Is it Better to Grind Your Own Coffee Beans? Four Things to Consider

With ground coffee so readily available, do you wonder why some people always grind their own coffee beans? It sure seems like a hassle, doesn’t it? Especially for anyone who rushes around, half-asleep and running late most mornings. But coffee lovers in the know do make the time. So we really have to ask: is it better to grind your own coffee beans?

Here are four things to consider when deciding if grinding your own coffee beans will be worth the effort to you:

Do You Care About Freshness?

Think about the last time you opened a new bag of ground coffee. It had a strong, heady aroma and brewed up a robust cup of coffee. By the very next day, however, opening that bag didn’t have quite the same effect. And with each passing day, the process continued, making your coffee a little less appealing each and every morning. By the time you reached the bottom of that bag of ground coffee, you were more than ready to open a new one so you could breathe in that enticing fragrance and experience a really fresh cup of coffee again.

bag of ground coffee with scoop

So what is it exactly that causes your bag of ground coffee to become bland so quickly? Oxygen. Without getting overly scientific about it, oxygen causes chemical reactions within the molecular structure of your ground coffee that quickly render it stale.

This process is called oxidization, and it is definitely your ground coffee’s enemy!

But you may be wondering: Doesn’t oxygen affect whole coffee beans as well as ground coffee? Sure it does, but at a much slower pace. Think of coffee beans in the same way you would an apple. A whole, intact apple will stay fresh much longer than an apple that has been sliced open. Oxidation begins turning an apple’s interior flesh brown almost immediately, in fact, while the whole apple will stay flavorful for a week or more. Coffee beans are a lot like that uncut apple.

What’s more, each whole, roasted coffee bean contains its own oxidization-fighting secret weapon. When coffee is roasted, carbon dioxide builds up inside each coffee bean. When coffee beans are left intact, this carbon dioxide build-up will seep from the beans, slowing the oxidization process and extending the freshness of the coffee. If the beans are ground, however, the carbon dioxide dissipates immediately, and all its anti-oxidization properties go with it.

So the bottom line is: if you care about the freshness of your coffee, you will definitely find it better to grind your own coffee beans right before you start your brewing.

Do You Care About Aroma and Flavor?

Aroma and flavor are what make or break each coffee experience. And while you may think it’s all about freshness, it really goes deeper than that. We’re talking way down to the very chemical makeup of the coffee bean itself.

A coffee bean is actually the seed of the coffee tree’s fruit. The primary job of any seed is to propagate new plants. To do this, coffee seeds/beans are comprised of a variety of sugars, proteins, and minerals. During the roasting process, these compounds are chemically altered in a multitude of ways, producing the coffee aroma and flavors with which we’ve become familiar.

Once roasted, coffee beans require a tempering or resting period in order to reach their full aromatic and flavorful potential. During this phase, the chemical processes begun in the roaster disperse throughout each bean. The flavor mellows and becomes more balanced as the roasted coffee beans mature.

The delicate aroma and robust flavor that we so enjoy in our cup of coffee are, literally, encased within each coffee bean. And they will remain there as long as the coffee bean remains intact. Once the bean hits the grinder and is broken into thousands of particles, though, everything changes. All those chemical components that locked in the flavor and aroma dissipate and immediately begin to oxidize as discussed above.

Ultimately, grinding your own coffee beans means the whole beans will have time to mellow and mature while they “wait their turn” in the grinder. It also means you will be unlocking the aroma and flavor of the beans just as you’re ready to brew. Instead of letting all that goodness be lost in the air, you’ll be capturing it for your cup.

Do You Enjoy a Variety of Brewing Methods?

Not all that long ago, brewing coffee was pretty much the same process for everyone. It involved filling a percolator with water, placing a metal basket filled with ground coffee in the pot just above the water line, and heating the water on the stove top. The heated water would bubble, or “perk,” through the grounds, creating a pot of coffee.

Today, thankfully, many exciting new brewing methods have been developed that create exceptional cups of coffee for a variety of tastes and circumstances. There are drip coffee makers, French presses, pour over brewers, and espresso machines, to name a few.

And most coffee lovers? They are going to experiment with more than one of these methods

But the thing is, different brewing methods require different grinds of coffee. The coarse grind that works best in a French press will not produce the best results in a pour over brewer and won’t work at all in an espresso machine.

If you grind your own coffee beans, you control the process. You can use a coarse grind to make a robust pot of coffee with your drip maker and a fine grind for your single-cup pour over brewing. You’ll get the most flavorful coffee regardless of how you brew.

Do You Want the Best Coffee Every Single Cup?

When was the last time you wished for a lousy cup of coffee? We’re going to guess NEVER!

As we’ve now learned, consistently good coffee requires freshness, the preservation of aroma and flavor, and takes into account the brewing method. The only way to ensure you get the best of these elements in every single cup of coffee is to start with roasted, whole-bean coffee.

To ensure you experience a great cup of coffee with every cup of coffee, it is definitely better to grind your own coffee beans!

five white coffee mugs

Need tips on grinding your coffee?

Check out our helpful article How to Grind Coffee Beans at Home With or Without A Grinder.

And please leave your comments and coffee insights below. We love to hear from you!

6 Comments

  1. Fredery

    Is it better to take the time to grind your own coffee beans? In my opinion, it depends. For example: if you are a person that really loves coffee and has time for the hassle of grinding the coffee beans,  it is a good option. It has many benefit to do so.

     The freshness and the flavour are the most important benefits for me. However I do not have much time to do this everyday, so this is not a good option in my case

    Thanks for the article! 

    • Cheri

      I totally agree with you. Although I greatly prefer to grind my own coffee beans, but some days, it’s just not practical. But for anyone who has the time and has thought about it, I wanted to point out the benefits of making the effort. Because when one does have the time (even if it’s only on the weekends), it’s definitely worth it, imho. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Darren

    after reading your article I am craving a cup of coffee! As I was reading your descriptive writing about opening nice fresh bag of coffee I could smell the coffee! 

    When I open my bag of coffee and use it for the first time I put mine in the fridge resealed. 

    It. Ornay lasts a little longer but I tend to agree that it is a better idea to grind your own coffee beans.

    • Cheri

      I have been accused of inspiring coffee cravings quite a lot since I began my website, Darren. I now consider it both a goal and a compliment, so…thank you…mission accomplished! (And I will not reveal how much extra coffee I drink while writing craving-inducing posts haha)

      I greatly prefer to grind my own coffee beans but admit that I do keep ground coffee on hand for those times I’m in a rush or am up so early in the morning that I don’t want to wake my sleeping family by running the grinder. 

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. Glowybabe

    Personally I prefer freshly ground coffee beans because the taste and the aroma is a lot lot lot better.  It is definitely worth the extra time you will spend grinding the coffee beans but just think about the reward – a better tasting coffee that you definitely deserve!  My husband always brings home coffee from his business trips and he would always get the scolding from me whenever he brings home ground coffee.  Grinding your own beans at the time of brewing is the way to go!

    • Cheri

      I couldn’t agree more, that grinding your own coffee beans just prior to use is worth the effort and makes the best cup of coffee. Though I’ll admit that, depending on our schedules, if I have to be up very early, I will grind the night before so I don’t wake anyone else. But that’s as far in advance as I’m willing to grind! haha  I do hope by now your husband has “learned his lesson” and brings you only whole-bean coffee from his business trips. 😉  Thanks for visiting.

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