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Another coffee freezing question
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jpender
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 11:08am
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

Buckley Said:

Concerning the lack of reports about condensation, we do not rigorously track the location of the anecdotal posts, but it may be that they all come from western temperate areas with mild humidity or even extremely dry air, as it occurs for half of the year (okay, one-third of the year) during winter in the northern US and Canada.  One report mentions humidity in the 70s. But what about preserving coffee in areas of persistent high humidity like Singapore or Hong Kong?  Several posts concerning preserving coffee freshness have come from members in these areas, but I do not recall if the subject of observable, tangible condensation arose.  I would still like to hear a reliable post from the tropics that relates to the experience of grinding frozen beans.

Posted February 21, 2014 link

I've wondered about this as well. I started doing the Abe Carmelli (of New York City) method of removing a container from the freezer, measuring out the beans for a brew and then returning the container to the freezer without thawing. It seems to work fine for me despite some condensation on the container (and presumably the beans within). But although I live where the relative humidity is often 70-80%, the absolute humidity is not especially high, certainly not what one would encounter in central Florida in the summer. Then again, if I lived in central Florida or Singapore I'd be running an air conditioner. And if I didn't have A/C I might find the beans are affected. In the same vein, I wouldn't use an outdoor clothesline on a rainy day. So comparing anecdotal posts is, well, what it often is.

Buckley Said:

Finally, to avoid pedantry, I will avoid discussing the physics of grinding cold beans.  There is an extensive literature on freeze-fracturing of organic materials.  A professor in my school, Bertie Scharer, I believe, became quite distinguished for her discovery of applying freeze fracturing to cells for subsequent electon microscopy examination.  Obviously, this is overkill as regards grinding coffee.

Posted February 21, 2014 link

Excuse my ignorance on this subject, but aren't cells, unlike roasted coffee beans, made up of a large percentage of water?
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emradguy
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 11:17am
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

Buckley Said:

Concerning the lack of reports about condensation, we do not rigorously track the location of the anecdotal posts, but it may be that they all come from western temperate areas with mild humidity or even extremely dry air, as it occurs for half of the year (okay, one-third of the year) during winter in the northern US and Canada.  One report mentions humidity in the 70s.

Posted February 21, 2014 link

I've read those threads before, and others where people reported grinding beans right out of the freezer.  In fact, I believe the gentleman referred to in the above quote was Dave Stephens, and I beleive he lives in "the East" (Pennsylvania if I'm not mistaken).

I think there are two issues (maybe more) at play here.  One is the physics (of condensation and moisture's effects on spoilage and corrosion), and the other is the way frozen beans are used.  In the anecdotal examples, the frozen bean users all advocate limited exposure to the warmer enviironment prior to using the beans - I wonder why (rhetorically).  As Dana suggested, the coffee oils probably provide a protective layer on the grinder components, which is sufficuient for the minimal amnount of moisture introduced when one uses beans very recently removed from the freezer.

Since I freeze in batches suitable for several days worth of drinks, I would be concerned about exposing my frozen beans to warmer air, and then having them sit for those several days.  If I were to jump on the "use beans still frozen" bandwagon, I would modify my freezing regimen to significantly reduce the aliqouts of beans in each "package".  In fact, I have considered breaking my bags down into single doses prior to freezing, and operating like Dave and some others do...taking a single dose at a time from the freezer as needed and grinding right away.  Perhaps in the future?

If someone were to do real scientific experiements looking at the the effects on grinder corrosion, bean spoilage and TASTE in the cup, I would love to see the results.  Until then, I probably won't change my ways, unless I can come up with a good single dose bagging system for my freezer.

 
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Buckley
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 1:53pm
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

dana_leighton Said:

Not for the some of us coffee geeks! :-)

Posted February 21, 2014 link

Dana, well riposted!

jpender Said:

Excuse my ignorance on this subject, but aren't cells, unlike roasted coffee beans, made up of a large percentage of water?

Posted February 21, 2014 link

Yes.  That is not ignorance, that is right on the mark.  I meant to say that the scientific literature tracks what happens to low-temperature organic material when crushed or cracked, so there is evidence that the properties of organic material do change when cold, but that I was not going generalize from cells or anything else to coffee beans because it would be pure speculation on my part.  Although from Dana's post, perhaps we should be on the lookout for research on the electromicrographic profiles of different grinders. ;)

dana_leighton Said:

Do you suppose the burrs would be protected from moisture by the coffee oils that build up on them?

Posted February 21, 2014 link

emradguy Said:

As Dana suggested, the coffee oils probably provide a protective layer on the grinder components, which is sufficient for the minimal amount of moisture introduced when one uses beans very recently removed from the freezer. (edited)

Posted February 21, 2014 link

To a certain extent, water facilitates the movement and oxidation of acids and other ions onto the metal surface, but that is not the only corrosive pathway.
Here we should avoid the term 'oil' when discussing coffee for the more correct category of 'lipid' that will include the triglycerides, fatty acids, terpenes and sterols that are present in coffee.  By doing so we can avoid giving other readers of this thread the impression that there is some balm or emollient like vaseline in coffee.  In fact, I have seen but cannot currently locate a description of the irritating effects that coffee 'oils' have upon the stomach lining.
Rather than be a water barrier or a protection in their own right, lipids do associate with water to a limited degree and can 'gum up' or varnish the burrs of a grinder as they do any piece of apparatus to which they come in contact.  They also have corrosive properties.  I hate to say it, but the thought just occurred to me that coffee oils may have more in common with used cooking oil than with fresh oil.

It would seem to me that the universal presence of fines or coffee dust on the burrs would act as foci where moisture could be adsorbed and interact with what-have-you at that focus, sitting on the burr.  I dont think we are talking about either/or layers here.

You know what?  I bet some of the grinder manufacturers might know something about this because I do not know if all of my theorizing amounts to a difference that makes a difference, when it comes to grinding frozen beans.  Anyone have twin grinders set up and want to start grinding frozen beans with one?

B
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emradguy
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 2:28pm
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

Buckley Said:

Anyone have twin grinders set up and want to start grinding frozen beans with one?

Posted February 21, 2014 link

yes, and no...in that order!  lol!  I theoretically could set up two Macap M4s, install new burr sets in each and then reserve one for each (frozen and not frozen) and then say, after some time of running equal amounts of beans through them, subject the burrs, throats, etc to analysis, but well...I'm not quite interested enough in the results of said test to do the work..and although I enjoy participating here, I have no aspirations of becoming a coffee magnate or guru.  Like you Buckley, I'm more interested in the hedonistic aspects of my 'spro.

 
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jpender
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 4:14pm
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

I suspect that moisture in the coffee affecting the burrs is not a concern.

First of all, while I regularly observe condensation on the container from the freezer I never see it on the beans. Any condensation there is quickly absorbed. The beans are nowhere near saturated so it seems far more likely that during grinding the coffee will mop up any existing moisture on the burrs rather than leave any there.

Secondly, the amount of added moisture is relatively small, at least in my kitchen. I once measured the weight gain from a sample of frozen beans left out in the open and it was approximately +0.2% of the bean weight. Compare that to the 1 to 4% moisture content found in roasted coffee and it's clear that this addition isn't significant. This small increment may matter if one cyclically exposes the cold beans to warm, moist air. But that's a concern with the taste degrading, not the metal burrs.

Of course I could be wrong.
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dana_leighton
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 4:51pm
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

emradguy Said:

yes, and no...in that order!  lol!  I theoretically could set up two Macap M4s, install new burr sets in each and then reserve one for each (frozen and not frozen) and then say, after some time of running equal amounts of beans through them, subject the burrs, throats, etc to analysis, but well...I'm not quite interested enough in the results of said test to do the work..and although I enjoy participating here, I have no aspirations of becoming a coffee magnate or guru.  Like you Buckley, I'm more interested in the hedonistic aspects of my 'spro.

Posted February 21, 2014 link

I suspect that if you were the kind of person who would run that test you'd be hanging out over on H-B where the serious wanna-be food/appliance scientists are. :-) :-)  Over here we're mostly all talk and drinking coffee, but when it comes to serious wasting of time on scientific or pseudoscientific investigations, not so much. I miss Steve (netphilosopher)!

 
Dana Leighton - Espresso hack and CoffeeGeek moderator
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Burner0000
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 5:11pm
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

Update on the results. The beans tasted very good! Honestly like I never froze them. I'm gonna stick with the Ziploc inside foil bags freezing even tho it may be overkill a bit. Thanks everyone for the input. I'm now a freezing bean believer. To he honest I was in denial for a while but I stand corrected.
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emradguy
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Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 5:44pm
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

dana_leighton Said:

I suspect that if you were the kind of person who would run that test you'd be hanging out over on H-B where the serious wanna-be food/appliance scientists are. :-) :-)  Over here we're mostly all talk and drinking coffee, but when it comes to serious wasting of time on scientific or pseudoscientific investigations, not so much. I miss Steve (netphilosopher)!

Posted February 21, 2014 link

Yeah, I visit HB occasionally - maybe a little more lately than before. But you're right! They take the geek to the ultra-crazy level, and I'm just not there (yet?).  I guess that's why I've always liked it here better :).    ...and I miss Steve too!


Chris, I'm glad your little freeze test went well.

jpender Said:

I suspect that moisture in the coffee affecting the burrs is not a concern.

First of all, while I regularly observe condensation on the container from the freezer I never see it on the beans. Any condensation there is quickly absorbed. The beans are nowhere near saturated so it seems far more likely that during grinding the coffee will mop up any existing moisture on the burrs rather than leave any there.

Secondly, the amount of added moisture is relatively small, at least in my kitchen. I once measured the weight gain from a sample of frozen beans left out in the open and it was approximately +0.2% of the bean weight. Compare that to the 1 to 4% moisture content found in roasted coffee and it's clear that this addition isn't significant. This small increment may matter if one cyclically exposes the cold beans to warm, moist air. But that's a concern with the taste degrading, not the metal burrs.

Of course I could be wrong.

Posted February 21, 2014 link

Eh, you may be right too! Perhaps we're all getting our panties in a bunch for no reason other than to be over-careful?

 
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Buckley
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Posted Sat Feb 22, 2014, 2:36am
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

Dear Burner,
This is just to thank you for your acknowledgement of our peripheral (and sometimes pointless and pedantic) accompaniment to your journey of coffee (freezing) discovery.  Too often on these posts the OP disappears and never resurfaces again, or do we just smother them with pedantry?

Yes, John (jpender), I suspect you are right that the moisture of a frozen bean doesn't make the proverbial snowball in hell difference to the grinder burrs.
Can I say hell?
I guess I said hell.
This is supposed to be a family-rated forum, is it not?
What are kids who are too young to drink coffee doing on the forum, anyway?
Oh, and by the way, the moisture condensation on the glass container and not on the beans is because the beans rapidly warm to the suspected moist air while the glass does not and moisture will condense on the coldest surface - it is the specific heat physical property that I keep harping upon.  I have to do something with all the engineering classes I paid good money for, don't I?

B
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jpender
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Posted Sun Feb 23, 2014, 1:53pm
Subject: Re: Another coffee freezing question
 

Buckley, I understand what you're saying about glass but I usually use ziplock bags (50um polyethelene) and that's the surface where I observe condensation.

When I previously exposed freezer cold coffee beans to room temperature air they gained weight for the first couple of minutes. There was no visible condensation. I only did this one time and it's possible I wasn't measuring moisture gain but something else. It's not hard to fool yourself.

You'd have to ask a moderator to be sure but I think you can write hell. I was told you can't use any of the seven dirty words (after using what is the least offensive one), but hell isn't in that list. It's even a place name, at least a fictional one.
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