There was a time (before I started this blog) when my ideal coffee was something like this. I would get a big ol’ bag, store my coffee in the freezer, remove it every morning and brew a pot of coffee with it.
One of the first things I “learned” when I stepped into the craft coffee wormhole, was it is never okay to store coffee in the freezer.
More recently, I’ve read several things that heartily support storing coffee beans in the freezer and some things that stick with the old no freezer rule of thumb.
Well. Which is it? Can I store my coffee in the freezer or is it a bad idea to store coffee in the freezer?
Here is what the experts say and of course (it’s my blog after all) my opinion on the matter.
Why You Should Not Store Your Coffee in the Freezer
According to a leading coffee freshness expert, Chahan Yeretzian (who boasts a PhD in chemistry and a pretty impressive resume), you should not be storing your coffee in the freezer.
Yeretzian reports that the coffee aging process is considerably slowed as you cool down the temperature. He also emphasizes that the small benefits you get from impeding the aging process are more than offset by the risk of structural damage to the coffee as well as the possibility of odor contamination and staling by condensation (warm air condenses on cold coffee beans creating moisture, the sworn enemy of coffee freshness).
Cascara (a.k.a. coffee cherry tea) is something that is picking up steam in the craft coffee world. A few years ago, I would hear some mentions of it here or there but would have had to actively search if I wanted to find some (let alone a recipe for brewing it up). These days, I see cascara in many coffee shops and online roasters. If you have questions about this trending fruit tea, here is an informational and brewing guide.
What is Cascara?
A brief history
Coffee is the seed of a fleshy, cherry-like fruit that grown primarily between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (you can read more about green coffee here). In most cases, the flesh of the coffee cherry is removed and discarded during coffee processing. This discarded flesh from coffee processing can be a nuisance and can even create a pollution problem if it is not dealt with properly.
WARNING: Do not confuse cascara made from coffee cherries with Cascara Sagrada. Cascara Sagrada (sacred bark) is the dried bark of the cascara buckthorn plant that grows in the Pacific Northwest. It has an extremely bitter taste (allegedly) and is known for its laxative properties.
Traditional consumption of coffee cherry tea is thought to be even older than roasting the coffee seeds (beans). Legend has it that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian herdsman (Kaldi) and his goats. He began making a caffeinated tea out of the fruit (which eventually morphed into roasting the seeds themselves). A drink made from the coffee fruit has been consumed in Yemen (called qishr*) and Ethopia (called hashara) ever since. Cascara is also consumed in Bolivia under the traditional name of sultana.
The credit for the recent rise of cascara’s popularity has been given to Aida Batlle, a renowned coffee grower from El Salvador. It is said that during a cupping, Batlle made an infusion out of some discarded coffee cherries and coined the phrase cascara (which means skin or husk in Spanish) because coffee pulp wasn’t a very marketable name.