Should You Be Grinding Your Coffee?
There is nothing worse than a stale cup of coffee.
Every time one of those big containers of coffee is opened, the grounds it contains are on the fast-track toward a lousy beverage.
Most coffee grounds are stored in large bags or tin containers in a kitchen, pantry, or closet. When exposed to light or air, the lipids go rancid, the flavor compounds evaporate, and the grounds change because of oxidation.
Even if just one of these elements is present, it will create a significant impact on the flavor of your morning coffee.
The bottom line is this: freshness matters. To get fresh coffee, you must grind it, then store it properly.
When Is Coffee at Its Best?
In a perfect world, coffee beans should be ground and used as close to their roasting date as possible. By doing this, you’ll be able to maximize your flavors by minimizing the exposure to light, air, and environmental contaminants.
For most of us, that is not a practical solution. The beans must be shipped from the coffee company to the consumer. Some coffee companies will grind the beans for sale. Others will offer whole beans for sale.
Whole beans and ground coffee both ship well if they are in airtight containers. If you don’t have the equipment to grind your coffee at home properly, then select pre-ground coffee instead.
The quality of the coffee will be equal, but if you grind beans at home for each batch that you brew, the flavor profile will be stronger, bolder, and more complete.
Achieving Peak Flavor with Your Coffee
Peak flavor for coffee varies based on the roast, the type of beans you prefer, and the brewing method. As a general rule, the closer you get to the expiration date of the product, then the less flavor you are going to enjoy when finishing the brewing process.
For many coffee products, the expiration date is a way to determine when the roasting process occurred.
Most unopened whole bean coffee products are given an expiration date that is 6-9 months after the beans were roasted. If you can brew your coffee closer to the roasting date instead of closer to its throw-away date, then your coffee will be fresher and tastier.
If you do open a bag of coffee, but don’t use it right away, then keep the product sealed properly until you need to use it again.
How Long Can I Store Coffee?
If you freeze your coffee beans or grounds, then they can last for up to 3 years. We don’t recommend that storage process, however, as it will destroy the flavor of the coffee. Even if you thaw the coffee before brewing it, you’re going to have a flat, dull cup to drink that morning.
Instant coffee can be stored almost indefinitely in the freezer, but it faces the same flavor profile challenges.
That brings us to the ground coffee. Make sure you store it in an airtight container somewhere that is dark, cool, and dry. You can expect the coffee to last for up to 3-5 months. With whole bean coffee, that type of storage preserves the coffee for up to 6-9 months past the expiration date listed on the product.
With instant coffee, proper storage without freezing allows it to last up to 18 years past its expiration date.
How to Grind Coffee the Right Way
Base the type of grind you want for your coffee on how you will prepare it. Coarse grinds, for example, work best if you use a French press or are making a Cold Brew.
If you use an automatic drip coffee maker, then a medium grind is your best option. Cone-shaped drip makers work better with a combination between a medium-to-fine grind to extract more flavor from the coffee.
Fine grinds work best when working with a stove-top espresso pot. If you own an espresso machine, then a super-fine grind is your best option.
To achieve the correct grind, you can use a blade grinder or a burr grinder.
Follow the instructions on the equipment for each type of grind to achieve the best results. Shoot for about 1-2 tablespoons of beans for every 6 ounces of water, then adjust to your taste preferences.
Grinding your beans is always worth it. There is no better way to maximize the flavor in each cup. How and when you grind matter, which is why you should keep this guide bookmarked to ensure you can create consistently good coffee every day!