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 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 to buy depends 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 available in shops and markets – aside from the 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 cherries tree. The cherries from the tree are picked and undergo processing to gain access to the ‘green beans.’ The green beans are roasted to get whole beans. You cannot brew the whole beans without converting them 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 you want to make. They might look alike and even smell like, but there is a different type. You should also know that ground coffee is different from instant. You cannot make coffee types with instant coffee; it will turn out a complete mess.

Coffee Ground Sizes

There are several sizes for grounds, 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
  • Medium size.
  • Medium-coarse, which is better for pour-over
  • And coarse for French press 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 you drink. Fresh ground means that the beans are converted to ground while you are awaiting your cup of coffee and not before.

The producer usually converts the 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 bag and affecting the taste and flavor. Upon purchasing and opening your ground coffee, your 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 beverage is fresh is through the coffee bloom. When you add hot water into a cup of ground, it sort of foams. The foam results from the coffee’s expansion and a release of some CO2 which interacts with the natural fats inside the coffee.

When next you see foam, you know it is a good and reliable sign that you are drinking a fresh cup. 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 are willing, you should grind rather than purchase pre-grounded.

Grinding 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 always loves to have a fresh cup of coffee to start your day, grinding your 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 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 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 grounds 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 mixes or handmade candles for their scent.

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

Ground coffee is ground beans; instant is not.

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

Instant, on the other hand, is ground coffee that has been brewed into drinkable beverages. 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. The ground has more flavor, more aroma, and more depth. When you have both drinks, you will see that instant coffee is weak, flat, and bitter compared to ground.

Instant coffee dissolves in liquids.

Because instant is brewed, 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.

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 due to two essential things that occur during the brewing process.

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

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

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

Flavor and Aroma

Ground coffee has a better flavor variety than instant because all its essential oils and chemicals are still very much intact. Instant 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 is cheaper than ground coffee because instant uses Robusta beans, which are cheaper than Arabica beans used for ground. Most enthusiasts will rather invest in the ground due to its flavor and caffeine content.

Durability

Instant 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

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

A vacuum-sealed container is a better option.

Freezing beans

You should never store your ground coffee in the refrigerator or the freezer as this might introduce moisture. 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 beans or ground coffee?

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

Is it Cheaper to Ground Your Coffee?

It is a beverage loved by many. A lot of people’s day is never complete without a cup.

The consumption of coffee is spread across various cultures across the globe. It is estimated that the world population consumes about 2 billion cups of coffee per day, which means that there are at least one billion coffee drinkers worldwide. The global consumption of coffee between 2019 and 2020 is estimated at 175.8 million bags.

A lot of people drink coffee for various reasons, which may include. It could be for the taste, as a power booster, to stay awake, to focus and pay attention, for its health benefits, and many more.

According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the global demand for coffee will increase by 25% in the next five years due to the continually growing number of consumers.

Certain Misconceptions About Coffee

Coffee is dehydrating:

It is often suggested that coffee causes dehydration, and its consumption should be avoided or significantly reduced to maintain fluid balance. In research conducted to directly compare the effects of coffee consumption against water ingestion across a range of validated hydration assessment techniques, it was concluded that coffee, when consumed in moderation by caffeine habituated males provides similar hydrating qualities to water.

According to Colleen Tewksbury, Ph.D., a senior research investigator in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Since coffee is still a liquid, its hydrating properties can balance out its diuretic effects which should stave off dehydration. Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, states that coffee is “roughly equally hydrating as it is a diuretic.”

Instant coffee is inferior:

According to a 2012 Food Chemistry study, it was found that instant served up more antioxidants, particularly chlorogenic acid, than freshly brewed coffee. “Chlorogenic acid may potentially reduce the risk of diabetes by slowing glucose absorption into the bloodstream after a meal,” says Edward Giovannucci, M.D., a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

Coffee sobers you up when drunk:

According to Robert Swift, M.D., Ph.D., the associate director of Brown University’s Center for Alcohol & Addiction Studies, taking coffee after drinking to sober up is not a smart move. Rather, caffeine can trick your brain into thinking that you’re less drunk than you are.

Caffeine is highly addictive:

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), while caffeine produces a small rise in dopamine, it does not cause the large surge that unbalances the reward circuits in the brain and is necessary for an addiction. So even though the word “addiction” is often used casually, caffeine is not addictive. NIDA defines addiction as the uncontrolled (or “compulsive”) use of a substance even when it causes negative consequences for the person using it. According to them, the difference between caffeine dependence and addiction to drugs like meth is that even a person who loves to ink coffee can do without it, deal with the headaches and irritability that result, and not engage in destructive (or self-destructive) behavior.

Coffee is bad for your health:

A 2017 review in the BMJ found that the majority of the time, coffee was associated with a health benefit, not harm. Researchers looked at over 200 other study reviews for that review and found that moderate coffee consumption was associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease and premature death from all causes.

According to Statista, coffee is the second-largest traded commodity in the world after oil. This is a result of the rate of consumption. Like every other beverage, it goes through a process before it can finally be consumed however you want it. When it comes to coffee, some people purchase pre-ground coffee or whole bean coffee, depending on their preference.

This brings us to which is cheaper – purchasing the pre-ground coffee or purchasing the whole bean coffee and grinding it yourself. This article will help you answer this question and make an informed decision when it comes to choosing your beverage.

Pre-ground Coffee Versus Whole Bean Coffee

For the same brand, the pre-ground coffee and whole bean coffee costs about the same thing when it comes to cost. The major difference between the two is freshness, flavor, and scent.

  • Freshness

If you are more interested in having that feeling of freshness, the whole bean is the best bet. Oxidation happens quicker in pre-ground coffee, which makes it go stale easily. However, this can be avoided if the bag containing the pre-ground coffee is air-tight.

  • Flavor

The whole bean tastes much better than pre-ground. Much of the aroma and flavor of the bean is released when it is ground.

  • Scent

The scent which whole bean coffee leaves off gives you that feeling of freshness, more than what you get when you brew pre-ground coffee.

As earlier said, the choice is solely based on preference. Some people prefer pre-ground coffee because of the convenience; they do not have to go through the process of grinding since it’s already done. On the other hand, some prefer whole bean coffee because its inherent quality is still intact.

At this point, you are confident enough that you can make a decision based on your preference. However, this can be expanded to cost also, and not just convenience and quality.

Cost Analysis

Whole bean

If you are starting from scratch with whole bean, then this is what the cost analysis will look like:

Firstly, what do 12 ounces of whole beans cost? Starbucks’ whole bean coffee costs about $0.81 per ounce; 12 ounces will cost about $9.72.

Twelve ounces of whole beans is the same as 12 ounces of ground coffee. To know how long 12 ounces of whole bean coffee can last, we will divide the 12 ounces by 0.54 ounces per cup, which will result in 22 cups. This means that if you decide to have one cup of coffee per day, your 12-ounce bag of whole beans will last you 22 days. If you choose to have two cups a day, your 12-ounce bag of whole beans will last you 11 days. Also, if you have three cups a day, it will last you about seven days, and so on.

Grinder

Next is the cost of a grinder (types of grinders will be discussed later). If you refer to the processes involved in grinding your coffee in this article, you will observe that the roasting stage comes first before the grinding. To cut costs, you can make use of your oven for the roasting stage; you do not need to buy any machine for this (although this might not give you a well-done job, as coffee roasting needs more finesse than just heating it). All you have to do is to preheat your oven to 450 degrees before putting in the beans (this is explained in the processes involved in grinding your coffee).

A cheap grinder costs about $16. You can purchase a coffee filter for about $5.

Once all these figures are put together, you will have an estimated cost of $29.72. This means that you will probably spend $29.72 when grinding your coffee, starting with whole bean coffee.

Coffee pods

If you decide to grind starting with coffee pods, then the story changes, although not entirely. pods, unlike the whole beans, are sold in counts. For example, a bag of a coffee pod on amazon that contains 50 counts of coffee pods may cost about $26.

A cheap machine for a pod may cost about $40 on amazon. So when these figures are added together, you get an estimate of $66. This means that you will probably spend about $66 on the grinding if you choose to go for pods.

Pre-ground

A bag of pre-ground coffee costs about $12 on amazon. For the whole process, you may end up spending not up to $20.

Based on the cost analysis of the three, it is obvious that grinding your coffee is more expensive, especially when deciding to start with the pods. However, grinding your coffee has its benefits too.

Pre-ground coffee and whole bean cost are almost the same for the same brand. However, the processes involved determine how much to be spent. Based on this, it is obvious that pre-ground coffee has the upper hand when it comes to which is cheaper. However, it does not deter you from going for the whole bean if that is what you truly want.

Factors to Consider When Grinding

If, after the cost analysis, you still prefer to go for whole bean coffee, then there are factors that you have to consider. These factors may include:

  • Getting the right beans.
  • Choosing the coffee blender to buy.
  • The roasting method that best suits you.

Processes involved in grinding

There are four major stages when it comes to grinding your coffee. These stages include the raw stage, the roast stage, the grinding stage, the final stage.

  • The raw stage: This stage can be seen as the first step you take to your destination. It is this stage that determines the journey to take. If at this stage you go for the pre-ground coffee, then there is no need to continue the journey. In this context, this is the stage that requires the purchase of the whole bean. When buying the bean, it is advisable to look for beans that have a clear printed roast date on them. This will enable you to know how fresh the bean is.
  • The roast stage: During the roast stage, the characteristic coffee taste aroma components are formed, along with the typical brown color of the beans. Stronger roasting will generate darker colors and a more intense aroma and flavor. Home roasted coffee is fresher, tastes better, has a higher antioxidant content, and you get to control the type of roast that best suits you – light, medium, or dark.

To have a proper home-roasted coffee, these are the processes:

Firstly, it is important to note that the oven fan needs to be set on high throughout the roasting process because coffee roasting can produce a lot of smoke, especially if you try for darker roasts.

Once this has been taken into consideration, the step to take is to preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Next, flatten your baking tin as much as possible so that it can lay flat on the counter. After that, layout your beans on the baking tin and place them inside the oven once it gets to 450. Allow to roast for 3 to 5 minutes, after which, give it a good shake. Allow to roast for another 3 minutes or till you are satisfied with the results. The final step is to let the beans cool off before grinding them.

  • The grinding stage: at this stage, what is needed is a blender. The kind of blender used at this stage will determine how the coffee will turn out. The finer the grind, the less time needed to steep. On the other hand, the coarser the grit, the more time needed for it to steep.
  • The final stage: it is at this stage that the steel and press take place. The home-roasted coffee is filtered and now ready to be consumed.

Types of Coffee Brewing

If you are still considering costs, don’t be overly worried. You do not need a huge machine before you can brew at home. There are manual coffee brewing methods to choose from; all it takes is time and technique. These methods include pour-over, pour-over/drip: Chemex, plunger/press: French press, plunger/press: AeroPress.

  • Pour-over/drip (coffee cone)

The pour-over/drip method involves pouring hot water through coffee grounds in a filter. The water drains through the coffee and filters into a carafe or mug.

This method runs the risk of channeling, where a stream of water finds an easy route around the ground coffee. This happens when there are clumps or the grounds are unevenly distributed. Pour-over means that some of the coffee doesn’t get extracted. So as earlier said, when it comes to manual brewing, the technique is needed. If not, it will affect the final result. That is why it is important to learn how to pour in a way that evenly immerses the grounds in water.

  • Chemex

This method is also a pour-over style of coffee brewing. However, there is more room for error in this method than there is with the drip. To guarantee the best results, grind your beans more coarsely (a burr grinder will be better) than you would for a ceramic drip and offer extra attention to the pour rate.

This method works with a glass flask shaped like an hourglass. The neck or handle of the hourglass is then wrapped in wood with a leather tie. To get a better result, pour your water in a slow, circular fashion until the top is nearly filled. As the water starts to drain, continue adding more water until your kettle is empty. Once this is done, you can remove the filter and enjoy your coffee.

  • French press

Simply put, the French press method involves making coffee by steeping the grounds in hot water and then pressing the grounds out. One advantage of this method is that you can brew for several people at once. However, it is prone to bitterness and greasiness due to the coffee sitting on the grounds too long. To avoid this, make sure you decant it immediately after brewing not to become bitter or chalky.

  • Aeropress

The AeroPress brewer consists of a cylindrical chamber and a plunger with an airtight silicone seal, similar to a syringe. Ground beans and water are steeped inside and then forced through a filter by pressing the plunger through the chamber.

Benefits of Grinding Your Coffee

Even though the processes involved in the whole bean might seem inconvenient for some, buying the whole bean and grinding it yourself has its benefits:

  • You get to have your brew at the time you want.
  • You can grind it to your preferred texture.
  • You also avoid consuming coffee that’s been exposed to oxygen, moisture, and manipulation of other people.

When grinding your coffee, one important factor to consider is the grinder to use. There are three main types of grinders: manual grinders, blade grinders, and burr grinders.

Manual grinders

As far as the cost of grinders goes, manual grinders offer exceptional performance at a far lower price than electrical grinders. These grinders generally work by the operator turning a crank. A manual grinder may cost between $15-$70, depending on the features.

One of the advantages of owning a manual grinder is that no power source is needed, which is flexible to be used outdoors or when traveling. Another advantage of owning a manual grinder is that it can be bought at a lower price than others. Also, the motor in manual grinders is designed to be quiet when operated, which means no noise when grinding your coffee. With a manual grinder, you can easily adjust the ground size. On a lighter note, manual grinders can also look more attractive than their electrical counterparts, especially those with a vintage or exotic design.

Blade grinders

Blade grinders make use of a propeller-like blade which spins quickly to cut up the beans. Generally, blade grinders are the most inexpensive type of grinders. Blade grinders may cost between $15-$30, depending on the features.

One of the advantages of blade grinders is affordability. They are inexpensive due to their simple nature and lack of extensive parts.

Another advantage of blade grinders is they are easier to clean and maintain when compared to other types of grinders.

Blade grinders are also very easy to operate. A beginner in grinding and brewing would find this a boon.

However, one of the disadvantages of the blade grinder is that the taste of the coffee can be affected due to the heat generated by the rapidly revolving blades.

Blade grinders, unlike manual grinders, are noisy when being operated. So if machine noise bothers you, then this kind of grinder might not be suitable for you.

Burr grinders

Burr grinders rely on two burrs that spin in opposite directions to direct the beans down a funnel where they are ground into a uniform size.

One of the advantages of burr grinders is the consistent grind size. The process involved in the burr grinder makes it easier to grind coffee consistently for any brewer.

Another advantage is the numerous grind settings. Typically, burr grinders have multiple settings, allowing you to choose the appropriate coarseness required.

Burr grinders usually generate little heat, and in the process, keep the beans’ flavor intact. Since the burrs are made out of ceramic or stainless steel, little heat is generated during the grinding process.

There are two main types of burr grinders: flat burrs and conical burrs.

In conclusion, based on research, coffee is consumed by many. There are various reasons people drink coffee, ranging from the taste to it being a habit. Coffee can be bought as pre-ground, whole bean, or pods. Of these three, the pre-ground is cheaper. However, when you prefer to grind due to your desire for quality, starting with the whole bean is cheaper.

Conclusion

Ground coffee is 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.

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