I recognize that there are a great many people in the world who know more about coffee than I do, but I like to think that I’m fairly well versed in the topic. I know something of the history of coffee, the explanations behind its many names, and have brewed thousands of pots over the years with close attention to boldness, acidity, grind, water temperature, etc. I’ve also had coffee from a variety of shops, countries, and brewers.
That being said, I don’t have the best of tools for brewing coffee, and I know that this makes all the difference. If you’re making coffee with a $10 grinder and a $20 pot, you’re simply not going to get the best brew. But most of us have only these tools at our disposal, and it’s unlikely that we’re going to invest in better ones.
A lot of people, regardless of the quality of their tools, believe that grinding their own coffee will produce better results than purchasing ground coffee from the store. The common wisdom is that fresh-ground beans produce better flavour, but having ground my own coffee for years and compared it with pre-ground, I am coming to the conclusion that this is patently false, and potentially just a marketing pitch by coffee companies and those who make coffee grinders.
The problem is that cheap coffee grinders don’t produce the consistent grind needed for a good cup of coffee (let’s not even start discussing drip vs. other coffee makers). Either your grounds end up still having whole or split beans, rather than ground up coffee, or they over-grind, so that your coffee isn’t coarse enough to produce a good brew.
Coffee companies have industrial coffee grinders that produce a consistent blend and grind every time, so your coffee grounds are homogeneous and produce the best results with drip coffee makers (which, let’s face it, are what most of us use). These pre-ground bags of coffee, in my opinion, therefore produce better flavour than grinding one’s own coffee.
It’s a terrible pre-emptive argument to make, but I do suppose that people who think their personally ground coffee is better than pre-ground are probably fooling themselves. Because they’ve spent the extra time and effort, they think it tastes better. I think they’ve bought into the marketing pitch and are trying to justify to themselves the extra expense.
Of course, you still have to buy good coffee for pre-ground to be delicious, and to that end I always recommend Eight O’Clock. Rated #1 by Consumer Reports a few years ago, it’s both cheap (which is what the majority of us are looking for) and fantastically good. I also had Dunkin Donuts’ grocery-store offering recently, and it was as fantastic as I recalled DD’s coffee to be when I was younger (and there was still a DD here in Springfield). Sadly, recent experience with their chain’s coffee has been rather lackluster, but the bag of coffee I bought was really delicious.
Image Credit: Hisks