Coffee

Worth It or Not Worth It: Freshly Ground Coffee Beans

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline—it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge—and to keep the conversation going.

Today: Does grinding coffee beans daily make a difference? 

We here at Food52 love coffee—like, really, love it. Coffee percolates away in a Chemex in the staff kitchen. And at any given point throughout the day, mugs litter tables and desks, besmirching them with a coffee stain or two. 

More: Can this flowchart predict your coffee order?

Of course, we want the best cup o' joe possible, which is why we asked if it's really worth it to grind your coffee beans the day you use them. Sure, grinding beans takes just a few seconds out of your morning, but this seems infinitely longer when you're rushing to get to work on time, feed the dog, and throw on some semblance of an outfit (just us?). Your answers, though, proved the daily grind is worth the time.

Worth It

  • Food52 Assistant Editor Caroline Lange says, “I think so! Though sometimes I'll grind enough for just a few days and keep it in a jar.”
  • Nancy admits while she doesn’t always grind her own beans, grinding them right beforehand does yield a more flavorful cup.
  • PieceofLayerCake compares the flavor of freshly ground coffee beans to that of freshly ground spices—meaning, it makes a huge difference.
  • Hillary Reeves finds the pre-ground stuff to be lacking in flavor.
  • Food52’s Product Manager Michael Hoffman emphatically states, “It's worth doing within *minutes* of when you're using them.”
  • “My husband and I are in the grind-right-before-brewing camp,” cookbookchick says.
  • An electric coffee mill makes it easy for boulangere to get her coffee grind on. 

Not Worth It 

  • “I want my coffee ready to go as easily as possible,” Susan W says. So she buys whole beans and grinds about a quarter of a bag at a time.
  • Sdebrango doesn’t have time to grind it fresh, and instead opts to grind enough for several days at a time.
  • Paseo gave up “grinding my own when I really could not notice enough of a difference to justify the counter space.”
  • Amysarah says in a perfect world, yes, but “most weekday mornings I’m fine without.”

Do you grind you coffee fresh daily or do it ahead? Tell us in the comments below!

16 Comments

Terry M. July 13, 2015
Of course freshly ground beans are the best & all you need is a Cuisinart grind and brew that stores the beans on top! It's got a timer too so it couldn't be easier.
 
AntoniaJames July 13, 2015
Forget the coffee . . . I want one of those doughnuts in the photo! ;o)
 
Addy B. July 13, 2015
100% grind my own with a Hario hand grinders. It's a few extra minutes, but actually makes a huge taste increase over grinding in a cheap little electric grinders like I used to do. When you are really looking for it, grinding just minutes before you brew will add depth to your coffee. Like letting a wine "aerate" before drinking, grinding just before brewing adds that extra touch of excellence and professionalism to the delight of coffee.
 
raisedbycoffee July 13, 2015
It takes more time to boil water than to grind coffee, even if you're using a hand grinder. Even my main brew method (Clever dripper), which has a minute and a half of infusion time, takes longer that the 10 seconds it takes for my grinder to process the beans. The only drawback to grinding before your morning cup is if there is a dozing roommate or partner in the next room who's not a heavy sleeper.
 
Mark F. July 13, 2015
I'm all for grinding right before brewing, but if the only tool available is a blade grinder, I'd rather have a stash of ground on hand, properly done in a burr grinder. P.S. Coffee doesn't percolate in a Chemex.
 
Neal M. July 13, 2015
I set up the night before and grind before brewing each morning. My own blend from Dean's Beans.
 
Christine S. July 13, 2015
Grin my own the night before. By grinding you get to enjoy that wonderful smell.
 
Manny R. July 12, 2015
I grind mine right before brewing most days unless there was some leftover from the day before.
 
My husband actually roasts our coffee beans every other day or so. He orders the green beans from Sweet Maria's. I am one spoiled wife. There is no comparison to a home roasted bean.<br />
 
OD W. July 12, 2015
I'm a tea fanatic but I have one cup of coffee per day. My wife on the other hand is a confirmed coffee drinker. I dare not bring home ground coffee as the principle shopper. Also when feasible we get beans that are as freshly roasted as possible, including Ethiopian beans (sometimes beans from Jamaica as well) from a friend that imports and roasts them in a cast iron skillet as taught to him by an Ethiopian friend. Fresh ground definitely!
 
Tita July 12, 2015
I can't stand the sound of the grinder at anytime or the hair dryer. Errrrrrrr.... not my cup of coffee!
 
Rick July 11, 2015
There's no rational reason for not grinding on demand. Even if you're not serious about your coffee and so don't want a burr grinder it takes maybe 30 seconds to grind beans in a $20 blade grinder. All the other time taken to make coffee is the same and I refuse to believe anyone is so busy that 30 seconds in the morning is going to matter. <br /><br />If you don't want to spend time making coffee you might as well get the Starbucks Via instant...
 
Karen July 11, 2015
Depends on your taste-buds. IMHO no ground coffee compares to quality espresso (which also depends on your taste-buds). I'm with Ryan, what's the stress-level? That has a huge impact! :)
 
Ryan July 11, 2015
Well technically the retroactive perspectiveness of grinding your own coffee provides many benefits. The Center on Coffee Freshivity and Research reports that daily grinding produces much tastier coffee, in a comparative panel of Waffle House jurors, but also helps reduce environmental impact by giving you time to ponder the significance of your work and make changes to the way you live your life. A series of statistical data from MIT's(Microbrewed Interstitial Technology) Department of Forestry shows that taking time to brew coffee 'sans machine' reduced stress levels among young and overworked Amazon(the jungle not the company) employees. Hence my confusion to the response of Sdebrango, who "doesn’t have time to grind it fresh, and instead opts to grind enough for several days at a time." It takes <1 minute to hand grind 42 ounces of coffee... c'mon!<br /><br />Its worth it!
 
Brian July 11, 2015
I expected an article of more substance, not just a survey of opinions on whether grinding a la minute is worth the extra effort.
 
bejugo July 11, 2015
I'm with you on that, Brian. Also, I feel similarly to what Ryan expressed. Re: this question, it's kind of like climate change: the experts all agree...the best tasting coffee will be relatively freshly roasted beans, grinded right before brewing. To slow down and smell the roses (or in this case, the grounds), I recommend this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/151705064567?lpid=82&chn=ps