Best Ground Coffee For 2022

Customer: Excuse me, this coffee tastes like mud! Barista: Well, it was ground a minute ago… I’m here all week! ;-). I know, that was terrible, but it’s probably the best ground coffee joke you’ll hear, today at least. 

Now I’ve broken the ice with that, time to get on with some serious stuff, the best ground coffee.

What is it, why is it the best, where the heck do you get it from, and should you get it at all? Hmm, the plot thickens, but I’ll reveal the twist very soon.

In fact, go on, I’ll drop the spoiler in now…

The very best coffee is ground at home!

Yes this post is about the best ground coffee, and we’ll get into that very shortly, but I just wanted everyone reading this to first understand that buying pre-ground coffee is a compromise. 

You’re compromising taste and experience for convenience. 

Taste, because freshness matters, and whole coffee beans stay fresher for longer than pre-ground beans do. When beans are ground, you’re exposing much more of the bean to the air vs a solid bean, which means it degrades much quicker.

Also, the taste compromise is amplified as a result of lack of control over grind size.

Most pre-ground coffee, especially if you’re picking it up when you’re doing your weekly shop, tends to be a “one size fits all” grind size. Even if you pick up a “cafetiere” grind for example, you’re forced into a one size fits all grind size for cafeteire, and there isn’t one size that fits all, not even for each brewing method.

This is one of the main reasons that pre-ground coffee doesn’t really work all that well as a concept, as your main element of control over the brew, is the grind, and you’re giving up that control by buying pre-ground vs grinding your own coffee. 

Pre-ground definitely doesn’t work for espresso, by the way – unless you’re using pressured baskets. 

If you have a machine like the Swan Retro, DeLonghi Dedica or Smeg espresso machine, these come with “pressurized” baskets, and these will work with pre-ground coffee, but you don’t have any control over the extraction this way. 

If you’re using an espresso machine with standard, traditional baskets, forget using pre-ground, you just can’t.

In most cases, pre-ground just won’t be fine enough, coffee will flow through the puck of coffee too quickly, and the shot will be “under-extracted” which means it’ll end up tasting sourer and generally less delicious than it should.

By the way, the Sage Bambino and Bambino plus, Barista Express, Barista Touch, Barista Pro and the Gaggia Classic Pro all come with both pressurized and standard baskets so you can decide which to use.

Best Sage Coffee MachinesBest Gaggia Coffee Machines

Experience, because the sounds and the aroma you get from grinding fresh is part of the theatre of coffee making.

Coffee Brewing Ritual.

Coffee Brewing Ritual.

There’s something about this ritual that just makes me happy. I’m not sure if it’s a Pavlov’s dog thing going on, where I’ve become conditioned by the sound and smells of coffee grinding? Whatever it is, I enjoy grinding coffee as part of my coffee-making ritual.

With all that being said, all of the coffees available on my website, The CoffeeWorks, are available pre-ground, simply because a big % of the population want pre-gound, so if we don’t offer this, we’re ignoring a huge percentage of potential customers. 

However, I do all I can to increase the experience customers have with my coffee when choosing to buy it pre-ground.

This is done by grinding to order as the coffee is being bagged up, which we do as soon as we receive your order, and by having a couple of grind size options. 

These grind size options don’t give you much control, this is impossible, but the fine grind option will work for espresso with pressured baskets, and Moka Pot – and the medium ground option will work for filter and for the more modern cafetiere grind. 

The main thing we can do, though, is to grind the coffee just before we dispatch, this is what makes the main difference to the ground coffee we offer vs most bags of ground coffee. 

If you pick up a bag of ground coffee from a supermarket, or a cafe, or anywhere where it hasn’t been ground just before being put in the bag – the coffee isn’t going to be as fresh as it will be when you get it a day or two after ordering, and it’s being ground to order. 

The biggest problem for me is pre-ground coffee from the supermarket. This coffee could have been ground and bagged up weeks, even months before it even lands on the shelf, let alone in your basket. 

So at least if you buy my coffee, you’ll know it was only ground as it was bagged up after receiving your order.

To put my money where my mouth is, here’s a nice chunky discount for you, why not use this so I can prove to you how good the coffee is?:

Use discount code CBNC25 for 25% off your first order at Coffeeworks

Some other high quality coffee suppliers and small-batch coffee roasters do this too, by the way, I’m not trying to claim I’ve invented this concept. For loads of options see:

The UK coffee roasters directory

If you can grind your own, though, however you choose to brew your coffee whether it’s with a filter coffee machine, cafetiere or espresso machine, you’ll always get the best flavour and experience, if you brew your coffee as soon a possible after the beans have been ground.

You don’t need to spend a fortune either, you can pick up an electric grinder for as little as £20 and for even less if you go down the manual grinder route but that will involve a bit of donkey work to turn the handle (a bit like a pepper grinder) to get the coffee ground but there is also some satisfaction to doing it that way as well.

I’d recommend that you ensure you’re going for a burr grinder, not a blade grinder, but to be honest I’d prefer to grind coffee myself via any means than to use pre-ground coffee. 

Here are a few articles that will help if you want to consider grinding yourself:

Best Burr Coffee Grinders  

Best Manual Coffee Grinders  

What is the best ground coffee?

So as I’ve just explained, in my humble opinion ground coffee isn’t the best option, but if you absolutely can’t grind coffee yourself, the best ground coffee is definitely freshly ground coffee, the fresher the better!

If you can order it from my website or a similar website run by people who’re as passionate about coffee as I am, and get it when it’s only just been ground a day or two previously, then this is a step in the right direction. 

But keep in mind that being the best coffee has nothing to do with when or where it is ground. It’s about the quality of the coffee beans themselves, where they were grown, how they were processed and how they were roasted.

For more on this see:

Best Place to Buy Coffee Beans Online

Most people in the UK will pick up bags of coffee while they’re doing their shopping. What most people don’t realize, though, is that supermarkets are bulk suppliers, not specialist suppliers. 

Yes of course you can pick up bags of coffee from the supermarket, but when you need to understand is that the places you go to for your weekly shop (whether you do the old-fashioned thing of actually pushing a trolley around, or choose home deliver) are all about FMCG.

Fast moving consumer goods, or “consumer packaged goods” FMCG or CGP, is the industry that supermarkets are in, and it’s all about selling packaged goods in vast quantities, as fast as possible.

See also  How Much Caffeine Is in Cocaine Energy Drink?

Buying from supermarkets is the polar opposite to buying from a specialist supplier.

I know, some high-quality brands have managed to get a small amount of shelf space in certain higher-quality supermarkets, but these are the exception, not the norm. 

The lion’s share of the ground coffee you pick up doing your weekly shop is coffee which was purchased at the stock market commodity price for coffee, or the fair trade price, and then roasted in very large quantities, ground in very large quantities, and bagged up, boxed up and sent all around the world.

Ground coffee does start to lose its freshness quickly once it’s been ground down from beans and even though you’ll mostly buy it vacuum-packed you won’t know when it was ground, you’ll just find a “best before date” on the pack.

This can often mean the coffee was ground and packed a year or more before the best before date, you just don’t know.

Regardless of how it has been ground and how long it’s been in storage or in transit as pre-ground coffee before hitting the shelves, the issue with a lot of this coffee is that it wasn’t great quality coffee to begin with.

It was targeted at the FMCG industry, not at the speciality industry, and this kind of coffee is usually bought based on price first and foremost.

This is another thing I’m proud about when it comes to my coffee at The Coffeeworks.

I have chosen the best-tasting coffees I’ve managed to get my hands on, after tasting LOADS of different coffees, and spending lots of time bouncing off walls as a result ;-).

You choose the coffee based on which you think you’ll enjoy the most. In the next step, you’ll tell me whether you want it wholebean or preground.

So the only difference between wholebean and ground coffee is that if you choose ground, we’ll grind it as it goes out of the door.

As I’ve said, other decent coffee websites and small batch roasters also do this. When you’re buying coffee from people who really love coffee, you’ll usually find that buying pre-ground doesn’t limit you to buying lesser quality coffee. 

But where the word “best” is concerned, I can tell you that the best coffees come from higher altitudes, better soil conditions, better-experienced second or third-generation coffee farmers, the best processing methods and so on – but best is a very subjective thing. 

It’s all about tasting various different coffees and discovering which kinds of coffees you enjoy the most, and this might depend on the brewing method, too.

For example, for espresso, I love chocolate notes, and when I’m pulling espresso shots for milkies (flat white, cappuccino, latte, cortado etc) I like stronger dark chocolate notes, and these often come from medium to dark roasted beans which have been processed via the washed processing method.

If I’m drinking filter coffee,  I find I often prefer light to medium roasted beans, and I tend to enjoy naturally processed coffees more via this brew method.

For example, I love natural processed Ethiopian coffees for filter & Aeropress, but I wouldn’t choose this coffee for making a flat white, personally, as that’s just the way my taste buds work.

Once you find out what coffees you prefer depending on the brew methods you’re going to be using, or the type of coffees you prefer to make, you can pick the best coffees for you.

I know I keep harping on about my own coffee ;-), apologies, but I’m really passionate about it!

Anyway, just one more thing to say is that once you know what kind of coffee you prefer, including roast profile, processing method and origin, at The Coffeeworks there are filters on the page that you can select.

So just tick the boxes that correspond with what you’re looking for, and this will help you to choose the best coffees for you, and then decide whether to have them ground to order, or grind them yourself as you’re brewing. 

Is ground coffee the same as instant coffee?

If you already know the answer to this, it may sound like a daft question  ;-), but I don’t think it is, because to the uninitiated, ground coffee and instant coffee appear to be the same thing. 

Steve from hasbean, a great small batch coffee roaster based near Stafford (I did my barista training there) tells the story of how he started off selling his coffee beans on a market stall. 

One of his very first customers brought the coffee back, explaining that something was wrong with it, it wouldn’t dissolve in the cup… ;-). Steve must have wanted the ground to swallow him up at that point, I can imagine how difficult that would be to explain.

This customer thought that his ground coffee beans were the same as instant coffee, so she spooned it into her cup, added hot water, and then almost choked.

I’ve experienced this too. I’ve had people watching me pushing out the used coffee beans from the bottom of my Aeropress, ask me isn’t this wasteful because not all the coffee has been used, can’t I use it again?

I have to remind myself that I once didn’t know the difference between instant coffee and pre-ground coffee either, and why should you?

In the UK, most of us have been brought up with instant coffee, I certainly was, so why should we know how it works and what it is? We just open a jar, shove a spoon in it, add hot water – what is there to know? 

If you want to know a bit more about it, though, here you go :-):

Coffee comes from the coffee plant. Duh, you knew that much ;-). There are two main species of coffee plant that are generally used, Arabica and Robusta. 

Arabica plants tend to be smaller shrubs, while Robusta are usually bigger bushes and usually the plants yield more cherries and can be grown at low altitudes. 

Robusta is usually cheaper to produce, and it also contains up to double the amount of caffeine. On its own, Robusta can taste very harsh. If you’ve had in instant coffee which was so harsh you almost did an involuntary backflip, that was probably a Robusta or high percentage Robusta to Arabica blend.

So a lot of the best quality coffee you’ll find is 100% arabica, although there are some great coffees which are a blend of the two, this works particularly well for espresso blends.

There are loads of different varieties of Arabica that are selected for the different tasting coffee beans they produce, and we tend to refer to these as “varietals”. 

All coffee starts off as a coffee cherry on a coffee plant, and most of these cherries contain two seeds, and these are what we know as “coffee beans”, named so because they resemble beans, even though they’re not beans at all!

Beans are also seeds, but only seeds of plants that belong to the Legume family (Fabaceae, or Leguminosae) are actually beans.

Coffee plants aren’t part of this family, so these seeds aren’t beans, but they look like them, which is why they ended up being referred to as coffee beans.

I say “most” cherries contain two seeds, because there are also “peaberries” which just contain one whole seed rather than two halves.

So these beans (seeds) are processed via one of a number of different methods, and when this is done we have our “green” coffee beans, and they’re not really green but they do tend to have a greenish hue, which is where this name comes from. 

These beans are roasted, and then the coffee bean has to be ground into small particles so we can brew the coffee in order to get all of the amazing stuff from the bean into our cup.

See also  How to Make Coffee Without Electricity?

So what is the difference between instant coffee and fresh coffee then?

Although it may look similar at first glance, ground coffee is very different from instant coffee. When you brew ground coffee, you’re freshly brewing coffee. When you pick up a jar of instant coffee granules, you’re buying coffee that has already been brewed.

Instant coffee is coffee that has been brewed and freeze-dried while in the state of being a thick sludge, and you bring it back to life and dilute it when you add hot water. 

What about “Barista Style” instant coffee?

There are some very popular, more modern instant coffees often referred to as being “barista style” instant, and these are usually instant coffees laced with very finely ground coffee that hasn’t been brewed.

This gives the illusion of crema on the top of the coffee, so it looks like a coffee you might get from a trained barista, hence the term barista style. 

So, in my humble opinion, fresh is always best, and the best way to freshly brew coffee is to grind it yourself. If you need or want to stick with pre-ground coffee, though, then here are some suggestions:

Zesty and Floral Ethiopia Ground Coffee

Zesty and Floral Ethiopia Ground Coffee

Click Here & Use Discount Code CBNC25 for 25% Discount!

This is one of my favourites when it comes to manual brewing methods, it’s a natural processed Ethiopia Sidamo, and it produces a really enjoyable lemon and lime zesty & floral (hence the name) taste, which I love when I’m in the mood for that kind of a coffee. 

This isn’t particularly a coffee that I would think of as being great when mixed with milk, this for me works best as black coffee, and is particularly good as filter coffee or Aeropress. 

best ground coffee beans

best ground coffee beans

 Click Here & Use Discount Code CBNC25 for 25% Discount!

Another one of my favourites, for me this one works equally well as black coffee, or mixed with milk, and works for a range of brew methods, including espresso, filter, Aeropress and cafetiere.

Best ground coffee cacao uganda

Best ground coffee cacao uganda

 Click Here & Use Discount Code CBNC25 for 25% Discount!

This is a really surprising one for me! When I went through the lastest round of cupping, followed by loads of testing with each potential coffee being brewed via various brew methods, my roaster suggested a 50/50 robusta blend. 

I was expecting to chuck this one straight in the bin ;-). I’ve enjoyed some blends with 20% robusta, but a 50% robusta conjured up images of grinding and brewing an old tractor tire. 

When I first cupped this one, though, I was amazed! This is a single origin blend, both the Arabica and the Robusta are from the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, and this blend results in a mega tasty and STRONG coffee. 

Re the taste, for me it’s very much a cacao flavour, and this for me makes it work amazingly for milkies, flat white, latte and so on. It produces a super chocolaty cappuccino for example. 

If you like a fairly intense espresso, Americano or long black, and you want a really strong coffee to wake you up in the morning but you don’t like the smack in the gob that you can get from robusta, this is a great one to try. 

If you drink it black, or with only a splish of milk (and I say splish because “splash” of milk annoys me, splish is way better) there is a bitterness there for sure, but for me, it’s an enjoyable lingering cocoa bitterness.

Blue Coffee Box

Blue Coffee Box Review.

Blue Coffee Box Review.

Click Here & Use Discount Code CB210 for £10 off your first box!

Blue coffee box have one of the most popular discovery coffee box subscriptions in the UK. These kind of subscriptions differ from the more standard “subscribe and save” subscriptions that you’re probably very familiar with, in that they introduce you to a range of different coffees.

I’ve been a customer of Blue Coffee Box since not long after they got started, and over the years they’ve really helped me to broaden my coffee horizons, introducing me to loads of different coffees, from different roasters, origins, varietals and processing methods. 

Each coffee comes with an info card that tells you all about the coffee, the farm, the processing method & the roaster, so it’s great for anyone who wants to gradually learn more and more about coffee. 

Black Friday Offer: Blue Coffee Box usually offer coffeeblog readers £8 off their first box, right now though they’re offering two deals.

£10 off your first box. For this, enter the code CB210 at bluecoffeebox.com

20% off your pre-paid subscription. If you’re paying in advance for your subscription, to save money, rather than paying monthly, enter the discount code CB222, and you’ll get 20% off the entire value of the subscription! 

For more on Blue Coffee Box see:

Blue Coffee Box Review

Check Price – Amazon UK

Spiller and Tait are a very well-established UK roaster, who supply coffee directly via their own website, and also via Amazon. 

Their Signature blend has been around for quite some time, it’s been on Amazon now for over 7 years at the time of writing, and they’ve obviously sold a massive amount of this coffee over the years, judging by their Amazon Reviews, most of which are full of praise. 

There are a couple of of negatives, but these are to be expected, some people should really make sure they fully understand the situation before ranting…

Someone left a very negative review because the coffee contains Almonds, and their granddaughter has a nut allergy. I can’t help but smile at this, not in a condescending way but I do love some of the stuff grandparents come out with ;-). 

This one is up there with “she’s vegetarian? Surely she’ll be OK with wafer-thin ham? ;-).

In case anyone is reading this and scratching their head, when taste descriptors list things like “almonds” or “hazelnut” etc., they’re not saying they’ve ground up some nuts and put this in the coffee – that would be nuts ;-). They’re talking about the taste notes that they pick up when tasting the coffee.

I remember being at a coffee roastery once, and they were very annoyed that they’d just had a scathing review online for sending them ground coffee with tea mixed in with it. 

What this customer was referring to was just a bit of chaff, which is simply the silverskin, the protective skin on the coffee seed, some of which ends up in the ground coffee and I suppose could look like tea leaves, although I’ve never seen tea leaves that look like that ;-).

Some of the other negatives I can see are really reviewing pre-ground coffee as a concept, rather than this coffee in general. As I said earlier, you don’t have much control over the brew when you buy ground coffee, so if you’re aiming for perfection with a particular brew process, you really do need to brew your own. 

Someone has also left a bad review because this coffee doesn’t work well for stovetop – but it’s not going to, it’s listed as being suitably ground for Aeropress and filter.

Generally speaking though a lot of people in the reviews are agreeing with what Spiller and Tait say about their coffee, that one of their main goals with all of their coffees is to do their best to avoid bitterness in the cup.

Best Ground Coffee - Bourbon Cream Espresso Pact Coffee.

Best Ground Coffee - Bourbon Cream Espresso Pact Coffee.

Check Price – Pact Coffee

Pact coffee is another coffee subscription company that have been around for quite some time, but these days they don’t purely focus on their subscription business, they sell a lot of their coffee via their online shop, too. 

Pact do some really nice coffees, I have to say. I’ve been a customer of theirs for several years now, and they really do know what they’re doing. Will, their head of coffee, is very experienced and has a great coffee palate, well – obviously, or he wouldn’t be doing that job ;-).

See also  Sage Dual Boiler – The Best Dual Boiler Espresso Machine?

This one is one of their darker roasted coffees, mainly geared up for espresso.

I do have to doff my hat to Pact, when it comes to their ground coffee, not that I ever wear a hat, but I would if I did. They grind to order, which is great, but also they have a really good number of grinding options, which gives you greater control over your brew. 

They’re a much bigger business than my coffee company, of course, they have the resources & the people to be able to offer a wider pre-gound range, I’d like to do the same but it’s just not practical to be honest. 

With Pact, though, you can choose whole bean, coarse, medium, medium-fine & fine – so they’re doing a good job here when it comes to offering their customers a bit more control over the brew. 

Ground Coffee Beans.

Ground Coffee Beans.

Check Price – Pact Coffee

I don’t think a post about the best ground coffee beans would be complete without a decaf, as many people who grind their own coffee tend to keep a bag of pre-ground decaf in the cupboard. 

I don’t quite agree with this option for decaf, by the way.  I get it, if you’re using a bean to cup machine, and it has a bypass chute, keeping a bag of pre-ground in the cupboard to launch down the bypass chute when someone wants a decaf, seems to make sense. 

But this means opening a bag of ground coffee which then sits in a cupboard getting increasingly stale, often not sealed properly, ready to make someone heave when they come round for a decaf coffee ;-).

Another reason for buying pre-ground decaf coffee beans is that some people leave their full caff beans sitting in their bean hopper, and they don’t want to remove the beans for decaf. This is another no-no, for me.

You really don’t want to leave beans in your bean hopper going stale. Keep em in an airtight container, and put them in the hopper when you’re about to use them. This way, you can buy your decaf whole, too, so it doesn’t go stale as quickly.

Better still, though, have a look on Etsy to see if anyone is producing a single doser and bellows mod for your grinder, and just grind exactly what you need each time, whether it’s full caffeine or decaf.

How to store ground coffee

As soon as coffee is ground and is exposed to the air it starts to deteriorate. Some bags of coffee from the supermarket are vacuum-sealed to try and keep the freshness but as soon as you open the bag the clock is ticking.

If you just keep it in the bag you bought it in or tip it into a coffee jar then you’ll probably achieve good flavour for about 7 days and then for the next 7 days it will still be drinkable but after that it’s going to be progressively getting staler.

Don’t put it in the fridge because you don’t want to expose it to any moisture as that will just ruin it even quicker than leaving it out at an ambient temperature.

You can freeze ground coffee, but only if you separate it into individual brew-sized portions. If you stick the entire bag in the freezer and take it out each time, the continual change in temperature will ruin your coffee. 

The best place to store your ground coffee to retain the freshness is in an airtight container and then keep the container in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

Try these: 

Ground coffee storage jar.

Ground coffee storage jar.

Check Price – Etsy

How much ground coffee to use per cup?

If you use a cafetiere or a filter coffee machine then it’s common to just add a couple of spoonfuls of coffee or a few scoops per cup and then add water but that’s definitely not the way to go about it.

One of the key variables to creating great coffee is ratio of coffee to water. There’s no right or wrong here, there’s a guideline, and then it’s just a case of testing to see what you prefer, and it might change depending on the coffee you’re using, and the brewing method.

No two spoons hold the same amount of coffee and scoops come with all sorts of different volumes so depending on what scoop or spoon you are using, your ratios will be all over the place.

The ratio of ground coffee to water to aim for depends on what method you are using to brew but as a general rule 60g of ground coffee per litre of water for filter or cafetiere and filter, and between 1:2 to 1:3 for espresso. 

If this has just thrown you, 1:2 for example, or sometimes expressed as 2:1, means double the amount of espresso vs dry coffee beans. So if your portafilter basket takes 19 grams, a 1:2 extraction would result in 38grams of espresso. 

Weighing your coffee before adding water makes a big difference to the quality. I would definitely recommend getting brew scales, I know this might seem really geeky ;-), I remember thinking that when I first started really getting into specialty coffee, but I can’t imagine not using scales now, your ratios are going to vary quite a bit if you don’t know exactly what weight of coffee you’re using.

For more on brew scales, see:

The Best Coffee Scales

What’s the best ground coffee brand?

Definitely The Coffeeworks ;-). Just kidding, to be honest, brand really doesn’t matter with coffee – the bigger the brand name, doesn’t necessarily mean the better quality the products.

This is true of all products really when you think about it.

The biggest brands in any market are just the businesses that have been the most successful in building their brand, and actually, when it comes to coffee, it can be harder and harder to achieve quality as the brand becomes more successful. 

The biggest coffee brands in the UK offering pre-ground coffee are names like Starbucks, Lavazza, and Taylors of Harrogate – and in my humble opinion, you’ll get better quality pre-ground coffee from small batch speciality coffee roasters, than from most bigger brands.

What is Ground Coffee?

Lots of people apparently ask this question, and although it seems like a bit of a strange one because surely the clue is in the title ;-), I can understand it in the context that many people think that instant coffee is ground coffee.

So when they hear the term “ground coffee”, they’re not sure how this differs from jars of instant – and I think this is where this question comes from.

If you read the info earlier in this post about what coffee beans are and how they end up in bags of ground coffee, then this question will have been answered already. In case you skimmed past that though, simply put – ground coffee is coffee beans that have been roasted, and then ground in advance, so that you don’t need a coffee grinder. 

Instant coffee is made by roasting coffee beans, grinding them, then brewing the coffee into a thick sludge, freeze-drying it, and then being smashed up into granules. Ground coffee on the other hand is just roasted and ground, ready for you to freshly brew.

Life is like a box of chocolates, so join my Brew Time list, subscribe to my YouTube Channel, become an accredited coffee botherer (Patreon supporter), try my coffee at The Coffeeworks (use discount code coffeebotherers), follow me on Twitter & Instagram, follow the coffeeblog FaceBook page, and that’s all I have to say about that.

This article firstly appeared at Coffee Blog – The UK Specialty Coffee Blog – For Lovers of REAL Coffee!

%d bloggers like this: