Grinding a whole bag of coffee at once is called “bulk grinding” and it makes a lot of sense if you don’t have regular access to a grinder. It’s why you see those big, messy grinders in the coffee aisle at your local grocery store, always covered in other people’s coffee.
As a Baratza owner, however, you do have that access – so why grind all at once and let your coffee go stale? Instead, grind “on-demand” - which is to say, only grind what you need for the next pot or cup of coffee you plan to make.
Grinding on-demand is part and parcel of owning a home grinder. At the push of a button, you get a consistent and repeatable grind every time. It’s best for freshness, it allows you to tailor your grind size to your brew method – maximizing the value of your coffee beans, and it reduces the chance of clogs or damage.
Fresh is Best!
Grinding on-demand ensures freshness, which makes for much more flavorful coffee. Once coffee is ground, it begins to stale and lose flavor. Think of a fresh loaf of sourdough bread. While the crust is unbroken, the loaf stays relatively fresh, soft, and aromatic. Once sliced into, however, the whole loaf starts to get hard and taste/smell less intense.
The same thing happens with coffee. Once ground and exposed to air, your coffee will lose flavor and will brew differently compared to when it was freshly ground. A coffee bean is full of so much aromatic material and stuffed with flavor-making compounds that begin to deteriorate as time goes by. Oxygen exposure breaks down those compounds, and eats away at the structure of the coffee bean. The result is a soft, less flavorful husk of carbon cell walls.
Close your eyes and think about the smell of a coffee shop as you open the door and walk in. That smell is gas coming off freshly ground coffee. Once it leaves the structure of the coffee bean, it floats away and won’t come back. Grinding fresh is like walking into the café, grinding in bulk is like walking out of it.
Stale coffee is a missed opportunity to enjoy the full spread of exciting flavors in fresh coffee. Grinding fresh-roasted coffee on demand means you get the best freshness out of every single batch you brew – every time.
If you’re just starting out on your journey into great coffee, then our exploration of grind size and coffee extraction is a must-read! Long story short: your grinder is a powerful tool in unlocking the full potential of high quality coffee.
There are a lot of different ways to make coffee: espresso, aeropress, single cup pour-over, batch brewers, and French press – to name a few. Each one brews differently, and you need to change your approach in order to find the best results. Your grinder gives you great precision over grind size, which means you can fine-tune brews to best fit your method, coffee, and preferences. This process is called “dialing in.”
Grinding in bulk eliminates your ability to “dial in” a brew with precision, so you can’t really explore your extractions and unlock that potential. You’re committed to one brew method for a whole bag of beans, so don’t even think about an Aeropress in the afternoon, a Chemex for two on Sunday morning, and espresso before work all from the same bag. Grinding on demand means you can make espresso, then a pour over, and then a French press, all without planning ahead or buying multiple bags.
On-demand is more convenient – run your grinder and get just what you need without the hassle of scoops and jars. Having a grinder at home means you can make the change to your grind necessary to improve your brew. Small changes can really affect extraction, but if you grind in bulk, one mistake in the grind setting means a whole bag’s worth of extraction problems! You can’t go back and fix the next cup by adjusting grind – all the coffee was already ground at the wrong setting.
Clogs are Slogs
Your Baratza grinder is designed to grind coffee right when you need it for the batch you intend to make right away. Part of this design is a hopper that will hold your bag of beans, with a grounds bin that holds about the max quantity you'd want for a large pot of coffee. Trying to grind a full bag or hopper at once means the chance to clog your grinder, and potentially damage it, is increased significantly.
Coffee piles up in the bin and starts getting backed up in the discharge chute. Soon enough, the burrs are grinding coffee that has nowhere to go. Your machine struggles to keep doing it’s work diligently, but something is wrong and it soon knows to shut itself off thanks to an overload fuse. Our machines are user serviceable, so clogs or damage don’t spell disaster. A clogged machine, however, won’t work until it’s cleared, and doing so can be messy business.
You Deserve It
At Baratza, we believe that the first, biggest step in quality coffee at home is the coffee itself – do your coffee justice by grinding fresh. The second step is your grinder - it’s an investment in quality that you deserve to get the most out of.
You can fully experience the coffee you buy, and you can enjoy the benefits of the grinder you’ve chosen by grinding fresh, on-demand.