Why buy a coffee grinder?
Few things lift the human spirit quite like the smell of freshly ground coffee. But coffee grinders offer way more value than just an over-priced air freshener. In fact, if you really love coffee, here’s why buying a coffee grinder will be a really good investment
Grind coffee goes stale super fast
Like all foods, the compounds that give coffee its flavour and aroma degrade when expose to moisture and oxygen in the air. Exposure is actually minimal within the first 24 hours from roasting, as the coffee aggressively expels Carbon Dioxide, effectively pushing away any surrounding oxygen. Thereafter, this degassing process tapers off for a further 11 or so days. This is why coffee bags bulge fresh from roasting. As degassing tapers off, the beans become more exposed to oxygen and degradation accelerates. Whole bean coffee will remain fresh for:
- Approximately 3 months from roasting in its original sealed packaging
- 2-3 weeks once opened and stored in an airtight container
- Less than 1 week when stored in a poorly sealed container
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, less than 1 day from grinding
A million reasons to grind fresh for more flavour
When coffee is ground into fine particles, the aroma immediately dissipates, and the coffee is hyper exposed. There are approximately 100-120 coffee beans being ground into a double espresso (c. 18g). This equates to roughly 1-1.20 million espresso ground coffee particles per dose. In simple terms, the espresso ground coffee is more than 10000 times more exposed than whole bean and thereby loses its flavour and aroma that much quicker. When sealed in a bag, it merely stores the aroma in the bag, which immediately dissipates on opening the bag. Thereafter, the little freshness that was retained in the coffee grinds, now rapidly grows stale.
Pre-ground coffee gives you only 20% of the flavour, @ 100% of the price.
It is estimated that pre-ground coffee loses around 60-80% of its flavour. That’s a significant waste given the cost and effort it takes to grow, process, transport, roast and package your coffee. Grinding fresh allows all the flavour you purchased to end up in your cup, rather than only 40-20% of it.
Grinding fresh will pay for a grinder in less than 1 year, whilst giving you 80% more enjoyment
To try and value these “flavour savings”, assume grinding fresh preserves the lower estimate of 60% of your R300/kg coffee’s flavour. If you’re an espresso drinker, dosing a standard 18g per cup, your flavour savings would be R3.24 p/cup. If you’re drinking 2 cups p/day, you’d save R194 p/month and R2333 p/year. On these conservative estimates, an entry level electric grinder would pay for itself in 1 year of flavour savings. A coffee grinder is so much more than a money saver. For a coffee lover, enjoying the aroma and full flavour of a fresh coffee in the comfort of your home, is priceless.
Grinding fresh saves you money
If you’re a Nespresso drinker, grinding fresh will save you a whopping R6.90 per cup (@ R90 for 10 capsules) when compared to grinding fresh R300/kg coffee. At 2 cups p/day, that’s a saving of R13.80 p/day, which is R414 p/month and R4 968 p/year! Not to mention the environmental savings and the extra flavour you get from freshly ground coffee.
If you compare the cost of a home made coffee to your local coffee shop, you’re likely to save between R20 – R30 a cup. @1 cup a day, that’s R600-R900 a month and R7200 – R10800 a year, enough to purchase a very good espresso grinder. No one is suggesting your local is overpriced, or that you should fully replace it. This is merely a cost per cup comparison to show the affordability of a coffee grinder and point out that you could be enjoying cafe quality coffee at home, without breaking the bank.
In fact, if you don’t own a coffee grinder, don’t waist your money buying pre-ground coffee, only drink at your local cafe.
Who should buy a coffee grinder?
If you drink coffee mainly for the caffeine hit, and don’t care too much for flavour, you won’t need to buy a coffee grinder. Stale coffee won’t harm you and retains its caffeine content over time.
If you drink coffee for the flavour, you really only have two options: buy a coffee grinder, or only drink at a coffee shop or cafe. Owning a grinder at home, you can enjoy cafe quality coffee in the comfort of your own home, or anywhere you take your grinder.
If you’re an espresso drinker, you simply cannot not own a very good coffee grinder. Espresso extraction is very particular and varies from coffee to coffee. You’ll need do adjust the grind to optimise flavour extraction frequently and most definitely when opening a new bag of coffee.
Coffee grinders are good investments
A good coffee grinder can last you a lifetime and they require very little maintenance. For home use, burrs should be cleaned once every couple of months and replaced every 18-24 months.
The other benefits are enabling multiple brew methods. Pre-ground coffee from the shelf will most likely be a middle of the row grind, which is typically too course for espresso, too fine for filter, and just not right for anything really. Grinding it at the roastery will get you closer to the required grind, but then you lose 60-80% of the freshness of flavour.
Whether it saves you money, trips to the café, or more flavour, coffee grinders can easily pay for themselves within a year and give you much more enjoyment.