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Grinding coffee beans

I like to grind my own beans, but I hate to run the grinder in the morning before anyone else is out of bed. You know how noisy the grinders can be. I would like opinions as to how much flavor would be lost if I grind the beans the night before brewing and put them in the drip basket, so I can just flip the switch in the morning. Hope some of you "barristers" can give me guidance

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  1. I'd wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate it until the next morning, but grinding the night before is unlikely to have any affect that you or your family will detect in the flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      The refrigerator is a terrible place to store coffee. The coffee is porous and will act in the same manner as baking soda absorbing moisture, odors and odd flavors of everything else in the refrigerator.

      I would probably try to find a way to deaden the sound and continue to grind fresh in the morning. But maybe the OP should try grinding at night and see if he/she can detect any difference. Depending on the age and quality of the bean, the quality of the grinder and the OP's tastebuds it may not make much of a difference.

    2. I've done this before - for starters I don't grind my own coffee at work. You can still get a decent pot/cup out of it. There is some loss of quality. How much exactly is hard to pinpoint. It seems to me, from my sporadic and very unscientific experiments, that some beans are more hurt by early grinding than others. To my palate, I've had problems grinding some nutty South American medium roasts early, and some African light roasts seem to change flavor but aren't entirely bad. I will say that grinding a little early doesn't seem to make as much of a difference to me as whether or not I'm using beans that are recently roasted.

      I might suggest leaving it in the grinder or some fully enclosed vessel and refrigerating until the morning, rather than leaving it in the drip basket. Really the best advice I can give is to try it for yourself and see whether you mind the difference. Worst case scenario, one pot of coffee doesn't meet your standards and you don't repeat the experiment.

      1. Sorry to suggest there is a likely difference but probably proportional to the quality and freshness of the beans. Older commodity level beans like Starbucks have already progressed down the degradation curve to where 8 hours of ground exposure may prove just barely discernible but for recently roasted (say within three days...think cafe vivace here), the degradation would border on criminal. How insane are your coffee drinkers? You could always do a doubleblindtaste test to see what actually transpires.

        1. I grind my coffee beans in the evening every weeknight. I don't notice any difference. Try it once or twice and see how you like it.

          1. I set up the coffee pot every evening for the following morning. Grinding beans and pouring water are not tasks I want to deal with first thing out of bed.
            Hell, I just cleaned this mornings pot and am probably going to go fill and grind for tomorrow sometime soon. And I think we make pretty good coffee.

            1. I fold a kitchen towel a couple of times and hold it over the grinder to deaden the sound.

              1. My grinder is awfully quiet. I use it to make French press coffee for my wife and I every morning. The grinding takes a minimal amount of time since French press requires a coarse grind.


                Mr Taster

                1. I think the sound of someone grinding coffee beans in the morning is like a friendly alarm clock. Time to get up. Someone is allready ahead and in motion. The slothful somnolent deserve no special consideration.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    That is how I feel too. The very best sort of alarm clock.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Same here Veggo. I understand not wanting to wake others that are still sleeping but the ritual of coffee prep is a celebration of awaking to a new day.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        They do if it is my nine-year old who doesn't need to be at school until1 1/2 hours after I leave for work. My entire house doesn't need to be up just because I do :)

                      2. My manual porlex grinder is quiet and easy to use. It takes about 30-45 seconds of easy turning a handle. If you are really wanting to grind them fresh perhaps a $30 manual mill such as a prolex or hario skeleton would work for you.

                        1. Grind the night before, do not refrigerate, the coffee will be fine,

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: beevod

                            Cooks Illustrated once did a taste test between pre-ground, vacuum sealed coffee and freshly ground.

                            The initial results were surprising in that there was virtually no flavor difference between the the pre-ground and the freshly ground.

                            The differences started to appear on subsequent days, when it became readily apparent that the quality of the brews made from pre-ground coffee suffered a sharp dip in quality, whereas the freshly ground coffee sustained its high quality over time. Based on this, I'd have to advise against grinding the night before. Will it end the world if you do? Of course not. But there will be a difference, which may or may not be perceptible to you, depending on your tongue.

                            As for cold storage, they determined that there was some merit to freezing *unopened* whole beans in the freezer, but leave them at room temperature afterward so that the oils in the coffee don't absorb funky fridge flavors.

                            Mr Taster

                          2. Another way to look at it: years ago I shared a house with 3 others. I was always first up in part because I am fussy about the coffee and wanted to make it to my standards. I too was leery of bothering those still abed and used the towel wrap technique suggested by another poster. Then one morning the senior housemate caught me at it and was started. "What the #*&# are you doing?" I explained that I did not want to wake up others. "Al," he said, "this is just a morning noise, like a rooster crowing; its part of life. Now just grind the #*&* coffee."

                            1. We have a coffee pot that has a grinder in it and a timer. I set it up the night before with the beans in the grinder, and timed to go off as I am waking up.

                              1. From the other replies, it seems like grinding it the night before shouldn't be a problem. You should make sure to keep in an airtight container.

                                A coffee snob I know claims the best way to grind beans is by a manual burr grinder. They seem to be pretty expensive, but probably wouldn't be as loud as an automatic one.

                                And I believe you mean "barista"; "barrister" refers to a type of lawyer. :)

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: breadwinner

                                  Yes a burr grinder is the best way to grind beans. The cheap, whirly blade grinders smash the beans unevenly and generate a lot of heat if you grind them for long enough to get a fine grind which can impart an unintended smokey flavor to the coffee.

                                  I wouldn't go so far as to say grinding the night before shouldn't be a problem. However, the more "weak links" (such as the lack of a burr grinder or lesser quality beans or older beans) you have in the process, the less likely you are to notice the difference between grinding fresh and the previous night. I personally wouldn't grind the night before but the OP might try it and see if she/he can discern much of a difference.

                                  1. re: breadwinner

                                    A good manual grinder costs around $30, not horrifically expensive in my books. Was worth every penny, for me, I use it everyday at least once, fairly often twice, and its not uncommon for thrice a day. Just try to get a ceramic one and it will be easy to clean and last for a long time. I have a porlex, but the Hario skeleton is also a very well rated one. Both are Japanese ceramic burr grinders with very adjustable grind settings. The porlex comes apart completely very easily for cleaning, the Hario i am not so sure, but imagine it would be similar.

                                    Try not to use the fancy, pretty, antique looking ones with sliding drawers and the like as they can have static nightmares. I have experienced no static with the porlex and know the Hario is supposed to overcome that problem as well.

                                  2. A hand-crank grinder does a better job and is silent (mostly).

                                    1. I worked in a cooking store doing display work and answering cooking questions for about 5 years. We had to know a lot of stuff and we sold fresh roasted coffee by weight. We did and I do grind (burr grinder)my coffee every night and put in a pot and turn the pot on for about 20 seconds so a tiny bit of water hits the grounds. Turn it off and let it sit for the night. This enhances the flavor. We were told to do this by numerous coffee venders. We were also told to do this while visiting a grower in Costa Rica. So I can"t wait to hear what you think of this type of brewing. We like it. Bolder flavor.....

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: katz66

                                        I use this method for both hot and cold brewing, katz66. It's how I was taught 25 years ago during a class on roasting and prep.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Some additional thoughts on brewing that coffee once ground were discussed here and led to some interesting insights


                                        2. re: katz66

                                          Interesting. Were you ever given an explanation a to why it works? I will have to give it a shot.

                                          1. re: CanadaGirl

                                            One person said it wakes the beans up. Another said it was like steeping tea. It does intenify the flavor of the coffee.

                                        3. It’s very thoughtful of you to not want to wake the family with the sound of the grinder but aren’t they going to be awakened by the aroma of the brewing coffee anyway? Also, wondering, are you making a whole pot or just a cup for yourself? I like the idea of a burr grinder (I have a Harrio Slim Mill which can only handle enough grounds for 2 cups at a time) but grinding beans manually for whole pot could be a pretty tedious affair.

                                          The factors which affect coffee beans and ground coffee causing degradation of flavor are light, air and moisture. You need to protect both whole beans and ground coffee from all three as best as possible. The only thing refrigeration does is introduce the possibility of cross contamination of odors from being in a closed space and moisture condensation when you take it out and open whatever you have it in (presuming it’s airtight). If you’re going to grind the night before, put the ground coffee in a ziploc, press out as much air as possible and seal it, then put it in an opaque container and leave it at room temp. If you can get one of those valved bags to use instead of ziploc, that would be better. Those bags are designed to allow coffee (both beans and ground continue to deteriorate over time) to give off the gases from decomposing which pass through the one-way valve and away from the coffee but no air can flow back in.

                                          Of course, whether any of this makes any difference in taste to you or your family is something only you can decide.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: brucesw

                                            " The only thing refrigeration does is introduce the possibility of cross contamination of odors from being in a closed space and moisture condensation when you take it out and open whatever you have it in (presuming it’s airtight)"
                                            The second half of this sentence kind of contradicts the first. Refrigerating or freezing is fine is your container is airtight.

                                          2. Hold the grinder against your belly with a pillow before pressing the grind switch. It sounds like a purring kitten that won't even awaken anyone sleeping in the same room.

                                            1. horrid idea, but won't kill you. coffee's taste reacts with oxygen (and if you've got good coffee, the alcohols evaporate too). more surface area makes coffee get worse really quickly.

                                              like 15 minutes.

                                              Grind in the basement? Grind outside?