Despite its convenience and that it doesn’t require the purchase of a new kitchen gadget, pre-ground coffee can fall short to brewing freshly ground beans in several crucial areas. This has likely been preached to you by a coffee fanatic friend or family member at some point, but what are you really losing? And is pre-ground coffee as bad as it's made out to be? To write this blog, we put ourselves on the frontlines of reporting, taking a step out of our grinder-laden cafes and cupping labs, and brewed pre-ground coffee for two weeks to get a firsthand look at how ground coffee’s flavor really does age.
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The reason many coffee drinkers and professionals are adamant about freshly grinding their coffee is one culprit behind the demise of good flavor in many foods and beverages: oxidation. We won’t go into the nitty-gritty of the process, but it can be responsible for staleness and off-flavors in everything from bread to coffee. In the case of coffee, grinding increases a bean’s exposed surface area, which gives oxidants much greater access to oxidize the coffee. While this process eventually happens with whole bean coffee, it is greatly expedited once the coffee is ground.
Now, back to our daring and selfless acts of journalism in the name of coffee. In the first three days after grinding the coffee at Schuil’s cupping lab and bringing it home to brew, its flavor, body, and sweetness held up remarkably well. An unsung benefit of purchasing pre-ground coffee is the quality of the commercial grinders that coffee companies often use compared to lower-quality grinders often used at home. However, after day three, the coffee began tasting noticeably thinner and one-noted, losing much of the complexity and nuance that are traditionally present in the cup. After a week, the coffee also began to taste less sweet and acquired a new sharpness in its acidity. At the end of our trial, the coffee was by no means bad or undrinkable. However, compared to the depth of sweetness and complex flavors present when it’s brewed freshly ground, the benefits are clear.
Lastly, in addition to maintaining fresh flavor, freshly grinding coffee at home allows you to make small adjustments to your grind to optimize the coffee’s flavor. Having a grinder at home makes it possible to use a range of brewing devices that require different grind sizes, allowing you to easily go from a french press one morning to an AeroPress the next. Whenever it feels right for you to take the next step in your coffee game, Schuil has you covered with one of the best reasonably priced at-home grinders available.
BONUS: now through October 14th, 2022 receive a free blade grinder when you spend $75 online or in-store (use code: FREEGRINDER2022 at checkout when shopping online for shipment)!