What is Whole Bean Coffee?

In the grocery store, you can buy a bag of whole bean coffee, or a bag of ground coffee.  Is there a difference?  For coffee lovers and coffee drinkers, the short answer is…YES!!

First, let’s talk about beans in general.  When we talk about green beans in coffee language, we mean the coffee beans before they are roasted, and yes, they are green.  Once they are roasted, the beans are referred to as whole beans.  The next obvious step is grinding the beans, and this is how you have ground coffee.

You can buy whole coffee beans if you have a grinder in your kitchen.  If not, you need to buy ground coffee.

Whole Bean Coffee

Whole bean coffee refers to coffee beans that are not ground until just before brewing. They are in their whole bean form.  The natural oils and flavors of the coffee beans are preserved within their protective shells. This means that when you grind the beans, you're getting a fresher and more flavorful experience compared to ground coffee.

When you buy coffee in whole-bean form, you'll typically find it in a bag of whole-bean coffee. This bag is usually labeled with the type of coffee, the roast level (sometimes), and the origin of the beans. It's important to note that not all whole-bean coffee is created equal. Single origin coffee beans are grown in specific regions and have unique flavor profiles, while others are blended to create a specific taste.

One of the advantages of whole-bean coffee is that you have more control over the brewing process. You can adjust the grind size to suit your brewing method, ensuring that you get the best possible flavor from your coffee. Additionally, whole-bean coffee has a longer shelf life than ground coffee, so you can store it for longer periods of time without worrying about it tasting old.

The fresher, the better!  Check the expiration date.  Look for beans that are roasted within the past few weeks. Freshly roasted coffee beans will have more flavor than beans that have been sitting on the shelf for months. 

The Roasting Process

Whole bean coffee starts its journey as a red coffee cherry.  When it goes through the whole coffee process and is ready to be roasted, it is a green bean. The roasting process transforms the green coffee bean into the aromatic and flavorful coffee bean we all love. The green coffee beans are exposed to high temperatures that cause chemical changes during roasting.

Roasting really is an art, and there is a lot to it.  The roasting process is what gives coffee its unique flavor profile.  During roasting, the coffee beans lose moisture and gain volume. The longer the roasting process, the more moisture the coffee beans lose, which results in a darker roast.

Whole Bean vs Ground Coffee

There are some advantages to buying whole-bean coffee.


The best way to get a perfect coffee is with fresh coffee beans.  Grinding coffee right before you brew it, well, it is unmatched.  Once coffee has been ground, it is exposed to air and oxidation, which over time it loses its aroma and freshness.  Also, there is a reason that most coffee shops grind the beans once they take your order and start preparing your drink.  


You can store both ground and whole-bean coffee for a limited time. However, whole beans will stay fresh longer than ground coffee. Whichever coffee you buy, whole bean or ground coffee beans, make sure to store it in an airtight container.


There usually is not much difference in cost if you buy whole-bean coffee or ground coffee.  The only added investment is that you need a coffee grinder so that you can grind your coffee before brewing.  

The Importance of Grinding

When it comes to coffee, the coffee grind size plays a crucial role in the final taste of your cup. Grinding your own beans allows you to experiment with different grind sizes to suit your taste preferences.  Getting the wrong grind size can ruin your morning cup!

A coarse grind is typically used for French press or cold brew, while a fine grind is required for an espresso machine. A drip brewer or coffee maker requires medium ground coffee.  Different brewing methods require different grind sizes, so matching the grind size to your brewing method is important to get the best results.

It's important to note that not all coffee grinders are created equal. Blade grinders can produce inconsistent particle sizes, while burr grinders produce a more uniform grind. Burr grinders are generally recommended for those who want to achieve the best possible flavor from their coffee.

Types of Grinders

When it comes to grinding coffee beans, there are two main types of grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders.

Blade Grinders

Blade grinders are the most common type of coffee grinder. They work by using a spinning blade to chop the coffee beans into smaller pieces. While blade grinders are generally less expensive than burr grinders, they are not as precise. The size of the coffee grounds can vary widely, which can impact the flavor of the coffee. Additionally, blade grinders can generate a lot of heat, which can affect the flavor of the coffee as well.

Burr Grinders

A burr coffee grinder is more expensive than a blade grinder, but it offers more precision when it comes to grinding coffee beans. These grinders use two burrs, or cutting surfaces, to grind the beans. The burrs can be adjusted to create different sizes of coffee grounds, which can impact the flavor of the coffee. Burr grinders also generate less heat than blade grinders, which can help preserve the flavor of the coffee.

If you're serious about your coffee, investing in a high-quality burr grinder is the way to go. While they may be more expensive, they offer more precision and control over the size of the coffee grounds, which can lead to a better-tasting cup of coffee.

Experience the Perfect Cup

Your at-home coffee experience starts with the right beans for the perfect cup of coffee. Whole bean coffee offers a fresher and more flavorful experience compared to ground coffee. Choosing whole-bean coffee allows you to control the coarseness of the grind and customize the brewing process. 

Once you have your whole-bean coffee, invest in a burr grinder. For a smooth, well-rounded cup, the size and shape of the coffee grounds matter. The helicopter motion of a blade grinder produces uneven-sized grounds, while a burr grinder crushes the beans to a consistent size. This consistency helps achieve a balanced flavor and aroma in every cup.

Next, choose your brewing method. Different brewing methods can bring out different flavors and aromas in the coffee. Experiment with different brewing methods until you find the one that suits your taste.  We created My Home Brewing Methods Guide just for this reason!

Savor the aroma and flavor with every sip. Whether you are at home or at a coffee shop, the perfect cup of coffee is an experience worth savoring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between whole-bean coffee and ground coffee?

Whole bean coffee is coffee that has been roasted and left in its original bean form, while ground coffee has been processed and ground into smaller particles. When coffee beans are ground, they start to lose their flavor and aroma, which is why many coffee enthusiasts prefer to buy whole-bean coffee and grind it themselves right before brewing.

What are some benefits of buying whole-bean coffee?

One of the main benefits of buying whole-bean coffee is that it allows you to have more control over the brewing process. By grinding the beans yourself, you can adjust the grind size to match your brewing method and personal taste preferences. Additionally, whole-bean coffee tends to be fresher and has a more robust flavor and aroma compared to pre-ground coffee.

How do I properly store whole-bean coffee?

To keep your whole-bean coffee fresh, storing it in an airtight container away from heat, light, and moisture is important. To store it, be sure to use an airtight container to prevent moisture from getting in. It's best only to grind the amount of coffee you plan to use immediately to prevent the beans from losing their flavor and aroma.

Does whole-bean coffee have more caffeine than ground coffee?

The amount of caffeine in coffee is determined by the type of coffee bean used, how it is roasted, the kind of coffee, and how it is brewed, not whether it is whole beans or ground. Therefore, there is no significant difference in caffeine content between whole-bean and ground coffee.