Ground Coffee - why you are missing out on the best experience

Date Posted:3 March 2019 

Did you know ground coffee goes stale inside un-opened packs ?



This is what happens with ground coffee

Not everyone is a coffee enthusiast and therefore won't share OCD-like meticulous methods in handling, preparing and consuming their coffee beverage.

For most folks, coffee is an essential "jump-start" their body needs each day to get moving, so their coffee is a dependence thing they can't do without and many just want a simple, fast and effective relationship with their coffee - no fuss.

We understand that people are at various stages in their coffee journey - some are transitioning from instant to plunger, stovetop or drip, others are moving from pod or capsule to espresso and the really keen are dreaming of mythical god shots in a far distant coffee heaven on bling-bling equipment.

So we have written a few times in the past about what happens when you grind coffee - you know, it's an explosion of aromatics that are unmistakably irresistible but this reaction is a short-lived "peak" that has literally seconds or minutes until it degrades with an astonishing, rapid decline.

It's the same with many other food ingredients such as spices, etc. the most potent moments are the "release" when you crush or grind the particles and they react with oxygen.

Coffee contains a vast array of compounds, it's a complex ingredient, in fact it's far more complex than many other foods. Some of the essential attributes we enjoy about coffee are "active" which means they are volatile and change dramatically from the effects of oxidisation. 

Not only is coffee's taste and impact upon our body part of the addiction, but our olfactory sense of smell plays a vital role in the coffee experience and in almost all cases enhances the overall enjoyment.

The speed at which things happen (or go downhill) with coffee and oxygen may shock you and we wanted to ensure our customers are getting the best enjoyment from their coffee.

We have never pre-ground coffee - everything we roast is packed as whole beans because it's a whole lot easier to handle, faster and so much cleaner which are all things that appear sensible and obvious, but we also work only with whole beans because the active compounds in ground coffee deteriorate real quick, even if it's ground and sealed immediately. 

It's going to alarm some people to learn that ground coffee is going stale inside of the sealed packaging. We have been saying it for more than a decade, ground coffee is half dead when you buy it even if it was roasted that morning, ground for 60 seconds and then immediately heat sealed.

Before you starting sending me hate mail for being a snob, the "half dead" statement pertains more for espresso and espresso-style brew methods like stovetop and less for plunger, percolator or drip.

Freshly ground coffee is more highly exploited in espresso compared to the immersive brew methods that use longer contact time and larger particle sizes.

So what's the point that I'm trying to make here ?

Some people don't own grinders - either they don't think their coffee addiction warrants the expense, or they don't want bench space taken up with another appliance, or they hate mess from grinding or they think that you only need to buy a grinder if you have a good espresso machine.

Well, the truth is that a coffee grinder and grinding whole beans just moments before use benefits any and all brew methods including plungers, drips, filter, percolators, stovetops, etc. It's all about trying your absolute best to keep the whole bean from experiencing oxygen exposure and releasing all the volatile compounds at the time you consume it, not beforehand when it was packed.

Once you smash that whole bean into 100's of tiny particles, the rate of oxidizing accelerates by a factor of say 100+ times. Makes sense doesn't it - trying to keep the bean "sealed" up with it's outer layers acting as a type of integrity barrier (albeit weak or poor) from the core where the oils (and flavours) are more intense.

Roasting coffee is supposed to migrate the oils from the core towards the outside of the bean and the cells of coffee beans are kind of like a honeycombed structure but they are relatively porous. Grinding breaks up these chambers into thousands of small particles to make it more soluable.

For those folks that have hesitated at the thought of one day purchasing their first coffee grinder - we say "please, pretty yourself a big favour".

You will be amazed at the pure joy this simple appliance will bring you for years by only grinding beans at the moment you need coffee. Grinders can last a long time, or equal to any other appliance in your kitchen, so it's not a case of grinder ownership being an expensive or short-term luxury. Most folks that buy a decent grinder will get at least a decade of joy from their purchase, unless of course they suffer a bout of upgraditis (wanting a bigger, faster or more impressive unit).

Grinding the coffee beans on demand will elevate your beverage to levels that were unthinkable compared to using pre-ground coffee. There is simply no comparison possible.

One final word of advice - please don't buy a cheap spice grinder or anything that has not been designed specifically for the task of grinding coffee beans - you'd be surprised at the number of people that suffer poor coffee using a spice grinder.

Try to purchase the best quality you can afford as it will be both easier to use on a daily basis and produce a more even and consistent grind particle that results in better brew or extraction. For a long time there has been a simple mantra in the coffee industry - spend more on the grinder and less on the machine. It's true, the grind makes a huge difference.

Our wish is that one day we will only ever ship whole beans and nothing is ground in our warehouse. Customers would then realize the real benefits of grinding on demand and enjoying more from their coffee every day without battling against the rapid and overwhelming effects of oxidization - a race you can never win.  

It would also reduce the number of errors made when customers mistakenly forget to select the grind option on their order and end up with whole beans and no way of grinding. This happens almost daily !