Coffee Basics: What is Ground Coffee?

If you are a newbie in the world of coffee, understanding terminologies regarding coffee might be your next goal – and that is understandable. Coffee is one of the few drinks loved by almost everyone globally for its taste and stimulating effect.

There are so many coffee types on the market, but they either come as ground coffee or whole beans. Certain types of coffee are better as ground, and others are better as whole beans. The choice of which to buy is dependent on what you want to drink and how long you want your coffee to last.

Let us get into what ground coffee is.

Ground coffee is summarized as where brewed coffee is gotten from, making it the most common form of coffee available in shops and markets – aside from the coffee beans. To make you understand this process better, let’s go back to where coffee comes from.

All coffees (ground and whole beans) are gotten from the coffee tree. The cherries from the tree are picked and undergo processing to gain access to the ‘green coffee beans.’ The green beans are roasted to get whole coffee beans. You cannot brew the whole coffee beans without converting to ground coffee first.

Ground coffee is likened to a tea bag: you will not get tea without hot water in your teabag. If you do not convert your whole bean into smaller particles called ground, you will not get your coffee drink.

Ground coffee can come in various sizes, depending on the type of coffee you want to make. You should also know that ground coffee is different from instant coffee. They might look alike and even smell like, but there is a difference in coffee type. There are types of coffee you cannot make with instant coffee; it will turn out a complete mess.

Coffee Ground Sizes

There are several sizes for coffee ground, and each size has its uses in the coffee-making process. For example, if you want to make Turkish coffee, your ground ranges from small to almost powder-like, while for French press and cold brew, the ground size is coarse.

Some other sizes are:

  • Medium-fine, which is used in making Moka and filter coffee
  • Medium size.
  • Medium-coarse, which is better for pour-over
  • And coarse for French press or coffee with long brew time.

Fresh Ground Or Pre-Grounded

Besides the fact that freshly grounded coffee tastes better, it also means that you are having a fresh, flavorful cup of goodness for every cup of coffee you drink. Fresh ground means that the coffee beans are converted to ground while you are awaiting your cup of coffee and not before.

The producer usually converts the coffee beans to pre-grounded before packing and shipping out. Most pre-grounded coffees have the roasting date and level stated on the bags, but very few producers state the beans’ grounding date.

The ground coffee is usually tightly sealed to prevent air from getting into the coffee bag and affecting the coffee’s taste and flavor. Upon purchasing and opening your ground coffee, your coffee ground will lose its taste and flavor if you do not store it properly. This is something you will not experience with whole beans.

Coffee Bloom

One way to determine if your coffee is fresh is through the coffee bloom. When you add hot water into a cup of fresh coffee ground, it sort of foams. The foam is a result of the coffee’s expansion and a release of some CO2 which interacts with the natural fats inside the coffee.

When next you see foam on your coffee, you know it is a good and reliable sign that you are drinking a fresh cup of coffee. Most times, you experience the coffee bloom when making the pour-over-coffee or the French press. With other brewing methods, you don’t see the coffee, only the brew.

Making Your Own Coffee Ground

If you have the time and you are willing, you should grind your own coffee rather than purchase pre-grounded.

Grinding your own coffee every morning might sound insane, especially if you are the type that needs to be out of the house very early, but if you are also one who loves to always have a fresh cup of coffee to start your day, grinding your coffee beans yourself might be your best option.

You can decide to grind your beans the night before – just before getting into bed – and keeping them in an air-tight container to preserve their flavor and taste. The job of getting a fresh cup is made easy for you, especially with a coffee grinder.

Depending on what you want, come grinders are electric and will do most of the job for you; others are manual and require you to get the job done yourself.

Blades And Burr

When it comes to grinding your beans, there are two options on how your coffee is ground: blade or burr. The blade grinder acts very much like your regular blender; it will give you very fine ground that might begin to clump together at some point. This might not be the best option for you if you want larger ground.

The burr grounder has two stones that crush the coffee beans to your desired size, leaving your coffee with uniform sizes that are not too small or too fine.

Reuseing Ground Coffee

You shouldn’t reuse ground coffee for a drink, as what you are mostly like to get is a muddy cup of brown water. Reusing coffee ground is like reusing tea leaves; after the first drink, it’s impossible to get a good drink from the leftover.

Although you might not be able to drink leftover ground coffee, it can still go to other uses. Your leftover ground coffee can serve as compost for your plant; it can also serve as a body scrub for you. You can also add them into soap mix or handmade candles for their scent.

Many people do not know the difference between ground coffee and instant coffee; allow me to enlighten you.

Ground coffee is ground coffee beans; instant coffee is not.

The difference, in this case, lies in what they are made of; both coffees are gotten from coffee. Ground coffee is coffee beans grounded into specific sizes for specific purposes. The grounded coffee comes from processed coffee cherries roasted into coffee beans before being packed and shipped to the market.

Instant coffee, on the other hand, is ground coffee that has been brewed into drinkable coffee. The brewed liquid is cooled and dried – through various processes – leaving only the coffee solids.

This is why the taste of instant coffee is quite different from ground coffee. Ground coffee has more flavor, more aroma, and more depth. When you have both drinks, you will see that instant coffee is weak, flat, and has a bitter taste compared to ground.

Instant coffee dissolves in liquids.

Because instant coffee is brewed coffee, they dissolve quickly in water or liquid. When making your instant coffee, you need to be careful to avoid having too much water. Another feature is that most instant coffees come in a mixture of coffee, powdered milk, sugar, and flavor.

Instant coffee is a convenient drink for people who are too busy to brew themselves a cup of coffee.

Ground coffee doesn’t dissolve in water, irrespective of what you do. Even when blended to the finest ground, it will not dissolve; rather, it will sink to the bottom of your cup. The reason is that ground coffee has lots of fibers that do not dissolve in water.

Ground coffee contains more caffeine

Ground coffee has a higher percentage of caffeine than instant coffee; this is due to two essential things that occur during the brewing process.

The best way to get the caffeine out of your coffee is through extraction. The caffeine is gotten from the coffee beans or ground when exposed to heat and a liquid to pull it out. The hot water added to your coffee beans absorbs the caffeine in the beans. With this, you can adjust your coffee brew and tweak it to your taste.

Because instant coffee has already been brewed, the amount of caffeine extracted depends on the company manufacturing the instant coffee.

Instant coffee is often cheaper and of poor quality

The main reason why instant coffee is bad compared to ground coffee is that most instant coffees are made from Robusta beans. Robusta beans have a higher caffeine content than Arabica, and it is also a cheaper bean. The Robusta beans have double the caffeine quantity in the Arabica beans, but with lesser sugar and fats found in the Arabica.

Ground coffee is made from Arabica beans and sometimes blended with a bit of Robusta for a stronger caffeine kick.

Instant coffee is usually of poor quality because of the beans used; the beans are cheap and contain too much caffeine. The processing of making instant coffee also affects the final taste.

Brewing time

When preparing your ground coffee, you have to wait a little longer than when making your instant coffee. When making ground coffee, you need to clean your coffee machine, throw away coffee grounds before getting to have your coffee; with instant coffee, all of that will not be required. Add hot water to your instant coffee, and it is ready to drink.

Also, instant coffee comes in handy when you are on a trip where you don’t have access to coffee machines.

Flavor and Aroma

Ground coffee has a better flavor variety than instant coffee because all its essential oils and chemicals are still very much intact. Instant coffee loses some of its aroma and flavor due to the rigorous processes it has to undergo. Coffee enthusiasts have also boasted that ground coffee has a sweeter taste than Instant coffee’s generic taste.

Cost

Instant coffee is cheaper than ground coffee because instant coffee uses Robusta beans, which are cheaper coffee beans than Arabica beans used for ground coffee. Most coffee enthusiasts will rather invest in ground coffee due to its flavor and caffeine content.

Durability

Instant coffee has a longer shelf-life than ground coffee. The ground coffee needs to be stored in air-tight containers to prevent it from losing its taste and flavor. Instant coffee has no such storage requirements – a clean and dry container is all it needs.

How To Store Ground Coffee

Properly storing your ground coffee will help you preserve its freshness longer; it will also ensure you get to enjoy your brew more. The best way to store your ground coffee is to keep it away from heat, light, and moisture.

Keep it shelved

The best thing you can do for your ground coffee to preserve the taste and freshness is to store it in air-tight containers and placed inside a cool, dark cupboard. It’s also best that the coffee is kept in a small container to reduce the amount of air inside the container, thereby slowing oxidization.

A vacuum-sealed container is a better option.

Freezing coffee beans

You should never store your ground coffee in the refrigerator, or the freezer as this might introduce moisture into your coffee. When you purchase ground coffee, as soon as you open it, transfer the content from the packet it came in into air-tight containers – the packet is not air-tight and, as such, will not keep air out.

FAQ

Should I purchase coffee beans or ground coffee?

If you enjoy your coffee fresh, you should buy coffee beans and prepare your brew yourself. Ground coffee will not stay fresh for as long as coffee beans can.

Is ground coffee good for plants?

Yes, ground coffee is good for plants because it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals that help plants grow. Be mindful of the quantity you apply to your plant, as too much caffeine can be harmful.

Conclusion

Ground coffee is coffee beans that are grounded in preparation for brewing. It is better than instant coffee but not the best option if you always like your coffee fresh.