A very classic question. Should you buy coffee beans or ground coffee? Before I answer, let me tell you about my own journey into coffee.
Before the boom of speciality coffee in the early noughties, I drank... instant coffee (sshhhh don’t tell anyone). When I finally started my journey into speciality coffee, I started with purchasing ground coffee for a cafetiere I had at home. by and large I was happy with this set up. I thought that the coffee tasted great, the preparation process was super convenient; I just shoveled a few heaped spoons in my French press, poured on the water and after a couple of minutes I was finished- bish bash bosh!
After a while, though, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to take the next step by getting a hand grinder. Nothing too crazy. At first it was a bit tedious, as I had to do a full arm workout every time I wanted a coffee, but it at least my bingo wings were shrinking.
The main benefit is that the coffee, as you would expect, tasted fresher than my pre-ground coffee. I could just begin to distinguish the unique flavour notes of the different coffees and their aroma was so much sweeter.
As I developed a taste for coffee through experience (drinking a lot of coffee) I ditched the hand grinder for an electronic one to make life a bit easier… and yes, the bingo wings are back!
I share my journey into coffee because, at Three Cords, we believe that what matters is what works for you- as long as you are not drinking instant coffee. Yes, ordering whole beans coffee is better in terms of freshness, flavors and aroma, but that doesn’t mean ordering ground coffee is wrong, or that you are a wrongen for ordering it.
If you're still with me and are curious about some of the reasons why fresh ground coffee tends to be better to drink, let me explain the aging process of your average coffee bean.
During the coffee roasting process all of the natural sugars contained in the bean are caramelized. As long as we do not over roast the coffee (burn it), the natural sugars are nicely preserved within the bean. The moment you grind the coffee beans all of those natural sugars are exposed to the outside world, which is why you get that amazing aroma from freshly ground coffee. This wonderful smell is these precious little sugars oxidizing- leaving their cozy home in the coffee bean to venture out into the air (and your nose). The sooner you brew coffee after grinding it, the better you will be able to taste the natural flavours of the sugars present in the coffee. Admittedly, the biggest downside of ordering whole beans is that it creates another stage in the coffee brewing process for you and requires you to need a good coffee grinder.
As I mentioned, when we grind roasted coffee all the goodness of the coffee bean sugars begins to be released. The ticking clock has started. Thus, the longer the coffee grinds are oxidised (exposed to air), the more stale it becomes and the pleasant flavours in the coffee begin to dissipate, leaving only the more bitter flavours of the cellulose and related plant structures in the coffee bean.
If you do order ground coffee, make sure you keep it in an air tight container so that it stays fresh longer. Don’t get sucked into the lie that putting your coffee in the fridge or freezer keeps it fresh longer. It doesn’t. Whenever you take it out of the fridge or freezer to use it, the condensation that forms on the surface of the coffee grounds will ruin your coffee.
The benefits of ordering ground coffee are that it is more convenient than having to grind your own. At Three Cords Coffee we have professional grinders that can grind consistent, evenly ground coffee, more than suitable for home use.
So, should you order whole beans or ground coffee?
If you want a multi-sensory experience, if you love exploring and trying the unique flavours of speciality coffee and you don’t mind the slight inconvenience of grinding your own coffee, then order whole beans coffee.
If you are wanting great speciality coffee but without the faff of purchasing a grinder, then order your coffee ground. I would suggest that you seal it in an air tight container and drink it within two to three weeks.
Remember that, for us at Three Cords Coffee, the best coffee is the kind of coffee you like served the way you like it. As long as it’s not instant.
Grinders and containers can be purchased on our equipment page. If you want any advice, please message us.