Arguably, there are two types of coffee drinkers in this world: those who drink coffee for the caffeine and those who really care about the taste of the coffee and finding the best cup. Truthfully, a lot does go into creating the perfect cup of coffee, from the temperature of the water to the brewing method. The type of coffee that you use also has a significant impact on the end result, more so than most people think. Freshly ground coffee is often thought to produce the best cup, but why? Read on to find out.
For the most part, when you purchase coffee, you tend to either find whole beans or some form of pre-ground coffee like granules or powder. If you want freshly ground coffee, then you will need to buy whole beans and grind them at home as and when you want a cup in order to ensure that the coffee is as fresh as possible. In addition to purchasing whole beans, you will also need to invest in a bean grinder for your home. You can find a great recommendation from Cup and Bean for the best coffee grinder.
Why Freshly Ground Coffee Is Better
There are a number of benefits to freshly ground coffee. Firstly, when your grind your coffee fresh, it has less chance to oxidize. When the coffee beans are ground ahead of time, they begin the process of oxidation begins when the coffee is exposed to oxygen. It is similar to the effect that oxygen has on wine, degrading the flavor over time and completely changing the taste. Doing this every time you want a cup means that the beans have less time to oxidize, which means that the oxygen has less chance to affect the flavor profile of the cup. Buying pre-ground coffee means that this process is already well underway and has been for an indeterminate amount of time.
Introducing oxygen into the coffee can also introduce moisture which then obviously also affects the coffee too. This is because the water molecules exposed to the coffee by the oxygen reacts with the compounds within the coffee. Ground coffee has minute amounts of oil in it, and that oil is water soluble; therefore, when the coffee is pre-ground, and water gets in, the oils disappear, and this dulls the flavor of the cup. Coffee beans also have a higher CO2 content, and grinding the beans early allows the CO2 to escape, which further degrades the flavor.
Chemical reactions aren't the only thing that can affect the flavor profile of your coffee. Grinding the coffee at home on a cup-by-cup basis means that the ground coffee is purer than the pre-ground coffee that you find at the store. This is simply because you can guarantee that the bean grinder is being cleaned more regularly because you are the one cleaning it. Industrial coffee grinders might not be cleaned as often. This then means that the grounds are all intermingling together, which can change the taste of the coffee.
Choosing to grind your coffee at home also affords you a better degree of control. You can choose to grind the coffee that you need when you need it, which helps to keep the rest of the beans fresh and make them last longer. Pre-ground coffee needs to be used more quickly simply because it doesn’t last as long. You can also control the level of grind too. If you want the beans to be ground more finely, then you can do that; having the whole beans also means that you can make multiple different types of coffee, from espressos to drip coffee.
Freshly Ground Brewing Techniques
Freshly ground coffee can be used with a number of brewing techniques, and it can even be compatible with a few different styles of coffee machine, although research is imperative here. For example, a pod machine is obviously not going to be compatible with freshly ground coffee since you can only use pods with it. By and large, any machine that uses a pour-over method can be used with freshly ground coffee. French presses and coffee filter machines are also compatible with freshly ground coffee. Freshly ground coffee produces finer particles which won’t necessarily dissolve entirely, which means that you need to have thought about how you are going to catch the particles, which is where the coffee filter or the French press comes in.
You will also need to think about the temperature of the water and the length of time you leave your coffee to brew. If the water is too hot, then the coffee can burn, which makes it taste more bitter. If you use a coffee machine, then it tends to brew at the optimum temperature anyway. If you are heating the water yourself, then you might want to use a thermometer to check the temperature; ideally, it should be between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, you can allow the water to come to a full boil before removing it from the heat and allowing it to sit for a minute before mixing it. Also, the longer that you leave the coffee to brew, the stronger it will be, which might be worth considering when you think about what end result you are trying to achieve.
Freshly ground coffee arguably produces the best possible cup of coffee, especially when compared with other forms of coffee. Grinding your own coffee beans might not be accessible to everyone, but it is worth considering, especially for those that pride themselves on making and enjoying a good cup of coffee. If you want to take things further and really embrace the coffee-making process from start to finish, you might want to think about roasting your own beans too and making an effort to learn more about how to brew a coffee and even look into more professional coffee machines that come equipped with bean grinders and milk frothers and the like.