Which Is Better–Beans or Ground?

i love coffee


You’ve Got To Get Inside The Bean

Whether to purchase coffee beans to grind at home or get your morning started with ground coffee is really a matter of preference. Coffee connoisseurs will tell you that beans are better. However, many dedicated coffee drinkers think that if you set the coffee maker to turn on at the same time as your alarm clock or you drink your java with additions like sweeteners, then there’s not quite the same payoff.

Coffee is ground so we can get to what’s inside the bean–flavor components and oils. In the beginning, coffee beans were green and had to be roasted, often using a skillet over a hot fire, and then boiled in hot water. It took a lot of patience, practice and time before you ended up with a bitter, high-caffeine coffee.

Fortunately, those early drinkers developed a way to extract the coffee goodness through grinding. By turning the beans into small particles, increasing the surface area exposed to water, the solubles responsible for taste and aroma are easily enjoyed. A side benefit to grinding is that it dramatically cuts down brewing time.

Most People Buy Ground Coffee

Every local and online supermarket carries ground coffee. Why? Ease and convenience. Ground coffee is ready to brew right from the package. It doesn’t require any extra time, equipment or skill to make a good cup. Additionally, most people don’t know what to do with coffee beans–other than cover them in chocolate.

However, if you have never had freshly ground coffee, there is nothing to compare. To check if beans are really better, go to a bulk coffee display at the store. Buy a handful of beans and grind them up in a blender just before you brew a pot of coffee. You may find that the flavor is much stronger and the subtle tastes of your specific type of bean are more noticeable. You will also find that your blender now smells of coffee.

Why Connoisseurs Buy Beans

A whole coffee bean contains approximately 1,000 different delicate oil and flavor components. These are quickly reduced and/or contaminated when its protective shell is broken.  These volatile aromas are released once the coffee bean is ground and quickly begins to react with oxygen in the air, called oxidation. Coffee loses more than half of its aroma approximately 15 minutes after it is ground.owl made of beans

Additionally, whatever odors are around ground coffee will taint it and cause an off taste. If ground coffee comes into contact with moisture it immediately begins to dilute the oils.

During the roasting process, a great deal of carbon dioxide (CO2) is released. Some of this is lost during cooling, but much of it remains within the cells of the coffee bean. This is a good thing as carbon dioxide is the main method for releasing oils into the coffee after roasting. Within 60 seconds of grinding approximately 80% of this gas is released into the air. This is why fresh-ground coffee smells so good and why you can see a slight film of oil on your cup if the beans are freshly roasted.

All coffee sold by MyCoffee4ME.com is roasted when ordered to ensure the freshest coffee available anywhere.

The Grind Makes A Difference

The purpose of having the ability to vary the grind is to get the most flavor in a cup of coffee. Much of the ground coffee sold in supermarkets, and even in retail coffee shops, is the same texture. But this doesn’t always result in the best possible brew.

Grind Size Looks Like
Extra coarse Really fine pebbles
Coarse Chunky, distinct particles like coarse sea salt
Medium Coarse sand
Fine Sugar or salt particles
Extra Fine Powdered sugar with some grit
Turkish Flour

The length of time the grounds will be in contact with water determines the ideal size of grind. Generally, the finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee should be prepared. This is why an espresso coffee ground is much finer than coffee that will be brewed in a drip system and a French Press is most efficient and effective with a coarse grind. However, if you always use an electric drip or single-cup coffee maker then purchasing a single grind size is likely adequate for your needs.

You will need to purchase a dedicated coffee grinder if moving to whole beans. Cleaning the grinder can be a bit of a chore (dare I say grind?). Using a toothbrush or small paintbrush works extremely well for getting under the blades and into the crevices where fresh ground coffee likes to accumulate.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. Many people use ground coffee for jumpstarting their work day. They move to whole beans when they want control over the size of the grind for use in specialty coffee makers like a French Press, espresso machine or an Aeropress®.





Ellie Strand

I'm a geriatric nurse practitioner--in both senses of the word--disabled/retired with a devastating, debilitating neuro-immune-endocrine disease called ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome). All that aside, I'm living as well as I can with it.

  • Food for thought. Our household prefers to use beans if we have the time to do so. We prefer the aroma you get with the beans. Otherwise we use single cup pods. What is your take on Keurig or single cup pod options?

    • admin says:

      Stay tuned for an upcoming post on single-use pods. But until then, I will say I prefer to use one of the pods that you fill yourself. That way I can grind my beans and have an infinitely fresher cup than purchasing pre-filled pods. As far as the actual brewing process, I confess I haven’t dug into all the particulars of it yet. Our first Keurig died prematurely because I didn’t clean the scale. Thanks for your reply.

  • Hi there. Thank you for this informative post. I’m a big coffee drinker. Starbucks whole beans, which I grind in my coffee machine. I love my coffee black. I can actually taste the benefits of it when the coffee is pure black – as opposed to when I add cream and sweetener. I like to ground mine to medium.

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