Humans have been making coffee for hundreds of years, yet there is still debate about how to make the perfect cup of joe. There are a lot of factors that go into each cup, and personal preference makes each step completely subjective. As coffee culture has spread across the world, people have spent a lot of time experimenting with different methods to create that perfect cup of coffee.
You can make coffee with whole beans, with no need to grind them first. The basic principle is the same as traditional coffee making. Using a whole bean to make coffee simply means you have to adjust the method and other aspects of brewing.
Since brewing coffee with whole beans is not the norm, there aren’t many hard and fast rules to abide by. You do have to make sure to balance each part of the process accordingly. This gives you an opportunity to experiment and craft the perfect cup of joe for your tastes.
Why Does the Way You Grind Coffee Beans Matter?
The type of grind you use actually plays a big role in determining the brew method you should use. As you break a bean into smaller pieces, the total surface area increases, so water has more space to extract flavor from. The finer the grind, the shorter the contact time and the faster the brew.
Espresso beans are ground very finely, so the time the water is in contact with the beans is minimal.
A French press works best with a course grind, so you have to steep the beans for a few minutes.
Brewing coffee with whole beans means there is much less surface area to work with, so it takes longer to pull flavor and oils from the center of the bean.
Regardless of the grind of the coffee beans used, consistency is key. If you mix finely ground coffee beans, course ground beans, and whole beans, flavor will be extracted at very different rates. This can lead to coffee being sour or bitter, and not something you would enjoy drinking.
The type of grind you use, or don’t use, is just one factor in getting the perfect flavor. The rest of the steps to making your morning cup of joe are just as important.
Don’t Disregard the Other Steps
The size of the grind is just one consideration for brewing a good cup of coffee. There are many other important things to think about:
- The water: Water makes up most of the coffee. If you use water with a weird taste or smell, your coffee could have remnants of that same taste or smell.
- The ratio: Creating a recipe with a bean to water ratio is hard because it is based so much on personal preference. You will have to adjust the ratio based on the intensity of flavor you want.
- The beans: Different coffee beans make different tasting coffee. There is arabica and robust, light roast and dark roast, Ethiopian and Costa Rican. With so many different types of coffee bean, you will have to experiment to find the perfect bean for you.
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How to Brew Coffee with Whole Beans
To make coffee with whole beans, a double boiler would work best. Or create your own with a heatproof glass cup or jar, a measuring cup works well, and a pot big enough to fit the glass.
Here is an example of a DIY version. You will also need coffee beans, water, and some sort of filter or strainer.
- Start by combining hot water and coffee beans in the inner part of the boiler, or the glass jar. The coffee to water ratio is where is where you first get to experiment. Start with a 1:3 coffee to water ratio and adjust it to your tastes.
- Put water in the outer boiler, or the pot, and heat it slowly until it is simmering. This will help keep the water in the glass hot while it is brewing.
- Stir occasionally but let this sit. Start with about an hour, but you can adjust the time to your tastes.
- Remove the inner boiler or glass and strain the mixture.
- Enjoy your coffee!
Use Whole Beans to Make Your Own Cold Brew
For all of you out there that will drink iced coffee in the dead of winter, you too can partake in the whole bean method. Some people actually prefer using whole beans when they make their own cold brew.
Here are the steps you can take to make your own cold brew at home:
- Start with a 1:4 coffee to water ratio
- Mix water with coffee beans in an airtight container
- Stir the mix
- Let it sit, either at room temperature or in the fridge, for 24 hours
- Once it is ready, strain the mixture once,
- Then strain it a second time
- Adjust your ratio, and the brew time, according to your own taste preferences
Voila, homemade cold brew without needing to grind any beans.
Have Fun with Your Whole Bean Coffee
If you like your coffee black, or with a small amount of cream and sugar, go for it. But if you’re like many these days, you want a lot of flavor in that coffee, and many different options.
- Add some cream, then throw in some cinnamon and brown sugar for a snickerdoodle flavor.
- Mix it up with some milk and honey for a subtle sweetness.
- Or go with a favorite, the classic cream and vanilla bean powder.
- For extra sweetness, add liquid sweetener to taste.
Whatever your flavor preference is for the day, don’t be afraid to try new add ins. After all, you spent the time trying a new brewing method, may as well try that new recipe with it.
Other Coffee Articles You Will Love:
- 9 Reasons Your Percolator Coffee is Bitter (with fixes!)
- How to Reheat a Starbucks Latte
- Can You Put Milk in a Coffee Maker?
Why Would You Use Whole Beans?
There are some definite benefits for brewing coffee using the whole bean. Mainly, you don’t have to worry about grinding the beans.
Some grinders can damage the beans, affecting the flavor of the coffee, but good quality grinders can get expensive and aren’t always an option.
Pre-ground beans lose a lot of freshness.
Not having to worry about the type of grind used, or the quality, lets you focus on the other parts of brewing a good cup.
Why isn’t Making Coffee with Whole Beans More Common?
The coffee industry is a huge industry around the world. Coffee is actually the second most traded commodity in the world, and the number of specialty coffee shops are growing.
Even with all this coffee moving around, using whole beans is not exactly common.
A big reason for this is the extended time needed for the brewing process.
The average person is not going to wait an hour for their first cup of the day, and who wants to wait at a coffee shop for that long? It would give “taking a coffee break” a whole new meaning.
Grinding the coffee beans allows the whole process to be streamlined.
Experiment with Brewing Whole Beans
Using whole beans to brew your coffee is an easy brewing method to add to your list.
If you are a coffee connoisseur, or even just someone who likes to try different things, spending the time to brew your coffee differently can be a fun pastime and make you appreciate that cup so much more. So next time you accidently grab that whole bean bag at the store instead of already ground beans, try making that perfect cup of coffee using those whole beans.