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Oct 20, 2006 03:06 PM

The Daily Grind

Everytime we move, we end up throwing out/giving away our coffee pot because we never drink it. Then we buy/inherit another one, to repeat the process. Well, THIS time we're actually drinking coffee in the morning, so we broke down and bought another one, as well as a grinder.

DH, a former barista (baristo?) INSISTS on grinding the coffee at home. However, I'm not coherent in the morning before I have my coffee -- I can't even coordinate a shower before I have some -- so I grind and set up the coffee maker before bed and set the timer.

He insists this is terrible, because the beans must be ground IMMEDIATELY before brewing, not the night before. My response? "It's only Eight O'Clock French roast, for cryin' out loud!"

Neither of us, despite our pretensions, is a connoiseur. I can tell if a coffee is freshly BREWED, but grinded? Honestly, does it make much of a difference, especially with cheap coffee?

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  1. Absolutely it does, however, with a cheaper coffee you should be able to get away with grinding it the night before, and keeping it sealed somewhere. You probably won't lose too much flavor, in fact many coffee houses do this. Preground coffee isn't a terrible thing, it's how long it sits around after being exposed to oxygen.

    1. My friend keeps a sack of preground in her freezer and puts it straight in her coffee machine every morning.

      I keep beans in the freezer, but let the beans defrost in my coffee grinder overnight and grind them when I wake up. I guess I should defrost them in the fridge and not on a counter, but then I'd have to involve an extra container to do the job.

      I say if you can't taste the difference, you do what you want to do. Stage a blind taste test for DH and see if he still thinks preground is terrible.

      1. I grind beans with an electric pulse grinder each morning and I think btwn the fresh ground, ice cold water and fancy brew gadget we get a decent cup o java..but I can manage it at 7am...making a full breakfast (eggs, toast, pancakes) would be another matter..which is why we enjoy breakfast for dinner alot!

        1. I have actually heard from several reputable sources that you should never store whole beans or ground coffee in the fridge or freezer. The best place is just in a cool, dark place.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Becca Porter

            I worked for 7 years for a gourmet coffee outfit, and this is accurate. The change in humidity and temperature wrecks the oils on the beans and makes them taste 'off'. They should be kept cool and dark, and you should only buy what you will consume in a week's time.

            And I am totally able to tell the difference between fresh ground and brewed coffee and stuff that isn't freshly ground. I tried for a while to set up my coffee maker at night to have the pot done when I got out of the shower, but it always tasted icky so I stopped.

            1. re: Becca Porter

              It's a Catch 22. Best method is to store roasted beans, tightly wrapped, in a dark place, in an absolutely airtight container.

              If this isn't possible, or you won't be using them up within about a week, you can wrap them tightly, freeze them, and grind them while still frozen. You'll lose some flavour notes, but it'll still taste good.

              Never leave them exposed to oxygen and never store them in the fridge.

              1. re: Becca Porter

                I've been storing my coffee beans in the freezer for going on 20 years -- I use it up quickly (i.e. not long term storage), and grind it freshly right before brewing the pot, and I must confess that I've been told by a wide variety of people that I make the best home-brewed coffee they've ever had.

                For me, the keys are (1) buy good coffee to start with (I rarely go with dark roasts -- typically mocca java or hawaiian, light or medium roast), (2) grind right before brewing, and use a bit more coffee than the coffee machine calls for per cup, and (3) use filtered water. Oh, and unless you've got one of those insulated carafes, DO NOT leave the heating unit on for very long after brewing -- nothing ruins a good pot of coffee than letting it sit around, getting over-heated/burnt.

                1. re: DanaB

                  If you are using your coffee quickly, as I do, than I do not see the point in keeping it in the freezer. Especially since all the experts say there is definately flavor loss, when you do so.

                  However, if you prefer the result, more power to you!

                  1. re: Becca Porter

                    Re. keeping the coffee in the freezer, I do it because there really isn't a consistently cool place in my kitchen other than the fridge/freezer -- I live in Los Angeles, and my kitchen gets the afternoon sun. But I've never noticed a loss in flavor, personally.

              2. We just got a new coffee grinder (getting married means great upgrades) that stores the beans. At the touch of a button, it grinds enough for the amount of coffee you want to make.

                Although I guess we are breaking the rules by letting the beans sit in the machine at room temp, I can't taste the difference between this method and what I used to do, taking the bag out of the fridge each morning and putting beans in the grinder.

                Come to think of it, I remember Alton Brown did a show on coffee, and said that it's not the temp, it's the oxygen. He said air would strip the beans of their precious oil. An airtight container is what he recommended, which I guess is what we are achieving with the new grinder.

                Here's Alton saying to store at room temp

                Our grinder (which I love

                1 Reply
                1. re: julietg

                  Well, ours stays in the bag it came in (with fold-down top) until griding time the night before, then it goes in the filter and into the machine. So not exactly perfectly airtight, but not in the open, either, and certainly cool and dark.

                  And yay for me, Eight O'Clock contains the "one-way valve" Alton was talking about (from the EOC site):
                  What is the round "button-like thing" on my coffee bag?
                  This round item is Eight O'Clock Coffee’s proprietary "freshness" valve. During the roasting process, the bags are vacuum-packed. Since the beans are packaged while still warm, it is necessary for this valve to release the built-up steam and gas the roasted beans emit. Being "one-way", these valves release air and gases without allowing air to enter the bag. This process makes for a longer period of fresh coffee.