There are two types of people in the world: those who will drink any coffee and be perfectly happy to get a shot of caffeine and those who are particular about having fresh coffee and care about everything from the brewing method, to the temperature of the hot water, to the coffee grounds.
Any passionate coffee drinker knows that freshly ground coffee is the best there is and they have specific reasons why they believe fresh is better than pre-ground. We share seven of those reasons here.
First, it’s important to understand what is meant by “freshly ground coffee.”
When you purchase coffee, you can either buy whole roasted coffee beans, or buy pre ground coffee that is ready to brew.
Some stores will put your beans in their professional coffee grinder and grind the coffee bean for you to take home.
This makes them fresher ground, but to really get truly freshly ground beans, you’ll want to do the work at home. This means you need to invest in a bean grinder.
Oxidation makes for bad coffee and results in a less flavorful cup. What is oxidation? It’s the chemical process that occurs when oxygen “gets into” your ground up coffee beans.
Grinding introduces oxygen into the bean’s structure, which creates new molecules that affect the flavor. Essentially, the longer it is you grind your coffee before drinking it, the more flavor escapes into the air.
If you’re a wine drinker, you already understand the degradation caused by oxygen. The same thing happens to coffee and even if your cup tastes pretty good, it’s never as good as it was before oxygen did its work.
The moisture in oxygen has an effect on coffee, too. The water molecules in oxygen react with coffee’s natural compounds and because the oil in coffee is water soluble, they disappear when exposed to oxygen.
The longer the time of exposure, the less flavor your coffee has by the time it hits your tongue.
The chemical enemies abound and coffee’s CO2 content is no exception. Except in this case, you want CO2 because it helps your coffee’s flavor and it gives your espresso blend its crema foam on top.
Grinding allows CO2 to escape from the beans, which is why it smells so good when you’re grinding them. Unfortunately, the longer you wait after grinding to drink your coffee, the more of those delicious aromas have seeped into the air and the less there are in your cup of coffee.
Chemical issues aren’t the only problem when it comes to pre-ground coffee. Freshly grounded coffee in your at-home grinder has the benefit of being more pure than what you might get in a store.
This is because you have plenty of time between coffee grindings to clean out your grinder. At a local coffee shop, the coffee grinder has been used by others before you and isn’t cleaned after each use.
This means you might have invested $25 or more per pound in a delicious bag of beans, but if the person before you only got a $7 bag of beans, their cheap grounds are contaminating your expensive brew.
The great thing about grinding your coffee at home is that you can grind exactly what you need when you need it. Just want a single cup? Grind enough beans to brew 8 – 10 ounces only.
The remainder of the beans can remain in the bag unground, keeping them as fresh as possible until you are ready for them, too.
This also allows you to grind exactly as you want. If you want a finer grind to ensure you get the most from the flavor of the beans, you can do that. If you want espresso now but drip coffee in the morning, that’s possible too, even out of the same bag of coffee.
The bottom line is when you grind at home, you’re in control and you get exactly what you need and want.
There’s nothing worse than getting a stale cup of coffee. People who are just happy to get a jolt of caffeine, but anyone who tastes their coffee can tell the difference.
They might not notice a difference between good and great coffee, but they’ll know the difference between good and bad coffee, and stale coffee is bad.
There are plenty of people out there that drink coffee purely for the taste. They don’t mind the caffeine kick, but it’s the flavor their after.
It’s similar in a way to drinking alcohol. There are plenty of people who drink for the buzz or to feel relaxed, so they might grab the first cheap beer or house wine they see on the menu.
But there are also plenty of people that love craft cocktails and small batch brews, and they stop drinking long before a buzz ever kicks in.
It’s the same with coffee. You might like feeling awake, but you’re really there for the nutty, smooth taste that’s best when it’s ground fresh. Flavor is perhaps the most important reason why you want to use freshly grounded coffee instead of pre-ground beans.
In an ideal world, you’ll grind your beans about two to four days after they’ve been roasted. This isn’t always possible, but if your goal is to have the best possible tasting cup of coffee there is, speak to the coffee roaster about when the beans were roasted.
Get them to give you the freshest roast they have in stock and grind those beans for use each day throughout the week that follows. Every day you’ll enjoy the freshest and best cup of coffee you can possibly enjoy and best of all, you can customize the grind based on what you want that day.