Freshly Ground Vs Pre-Ground Coffee: Which Is Better For Cold Brew?

As coffee connoisseurs will tell you, the process of making cold brew is very different from making most traditional coffee, right down to the type of beans you use, how old those beans are and how much you grind them. However, perhaps one of the most important factors is whether you should buy pre-ground beans to make your cold brew or invest in a coffee grinder to grind your beans fresh just before adding the water. According to Willow and Deverett, there are pros and cons to each strategy, so it depends a lot on your cold brew priorities.

Pre-ground coffee beans have the added benefit of being much more convenient, and cheaper, and they definitely will work to make cold brew. Especially if you purchase a coarse grind as opposed to a fine one, since this will allow the water more freedom of movement, without getting trapped by the densely-packed fine coffee grounds. However, that's about where the pro's stop. The truth is, if you want the freshest and most flavorful cup of cold brew possible, you're going to want to grind your own beans (via The Spruce Eats).

Why freshly ground beans are best for cold brew coffee

Before modern coffee existed, people steeped the full coffee fruit, bean, and hull in hot water for a caffeinated beverage that was not very tasty at all, PBS. The reason the drink has evolved to now be steeped ground beans is simple: to increase the available surface area of the roasted bean and extract a deeper and more complex flavors for our brews (via Perfect Daily Grind). Coffee grounds also lose about 60 percent of its aroma within fifteen minutes of being ground, according to Forbes. So now the reason for choosing fresh-ground beans over pre-ground for your cold brew should be rather obvious: they will lead to a much more flavorful outcome. Plus, if you grind your own beans, they're almost certainly going to be of a higher quality than the pre-ground stuff, as reported by JavaPresse. Most of the time pre-ground coffee has already gone stale by the time you buy it in a store.

The cons for choosing to grind your own beans are also simple: they will cost more and they're definitely not as convenient as the pre-ground option. Also, the process of grinding the beans and then cleaning the grinder is time consuming and has to be done every single time you make your cold brew. So the decision ultimately comes down to which is more important to you, flavor or convenience.