There’s a common dilemma in offices and homes – Whole Bean or Ground Coffee? For the most superior tasting coffee, freshness is key. But busy offices might not have time to freshly grind 20 or 30 grams of coffee for a meeting three times a day and require a touch more convenience for their caffeine habits.
Each option has individual merits and drawbacks like any other mighty conundrum but great coffee, ethically sourced, fairly traded and freshly roasted, is still great coffee no matter what form – it’s what you do with it to make your brew that matters. There’s an argument for both, really, so here are some pros and cons to help aid your decision when debating which is better, Whole Bean or Ground Coffee?
– It’s easy, fast and it’s convenient. If time is of the essence and you need a quick caffeine hit, a cup of coffee can reach your lips in a minute or two if using fresh pre-ground coffee.
– It’s relatively cheaper on all counts. There’s little specialist equipment needed and it’s an incredibly straightforward process.
– It’s less fresh. Since you don’t have control over when the original beans were ground and how they were stored. The moment those beans are ground, the surface area is massively increased, meaning oxygen penetrates the particles and flavour begins to dissipate.
– Harder to experiment with coffee extraction methods. Since different brewing methods require different extraction/brewing techniques, pre-ground coffee allows for less experimentation.
– It’s fresher for longer. By having that coffee bean, wrapped tightly in its roasted jacket, you’re sealing in the flavour since oxygen can only get to the exterior. It’s prolonging the life of the beans, too, in a way that ground coffee could only dream.
– Whole bean delivers buckets more flavour than pre-ground, there’s no question about that. If you’re serious about the flavour of the best coffee beans, rather than just the energy boost, then whole bean is your ballpark.
– Just like the better flavour, there’s more decipherable tasting notes by using whole beans and grinding as needed. You’ve heard roasters and baristas waxing lyrical about chocolate, caramel and nutty aromas and flavours of particular beans and you’ll taste these far clearer by grinding from fresh.
– It’s your choice of brew. If you’re happy with french press, stick with it! But if you want to experiment with drip coffee and pour-over or take the plunge and play around with espresso extraction, grinding from whole bean to a desired size is key.
– Expenses incurred. You’ll need to invest in a good grinder, and – if you want our advice – it’s not worth skimping on cheap ones as they all too often give an uneven grind.
– You need to know what to do with whole beans. Sure, it sounds better to be grinding as needed, but unless you know what you’re doing you might actually make a couple of coffee errors. Committing to whole bean requires a little bit more knowledge and attention to detail, which is an A+ in our book but if that’s not your bag just yet, go ground.
– It’s less convenient and more time sensitive. You’ll need to set aside a couple of minutes of the day, a couple of times a day too possibly, to prepare a delicious cup of joe. If it will feel more like a labour you don’t want to undertake or that you will end up resenting, whole bean might not be the best bet.
So freshness is paramount but storing your coffee is seriously important too. You might have heard to keep it cold, but never *ever* should that mean putting it in a dark, cool fridge (or worse, the freezer). From the intense Saharan heat of Africa to the depths of Alaska?
Your coffee won’t thank you. Keep it in the cupboard, sealed tightly with as little air in the bag as possible. This means whether you choose Whole Bean or Ground Coffee, your coffee will be safe from excessive exposure to moisture and access to oxygen. Even well-kept coffee grounds really are beyond their prime after three weeks.