Another enduring myth about coffee is that whole bean coffee is somehow superior to ground coffee. While this myth does contain a grain of truth, it’s not because of quality, it’s because of freshness. Let me explain.
Coffee is roasted as a whole bean; this should be fairly obvious. When coffee beans are dumped into and out of the roaster, they are whole. Grinding requires a separate process (and machine). In theory, the coffee beans found in a bag of whole bean are the same as those found in a bag of the same brand of ground coffee. The only real difference between whole bean coffee and ground coffee is the “size” of what comes in the bag. Whole bean is not a higher quality of coffee.
However, whole bean coffee will always be substantially fresher than ground. Ground coffee is much more susceptible to staling than whole bean. This is due primarily to the fact that ground coffee has many, many more surfaces to be affected by oxygen (which is what causes staling) in the air. When you grind a coffee bean, you are essentially “pulverizing” it into hundreds of smaller pieces. Each one of the pieces will be much more quickly staled than if the bean is left intact until needed.
This is why we sell our coffee as whole bean. We recommend not grinding coffee until immediately before brewing. This helps to ensure that the coffee in your cup is closer to what we taste in the lab. Grinding in advance is certainly more convenient, but it is not ideal if freshness is important to you. And it should be, because stale coffee tastes remarkably like all other stale coffee. The unique flavors of any given coffee are quickly muted (and lost after three weeks or so) during the staling process.
If you want to get the most out of your coffee, we recommend buying fresh roasted coffee (like ours) and whole bean coffee (like ours). Invest in a grinder (even a cheap blade grinder) and get your coffee on a regular basis from Thrasher Coffee for the ultimate in-home coffee experience.