Whole Bean vs Ground Coffee: Which Should You Buy?

By Shabbir
Last update:

If you’re new to coffee, the question of whether you should buy whole bean vs ground coffee probably comes up when you go shopping.

Coffee snobs will probably turn up their noses at the very notion of pre-ground coffee, but let’s not go there!

As you may have guessed, the answer to the debate of whole bean vs ground coffee is a resounding “whole bean coffee every time!”

If you’ve only bought ground coffee so far, I hope I am able to convince you to start buying whole bean coffee. Your taste buds will thank you for it, and once you try whole bean coffee, pre-ground coffee will be ruined for you forever.

That’s a good thing 🙂

Whole Bean Coffee Vs Ground Coffee: Why Whole Bean Coffee Wins Every Single Time

Whole bean coffee tastes better

An incredibly important factor in brewing coffee is the freshness of the coffee. Fresh coffee will taste much, much better than stale coffee.

The problem is, coffee tends to lose its freshness fairly quickly! Freshly roasted coffee beans begin losing carbon dioxide through a process called degassing. This process starts nearly immediately after the beans have finished roasting.

The coffee beans remain fresh for a maximum of 1-3 weeks, and that too if they’re stored under optimal conditions: away from sunlight, moisture, and in an airtight container.

Once you grind coffee beans, the degassing process becomes even faster thanks to the extra surface area, and the coffee will go stale in just 30 minutes to an hour!


Now imagine picking up some supermarket pre-ground coffee that was roasted who-knows how long ago and was ground who-knows how long ago!

If you’ve always known coffee to taste bitter or unpleasant, and the only way you could palate it was with a generous helping of milk and sweeteners, you have never tried fresh coffee.

Coffee made from freshly roasted coffee beans has a very pleasant taste and you’ll actually enjoy drinking it black. Any additives will feel like adulterations to the flavor!

Once you start drinking fresh coffee, you’ll begin to appreciate the little flavor notes and subtleties in your coffee instead of just experiencing a whoosh of bitterness.

Whole Beans Give You More Flexibility Than Pre-Ground Coffee

Did you know that if you made coffee using the same kind of beans, but once with a french press, once with a drip coffee maker, and once as a cold brew, the taste would be strikingly different every single time?

The kind of brewing method you use makes a huge difference in your final cup. Each brewing method has a specific grind size suited to it.

Here’s a quick overview to the type of coffee grind sizes you need:

  • Espresso: fine
  • Moka pot/stovetop espresso: fine-medium
  • Pour over(Hario V60/Chemex/Kalita): fine-medium
  • Aeropress: fine-medium
  • Drip: medium
  • French press: coarse
  • Cold brew: very coarse

If you wanted to switch up your brewing methods and were only buying pre-ground coffee, you’d have to buy a separate bag for each brew method!

By buying coffee beans instead, you have control over the type of grind size to go for. So if you feel like a pour over, grind some coffee to fine-medium consistency.

Do you feel like having an espresso? Grind the same coffee beans to a fine consistency.

How about a nice chilled cold brew? Grind the same coffee beans to a coarse consistency.

So now, instead of needing to buy separate bags of ground coffee, you can buy separate bags of coffee beans instead and really experiment with flavor notes!

Control over your brew

The final nail in the coffee grounds vs coffee beans debate is the fact that using coffee beans gives you a lot more control over your resulting brew.

You can really dial in a coffee to your specific preferences and likes by making small adjustments to the grind size.

It’s useful to think of a grind size as a range rather than an absolute.

For example, there’s no strict definition for what is considered a “medium” grind.

Burr coffee grinders will also suggest a range of settings to experiment with. So if a grinder has 15 settings, setting 8 would be right in the middle and the “textbook” medium grind.

However, 6, 7, 9, and 10 could also be considered medium. It all depends on the kind of flavor you wish to extract.

The fineness or coarseness of the grind size will determine how quickly water can interact with the coffee. Fine grinds increase the extraction time, and coarse grinds decrease the extraction time.

So if your coffee tastes too acidic, you can use slightly finer grounds to increase the brew time and allow more flavors to come into your coffee.

If your coffee tastes too bitter, you can use slightly coarser grounds to decrease the brew time so the brew finishes before the bitter-tasting compounds are extracted.

Conclusion: Price and value of coffee beans vs ground coffee

By now, I hope you’ve been convinced that using freshly roasted coffee beans is the way to go, and that you should not touch pre-ground coffee unless it’s a coffee emergency.

The last question that may linger in your mind is that of price. Before I even compare the prices, let me ask you this: is it worth possibly spending a couple of dollars more and actually enjoying your coffee like you’ve never enjoyed it before?

You may be able to find cheap ground coffee, but the taste will be the same: cheap. You’ll probably end up spending the same amount or more on additives like creamer or sweeteners!

With that said, here’s the price of a bag of coffee beans and coffee grounds on Amazon:

AmazonFresh’s Colombia ground coffee is $6.79 for 12 ounces, which works out to $0.46/ounce.

AmazonFresh’s Colombia whole bean coffee is $5.04 for 12 ounces, which works out to $0.50/ounce.

Stick to coffee beans, because you’ll enjoy them a lot more.

After all, that’s what coffee is all about, right?

Last update on 2024-06-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Coffee Brewster is completely reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. We appreciate your support!
About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.