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Freshly Ground Coffee - A Game Changer

by Emilie Quinn on Jan 21, 2021

85 grams of ground coffee on a digital scale

*This blog was originally posted in January 2016 and has since been updated.

The number one way to improve your morning coffee routine is to grind your beans fresh. No matter which brew method you use or which type of grinder you purchase, if you are planning on making one change to improve your morning cup, let it be freshly ground coffee. 

Take it from our very own Shannon Hoops-Ripley, Vice-President at Equator and former pre-ground coffee buyer. 

“Years before I worked in coffee, I considered myself an 'aficionado'.  I liked my coffee 'strong,' though I didn’t know what that meant but I liked the way it sounded: who wouldn't like their coffee 'strong'?  I also liked it convenient, which is to say, pre-ground.  Cut out as many steps of the process as possible to speed up the morning routine. I lived in blissful ignorance until one visit to my parents' home when I came across my mom's old Braun blade grinder.  I dusted it off (she too liked her coffee strong and convenient) and 'borrowed' it for the next several years.

That first cup of freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee was full of aroma, flavour, richness, and depth. I sat in shock at what convenience had deprived me of all those years! This marked the dawn of a new era. That morning, I discovered something that would forever alter my home coffee experience. The home grinder was nothing short of a Game Changer.

Hyperbole aside, there is science behind the 'magic' of freshly ground coffee.  As soon as coffee is roasted, it begins an aging process and it doesn't take long for the coffee to become old and stale - time also allows for the oils that naturally extract from the bean, to become rancid and bitter oily coffee here). The roasting process activates hundreds of chemical reactions that turn that little green seed into a delicious caramelized brown bean full of aroma and flavour.  Those flavours dissolve in water during the brewing process to give what we hope to be a flavourful cup of coffee that not only wakes us up but gives us something to look forward to each morning.

However, those fleeting flavours can also escape before you even start brewing, primarily through oxidization.  The coffee is exposed to oxygen and aging begins.  The more surface area of the bean that is exposed, the more oxidization.  The more oxidization, the more flavour and aroma escape.  The more flavour and aroma that escape before brewing...well, you can figure that part out.

In bean form, coffee has less surface area exposed and therefore preserves the flavour the best.  Once it's ground into thousands of particles, the coffee's collective surface area is much greater and each little particle doesn't stand a chance for maintaining its flavour and aroma for very long.

So, to sum it up: coffee that is ground days - even hours! - before brewing will have lost a lot of deliciousness by the time you drink it.  If you want to give your coffee the best chance it has to perform and give yourself the best chance you have to enjoy it, get a grinder (or dust off that one you already have!) and grind just before brewing!  Small investment, BIG change.  Game change.”

Shannon Hoops-Ripley, Recovering Coffee Aficionado.

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