So here we are, 3 months into our journey toward better office coffee. What fun its been! We’ve looked at brewing techniques, where you should get your beans, the history of coffee, how to store it, how coffee works its magic in companies, coffee shops and co-working spaces and how it might just be good for your health!
We have learnt that we media professionals drink by far the most coffee in the office, that whoever told us coffee should be stored in the fridge was telling porkies, fair trade might not be as fair as we thought and that first thing in the morning might be just about the worst time to drink coffee!
I’ve had some great conversations in person and on Twitter about the part coffee plays in your day, and investigated how coffee improves company culture and the spirit of collaboration in co-working spaces. I’ve also gotten to know bean providers like Has Bean, Pact Coffee, Honest Coffees and Coffee CSA who are helping improve office coffee with their ethical, organic and high-quality mail-order coffee beans.
But journey to better office coffee has only just begun…which brings me to the topic of today’s column – grinding your own. We’re back to the nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts of better office coffee!
The Pros & Cons (Are There Any Cons?) To Grinding Your Own Coffee
The only way to truly lift your office coffee to new heights is to grind your coffee fresh. Really, it’s the first step to better office coffee (apologies for not covering it sooner!)
“if you do not grind your beans right before brewing, you are never going to taste everything a top-shelf coffee has to offer.”
The outer shell of a coffee bean protects the volatile flavours and aromas stored inside a coffee bean from the harmful effects of the atmosphere. As soon as that protective outer shell is broken by a grinder, its inner goodness begins to deteriorate. So imagine the state of coffee that has been ground for hours, days, or even weeks? Ideally (and I stress that I am talking an ideal world) coffee should be consumed within 9 minutes of grinding. The only way to guarantee this is to grind it fresh, from whole bean, yourself.
Plus, you can’t beat the smell of freshly ground coffee…
There are two ways to grind your own coffee – by hand, or with an electric grinder. Whichever you choose, I have one rule. It must be a solid burr grinder, NOT a blade grinder like the ones you use for nuts. Burrs crush the beans into consistently sized particles, while a blade grinder chops beans within an inch of their life, into an inconsistent mess of fine powder and coarse chunks.
So which grinder should you buy?
Grinding by hand is the more sociable, compact and artisanal way to do it. I have personally never used an electric grinder (except when working in a coffee shop!). The noise of grinding your own coffee could be distracting for your colleagues (there we go, one con!), while a hand grinder allows you to be portable, and take your noisy grinding into the stairwell!
I am very happy with my Hario Mini Mill Slim Hand, but I secretly covet the slightly more stylish and compact Porlex Hand Mill. Both have adjustable grind settings, though, and are the perfect size for carrying in your workbag or briefcase.
The most important thing when it comes to electric burr coffee grinders is an adjustable grind – the more settings the better. Beyond that, it just comes down to how much you are willing to spend. Grinders aren’t something to scrimp on, and the quality of the grind is directly related to the cost of the grinder. In my opinion, you’ll need to spend over £100 to make buying an electric grinder worthwhile.
Many coffee machines these days have a bean-to-cup mechanism, whereby the grinder is built-in. There’s even a Kickstarter out for the world’s first roast-grind-brew machine… I’ll talk more about those when I review the best office coffee machines next week.
Thank you all for your support and readership over the past three months, it’s been great having you along for the ride! I am intrigued to know how your office coffee has improved – have you changed your bean provider? How are you brewing your office coffee? Have you experimented with cold brew? Has this column in any way changed the way you and your colleagues enjoy office coffee? I hope so! I’d hate to think that it was just the self-indulgent, weekly ramblings of a coffee fanatic!
Tell me about your journey to better office coffee. Leave a comment in the section below, tweet us @GreenerMediaUK using the hashtag #betterofficecoffee or post on our Facebook page. Photos and videos are also welcome!
So now we have finally taken the first step to better office coffee, there is no stopping us! Every great journey starts with a single step, after all.