When it comes to coffee, it’s hard to differentiate between opinion and fact. Some coffee connoisseurs will tell you ground coffee is better while others prefer buying whole beans and grinding them. Ground coffee is easy to use since you use it straight from the shop. Pre-ground coffee is all about ease and convenience. However, it is hard to dispute the fact that freshly ground coffee reigns supreme.
After roasting, coffee beans go stale. That delicious taste and aroma is in the coffee oils. Grinding hastens the process of going stale. Even vacuum-packed ground coffee lacks the freshness that you will obtain when you grind the beans yourself. Three main factors contribute to this dreadful degradation. They are moisture, oxidation and CO2 depletion.
The complex grounds present in coffee beans are responsible for creating the brew’s flavour and aroma. You need to note that some of the compounds in the coffee beans are unstable, meaning that they can change and degrade quickly. During the oxidation process, compounds present in coffee beans, interact with air molecules thus creating different molecules.
As a result, certain desirable aromas and flavors are released from the coffee beans. This implies that the oxidation process plays a huge role, towards the character, flavour and aroma of coffee. When done right, you will enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. You also need to note that whenever you grind the beans, you are already starting the oxidation process. This is great because when you brew the coffee right after grinding, you will preserve all the rich aromas and sweet flavours.
Oxidation gives coffee its unique aromas and flavours. Whether you are brewing or not, oxidation will still take place. Pre-ground coffee has already lost some of the flavours and aromas since oxidation is already happening on the shelves. On the other hand, when you brew using freshly ground coffee, you will be enjoying a cup filled with deliciousness.
Moisture also plays a huge role when it comes to the quality and consistency of a coffee brew. Oils present in coffee beans are soluble in water. Most people always assume that the character of coffee is obtained from the visible granules or grounds. Thanks to the solubility of these oils in water, you are able to enjoy a sweet and delicious cup of coffee, that smells great. However, you don’t require a full cup of water to dissolve or extract those precious oils.
Atmospheric moisture can also dilute your coffee beans. This means that unless your live in an area where there are not traces of moisture in the air, even your air conditioning system can degrade the quality of your coffee beans. Furthermore, grinding exposes the beans further, leading to a faster loss of these precious oils.
Every time you grind coffee beans, you create a larger surface area, which hastens the dilution process. Therefore, when you brew a cup of coffee immediately after grinding the beans, you will be able to enjoy a greater concentration of these oils. On the contrary, pre-ground coffee may not have the same amount of these oils, since they might have already been lost on the shelves of the supermarket.
The effect of CO2 on coffee beans is almost similar to moisture. Carbon dioxide is the main compound that transfers the oils present in the beans, into your brew. Therefore, every time you grind the beans, you will be creating a greater surface area for the carbon dioxide to escape. As you might already know, coffee beans are highly porous, which means that grinding worsens the situation.
However, if you are brewing immediately after grinding, your coffee grounds will have enough CO2 to transfer the oils into your coffee. You will therefore have a higher concentration of these oils in your coffee, thus more flavour, sweetness and aroma. You should also note that improper storage of coffee grounds leads to quick loss of CO2. Grinding makes it even harder to store them and ensure they retain the CO2 content. Therefore, if you allow coffee grounds sit for many hours or days, you are simply wasting a key component responsible for the great flavour in coffee.
Due to the above 3 major reasons, it is advisable to grind your coffee beans, immediately before brewing. This way, you will be able to enjoy all the characteristics, flavours, and aromas of coffee. However, there are 2 other factors that you also need to consider. They are contamination and grind size.
If you didn’t know, all those odours moving around your kitchen, also infect ground coffee, albeit slowly. That onion you have just cut moves straight into your ground coffee, thus altering the overall taste and flavour. If you hate the idea of an onion-flavored coffee, then you should avoid buying ground coffee. It is the only way you will be able to enjoy the full flavour of coffee, without contamination.
You also need to know that grounds are not safe inside your refrigerator, as most people would make you believe. A refrigerator is used to store many types of food materials, from beverages, vegetables to meat products. Although the extreme cold might reduce your sense of smell, that does not mean that the flavours are not there. There are still plenty of them inside the refrigerator, and you don’t want a brew that tastes like bacon and smells like bananas.
Control is a key element when it comes to brewing coffee. You will have a greater chance of brewing an exceptional cup of coffee if you have greater control over the brewing process. This means that grinding your own beans gives you greater control over the grind size, which has a huge impact on the flavour. Most coffee brewing methods such as pour-over, AeroPress, and espresso, work with different grind sizes. However, buying pre-ground coffee limits you to only one size.
Grinding your own coffee is a step in the right direction if you want to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. Similar to other things, fresh is always better. Apart from the great aromas and tastes obtained from freshly ground coffee, you will be able to control the grind size, which has a huge impact on flavour. Get a great coffee burr grinder and create your own coffee world.