This is something I asked myself very early on my own coffee journey: “is it cheaper to buy ground coffee or beans?”
The straight-up answer is easy to find and in this day and age, you can get the answer in a matter of minutes by simply comparing two exact same brand and roast of beans, one that is ground and one that is whole beans.
The answer is that ground coffee beans are cheaper to buy!
But cheaper does not always mean better. Keep reading to find out why!
Ground Coffee Beans Meaning
Ground coffee is simply whole coffee beans that have been roasted to a predetermined roast level and then freshly ground to a predetermined ground size. They are then packaged and shipped off to a warehouse, distributor or coffee shop directly.
Ground coffee beans can be roasted to any roast level and ground to any ground to and grind size. Ground coffee beans are simply the ground coffee that your cup of coffee is made from.
Is Pre-Ground Coffee Cheaper To Buy?
Pre-ground coffee is cheaper to buy, but not by much, barely even a dollar. There is only a slight price difference and not all brands and retailers sell them at a different price; often the price is exactly the same for whole bean coffee and pre-ground coffee.
Two such brands of coffee that sell at the same price are La Colombe and Starbucks; there are many, countless more that have the same price.
When there is a price difference, it is barely notable – you will not be saving much at all.
Why Is Ground Coffee Cheaper Than Beans?
The common claim for there being a difference in price for pre-ground coffee is because pre-ground coffee is made by using low-quality coffee beans. This is not true, not entirely; I’ll digress later.
Since many brands have to maintain brand integrity, you can be assured that they use the same coffee beans for both whole beans and for their preground coffee packs.
One of the most likely and credible reasons for them being slightly cheaper is a reduction in transportation costs. Pre-packaged, pre-ground coffee is vacuum-packed, compact and takes up less space than whole beans.
While they weigh the same, a 1 kg or 1 pound bag of whole beans weighs the same as a 1 pound or 1 kilo bag of ground coffee and uses exactly the same number of beans. The fact that they can be more compact means a transportation company can deliver more of them in a single journey due to being able to fit more into a container, truck or ship.
Another reason, and there is a fair chance this is true, according to the American Chemical Society, your coffee contains additives that are not, and have nothing to do with coffee. More of these additives were found in packages of pre-ground coffee beans.
This was found to be the same for high-quality pre-ground coffee as it was for low-quality pre-packaged, preground coffee.
Something to note is the taste profile for pre-ground and whole beans of the exact same beans from the same brand is the same.
Do You Get More Coffee With Whole Beans Or Ground Coffee?
The weight of a whole bean is the same as a ground bean of the same roast level regardless of the grind size. The density of the coffee beans remains the same. 1 pound of whole beans will produce 1 pound of grounds.
Grinding Your Own Coffee Beans vs Pre-ground Coffee
The main difference for coffee lovers and high-end coffee connoisseurs is the freshness factor. Freshly ground coffee produces the freshest flavor.
In my coffee philosophy, I aim for peak freshness.
This can only be achieved with the use of fresh coffee beans that have been properly stored to help you maintain maximum freshness with little to no loss of freshness and then grinding your beans immediately before brewing.
The obvious winner in terms of the quality of your cup of coffee is grinding your own beans as you will maintain the aroma, flavor and taste profile, capturing more of it in your cup than had you bought and used pre-ground beans.
While with ground beans the beans are still fresh beans and will give you fresh flavors, they just won’t be as fresh as it could have been, and the difference is notable.
As soon as you grind your beans, they start to go off and release more carbon dioxide and a greater surface area comes in contact with air and accelerates the oxidation process, and they start going off quicker.
To put some emphasis on keeping your coffee fresh and brewing as fresh as you can. Coffee is a food product and, like all food, fresh is best. You can compare it to a meal you have just prepared and being full of flavor and yesterday’s dinner reheated – it’s good but simply not as good or enjoyable as it was the previous day.
The advantages of preground coffee are obvious, time saving and convenience.
The choice is really do you want fresh coffee or not-so-fresh coffee and is the trade-off worth it.
Pros And Cons Of Grinding Your Own Coffee Bean
Let’s talk about the good and the bad things about grinding your own coffee beans. Not everything is plain sailing so let’s start with the good points:
The Pros Of Grinding Your Own Coffee Beans
- 1. As mentioned above, a fresher, better cup of coffee.
- 2. You can vary the grind size for a different brewing method.
- 3. By grinding, you are learning a key aspect of brewing coffee and have control over one more variable.
- 4. More control over the whole press of making coffee.
- 5. They are cheaper than coffee pods on a per-cup basis.
This last point, the simple dollar did a price comparison and found the price of a cup of coffee of grinding your own whole beans to be 11 cents compared to 26 cents – quite some savings.
The Con Of Grinding Your Own Coffee Beans
- You need to buy a grinder.
- You need to clean your grinder regularly and keep it well maintained.
- You need to take the time and effort to grind your beans.
Should You Grind Your Own Coffee Beans?
Despite there being a few drawbacks as mentioned in the cons above, none are a major inconvenience at all. If you have the right type of coffee grinder, such as a ceramic conical burr grinder, you will find that they are low maintenance as long as you keep them well brushed out.
I brush mine out after each coffee I make and only grind the beans as I am about to use them. I keep no beans in the hopper. A simple good, quick clean every week keeps it clean with a proper deep clean every month.
Also, a grinder does not need to be too expensive for a manual grinder or an electric grinder. They are only a one-off expense and will last you for years, many years.
The type of grinder I recommend is a ceramic conical burr grinder as they are better overall than an electric blade grinder as you will get a greater grind consistency.
you will have a greater resistance to the heat produced while grinding, which can damage the beans and their integrity.
Potential Additives in Pre-Ground Coffee
From what I found on the American Chemical Society website I found it is possible that there are some unwanted and unnecessary additives in pre-ground coffee. The additives list included, but not limited to:
- Sticks or twigs.
Other roasteries and brands may use other additives to bring down the cost of their ground coffee.
How Much Better Is Freshly Ground Coffee?
It is much better, Freshly ground coffee has more notable crisper and fresher taste and aromas than preground coffee that would have likely been ground up to 48 hours ago or longer.
The coffee you make will have a better flavor profile and, in all of the best advice I can give, it is a much better choice to make, and you will be able to brew a better espresso and a French press coffee due to the different grind sizes.
If you have not already taken the step, I advise you take it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Is It Cheaper To Buy Ground Coffee Or Beans?
Is It Cheaper To Buy Coffee Beans And Grind Them Yourself?
No, whole coffee beans are not cheaper than ground coffee. Buying whole beans is not a money saving choice. Coffee lovers buy whole beans as they want a better tasting cup of coffee.
Which Is More Expensive Coffee Beans Or Ground Coffee?
Whole bean coffee tends to cost more than ground coffee beans. The main reason being that whole bean coffees produce a better tasting cup of coffee and generally come from a better quality cup of coffee. The small difference in price is worth it.
Is It Better To Buy Ground Coffee Or Coffee Beans?
Whole bean coffees are a better choice than ground coffee due to producing a much better tasting cup of coffee. The cup tastes fresher as the surface area of the beans is smaller than coffee grounds, which reduces the area in which oxygen is in contact with the coffee and reduces the effect of oxidation.
If you are a casual coffee drinker, it is worth knowing that whole coffee beans stay fresher for longer.
Is It Worth It To Grind Your Own Coffee?
Yes, if you are serious about coffee and want to make a better cup of coffee then using whole beans and investing in a high quality ceramic conical coffee filter is worth it. With whole beans and grinding them you have much more control of the brewing process and can vary the grind size and grind them immediately before brewing.
Which Lasts Longer Whole Bean Or Ground Coffee?
Whole bean coffee lasts longer than ground coffee. Even though ground coffee is very convenient, they lose their freshness faster than whole bean coffee due to the increased total surface area which means a greater amount of oxygen gets in contact with the coffee ground and thus leads to faster oxidation and thus deteriorate quicker.
Should Ground Coffee Be Kept In The Fridge?
Yes, you can keep your ground coffee or whole bean coffee in the fridge as long as you store them in a professional opaque coffee canister with a one-way valve and airtight lid.
Heat, light and air are the enemy of coffee. You can solve all that with an airtight container, particularly a coffee canister. The airtight lid keeps air out and prevents your coffee from absorbing the aromas from other food items in your fridge.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – Is It Cheaper To Buy Ground Coffee Or Beans?
It is not cheaper to buy ground coffee or whole beans and generally the price is the same. When there is a difference, it is only a slight difference, minimal.
(it is cheaper to buy both whole beans and ground coffee than it is to use coffee pods though).
For low end run-of-the-mill brands of coffee, generally speaking, their ground coffee will be of a lesser quality than their whole beans.
For known established brands, they will very likely be the same, with the upside main benefit being you will have a better tasting and fresher coffee when you use whole beans and grind them seconds before you brew your coffee.
That little question “Is it cheaper to buy ground coffee or beans?” has been answered, and you know why it is worth it to pay a few pennies more for whole beans.
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