Help me choose which type of ground to get in my coffee of the month gift.
November 23, 2007 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Help me choose which type of ground to get in my coffee of the month gift.

My annual Christmas gift from my wonderful in-laws is a coffee-of-the-month club membership (Grounds for Change). In the past, the coffee was sent as whole beans. But my mil reminded me that I have options for getting it in ground form as well. What do you think is my best option?

1. French Press Grind - I have a French press, but I don't use it often, so I don't think I will choose this.

2. Metal Filter Grind - I do use a metal filter, but read on...

3. Paper Filter Grind - I use a paper filter inside of my metal filter, because we have a septic system, and therefore, I have to throw my grounds in the garbage rather than down a disposal. Using the paper filter is much easier than pounding on the bottom of a metal filter trying to get out all the grounds clumped in the bottom.

4. Express Grind - I don't even know what this means, and the Grounds for Change web site doesn't show this. (My mil is probably using their paper catalog.) I would imagine this is really "espresso" grind, and wouldn't be suitable for a regular coffeemaker?

5. Whole Beans - Should I just stick with the whole beans? I have a small Krups grinder, which doesn't do a great job of grinding uniformly, but has basically been ok so far.
posted by SuperSquirrel to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're shelling out for good coffee (or someone else is!), spend $50 on a burr grinder and get the beans whole. Once ground, coffee begins to -immediately- lose its flavor. Assuming you like the taste of the different beans, you'll want to grind and brew quickly.

The problem with a little Krups grinder is that it's probably a blade grinder, which both cannot give you a uniform grind, and also burns the coffee while doing its thing. A decent burr grinder will not do this to your delicious coffee. Decent doesn't have to mean $200 conical burr grinder - it can also mean a $50 Capresso, such as this.
posted by ellF at 7:00 AM on November 23, 2007

Best answer: Ugh, yeah - don't get it ground. It'll taste of nothing by the time you brew it. Using a cheap rotary blade grinder would be better than using it preground.
posted by bifter at 7:20 AM on November 23, 2007

Best answer: "... The problem with a little Krups grinder is that it's probably a blade grinder, which both cannot give you a uniform grind, and also burns the coffee while doing its thing. ..."
posted by ellF at 10:00 AM on November 23

Blade grinders don't "burn" the coffee they grind! The ground coffee comes out within a degree or two of the temperature it went in at as whole beans, even if you leave it in for long enough to turn the beans to fine powder. There is never any elevation of temperature sufficient to even cause nominal oxidation of coffee solids or oils in consumer blade grinders.

It's true that blade grinders won't produce the uniform grind size a perfectly adjusted burr grinder with sharp, new cutters can produce, but it's equally true that many burr grinders aren't perfectly adjusted, or using very sharp cutters, in which case they, too, produce a good proportion of off size particles and dust, while grinding. You can take the output of many burr grinders and demonstrate this to your own satisfaction, by filtering their output through successively finer wire mesh screens.

So, in the real world, the difference between expensive burr grinders and cheap blade grinders tends to be cost and how you operate them. Generally, a coarse grind is recommended for French press method, as the larger particles are more easily filtered by the mesh screens of the French press, when the extraction is complete. If you're committed to using paper filters for the purpose of making your spent grounds come out of your French press filter easily, you can use a blade grinder, judiciously, by "pulsing" it, as you would a blender, with good results. And you'll get less "grounds" in your finished cup, because of the paper filter, at some small loss of coffee oils, absorbed by the paper filter.
posted by paulsc at 8:33 AM on November 23, 2007

Best answer: Thirding keeping the beans whole.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:40 AM on November 23, 2007

Best answer: Nth-ing the recommendation to keep with whole beans.

If you can swing the upgrade from your whirly-blade grinder you can't do better bang-for-the-buck-wise than the Capresso Infinity grinder, which can be found for less than $90. (I can't recommend the *other* Capresso grinder in this thread... it makes lots of dust.)
posted by deCadmus at 9:18 AM on November 23, 2007

Best answer: Whole beans + french press = win!

Regarding grounds disposal: I use a french press at work, where there is no sink, with minimal fuss. I pour the dregs into a cup for bathroom-break disposal and then use a floppy spatula to empty the grounds into the trash. Goofy but it works fine and lovely fresh oily coffee is so worth it.
posted by mindsound at 4:51 PM on November 23, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, it's unanimous! Thank you for answering, everyone. I told my mil to please continue with the whole beans. And thanks to ellF and paulsc for the info on burr grinders - never heard of them before, so now I have something new to try in my ongoing quest for perfect coffee...
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:52 AM on November 25, 2007

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