If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you may wonder why whole coffee beans are much pricier than ground coffee. Regardless of the brand you choose, this seems to be the case. As it turns out, there are actually many reasons for this.
Coffee beans are more expensive than ground coffee because of the quality of beans used, production standards, and because they are guaranteed not to be mixed with other types of beans. Whole coffee beans also come from better crops, and that they last longer than ground coffee.
Buying whole beans instead of ground coffee comes at a higher price. In this article, I’ll proivide an in-depth explanation on why coffee beans are more expensive than ground coffee, and how you can make the best choice for you. Let’s get started!
Reasons Coffee Beans Are So Expensive
Regardless of the coffee brand you buy, whole beans are more expensive than ground coffee. If you regularly drink coffee, you might find this unfair because they’re the same beans, right? You may even assume that ground coffee should be more expensive since the manufacturers have to put in the effort to grind and package the coffee before selling it.
The truth is that preparing whole coffee beans to sell expends significantly more effort than grinding coffee. There are various reasons for this, and we’ll discuss each one.
Higher Quality Beans Are Used for Whole Bean Coffees
Because whole beans maintain a higher quality standard than ground coffee, there’s much more that goes into preparing the beans to sell. From the time it takes to hand-pick the beans to growing them into better crops, there’s no contest between whole beans and ground coffee. However, companies know that people are willing to pay more for higher quality.
You may be surprised to learn that farmers spend a lot of time picking through coffee beans as they’re preparing them to be sold. The best beans are chosen for whole bean coffees, while damaged and smaller beans are chosen for ground coffee.
The coffee beans used for whole coffee are also typically picked at peak ripeness levels so that they have the best flavor possible.
When people purchase whole bean coffee, they’re likely paying close attention to the beans as they use them. If you’ve ever cooked with legumes, you may have noted that some of the beans don’t look quite right. They may have various discolorations, chipping, and so on.
The same thing happens with coffee beans. Manufacturers know that consumers don’t want to purchase coffee beans that aren’t up to the highest standard available, so they make it a point to select the best beans.
Even though the beans come from the same crop of plants most of the time, there’s still a big difference in quality.
There Are No Blended Batches With Whole Bean
When it comes to ground coffee, you will often see manufacturers blending various crops and coffee bean types. This has a major effect on flavor, and sometimes your coffee can even taste slightly different from morning to morning.
With whole bean coffees, you always get consistency. Whole beans are never mixed in multiple crops or various types of the coffee plant. No matter how many bags of whole beans you purchase, you’ll usually get the same flavors and quality standard.
Supply and Demand Are Higher With Coffee Beans
It seems like more and more people are making the switch to whole bean coffee over ground coffee. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is something we have already discussed: the quality of whole coffee beans is higher.
As more people purchase coffee beans instead of ground coffee, there’s more need for it. This means that farmers spend even more time picking through their crops, trying to get the best beans for each batch. Workers are working longer hours and need to be paid more.
Unfortunately, this means that you also pay more, but it’s worth it for the quality, right?
Whole Beans Come From Better Crops
The plants used for whole coffee beans are typically better cared for than those used for ground coffee. While both types of coffee can come from the same plants, more often than not, whole bean crops get separated.
This doesn’t mean that plants producing ground coffee aren’t well taken care of, but simply that whole bean plants usually get a little more attention.
Whole Coffee Beans Last Longer
Another reason coffee beans are more expensive than ground coffee is that they last significantly longer, both on a shelf and in the freezer.
Ground coffee typically lasts three to five months in the pantry, and another one to two years in the freezer. Whole beans, on the other hand, last for between six and nine months in the pantry, and between two and three years in the freezer.
Whole beans typically last longer because they are still in their original form. The same is true for fruit. Cut fruit doesn’t last as long as unpeeled and whole fruit.
Whole Coffee Beans Have Many Uses
One of the significant differences between coffee beans and coffee grounds is that whole beans have a variety of uses. In contrast, ground coffee is typically only used to prepare liquid coffee.
Many people eat whole coffee beans, either on their own or covered in chocolate, yogurt, and so on. When consumed whole, the beans provide a higher concentration of caffeine. Many people who have been forced to make lifestyle changes but still need the caffeine hit have switched to eating whole beans.
Whole coffee beans are packed full of various health benefits as well. They have a high level of antioxidants, which are destroyed during the grinding process.
Whole Coffee Beans Have Plenty of Flavor
It’s been long known that whole coffee beans are jam-packed with flavor. Too often, ground coffee’s flavor can be a little bland. This is also one reason people feel like they need to use excessive amounts of ground coffee for brewing and minimal amounts when brewing from whole beans.
If you don’t store it in an airtight container, ground coffee can become stale just a few days after the grinding process. Once the coffee’s oils evaporate, the flavor also goes with it. Ground coffee can lose a lot of its natural flavor in less than thirty minutes!
The reason for this is the coffee grounds are so small that oxygen quickly penetrates them. As soon as oxidation begins, all the good things about coffee – the sugars and light acidity – begin to dissipate. All that remains after a day or two is bitterness.
Whole coffee beans tend to have a fuller and robust flavor profile than their ground coffee counterparts. This is partly due to whole coffee beans coming from the same good crop. If you remember, ground coffees are usually a blend of various crops.
The biggest reason, however, that the beans have more flavor is because oxygen can’t get to them yet. Of course, it reaches the outside of the bean, but the flavor is locked in deep inside. When you freshly grind your coffee you’re getting all the gentle flavors, natural sugars, and smoothness that comes with coffee.
Is It Worth Paying More for Whole Beans?
There are many similarities between whole coffee beans and ground coffee. They both come from the same coffee plants, and the whole coffee bean typically has to be ground to be used, anyway. So, is it worth it to pay the extra for whole beans?
Well, it depends. If you’re only downing coffee in the morning to get the hit of caffeine and move on with your day, then probably not. However, if you enjoy drinking coffee for the flavor, there’s no better option than going with a whole bean coffee.
One of the major benefits of grinding your coffee beans is choosing the grind size. Espresso typically uses one grind, while drip coffee uses another. Regular brewed coffee uses yet another grind. If you’re a person who drinks a lot of coffee, being able to choose your grind size is a considerable advantage.
The grind size also determines the flavor of the coffee. For example, smaller grounds extract faster. In grinding your own coffee, you now have the freedom to determine how much flavor, bitterness, and sourness you want from the coffee. This is all because of being able to choose how much of the flavor gets extracted.
Of course, this also means you have to invest in a grinder upfront, but they’re not too expensive and are undoubtedly useful.
You’re also getting the added health benefits and versatility when choosing whole beans and added shelf lifetime.
It’s pretty clear that whole beans have many benefits. In my opinion, the cost is worth it, but in the end, it’s up to you.
Whole coffee beans are more expensive primarily because of the standard of production. They are almost always of a higher quality than ground coffee and take significantly more effort to get from farm to table.
Whole coffee beans have a myriad of benefits that ground coffee does not, and this is yet another reason whole coffee is more expensive.
So, are manufacturers just scamming you with whole bean prices? Not likely because you get what you pay for.