“Use freshly ground coffee!”

Let’s be honest, we hear this all the time. And it makes total sense that fresh = better.

But what if we were to assume that coffee is like wine in that it needs a little bit of air before it tastes its best. I mean, is this really such a far-fetched notion?

The truth is, I only know that coffee should be freshly ground from an anecdotal stand-point. I’ve had ground coffee left over night, exposed to air, and brewed the next morning that tasted really no different than the same coffee ground freshly.

There’s obviously a very big possibility that my taste buds simply suck, and I’m just not able to discern any differences. But I’m thinking this is more of a scenario where I lack an instant comparison.

So I decided to put this “stale” ground coffee theory to the test, brewing two cups of coffee one after the other, where the only difference is when the coffee itself was ground.

Since I used the Brazen Plus, pour technique wasn’t a confound, and I think overall most of the variables were controlled.

Experimental parameters

  • 15 grams of ground coffee (brewed 1 hour later) in cup A
  • 15 grams of ground coffee (brewed immediately) in cup B
  • 275 grams of water per cup at 202˚F
  • 1 minute bloom for each cup
  • Brazen Plus brewing into the Hario V60

As the temperature drops…

This seems to always happen, but I noticed more pronounced differences as the cups of coffee continued to cool.

The 1-hour-later ground coffee cup started to taste more bitter (confirmation bias anyone?), and the freshly ground cup maintained most of its original flavors with perhaps a bit more brightness.

What this indicates to me? I really should stick to blind taste tests, even if they are a PITA to setup.

Have you compared freshly ground coffee to pre-ground coffee?

Most people won’t go through the trouble of grinding their own coffee, but I think this is silly if you haven’t compared freshly ground coffee to pre-ground coffee.

So, now that you know what to do, please share you results in the comments below. I’m really curious to know if you pick up any discernible differences.

P.S. blind is better…learn from my mistakes!

Tools used in this coffee experiment