Whole bean vs ground coffee

Whole bean coffee - the perks of freshly ground coffee


Taking pride in the majestic coffee bean and seeing the superb flavour potential within this little powerhouse of flavour is, naturally, what being a roaster is all about. Speciality coffee is an industry that is filled with devout enthusiasts, who dedicate their craft to unlocking the rich, full depth of flavour that the green bean possesses - after all, it’s a pretty tantalising possibility.


Whole bean vs ground coffee


But, when it comes to drinking your coffee at home, does this same principle apply to the beans you buy for your morning cuppa? And, when considering whole bean vs ground coffee what are the real benefits? The honest truth is that saying that you love great coffee and buying a bag of pre-ground stuff is like going to a fancy restaurant, saying that you love the atmosphere, but then ordering a bag of crisps (we will still happily accept orders for pre-ground coffee and don't worry we will definitly not judge!!!)

Think we’re being melodramatic? If you’re not quite sold on the extra effort that comes with buying whole bean coffee, in this blog post, we’ll be covering just some of the many perks that come with buying your coffee bean in its whole bean form and discuss the concept of whole bean vs ground coffee.

Keeping your coffee fresh

It all boils down to (yes, literally and figuratively) the fact that buying whole beans then grinding them at home means that your coffee has been made using grounds that are just a few minutes old. By using whole beans for your coffee, you’re guaranteeing yourself the freshest possible brew. 

The problem with pre-ground coffee is that it is nowhere near as fresh. Once you grind your coffee, its freshness is lost far more quickly than many people realise - literally in minutes. This frustrating problem occurs as a result of oxidation, which is a chemical process that takes place as the grounds are exposed to light and moisture in the air. Oxidation also occurs to whole beans, but ground coffee has a far greater surface area so, with more of the coffee exposed to the elements, the process happens far more rapidly.

What’s more, it’s easy to forget that with pre-ground coffee, these beans could have been roasted months ago, so it’s hardly surprising that most of the coffee's subtle, natural aromas will have been lost to the elements.

Coffee Fragrance and flavour

A fresher bean also means a more flavoursome bean: the fresher the coffee, the better the preservation of the intricate variations of its expansive flavour profile.

This is because the tiny coffee grounds - once the oxidation process begins to occur - start to decay. This means that the aromas, sugars, flavours and fragrance that has been released from the bean become increasingly bold, bitter and one-dimensional over time - unfortunately, it's the most delicate flavours that are the first to go.

Coffee beans are hygroscopic, and this means that their flavours readily shift based on different factors and elements in their surroundings. So, by not breaking up the beans, the volatile flavour oils trapped within find it far more difficult to escape.  

This is why we’re so firmly in favour of buying whole bean coffee - there’s something uniquely special about the rich aroma of a luxurious, fresh cup of coffee, and we wouldn’t forsake that experience for the sake of a bit less effort. 

Flexibility with your coffee grind size

A major issue when considering whole beans vs ground coffee is the challenge of a set grind size.

Rather than buying your coffee in at a set grind size, the benefit of grinding the beans yourself means that you can prep your coffee to suit a variety of different brewing methods.

The typical pre-ground coffee that you buy from the supermarket is basically only designed to suit your standard drip coffee pots. By grinding it yourself, you can match the correct grind size with each brewer, to secure yourself the perfect cup of coffee. To be honest, we do offer different coffee grind sizes but the issue is that these are preset and if our pre gruond espresso isn't quite right for your machine there isn't much that can be done!

Yes the pre-ground stuff will make you a cup of coffee quicker, but we’d recommend embracing the time that good coffee prep takes and really treating it as an indulgent, lavish luxury. Savour the brewing process and get a bit nerdy about all of the ins and outs of the process, as it’s a part of the whole experience.

Save the pennies with a bit more effort

You might be finding it a bit difficult to justify the cost of buying a grinder, but actually they are a great investment! In fact, it's quite possible you will end up saving money over time.

Grinders aren’t expensive - you can get them in a hugely different range of quality, ability and price but, if you’re not fully converted to the whole bean way of brewing, don’t use the cost of a grinder as an excuse. Rather than letting this act as a barrier to stop you opting for the whole bean coffee, grab yourself a an affordable hand coffee grinder which will get you started with grinding whole bean coffee. If you are enjoying the experience and freshness you can then upgrade to a faster electric grinder like the Wilfa Svart. 


Wilfa Svart Coffee Grinder


If you’re always incredibly busy in the morning, then this convenience is probably going to be an important factor for you. But remember, you’re paying for this convenience. It’s actually often cheaper to buy whole bean bags of coffee. For example, our single origin coffee selection is only available as whole bean and and gets you a 10% discount. Our 1kg bags of coffee are the same, only available as whole bean but at a better price. Plus, if your days are often pretty hectic, all the more reason to make your coffee breaks a time for some solitude in your busy schedule. Which leads us nicely into our next point.

It’s all part of the coffee experience

The process of home coffee brewing is meant to be dynamic - try out different techniques and kit, and find new ways of making coffee, to fall in love with the drink all over again.

Coffee breaks are designed to be treats. We don’t think there’s much point taking it half way - go the whole hog by making the whole thing a real labour of love. It sounds a little corny, but what we love about buying whole bean coffee and the process of preparing it, is that it encourages you to take the time to pause and properly savour your coffee experience. You’ll be surprised by the transformative effect this little switch has on your coffee break.

Conclusion on whole bean vs ground coffee:

The honest truth is that we totally understand that some people are always going to stick to pre-ground coffee for convenience and that is totally fine! It's much better to buy pre-ground speciality coffee rather than the supermarket options. However, if you want to get the best from the coffee we'd highly recommend investing in a good quality burr grinder.