What is Whole Bean Coffee?

September 30, 2013

Red Cherry Coffee BeansCoffee plants produce red cherries which contain two halves of a bean. The red cherries are harvested and the outer layer of the red cherry is removed leaving two halves or two whole beans. Whole in this sense indicates that the two halves have not been ground.

Whole bean coffee is the recommended state that coffee should be in when purchased to guarantee freshness. However, because it requires grinding before brewing, some consumer opt for a more convenient option and purchase the beans pre-ground trading convenience for a small but notable decrease in flavor.

Considerations Before Purchasing Whole Bean

Because the whole bean has less surface area, it protects the coffee from oxygen until it is ground at the time of brewing. When purchasing whole bean coffee you are trading the convenience of ‘pre-ground’ for a better coffee experience with the understanding that you will have to grind the beans yourself. While some consider the added time of grinding the beans for every cup or pot an unwanted burden, many enjoy the aroma of fresh ground beans and view the grinding process as a welcome part of the brewing experience.

One fact to consider before purchasing whole bean coffee is the importance of an even grind. Many of the home ‘blender’ type grinders do a poor job of grinding consistently and the variation in particle size leads to some particles being over extracted – leading to a bitter taste – and some particles being under extracted – leading to weak flavor and less body. Burr grinders eliminate this inconsistency in particle size and for those willing to spend a little more on a grinder this is one purchase that is worth the money.

Considerations Before Purchasing Pre-Ground Coffee

Most consumers use an ‘auto drip’ coffee pot to brew their coffee. In response to this, most companies grind their pre-ground coffee to a size that is recommended for that brewing method. However, consumers that prefer a French Press, Single Cup Pour Over or even home Espresso Machines, this grind fails to meet the requirement for achieving the best brew using those methods.

Although Café Altura recommends grinding your beans fresh daily, our 12 oz pre-ground cans and our ‘Ground on request‘ option are both vacuum sealed immediately after grinding, protecting the ground coffee from oxidation until opened by the consumer. Café Altura’s ‘Ground on request’ option offers consumers a choice of grind size sorted by brewing method allowing them to purchase the correct size grind for their preferred brewing method.

(image credit: JSajana)

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