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How to Make Freeze-Dried Coffee

Homemade freeze-dried coffee is nothing like commercially produced Juan Valdez instant coffee granules. When you do it yourself, you can use organic and ethically sourced beans, choose your favorite blend, and control the caffeine content, all at a fraction of the cost of purchasing it at the store. 

Freeze dried coffee in a small Mason Jar.

Read on to learn more about the freeze-drying process, how to use freeze-dried coffee, and how to make the best cafe-worthy freeze-dried coffee right at home. 

Why I Love Freeze-Dried Coffee

When we started using the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer, we began with fruits like freeze-dried strawberries and freeze-dried apples and vegetables like freeze-dried corn. They were so delicious we tried freeze-dried eggs and even full meals like freeze-dried chicken pot pie. The possibilities seemed endless.

Before we knew it, our freeze-dryer became two freeze-dryers to keep up with all the food preservation opportunities freeze-drying offered.

Being coffee lovers, it only seems natural to experiment with freeze-dried coffee. I love that you can freeze dry coffee exactly how you take it, so when you reconstitute it, there is no need to add cream or sugar; it’s already there! 

My first experiment with freeze-dried coffee was a freeze-dried latte, which turned out amazing. However, the added ingredients shorten the finished product’s shelf life to last about six months, but it’s so good there’s no concern about using it in a shorter period.

If you freeze-dry your coffee with add-ins, remember that the shelf life will be shorter. Otherwise, you can follow this tutorial to reconstitute your black coffee and serve it up with cream and sugar. Or, for the full freeze-drying experience, use freeze-dried milk

Freeze dried coffee in a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer tray.

Is Freeze-Dried Coffee the Same as Instant Coffee?

There is a misconception that freeze-dried and instant coffee are the same. While both are instant when reconstituted, each is processed differently.

The process of freeze-drying coffee uses extreme freezing temperatures (-40°F in a high-pressure vacuum chamber). This system causes the prepared liquid coffee to go through sublimation (ice evaporating through a gaseous state), leaving the coffee solubles in a granulated coffee concentrate. 

This method removes 98-99% of the water, leaving behind an intense soluble coffee extract that is robust and earthy. The flavor and aroma are superb after reconstituting and can last years when properly stored.

The method to make commercial instant coffee uses a spray drying method and heat, making instant coffee granules. This method reduces the flavor and aroma of the coffee. The shelf life is shorter, and the coffee can sometimes have a “burnt” aftertaste. 

Ways to Use Freeze-Dried Coffee

Coffee pairs nicely with a slice of rhubarb breakfast cake, homemade instant breakfast mix, fudgy sourdough brownies, or from-scratch pumpkin pie, but you can do more with freeze-dried coffee beyond your morning brew.

A woman putting the insulation cover onto a Harvest Right freezer dryer.

Supplies Needed

  • Freeze-Dryer – My honest review of the Harvest Right Freeze-Dryer is an excellent place to start researching if you want to purchase one. We like our freeze-dryer so much that we now have two for all our freeze-drying needs.
  • Coffee Grinder – When making freeze-dried coffee, grind the beans to a medium-course grind before brewing a robust pot of coffee.
  • Coffee Maker – You can make drip, French press, pour-over, or espresso; the choice is yours.
  • Storage Containers – Storing freeze-dried food with an airtight seal is a must. We use Mason jars for most of our storage because they’re reusable, but you can also use Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber. Keep in mind you will need a vacuum sealer if using the bags. We buy our Mylar bags from Azure Standard.
  • Oxygen Absorbers – Oxygen is the enemy of freeze-dried food. Using an oxygen absorber gives extra insurance to your airtight seal. It’s never my preference to use something that only has a one-time use, which is why I prefer the jar sealer. We buy our oxygen absorbers from Azure Standard.
  • Jar Sealer – If storing in Mason jars is a better approach for you, I recommend using this jar sealer to ensure an air-tight seal. Homesteading Hack: Always re-seal the jar as quickly as possible after every use.
Coffee being poured into a tray of a Harvest Right freeze dryer tray.

Ingredients Needed

  • Prepared Coffee – You can choose whatever coffee suits your preferences and prepare it according to your taste. We prefer sourcing green coffee beans and roasting them ourselves. 

Homesteading Hack: Save leftover grounds as a nitrogen source for a compost pile. Learn how to make compost the easy way and use it to create an instant garden in under three hours. 

Settings for extra time on a Harvest Right freeze dryer display.

How to Freeze-Dry Coffee Step by Step

  1. Begin with your prepared coffee according to your brewing preference.
  2. Place the trays into the freeze dryer, ensuring they are level and stable. 
  3. Cool the brewed coffee completely and carefully pour it onto your trays in the freeze-dryer until three-quarters of the way up the sides of the tray. Optional: Fill trays and set them in the freezer overnight until frozen solid.
  4. Turn on the freeze dryer, following the on-screen prompts. Be sure to add two hours of extra freeze time and two hours of extra dry time. Homesteading Hack: The Harvest Right Freeze Dryer has a sensor that alerts you with a beeping sound when the product is freeze-dried.
  5. Once the machine has finished, remove the trays and check that the coffee is freeze-dried completely. If you feel any coolness at all, return to the freeze-dryer and give it two more hours before checking again.
  6. Remove the coffee from the freeze dryer and break it into large pieces. The freeze-dried coffee should crumble easily between your fingers, but alternatively, you can pulse the freeze-dried coffee in a food processor or high-powered blender until powdered.
  7. Store in a Mason jar and vacuum seal the lid or store in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

Did you make freeze-dried coffee? If so, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below, snap a photo of your freeze-dried coffee and tag us on social media @homesteadingfamily so we can see!

How to Tell If Freeze-Dried Coffee Is Done

The freeze-dried coffee should be crumbly, airy and easily powdered when rubbed between your fingers and hands. If more time is needed, simply place it back in the freeze-dryer for two-hour increments until fully freeze-dried.

How to Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Coffee

Fill your coffee cup with freeze-dried coffee granules, then top with hot water. For every cup of hot water you will want to add about ⅓ cup of freeze-dried coffee. Stir it, taste, and adjust the amount of powder as desired. Add some cream, and enjoy!

Homesteading Hack: You can be exact about this when you weigh your brewed coffee before and after freeze-drying. The difference between the two weights is how much water (by weight) you want to add back to properly rehydrate your coffee.

Freeze dried coffee in a small Mason Jar.

How to Store Freeze-Dried Coffee

Freeze-dried coffee will absorb moisture quickly, diminishing the flavor. It must be adequately stored in Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber or Mason jars with a vacuum seal, resealing after each use. 

Store in a cool, dark place for optimal freshness and flavor. Don’t forget to label it with the date and contents before storage.

A Harvest Right Freeze Dryer.

Harvest Right Freeze Dryer

I couldn’t be more impressed with the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer. Be sure to read my one-year review to see why we are continuing to increase the number of freeze dryers we have.

The simplicity of this machine has been remarkable, and the quality of the end product is very impressive. Enjoy your freeze-dried foods’ incredible flavor, texture, nutrition, and shelf-life.

Fresh food on freeze dryer trays, ready to freeze dry.
Freeze dried coffee in a small Mason Jar.

Freeze-Dried Coffee

Learn how to make freeze-dried coffee for that perfect cup, no matter where you are. Great for packing on hiking trips, or to add to baked goods!
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Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Freeze Drying Time (varies): 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 5 minutes
Author: Carolyn Thomas

Equipment

  • Freeze Dryer

Ingredients

  • coffee amount will vary depending on your freeze-dryer.

Instructions

  • Begin with your prepared coffee according to your brewing preference.
  • Place the trays into the freeze dryer, ensuring they are level and stable.
  • Cool the brewed coffee completely and carefully pour it onto your trays in the freeze-dryer until three-quarters of the way up the sides of the tray. Optional: Fill trays and set them in the freezer overnight until frozen solid.
  • Turn on the freeze dryer, following the on-screen prompts. Be sure to add two hours of extra freeze time and two hours of extra dry time. Homesteading Hack: The Harvest Right Freeze Dryer has a sensor that alerts you with a beeping sound when the product is freeze-dried.
  • Once the machine has finished, remove the trays and check that the coffee is freeze-dried completely. If you feel any coolness at all, return to the freeze-dryer and give it two more hours before checking again.
  • Remove the coffee from the freeze dryer and break it into large pieces. The freeze-dried coffee should crumble easily between your fingers, but alternatively, you can pulse the freeze-dried coffee in a food processor or high-powered blender until powdered.
  • Store in a Mason jar and vacuum seal the lid or store in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
Tried this recipe?We want to see! Tag @homesteadingfamily on Instagram.
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Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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