does retain flavor. Metal containers, however, are a definite no-no because the acids in the coffee can react with the metal.
Make sure your container is airtight. If it isn’t – and this issue usually pops up in plastic containers – use a plastic wrap to prevent exposure to the air and to keep the various fragrances in your freezer from seeping into your coffee.
To make sure you get your coffee as fast as possible, keep your mug laid out the night before.
Can You Freeze Coffee Beans?
Freezing coffee beans to give them a longer shelf life is a very convenient option for people who like to buy their coffee in bulk or prefer a different type of coffee beans at the same time, in which case they need to freeze the opened bag.
Some people say that storing roasted coffee beans (Can You Roast Coffee At Home?) in the freezer and then grinding those yields a more consistent grind, which makes for a better-tasting coffee. However, others believe that keeping coffee grounds in the fridge or freezer can cause a buildup of moisture which can make the coffee go bad.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much scientific research on the impact of keeping coffee beans or coffee grounds (Can You Reuse Coffee Grounds?) in the freezer. Ground coffee does not freeze and clump together in the freezer. However, we do not know that if coffee gets damp, it affects the oils in the coffee and degrades its flavor. (How Is Caffeine In Coffee Affected By Sugar And Cream?) The moisture causes the cell structure of the coffee to change (Does Coffee Cause Acne? – Is Coffee the Reason for Skin Breakouts?), making it lose flavor and aroma.
To test this theory, one of Seattle’s early online coffee shops experimented by freezing roasted coffee beans and said it was fine to freeze coffee for up to two months. The results were that they perceived no significant difference in the taste of fresh coffee or that made with frozen beans. In some cases, the frozen coffee was preferred to the fresh one. However, there was a suggestion that frozen coffee beans (Arabica vs Robusta Coffee Beans – What Is the Difference?) may peak at different rates as compared to beans at room temperature, which did not affect the taste of the coffee.
Can You Use Frozen Coffee to Make Iced Coffee?
Using frozen coffee to make iced coffee reduces the chance of watering down your drink. Simply pour (Pour Over Coffee Basics – Brewing the Best Cup of Joe at Home!) some brewed coffee in an ice cube tray and let it freeze overnight. When you want to make your iced coffee, simply pop out some coffee cubes from the freezer and plunk them into your hot coffee – How Is Iced Coffee Made? – How to Easily Brew it at Home!.
You can also fill a glass with frozen coffee cubes and pour hot milk (Using Soy Milk in Coffee – The best non-dairy alternative there is?) over them. Once they melt, you will be left with a delicious undiluted iced latte (Comparing Iced Latte vs Iced Coffee – What are the Differences?). In fact, frozen coffee cubes can be used instantly for making a lot of coffee-based beverages and desserts, including coffee floats and making cakes more flavorful by replacing water with coffee cubes.
You can also make a coffee smoothie by blending coffee cubes, bananas, a cup of yogurt or milk, and other ingredients like vanilla extract, cinnamon, and chocolate for a truly mouthwatering treat.
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How Do Coffee Ice Cubes Taste?
The beauty of coffee ice cubes is that if frozen properly, they taste just like regular coffee. Most people prefer to use coffee ice cubes to place inside their iced coffee because they don’t dilute the flavor of the coffee. Starbucks does it!
Some users claim that coffee cubes made 3 or 4 days prior to use are often more flavorful since the coffee is “aged” and you can feel more depth of flavor.
Can You Freeze Brewed Coffee With Milk and Sugar?
If you want to freeze your coffee, most people agree that you will need to stick with the black version. Dairy products like milk and cream (Frothed Milk vs Steamed Milk – What are the Differences?) change texture once they are frozen and become grainy. As a result, the flavor of the milk may also be affected.
Although that doesn’t mean they have gone bad, it does mean you will not be at all satisfied with the end result of your coffee. Additionally, if you are using milk with a higher fat content like half and half, it will not fare well during reheating.
That is the reason why when many people buy a large cup of Starbucks frappuccinos (Cappuccino vs Frappuccino – What are the differences between them?) and leave it in the freezer to finish it off later, they end up disappointed because the flavor just isn’t as good after the drink has been frozen and thawed out.
Does Freezing Brewed Coffee Reduce Caffeine?
There is a prevailing myth that caffeine evaporates if you keep a coffee several hours after brewing it. However, caffeine (Does Decaf Coffee Have Caffeine? Is Decaffeinated Without Caffeine?) is quite a stable substance and does not degrade to a significant degree in roasted beans or even brewed coffee for a reasonable drinkable period of time.
Caffeine has an average shelf life of about four years and stays stable for several years at cold temperatures (Does Coffee Start To Lose Some Its Caffeine Over Time?), so it is not true that its caffeine content will be reduced a few days in the freezer. However, other components of coffee like antioxidants may degrade over time and due to temperature changes.
Additionally, some people may get a milder taste of coffee it takes a long time for their coffee to freeze. That’s because hot water dissolves coffee more easily. As it cools, its capability to dissolve will diminish. The slower the freezing process, the more time the coffee grounds will sink to the bottom of the container. So, if you scoop out frozen coffee from the top of the container, it may have less coffee content and hence less caffeine content as compared to the bottom part.
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How Long Can You Keep Brewed Coffee Frozen?
Coffee can last a week in a fridge and even longer if you keep it frozen. Most coffee connoisseurs advise freezing a batch of brewed coffee for no more than a week. Although the coffee will still be safe to drink even after that time, the taste and the freshness of the beverage may be compromised, depending on the grind and concentration of the brew.
Can You Freeze Decaffeinated Brewed Coffee?
Decaffeinated coffee is nothing more than coffee that has been devoid of 97 to 99% of its caffeine content. Therefore, good quality decaffeinated coffee will benefit from the freezing process just as much as regular coffee.
If you decaffeinated coffee tastes a bit wonky after it has been frozen, chances are that you did not freeze it in the proper way, like the one mentioned above. Additionally, the solvents used to remove the caffeine from the coffee may also remove some of the other flavors, which means that your coffee will still not taste as good as regular coffee, regardless if it was freshly brewed or made with a frozen brew.
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When you are freezing your coffee, you may be faced with the dilemma of “how long is too long”? We believe that frozen brewed coffee should be consumed within seven days or its taste may be affected.
Since there is hardly any research on this particular topic, we believe that only a person’s individual palate can detect whether there is a difference between the taste of freeze brewed coffee and freshly brewed coffee.
So whether you decide to freeze or not freeze your coffee depends entirely on you. However, the possibility will always be there.