Coffee Questions: Coffee Grinders & Freshness by Caleb Savage


If you want to make great coffee at home, do you have to have a grinder? And do you have to grind your coffee right before you make it?


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As we’ve said before, Coffee is a fruit. Fresh fruit means great flavors. Since coffee loses flavor the older it is, and, coffee stays fresh best when it it’s kept as a whole bean, waiting to grind coffee until right before you brew can keep your coffee more fresh. That being said, you shouldn’t buy a grinder based on freshness alone.

For making great coffee at home, buying a serious coffee grinder is probably the most impactful purchase you can make. While finding a brewer might depend on preference or style, and all scales generally do the same job, (some are more beautiful than others) not all grinders are equal.

All grinders grind coffee, but good grinders grind coffee evenly.

Thought experiment: You want to cut a pizza into equal size slices to ensure that everyone gets the same sized slice. Giving someone a larger slice means that someone else will get a smaller slice. In a world where one slice of pizza is enough to eat, one person will have too much food and the other won’t have enough. Getting flavor or extracting coffee is similar.

Holding all other variables constant, coffee particles at different sizes will extract at different speeds, because smaller particles will have less to extract than larger particles. This means that some coffee particles will over-extract, giving off bitterness and weakening the body of the coffee, and other coffees will under-extract, adding sourness and lessening sweetness of the cup. Having the ability to extract each coffee particle evenly leads to a balanced, sweet cup of coffee with brightness, clarity, and body.

Is it better to have coffee that tastes fresh or evenly extracted?

Freshness changes, grind consistency doesn’t. That being said, buying a great grinder isn’t the best option for everyone.

Solution: Fellow’s Atmos

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Do you go through 12oz of coffee about once a month or faster? Fellow’s Atmos Vacuum Canister might be the solution for you! By removing oxygen and sunlight from the equation, the coffee beans are able to retain the acids and sugars that give us the flavors we love longer, slowing down the ill effects of aging on coffee. Let us grind your coffee for you on our Mahlkonig EK43! This will give you more consistency than any home grinder could provide. By storing your ground coffee in the Atmos, you’re able to retain the freshness you want from whole bean coffee while getting a more consistent and improved extraction.

Why Coffee Freshness Matters by Caleb Savage

Coffee is a fruit

Coffee beans are the seeds of a flowering fruit tree. Because coffee beans are the seed of a plant, the seeds serve as incubators for future plants filled with all the sugars, acids, and cell structures necessary to supply a new plant. When roasted, these compounds can be tasted as the sweetness, acidity, and bitterness we love in a great cup of coffee! Without these compounds, a great coffee can taste flat or dull.

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What kills freshness?

  • Sunlight

  • Heat

  • Oxygen

  • Moisture

  • Time

How long does coffee stay fresh?

Using resealable, valved bags like the ones our friends at KLLR Coffee use, coffee is best in the first two weeks after the coffee is roasted. The further you get away from the roast date after the first two weeks, the more the acids and sugars present in the coffee will degrade. What do you do with three-week-old coffee? Drink it! When we talk about freshness, we’re talking about coffee in it’s most ideal form, not that it’s bad, dangerous or should be discarded after it’s no longer fresh, just that it’s no longer the most ideal!

Meet: The Atmos

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We love Fellow. From their XF Brewers to their kettles, Fellow consistently makes quality coffee equipment that looks great too! With the Atmos, you can combat the effects of sunlight and oxygen and extend the life of your coffee without introducing changes in temperature or risking exposure to moisture.

The Atmos Vacuum Coffee Canister removes oxygen from the canister (and your coffee) by twisting the lid back & forth, meaning don’t have to worry about batteries or having to keep weird tools on hand every time you go to make a cup of coffee!

By removing oxygen from the environment, the process of sublimation or the loss of coffee flavors through oxygen, can be slowed and the coffee itself will retain its bright, sweet flavors longer!