Is Freshly-Ground Coffee Worth It?
What Happens When You Open A Bag of Coffee Beans?
When you open a bag of coffee beans, the clock starts ticking. Coffee beans begin to go stale after being roasted, a fact that you won’t find advertised by major coffee manufacturers. After coffee is roasted, it has only a few weeks before it loses its sheen. The wonderful taste and smell of coffee comes from the oils in the coffee beans, and these oils begin to evaporate as time goes by, depriving you of the most important part of your coffee.
You see, the grounds in coffee beans are what creates the unique scents and flavours present in the beverage, but you must keep in mind that some compounds in the beans are unstable. This means that they are likely to change and degrade, especially during oxidation, when the compounds in the coffee beans interact with air molecules in order to create new molecules.
This is important because while the oxidation process begins as soon as the beans are roasted, it speeds up considerably when the beans are ground. The beans are somewhat resistant to oxygen, the grounds are not. This means that with every minute you leave your coffee grounds exposed to air, they’re continuing to oxidize, losing more and more of their vital oils. After a while, the grounds will lack some of the delicious taste or the delectable aroma that you desire in your coffee. When you brew with freshly-ground coffee, it is just beginning to oxidize and will still retain all of the delightful, original compounds in the beans. Any moisture in the environment will also start to dilute the oils in your coffee beans. This is another risk that increases greatly in coffee grounds, as they have none of the hard, roasted, coffee bean shell to protect the oils inside from mixing with moisture in the air.
Hand in hand with the oils goes the CO2 in the coffee beans. Carbon dioxide helps bring the oils from the beans into your brewed coffee. However, when you grind the beans, you create a larger surface area for the CO2 to escape from, and the longer you wait, the more CO2 is going to be lost from your beans.
Freshly-Ground Coffee Just Tastes Better
It tastes better, it smells better, it is fresher, less contaminated, and its flavors haven’t been whisked away by air moisture or sapped by a lack of CO2. The bitter, the sweet, the soothing aroma, it is all there in fresh ground coffee, and it’s definitely worth the little bit of extra effort. Obviously, all this talk about oils isn’t for nothing. These oils are important. They more or less are the coffee. Sure, when you think of coffee you just think of the coarse, brown instant cup grinds you throw into your mug every morning, but that’s just the vessel. What matters is what’s in those grinds, and in the case of fresh ground coffee, there’s so much more.
Grind Size and Taste
There’s one last thing to consider before you grind your own coffee. Grind size. Grind size can change a lot in your coffee, and also may change the kind of coffee machine you wish to use for your coffee. If you want to get the most out of your coffee drinking experience, and if you’re reading this I'm sure you do, this is a very important aspect to consider.
The general grind sizes are as follows: Extra Coarse, Coarse, Medium, Fine, Extra Fine, and Turkish Grind, each one being more finely ground than the last.
Extra Coarse is as coarsely ground as you can go, and is similar in texture to gravel. Coarse is somewhat finer than that, more closely resembling circles of unground black pepper. Medium is like sand. Fine is closer to being smooth, while Extra Fine is as close as you can get to smooth while still retaining some coarseness. Then there’s the Turkish Grind, which is almost like a powder. Grind size is a key element when it comes to brewing coffee, and now that you’re grinding at home you have your own control over it instead of purchasing pre-ground coffee in whatever size the seller decided was right. Read more about picking the best coffee grinder to use with the right coffee machines.
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