Fresh ground coffee beans
Since I first opened my eyes to the world of coffee beyond Starbucks, I’ve been told that freshly ground coffee is better than pre-ground coffee. I didn’t know why, and I could never get a better answer than a pretentious scoff from the know-it-alls, yet I accepted their unquestionable logic and found that it is true: fresh is better.
However, maybe it’s due to an unresolved issue with authority (12 was a hard year) or maybe it’s my OCD (self diagnosed), but I had to know why: why is freshly ground coffee better? Is it just personal taste? What does Science have to say about it? Am I just trying fit in with all the “experts?”
Tell Me Why!
When it comes to coffee, it is difficult to tell the difference between what is fact and what is opinion. With ground coffee, however, there is strong evidence to back up the claim that fresh is better.
Essentially Science says, like the year-old bag of half-eaten tortilla chips sitting in your pantry, coffee beans will go stale the longer they sit, and grinding your beans early only hastens this unfortunate consequence.
There are three factors that contribute to this tragic degradation: oxidation, moisture, and CO2 depletion. Before we take a look at these three factors, here’s a great video of an experiment using the same coffee grounds over different periods of time.
The complex compounds within your coffee beans are what create your brew’s aroma and flavor. Not all of these compounds are very stable, which means that they can change quickly.
Through oxidation, a process by which compounds interact with air molecules to create different molecules, certain desirable flavor and aroma compounds are released from your coffee beans.
Oxidation is what gives your coffee its unique (depending on the roast) flavors and aromas, but oxidation will carry on whether you are brewing or not. By brewing with a fresh grind, and not pre-ground coffee, you are making the most of your coffee’s deliciousness.
Here is something you may not know: the oils in coffee beans are water soluble. In case my peculiar brand of sarcasm has no effect on you (I don’t blame you, it’s terrible) that was a joke. Obviously coffee oils are water soluble (laugh now).