It's all in the grind: Whole bean, coarse or fine?
First off, good effort. You’ve decided to ditch the instant for something that is GEN going to make you a better human being! But like a nod getting taught how to do a resection for the first time, you're slightly confused; whole bean, coarse or fine?
In the mil we have a famous saying, ‘keep it simple, stupid.’ So I’ll keep this explanation short and to the point!
Using the wrong grind isn’t going to end the world but it’s just not utilising the beans to their full potential. How you're going to be brewing your coffee (french press, moka pot, drip etc) will determine what grind you choose.
Now there are loads of different grinds but I'm just going to talk about coarse, fine (the two pre-ground options we offer) and whole bean.
Coarse - best for when you're going to be using a french press or cafetière.
So your best bet when using a french press or cafetière is a nice coarse even grind. This is because the coffee is steeped in (nearly) boiling water and so the contact time between the coffee and water is much longer than other brewing methods. The coarse grind allows for a slower extraction time so as not to pull out too much bitterness.
Fine - perfect if you like espressos and are planning on using a moka pot or an aero press.
Pretty much the opposite here. Because the water is only in contact with the coffee for a short amount of time, we want it to pull as much flavour from the coffee as possible. Using a fine grind means there's more surface area of the coffee for the water to extract flavour from.
Whole Bean – great for keeping your coffee fresher for longer.
Less work for us and more work for you (wink wink). Seriously though, if you truly want an even better cup of coffee then whole bean is the way to go. Not only will the coffee retain its freshness for longer but if brewed correctly you’ll pick up more of the subtle notes / flavours of the coffee you're drinking.
There's no one size fits all with this. If you just enjoy the taste of a decent cup of the black stuff and could do without the extra effort/time needed to grind the beans yourself, pre-ground is the answer. But if you want to experiment a bit with your coffee and different brewing techniques or if you just enjoy the whole process of making a pot of coffee from start to finish then whole bean is the future and a decent grinder is your new best friend. Plus, there's nothing quite like the smell of freshly ground coffee beans!
Final thought, the grind of your coffee is just one variable at play here (despite this blog title!), other factors can impact the taste of your coffee too - things like brewing time, water temperature and even the hardness of the water where you live. More on that another time though. Until then...