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I have just recently started drinking coffee, and have got myself a small counter top espresso machine.

Some people in work have suggested that instead of buying ground coffee (I have been using Lavazza ground coffee) I should buy beans and grind it myself. I have asked why, but no one has been able to give a better answer than "it just is better", so I am hoping someone here can help me find a better answer to this question. Or is it just personal preferences?

Also, as a newcomer to this, I know that the coffee someone uses is down to personal tastes and what have you, but I am just wondering if there are any coffee manufacturers who are very good when it comes to espresso (I mostly drink espresso).

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Ground beans have a much larger surface area by weight than whole beans. When the surface of the bean is exposed to air chemical reactions take place. I doubt that these reactions have been completely characterized but at a minimum they include some loss of aromatic oils. In other words, the processes that lead to a judgment that coffee is "old" happen faster in ground coffee.

You can do the experiment easily and cheaply by comparing the results of coffee made with freshly-ground and pre-ground versions of same brand/date coffee. You can always borrow a grinder.

The experiment might not work if both samples of coffee are old (or poor quality). Otherwise I think you would notice a difference. Whether the difference is worth paying for is a different question; but the only costs are a grinder and time to grind the beans.

A short answer to the question about brands might be: good, fresh Arabica beans are similar in many ways, up to roasting. Some people prefer a light roast, others medium or dark. Once you decide, find a brand that does what you like consistently.

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    Hi, thanks for the reply! That's a good idea for the experiment, I think I will give that a try. I'm sure I can get a grinder easy enough. Thanks again. – o.fithcheallaigh Aug 6 '15 at 8:00
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    Excellent points! See also the question about when coffee goes stale. – hoc_age Aug 6 '15 at 19:11
  • @hoc_age: Thanks, enjoyed reading the answers there.The info on caffeine loss in old/stale coffee is really interesting. – daniel Aug 6 '15 at 21:20
  • getting the right grind for the espresso machine can be very tricky. The easiest way to get it is with a conical ceramic burrs grinder. If you use the blade grinder, then you have to leave it for a long time and check the powder with your fingers until the coffee feels almost like refined sugar. – PabTorre Sep 27 '15 at 4:18
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The thinking is perhaps similar to spices. Spices in natural seed form can be stored for years if sealed air tight at room temperature. A similar thought can be applied to coffee beans, but stored for months maximum and not years! Grinding beans just before use can give a fresher/stronger flavor with more natural oils and moisture content. Now that said, good pre-ground or beans needs good storage. Prepare enough for no more than 1 week of use. What I do and some may disagree but it works for me. Pre-ground that isn't used right away, squeeze excess air from bag, place that bag inside a plastic zip lock freezer quality bag, squeezing air from it and then zip lock seal, place in freezer. Very important to allow frozen bean or pre-grind to come to room temperature before opening to use!! Another quality pre-ground is Bustello and is an espresso grind.

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If you do decide to pursuit (or at least try) grinding yourself, keep in mind, all things being equal, you want to grind your coffee beans at the last possible second (reasons already given by @daniel).

Also, you will want a coffee grinder which can produce an even grind fine enough for espresso. At the lower end of the price range (under $100), this generally means ceramic burr grinders. The $10 blade grinders from Walmart can't really give an even grind. Good quality manual ceramic grinders, such as the ones made by Hario, are fairly cheap, but being manual, it means getting a good arms workout. ;)

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Beans are more expensive and I think it is because in ground coffee they can add other ingredients too. I prefer beans!

  • Hm. So what exactly is your answer to the question? I think this post could benefit from an edit that adds a bit more facts and less opinion. – Stephie Oct 17 '18 at 17:08
  • I don’t have facts what additions are added to ground coffee, I gave my personal reason why I buy beans. – zarvox Oct 17 '18 at 17:20

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