Since I first opened my eyes to the world of coffee beyond Starbucks, I’ve told that Freshly Ground Coffee is better than pre-ground coffee. I didn’t know why, and I could never get a better answer than a pretentious scoff from the know-it-alls, yet I accepted their unquestionable logic and found that it is true Freshly Ground Coffee is best .
Three factors contribute to this Freshly Ground Coffee tragic degradation : oxidation, moisture, and CO2 depletion.
Oxidation (Freshly Ground Coffee)
The complex compounds within your coffee beans are what create your brew’s aroma and flavour. Not all of these compounds are very stable, which means that they can change quickly.
Through oxidation, a process by which compounds interact with air molecules to create different molecules, specific desirable flavour and aroma compounds are released from your coffee beans. When you grind your beans, you kick this oxidation process, which is a good thing if you brew right away, but not if you wait too long.
Oxidation gives your coffee its unique (depending on the roast) flavours and aromas, but oxidation will carry on whether you are brewing or not. By brewing with a fresh grind, and not pre-ground coffee, you are making the most of your Freshly Ground Coffee deliciousness.
Moisture (Freshly Ground Coffee)
Here is something you may not know: the oils in coffee beans are water-soluble. In case my peculiar brand of sarcasm does not affect you (I don’t blame you, it’s terrible) that was a joke. Coffee oils are water-soluble (laugh now). Water solubility is a great thing. Otherwise, the coffee we enjoy wouldn’t taste or smell as good as it does. However, it doesn’t take an entire cup of boiling water to dissolve those precious oils, because even the moisture in the air can dilute your beans.
So unless you live in the Sahara, the simple act of exposing your delicate beans to your home’s AC-moderated atmosphere can sabotage their integrity, and grinding makes it worse. When you grind your beans, you create more surface area for moisture to dissolve those oils, and therefore hasten the dilution. Freshly Ground Coffee is also needful for your good health.
CO2 Depletion (Freshly Ground Coffee)
Alright, so this point is pretty similar to the previous. CO2 is the primary agent that transfers your coffee beans’ oils into your coffee, and when you grind your beans, you create more surface area for the CO2 to escape. Coffee beans are already very porous, so grinding makes it worse, which is a good thing if you are brewing right away (like you should).
If you aren’t careful, improperly storing your beans can cause them to lose most of their CO2 quickly, and grinding makes this harder. If you let your Freshly Ground Coffee sit for hours or days, you are essentially wasting the one mechanism responsible for your coffee’s great flavour.
Other Reasons to use Freshly Ground Coffee
Besides those three (excellent) reasons to Freshly Ground Coffee, there are two others to consider as well.
Contamination (Freshly Ground Coffee)
Here is a scary thought: all those other odours floating around your kitchen are slowly infecting your Freshly Ground Coffee, especially that onion you just finished cutting. If the idea of onion-flavoured coffee frightens you (chills down my spine), then don’t buy pre-ground coffee beans.
And if you think your grounds are safe in the fridge, guess again. Although the cold might neutralize your sense of smell, there are still plenty of odours roving around your refrigerator that you don’t want settling into your grounds.
Grind Size (Freshly Ground Coffee)
Brewing great coffee is all about control. You are Lenin, and coffee is your USSR. The more power you have over each aspect of the brewing process, the better shot you have of making exceptional coffee. Just don’t be a Stalin.
When you grind your beans, you have higher authority over grind size, which has a significant impact on flavour. Most methods of coffee brewing, like espresso, pour-over, and AeroPress, require different grind sizes but buying pre-ground coffee limits you to only one.
Choosing to grind your beans puts another step between you and your beloved coffee. But even if you only brew with one method, having the ability to change your grind size slightly can substantially impact the quality of your coffee.
Why should I grind my coffee?
You should grind your coffee to ensure you’re getting all the aroma and flavour you’re paying. Whole beans can last for about a month with careful storage; ground coffee begins to deteriorate in 30 minutes or less. Useful if you’re having pizza delivered, not so much if you’re keeping ground coffee in your kitchen.
Why is ground coffee cheaper than beans?
Ground coffee is cheaper than beans, typically, because it uses less expensive coffee beans that are roasted and ground for a lower price point. The coffee beans sold as whole beans, particularly by speciality coffee roasters, are usually from better producers, often from single-origin farmers, and represent a much higher quality product. We say that there are things to save money on, and things to save money for, and coffee is definitely in the second category.
How do you keep ground coffee fresh?
You really can’t keep ground coffee fresh – it begins to deteriorate after about half an hour. If you absolutely must keep ground coffee, for instance, if you are travelling and don’t have access to a grinder (we’ve been there. We won’t judge, pack it in an airtight container and keep away from light and heat. But once you’re accustomed to genuinely fresh coffee, you’ll find that ground coffee – even in an airtight package kept in the dark. It may lose a portion of its flavour every day.