Freshly ground beans vs pre-ground coffee

Updated on 24 Jul 2023
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Coffee has been an integral part of our Dutch kitchens, offices and cafés for centuries. Everyone from the highly educated to the rubbish men and from farmers to citizens drink several cups of coffee daily. Some may enjoy the B brands from the supermarket, while others only want to spend money daily on an expensive espresso from their favourite city pub. Some are fine with a simple cup at the petrol station, while others only want that cappuccino brewed according to proper formulas.

Choosing between freshly ground and pre-ground beans

In all the years I have been drinking coffee and trying to brew my own coffee (with varying degrees of success), I have learned one thing. And that is that it does matter how I grind my coffee beans. Of course, it’s much easier to buy a pack of pre-ground coffee at the local supermarket, and I still do that when it’s just not convenient to go and grind the beans extensively or for when I go camping, for example. Still, I often try to grind it fresh myself.

The nostalgia of grinding your own beans

I can still remember when I used to get to turn the coffee grinder at grandma’s house on Sundays. Grandma always had coffee beans and she still ground them by hand in a nostalgic old coffee grinder. Of course, as children, we loved doing that and still my thoughts go back to those days when I smell freshly ground coffee beans.

The difference between grinding coffee beans yourself and buying pre-ground

Let’s get into the discussion. Because there are quite a few pros and cons to both options.

  • Convenience – of course, it is ideal to quickly buy a pack of pre-ground coffee from the shop. All you have to do is spoon it into the filter of the coffee maker and press a button, then the hot water soaks through the filter. If you make a quick brew in the morning before you leave, you won’t be able to stand around extensively grinding your beans again.
  • The wallet – although it doesn’t sound very logical, buying pre-ground coffee is cheaper. The thing is, however, that coffee beans need to be shipped faster to avoid spoiling. Ground coffee is much easier to preserve and therefore has a longer shelf life. If you add to that the purchase of a bean grinder, buying a pack of pre-ground coffee really is cheaper.
  • The flavour – here I can’t get away from it. Of course, grinding beans fresh is much tastier than buying a pack of pre-ground slush from the supermarket. It’s just that when you start making coffee before brewing it, you take out the flavour and aromas that our creator put into it. This flavour becomes much more complex, filling and overwhelming.

So, buying a bean grinder yourself?

Be aware that the moment you grind coffee beans into a powder, be it coarse grains or fine powder, they instantly lose 60 per cent of their quality. Flavour as well as moisture and properties are lost within a matter of minutes. So I recommend always grinding your coffee beans only just before brewing a cup of latte. If you don’t have a coffee grinder yet, it’s time to buy one.

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