If you’ve ever looked up even the most basic tips for coffee brewing, you’ve probably run into the idea that grinding is probably the most important step in high-quality brewing. Many experts will actually tell you that a good, even, and most importantly fresh grind is even more important than the brewing method or equipment. That being said, most people buy pre-ground coffee and never know that there’s better out there. So, is the time it takes to fresh-grind worth the change in taste?
The short answer is almost always yes, it’s worth it. The nuances of any roast will start to degrade even just a half-hour after grinding. Even if you’re not concerned with the subtle tasting notes and you just want some regular coffee, most coffee will start to taste “stale” after only a couple of days.
Time and Effort
It may sound like a chore to grind, but unless you’re grinding for more than one person, even hand-grinding enough coffee for a couple of cups won’t take more than an extra minute. And if you invest in a decent grinder, it shouldn’t take much elbow grease either. If you’ve got a little extra dough and want to buy an electric grinder (doesn’t even need to be an expensive one unless you’re making espresso), your grind time goes down to a few seconds and effort to almost zero.
If you still feel that grinding isn’t the best option for you, that’s just fine, and there are a couple of things you can do to maximize your brew nonetheless. First, you can store the grinds in your fridge or freezer where they will degrade much more slowly. You can also buy freshly roasted coffee from a local roaster, where they can grind for you at the right size for your brew method. That way you’ll still get a much fresher grind and a better brew than buy pre-ground from a store, which will have been sitting longer and won’t be tailored to your brewing needs.