Whole Beans vs. Ground Coffee: Which Is Right for You?

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Imagine you’re at the grocery store. When the sun rises tomorrow, it will be time to fill your ceramic mug and start the day on a caffeinated foot. But before you debate the merits of dairy and almond milk creamer, you must decide: whole beans or ground coffee?

Pre-ground and whole bean coffee each come with pros and cons. Everything from your home coffee maker to your personal tastes should inform this make-or-day break decision. Here are some other factors to consider when choosing between whole coffee beans and ground coffee.

Whole Bean Coffee

Pros: Pronounced Flavor, Subtle Complexity

Whole bean coffee keeps its freshness and flavor longer if it's stored properly. If you cherish the full sensory experience of a delicious black coffee above all else, whole beans are the answer to your Monday morning blues.

A coffee’s taste and aroma come from the oil coating the whole bean. Once coffee beans are ground up, those essential oils begin evaporating and your coffee begins losing freshness and flavor.

Taste a cup of coffee brewed from pre-ground coffee, then taste a cup of coffee brewed from freshly ground beans. That pronounced flavor? That subtle complexity? That’s the whole bean coffee difference. And when you pair a delicious whole bean coffee with a good coffee bean grinder, things really get brewing.

Pre-ground coffees are typically packaged with a uniform, medium-fine consistency for the typical home coffee maker. Brew coffee with grounds that are too fine or large and your morning cup’s flavor is going south in a hurry. Grinding your own whole beans means you make the coffee that best suits your home brewer.

Use a coarse grind for your French press. Use an extra fine grind for brewing espresso. No matter your coffee mojo, grinding your own whole bean coffee means no more bitter or sour coffee because your coffee grounds are too large or small for your home coffee maker.

Cons: Time Is Money

The only real downside to using whole bean coffee is the slight learning curve. It may take some time to achieve the ideal coarseness every time you grind. Cleaning your burr grinder might add a few minutes to your morning routine that you can’t afford to spend. 

Give It a Try: Crop Ex Ethiopia

This kind of coffee is known as a “fruit bomb” for its sweet and citrusy flavors. The high altitude, rich soil and medium roast make this single origin coffee a delightful change from the everyday flavor profile.

Ground Coffee

Pros: Easy to Make, Lots to Choose From

As we alluded to above, the perceived benefits of whole bean coffee can actually be problematic for coffee drinkers on the go. Enter: ground coffee.

Pre-ground coffee trades whole bean coffee’s nuanced flavor and longevity for ease of use. Third-wave coffee hounds might notice a difference, but here’s the thing. For the Average Java Joe, the dip in quality from your standard whole bean coffee to store-bought ground coffee isn’t world-shattering.

Pre-ground coffee saves you time and mental energy. The risk of brewing a bitter or sour pot of coffee by mistake is much lower than grinding and brewing whole bean coffee. Just scoop enough coffee grounds into the filter, load your home coffee maker, and you’re off to the caffeine races.

Another benefit of ground coffee is the sheer number of options available on store shelves. This factor is based in stone cold economics more than anything, but it’s worth pointing out. Coffee drinkers buy more ground coffee than whole bean coffee, so brands produce coffee that caters to those coffee drinkers’ needs. That means more exciting flavors and roasts for ground coffee fans to choose from.

Cons: Close, But Not Quite

The biggest knocks on ground coffee are those slight differences in flavor and freshness. And don’t go crazy with the coffee scooper. Brewing too much coffee at once can lead to a leftover pot of stale joe. But if you want a delicious cup of no-fuss coffee, you can’t go wrong with a bag of pre-ground coffee.

Give It a Try: Sweetheart Blend

Pick up the flavored coffee that was simply meant to be. This power couple of sweet cherry and slinky chocolate flavors went on a double date with our house blend of Central American Arabica beans. Our Sweetheart Blend ground coffee makes your morning mug as simple and elegant as true love’s first kiss.

So what will it be? Whole bean or ground coffee?

Whole beans take the coffee cake for subtle flavor, complexity, and freshness. Ground coffee comes through with its ease of use an array of options.

No matter what kind of coffee you choose, let’s not forget: your morning routine is a little sweeter with a cup of coffee.

Bonus Round: Single Serve Pods

Pre-ground coffee not quick enough for you? Give single serve coffee cups a try. These small, filtered capsules of ground coffee provide the ultimate caffeinated convenience.

Pop one of these coffee pods into a single serve home brewer. A jet of hot water and one spent pod later, your fresh mug of coffee is ready.

One single serve cup. One morning cup of coffee. No leftover coffee on the burner. And no brewing a whole pot when one mug will do. What could be simpler than that?

The common belief is that single-serve coffee cups lack flavor and body. Brewing single serve coffee cups is the same as brewing ground coffee, just on a smaller scale. Just as with whole bean and ground coffee, personal preferences and tastes come into play with single-serve coffee. A great single-serve brewer will also make quick work of any single-serve coffee doubters.

Give It a Try: Southern Pecan 

Take it easy with a hot mug on a lazy Sunday morning – porch and rocking chair not included. Authentic pecan flavor blends with our choicest Arabica beans to put you in a sunny state of mind.

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