What is ground coffee –
A complete guide.
What is ground coffee?
Ground coffee is roasted coffee beans that have been ground down to be brewed for coffee, much like flour is ground wheat to be used for baking. There’s many ways of brewing your coffee, but they all require ground coffee beans and water.
Launching into finding yourself a ‘proper coffee’ can bring up many daunting questions. One of the regulars that we find gets asked, is: “What actually is ground coffee?”. Answering that question requires outlining some of the processes used to make the magnificent brew we all love.
That process of turning a little berry into your delicious brew has a few important steps. When first picked (from the Genus Coffea tree), the coffee berry will run through a number of steps which are often different depending on the grower’s discretion and understanding of how to hold onto the all-important coffee notes and flavours. As an example, some coffee berries will often be sorted (taking out any unusable berries), washed and then have its flesh removed to get to the green coffee bean inside, and then put out on huge drying racks in the glorious sunshine to dry, giving the beans time to lock in all of the various flavours and notes each one carries.
Once dried they’re packed and sent to all corners of the world, ready to be roasted into what we often recognise as ‘whole coffee beans’. It’s from there that you can select to grind those beans into various consistencies to get the most flavour possible while matching your chosen method of brewing – from Moka Pots, to AeroPress, there’s multiple options.
What’s the difference between ground coffee and instant coffee?
The difference between ground coffee and instant coffee is that ground coffee is freshly roasted coffee beans that are ground ready to be brewed, and instant coffee is freeze or spray dried lower quality coffee that has already been brewed. Think of it a bit like fresh food verses processed food.
Some of the most famous coffee brands, the kind you’ll see on a lot of supermarket shelves, have built their names on instant coffee. No doubt you’ve even tried some yourself – simply add boiled water and you’ve ‘instantly’ got a cup of coffee. So why are we now talking about beans? What’s the difference and where does it come from?
A number of people are credited with the invention of the ‘instant coffee’, with the Brits patenting a ‘Coffee Compound’ in 1771, but it’s relatively accepted that the first successful method of creating a stable soluble coffee powder was invented by Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato of Chicago in 1901.
Instant coffee is typically made from low-quality Robusta coffee beans, as they’re cheap and easy to get hold of. Those beans are roasted to taste and ground into a really fine powder. This powder is then brewed and stripped of any water content leaving behind an extract that then goes through further rigorous stages of scientifically drying, often by freezing or spraying with liquid coffee concentrate in a super-heated environment. This will produce crystallised coffee grounds that will then go through a few more treatment stages to remove any remaining water and try lock-in the flavours before dropping into a bag ready for your shelves at home. Though it’s probably much more manufactured now, the process is relatively the same since Satori created it over 100 years ago.
You can understand the appeal to large coffee firms – cheaper beans and a lighter weight mean a good earning with each bagful. But it’s also fairly easy to understand that with all of those processes, a lot of the original coffee flavours and delicacies get lost or removed in place for ‘manufactured’ flavours. Like a fine wine, an organic meal or simply a new pair of shoes, you can tell if something’s over-processed or produced to save money or time.
Coffee beans whole or ground, carry all of the incredible and intricate flavours and notes from the varietals and locality it was grown in. Naturally.
By using some of the highest quality Arabica coffee beans in the world, tested and graded by the SCA (The Speciality Coffee Association), we are able to really pinpoint those delicious flavours and bring out the best in the beans by roasting them perfectly for you to unlock and enjoy in your next cup of coffee.
Why is your coffee a ‘speciality’?
‘Speciality coffee’ is a term for the highest grade of coffee available, graded by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). The term typically relates to the entire supply chain, using single origin or single estate coffee. The term was first used in 1974 by Erna Knutsen in an issue of Tea & Coffee Trade Journal.
Seven Districts uses coffee beans that are graded by the SCA as being amongst the top coffee beans in the world. The coffee is given a grade from 1-100, based on multiple factors. Any coffees scoring 80 plus points are guaranteed to come from ethical sources, where human rights, the environment, farmers and workers wages are all fair and transparent. The beans’ journey to our roasters will be visible, so we can trace the origins, the farmers, their plots and the micro-climates where your beans were grown and nurtured. Find out more about our special beans here.
What are the different blends and textures of ground coffee?
The method you are using to make your coffee can dictate how coarsely you need to grind your beans. To help with choosing what kind of grind you might need, we’ve labelled each of our grinds with the type of brew method you’d use to get the best results.
Follow the links below to see more details about each grind, and how to make the most out of your new speciality coffee – including a handy run-down of what exactly ground decaf coffee is.