To Grind or Not to Grind the Bean
Coffee is a delicate subject, both literally and figuratively. Everyone has their pet process, the quirks that they employ to ensure that they consistently brew coffee to their liking, each and every time. The coffee bean itself is also a delicate commodity, full of volatile compounds and oils. And, it’s precisely these volatile compounds and oils that we’re all trying to extract from our bean of choice as efficiently and effectively as possible whenever we brew ourselves a cup of Joe.
In the olden days, people boiled whole roasted coffee beans in water while agitating them until they had something that resembled the coffee we drink these days. Only back then, it was much harsher, more bitter, and extremely caffeinated at the expense of its flavor.
Thankfully, coffee brewing has come a long way in the last couple of hundred years. These days, it is possible to make absolutely amazing coffee at home, without special equipment.
But if you’ve been using ground coffee and you’re not as happy with the results as you’d like to be, consider switching to buying whole bean and grinding at home. You’ll be happier with your results, and here’s the reasons why.
Oxidation of Coffee
Again, we go back to the volatile oils and compounds in coffee. The volatile oils and compounds in coffee are the elements that ultimately pack the flavor that you’re trying to extract.
Keep in mind this simple notion: Whole beans have less surface area than ground coffee does.
Ground coffee, with more surface area, is more exposed to air, and air carries oxygen. Oxygen is responsible for oxidization, the potential for oils to go rancid, and the staleness of anything left out too long. Buy your coffee pre-ground, and the beans have already started to lose their kick before you’ve even opened the bag.
Getting the best cup of coffee that you can from a handful of roasted beans depends primarily on proper extraction. Proper extraction requires two main things, proper brewing temperature and the proper grind size.
Unfortunately, pre-ground coffee is almost always ground to the uniform size that works best with drip coffee and drip coffee makers.
If you are using any other method to brew coffee (and most of them are superior to automatic drip), then you should be using a coarser or finer grind, depending on the method.
Using pre-ground coffee is most likely yielding either an over-extracted or under-extracted final product.
Not least of the concerns that some people have with ground coffee is its unique ability to hide other ground up, shall we say, substances in it.
Independent studies have found everything from ground up rodent droppings to ground up insects and their larvae in commercially available, factory processed, pre-ground coffee.
Liberate Yourself From Bad Coffee – Grind at Home
One of the best things you can do for your coffee drinking experience is to invest in a good burr grinder, and to learn how to grind for your particular favored brewing method. Electric blade grinders are much cheaper and very easy to operate, but they produce inconsistently ground coffee, which leads to inconsistently extracted brew.
Regardless of the type of grinder you can justify spending money on, the act of simply grinding the whole beans immediately before use will significantly up your coffee game. Enjoy that tasty beverage!