From the upstairs office – Two frequent questions about coffee –

Why doesn’t Z’s grind their beans? 

We take a lot of pride in the fact that the beans we sell are organically grown and that we are a certified organic roasterie.  Beyond that, we strive for achieving the highest flavor profile from each of our roasts.  So why not go to the next step and grind the beans?  The simple answer is – that would be a disservice to our customers.

Coffee is never fresher than when it is first ground.  Once ground, coffee begins to lose flavor and aroma simply because of the air.  You can’t see the flavor leaving the coffee, but you can smell it. Right?  If you want to have the absolute freshest cup of coffee you need a good coffee grinder.

The ideal is to grind only what you are going to use when you’re ready to use it.  (You’ll see our Baristas doing this for every coffee drink we make.)  The coarseness of the grind is determined by the brew method – drip, percolator, espresso machine, French press, etc.  There are burr grinders and blade grinders.  Burr grinders generally allow for a variety of settings, from fine to coarse,  while a blade grinder might not have any settings – just depends on how long you let it run and grind the beans.  Why is this important?  A burr grinder will produce a more consistent particle of coffee – which prevents over or under extraction and produces a much more consistent and ‘cleaner’ cup of coffee.  To illustrate, think of pouring water over a glass full of gravel ranging from pea-sized to chunks.  The water would be quickly absorbed by some pieces and pass right over others.  You don’t want this to happen to your coffee.

There are some drip coffee brewers that have built in grinders.  The problem with this equipment is that the steam from the brewing coffee gets into the grinder, which means the grinder has to be cleaned and dried thoroughly before it can be used again.  Any grinder should be completely dry before grinding coffee.

Use this as a quick reference for knowing the right grind for your brew method:

Extra Fine – Espresso machines

Fine – Drip brewers with cone-shaped filters

Medium – Drip brewers with flat-bottom filters

Coarse – French press, percolators

Is it better to store coffee in the freezer or refrigerator? 

Yikes!! Neither!!  Until you’re ready to brew, coffee and moisture are not good companions.  People often think about buying coffee in bulk and storing it in their refrigerator or freezer.  Bad move.  It is almost impossible to keep moisture out of any container that sits in a ‘fridge or freezer for any amount of time.

Here’s a thought to keep in mind: once moisture touches coffee – it’s brewing.  Yes, really.  It doesn’t matter if the coffee is whole bean or ground; or whether the moisture is hot or cold.  Drying out the coffee doesn’t help – you can’t put flavor back in.  Coffee should be stored in an airtight container with a seal, and one that does not allow light.  Then place it in the darkest recesses of your pantry.

If all of this sounds way too complicated, it’s not.  Knowing the right way to store, grind and brew your favorite coffee means you’ll get more flavor and enjoyment from this daily ritual.  It’s a comfort thing.