Usually, it’s not a good idea to put things off until the last minute. Waiting until the final hour to write the 10-page paper, getting a cup of coffee when you’re already late, or pick up the kids from school can cause unnecessary stress!
Most of the time, we try to avoid procrastination in hopes of a better experience. As a result, procrastination gets a bad rap. While putting things off may be negative in most situations, it’s ideal when it comes to grinding coffee.
Yes, you should wait until the very last minute to grind your coffee beans whenever possible!
If you are a coffee lover, you know there’s nothing like the unmistakable aroma of freshly ground coffee. To maintain the quality of your coffee beans, a regular practice in procrastination is the answer!
Why You Should Never Pre-Grind Your Coffee Beans
Did you know that your favorite neighborhood barista may accidentally be sabotaging your coffee? This innocent mistake can completely change the flavor and quality of the coffee you brew at home.
The good news is, there is a simple way to improve the coffee you make at home! If you want to know how often to grind your coffee beans successfully, you’re in the right place!
We’re here to teach you how to protect the quality of your coffee and thoroughly enjoy every sip.
If you’ve ever bought coffee from a local coffee shop, or even a chain like Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, you know that well-meaning baristas will offer to grind your bag of coffee beans. Many grocery stores also have grinding machines available for customer use. Both seem like such nice gestures and save you time.
While pre-grinding may be tempting as it seems both kind and convenient, it ruins the quality of your coffee beans.
This is especially disappointing if you’ve paid for specialty coffee that comes at a higher price tag.
There’s nothing quite as bad as expecting a smooth sip of java, only to discover a bitter flavorless gulp instead! It is well known that over time coffee will lose its freshness and eventually go bad.
Yet, many people don’t realize how rapidly this happens or that certain conditions accelerate the process. Worse yet, some people think that their stale coffee is as good as it gets. They may even think that it’s normal!
Fresh Ground Coffee Taste Better
Too many coffee drinkers are unaware that the taste of their coffee could be so much better! The quality of coffee starts to deplete right after the beans are ground.
If you are curious about the best time and way to grind coffee, you will most likely spend your hard-earned money on ethically sourced beans from local roasters. You purchase these brands because they put time and care into their product.
That being said, you want to get value from your coffee and want to enjoy it the way it is meant to taste! Read on to learn more about the science behind coffee grinding so you can understand why and how to best prepare a delicious cup of home-brewed coffee.
How Does Coffee Go Bad?
Let’s flashback to your high school chemistry class for a moment. You may be familiar with oxidation. This is the chemical change that causes metal to rust or an apple to turn brown.
Oxidation is also at play with your coffee, and it happens much quicker when coffee is ground rather than in whole bean form.
The more surface area there is, the more oxygen can do damage to your beans. This can impact everything you love most about your coffee, like its rich flavor and aroma.
That is why if you’re going to buy coffee now but use it later, it’s better to store whole coffee beans than ground coffee.
The coffee pros at bon appétit know that the shell of the bean acts as a protective sheath. Once it is broken, oxygen can work faster and alter the coffee.
Oxygen breaks down acidity and changes the cell structure of coffee beans. You may have noticed that coffee beans also have oils. These evaporate rapidly when ground and exposed to air.
How Long Does Coffee Stay Fresh After Grinding
When properly stored, your coffee will stay fresh for about one to two weeks after grinding.
Even if you properly store your beans whole, you should still be aware that oxidation is at play. We recommend you store whole beans in an airtight container for no more than a couple of weeks.
It’s a complete MYTH that refrigerating coffee beans will keep them fresher for longer.
It has the complete opposite effect. Refrigerating or freezing coffee beans is the worst thing you can do if you want to keep your coffee fresh.
Also, be sure to check the roast date on the bag to ensure freshness. Ideally, you should grind and brew your beans within 7 to 14 days.
The experts at Bean Ground share that if your coffee was roasted less than seven days ago, it is too early to brew. If it has been more than 14 days since your coffee was roasted, the beans may be considered stale.
How Much Coffee Should I Grind at a Time
It is always best to grind only the beans you plan to brew right away. To avoid destroying your coffee beans before you can enjoy them, invest in an at-home grinder.
This way, you can buy coffee beans from your favorite shop and enjoy them as fresh as possible right in your kitchen. If you’ve ever wondered why coffee always seems to taste better at the shop, this is why.
You can bring the coffee house flavor to the comfort of your own home by using the same coffee grinding practices.
If you’re anything like us, making coffee at home is somewhat meditative and relaxing. You shuffle to the kitchen, pour the water, select a mug, add the grinds, push the button, and wait.
Some mornings you may even choose to slowly and intentionally craft a pour-over coffee.
You may love the process of spiraling hot water over the grinds into a beautiful caffeine bloom.
No matter how you brew, adding an essential step of grinding the beans will drastically improve your coffee quality. It also allows you to be more involved in the process.
Plus, you won’t have to wait around in suspense for the coffee to brew to enjoy the amazing scent fully! Fresh ground beans smell fantastic right away and add to the sensory experience!
Using a home grinder will let you grind only the amount you need, at that moment, without spoiling the rest of the batch in the process.
You’ll be able to store your freshly roasted coffee beans in whole bean form. This allows the beans to resist the negative effects of oxygen and ensures a delicious cup of coffee every time you brew!
How to Choose a Coffee Grinder
There’s no substitute for a good coffee grinder. You need to buy the right tool for the job. There are a wide variety of home grinders on the market. Some allow you to grind by hand with a crank, while others offer small electric grinders.
Another option is to go all out and buy a larger machine to add to your kitchen coffee bar. While a hand crank option may be a decent choice on the go or in a power outage, electric options are usually ideal because they offer lots of great features and control.
Most electric grinders provide several settings to adjust the grind for the type of coffee you are brewing. Burr grinders are the standard as they reduce heat transfer, maintain the beans’ quality, and grind into even, consistent pieces.
Alternatively, Blade grinders tend to butcher the beans and chop them into random chunks and particles. The Coffee Advisors do a great job summarizing this process and has detailed information about what to look for if you’re interested in purchasing a burr grinder.
If you’re interested in the Burr grinder that I use in the picture above, you can see it here.
At the touch of a button, you can grind the coffee beans exactly the way you prefer. You’ll get the perfect cup of caffeine every single time!
A grinder with many settings is also great if you use various brew methods at home like an espresso machine, french press, or a pour-over. If you are craving an espresso, you can select the extra-fine setting. For a french press, you may choose a course grind. Pour over or drip coffee tends to be best on the medium grind setting.
We found this coffee grinding infographic from I Need Coffee extremely helpful! You can play with these settings to find what works best for you and your flavor preferences.
Will Coffee Shops Grind Beans for You
If buying a grinder to use at home isn’t an option, you can also get creative at the coffee shop or grocery store! Some people worry that they aren’t skilled enough and want to leave the grinding to those who know best.
No matter your concerns or needs, there’s a simple solution. You can always ask the barista to grind only half of the bag when you buy. While it’s not as convenient as grinding at home, if this is best for your lifestyle, you can return at a later date to grind the rest.
Just be aware that some shops will only grind coffee that you purchased from them. Some shops that sell high-end coffee may even refuse to grind beans for you to brew at home.
They may choose to have this kind of policy because they know the coffee quality will be depleted as soon as you step out the door. You may have to “shop around” a bit to see which shops in your area will accommodate your grind needs.
What Can I Do With My Old Coffee
Never fear! Did you know that old, stale coffee is actually perfect for Cold Brew? Now you don’t have to waste ground coffee and can still get to enjoy the caffeine. Plus, cold brew is super refreshing!
The coffee’s freshness won’t matter as much as it would if you were to hot brew it. Even better, you won’t have to toss a whole batch of ground coffee ( AKA “money”) in the trash! The Cold Brew method is really lenient and will still taste flavorful due to it’s cooler, slow brew method.
I have an in-depth article about how to make the best-iced coffee at home. This way you don’t have to throughout your old coffee grounds.
Is It Worth It to Grind Your Own Coffee Beans
This is going to depend on how much control you want to have over your brew. I like to change how coarse my grounds are depending on how I want my coffee that morning. I’ll change my grind size if I want a French press or a cup of coffee from my Moda pot. Both methods take a different size ground to make a great cup.
Grinding your own coffee beans also gives control over how your coffee will taste.
If the beans you’re drinking already seem too bitter for your taste, try grinding them down even more and narrowing their size range as well. You’ll find that these smaller pieces of ground make for an overall sweeter cup – or at least lessen the impact of bitterness from overly dark roasts. Be sure not to grind too fine, though, because it can lead to over-extraction if brewed incorrectly! Try playing with different grind sizes to see what you like best.
Wrapping Up, How Often To Grind Coffee Beans
Despite its bad reputation, at its core, procrastination is truly about getting caught up in the moment. Similarly, preparing and brewing coffee is a reminder to be in the here and now, without anticipation or worry.
As you improve your homebrew routine, we hope you will add a coffee grinder into your process. This will help you to protect the quality of your coffee.
Grinding your beans as you use them will also offer you the opportunity to be immersed in the process so you can create that spectacular cup of coffee. Coffee brewing is both an art and a science.
While we strive to provide you with the best information, there is no “perfect” recipe for making coffee. Everyone has their unique tastes and preferences.
Take time to play with different grind settings, brew methods, and coffee varieties. We hope you continue to learn and enjoy the craft of brewing and savoring coffee!
Don’t forget to wait until the last minute to grind your coffee beans! In no time, you’ll be putting the “pro” in procrastinate! Your coffee and your tastebuds will thank you.