Friday, January 30, 2009

Café of the Week: Beans or Ground?


I am bad. I got an email from one of our hermanas clamoring for more coffee posts. And I think she is right! What kind of Café is this then??? So today I thought I could talk a bit about one of the huge decisions all coffee lovers make: beans or ground coffee?

If you are a java enthusiast, you probably own a coffee grinder and use it every time you brew. Other folks, like mi suegra; grind more than one pot and keep it stored. Others buy ground beans. My take???? Bean! Bean! Bean!.

We buy only beans. Rojo favors French and Italian roasts; while I am a fan of Colombian Supremo and Mexican Pluma Oaxaca. With this different taste in flavors and roasts, we have to grind separately each time. Why? Easy as pie hermanas: First, we do not want to mix flavors. Second; once ground, coffee looses its freshness and flavor quickly. My top boss at the first barista gig I had was quite adamant about times for freshness and tips for storage so I learned that from him.

The longest I keep my ground beans is overnight in the pot; ready for automatic brewing in the morning. And this only during the work week. Weekends I grind + brew each time I want a new pot. Now; when our amigos gift us with luscious ground beans; like TP and mi suegra do often, or the fabulous Hickory Coffee the Louisiana Blonde sent us for Christmas; I open them and use them exclusively. This way I go through them faster and avoid loosing much freshness and aroma.

I think at the end it comes to how much of a coffee snob you are; and how much time you can devote to getting your java going. If you are like me and run in the mornings like a chicken without a head getting dressed and prettying yourself up; or getting your familia ready for the day; you do not have to give up beans: just prepare them the night before. Or use ground beans; but be certain to store them in an air-tight container (a Mason jar would do; though I favor rubber lid jars) and never in the fridge. Coffee does not like the fridge lifestyle!, so keep it in your pantry in a cool and dry place.

If you decide to join the bean revolution; just make sure to follow these easy tips:

1. Make sure you are grinding properly. Depending on the type of coffee maker you have; you will need either a really fine grind (for espresso type machines), a medium fine grind (cone filters), a medium grind (basket filters), or a coarse grind (french press). This is not an exact science; but follow this: the longer the water will stay in contact with the grounds, the coarser the grind should be.

2. Clean the grinder after each use. Coffee lets go a lot of oils as we know, and if you do not clean after each use, the oils remain there and get added to the next batch. Think of it as hair product build-up. Not cool. Just remove the excess coffee+oils with a paper towel and wash the top cover with soapy water.

3. Use separate grinder for flavored beans. This is a must. Flavored coffee has a way of aromatizing everything; and this includes your grinder. So, if you are going to get yourself a batch of French Vanilla beans; either grind them in the store or use a different grinder.

Grinding your own beans is -for me- a pleasure that pays off with a really aromatic and bold cuppa. But, if you do not want to or honestly do not have the time, buy your ground coffee; though never in industrial quantities. Unless you drink coffee like we do, of course!!!

Siempre, Bella.


  1. Chica have you tried costa rican coffee? I get mine straight from the source. My dad knows a guy who owns a plantation (no mentira) in Costa Rica where he lives and he buys it for us and then when we visit or my sister vistis or they come here they bring us the beans! We have like 20 pounds in the pantry! I think we drink as much as you guys too!!

  2. Wonderful post. I have a grinder and I also buy gound beans. I mix both. Best Wishes.

  3. I love me some coffee. I thought I read somewhere to keep your beans in the freezer? Now I'll have to research. I own this beautiful grinder that was a wedding gift cannot live without it! I grind daily!

  4. I am too lazy to grind beans. Or maybe I'm just not much of a coffee snob. Easy to please.

    Legally Smart

  5. I am happy to know we are mostly into the daily grind!!!

    Carolyn, Tarrazu is one of my faves - so here! here! for Costa Rican coffee.

    candlemamma -- nice to meet you hermana!!!

    A, repeat after me: thou shall not refrigerate your beans or grounds.

    Legally Smart -- sister, seriously, wth. lol


Gracias for joining us at the Café Beautique. Leave me your ideas and tips!