Ground coffee is the powdered granules that come from whole coffee beans. At first glance, ground coffee may look the same as instant coffee but it is completely different.
The easiest way to understand what ground coffee is can be defined as coffee beans that have been broken down into very small pieces ready for making a cup of coffee.
What is ground coffee made of?
The first thing you need is coffee beans. One of the most interesting things about coffee beans is that they are actually a fruit.
Coffee beans start their life as coffee berries that grow on a coffee plant and the seeds of the cherries become the beans that become ground coffee that you use to make coffee with.
To learn more about how ground coffee starts off growing from the ground you can check out this article:
Is ground coffee the same as instant coffee?
Ground coffee is NOT the same as instant coffee. The only thing that’s the same is they both come from whole coffee beans.
One of them has been heavily treated and the other is fresh (ish) coffee that has not been treated at all.
Ground coffee has been crushed down from whole coffee beans and then vacuum-packed into the bags you buy from the supermarket. There is nothing else in the bag except coffee.
Never buy ground coffee that has not been vacuum packed because it could easily be stale and you have no idea when it was ground down.
Coffee starts to lose its flavour as soon as it has been ground and the vacuum packaging helps to keep the coffee fresh. As soon as you open the bag, aim to drink it within about 10 days maximum.
Only ever buy as much as you need for a few weeks at a time to ensure maximum freshness as this makes a big difference to the flavour.
See this article for the best way to store coffee to keep it fresh:
Instant coffee is second-hand coffee and should be avoided if you want to enjoy a decent tasting coffee.
Generally speaking, lower quality coffee beans are used to keep the price down and then the coffee is ground down and mixed with water to create giant vats of coffee in liquid form.
All the water is then removed and the coffee gets frozen and broken down into the small granules you add water to in order to get your “instant coffee”
That’s a very simplified version so if you want to understand in detail how instant coffee is made this article explains:
The bottom line is that ground coffee is fresh and instant coffee is not. Always choose ground coffee over instant coffee for the best flavour experience.
Is Nescafe a ground coffee?
Nescafe coffee that sits in jars or tubs on supermarket shelves is NOT ground coffee, it is instant coffee that has been pre-brewed and frozen.
That’s why you can add it straight to your cup and add boiling water for a quick coffee and caffeine fix.
The only reason that instant coffee dissolves completely when you add water is that is has been brewed before and all the bits that don’t dissolve have been removed in advance.
Can you use ground coffee as instant?
With ground coffee, you cannot add it straight to your cup and drink it. Well you can if you want but you are going to get mouthfuls of coffee bits and that’s going to be pretty unpleasant.
You can learn more about how coffee dissolves in water in this article:
One of the ways that you can use ground coffee like instant coffee is by using coffee bags. A relatively new way of making coffee they are now becoming more popular and can be found in most supermarkets.
In the same way as tea, the ground coffee is sealed in a bag and the soluble parts of the ground coffee come out of the bag and mix with the water to create your cup of coffee.
The parts of the ground coffee that don’t dissolve stay inside the bag for you to dispose of easily, without mess and ensures you don’t get any bits of coffee in your mouth.
See this article to find out what coffee bags are like:
How do you make ground coffee?
It’s much easier than you think to make ground coffee yourself at home.
If you are just starting out then you can buy a cheap coffee grinder for as little as £10.
Using whole coffee beans and grinding them yourself is super easy and massively improves the flavour.
Here are the best cheap coffee grinders for you to consider:
Throw some beans in, press a button and 30 seconds later you will have some freshly ground coffee ready for you to brew a delicious cup of coffee.
You can make ground coffee from whole coffee beans without using a coffee grinder but for the sake of a tenner it’s not really worth it.
This article explains the best way to grind your coffee beans including using regular kitchen essentials if you don’t have a coffee grinder:
How much ground coffee should you use per cup?
Using the right amount of ground coffee with the right amount of water is important to get the best tasting coffee possible. This is called brewing ratios.
It’s not super important to start with but once you get more experienced with ground coffee then you can start to tweak it to get the perfect strength of coffee to suit your palette.
This article explains brew ratio’s in detail:
Do you need a coffee maker to use ground coffee?
The only way to brew a cup of coffee with ground coffee without risking getting bits of coffee in your mouth and without using a coffee maker is to use a coffee bag (as described above).
But the best way to make a cup of coffee with ground coffee is to use a coffee maker or coffee machine.
If you are just starting out then there is no need to buy an expensive espresso machine, there are loads of options in the £10 – £30 bracket.
A cafetière is probably the best way to brew with ground coffee cheaply. You just add some coffee and boiling water to the cafetière and then plunge down and enjoy!
There is a little bit more of a technique to it than that and this article explains how you can get the best out of your cafetière:
And here are some cheap cafetieres for you to consider:
Where a cafetière is a manual way to brew ground coffee, using a filter coffee machine is much more automated and you simply add the ground coffee into a filter and press a button.
The machine then pushes water through the coffee and it drips into the jug below ready for you to enjoy and filter coffee machines are a lot cheaper than you may think.
This article explains the different types of filter coffee machine to help you decide what’s best for you:
And these are all our suggestions for you to consider on one page:
Pod coffee machines contain ground coffee that is vacuum sealed for freshness and this is the most convenient way to make coffee with ground coffee.
No mess and no hassle, you don’t even need to touch the coffee, just pop in a pod, press a button and you are done.
Here are some pod coffee machines for you to look at:
If you want to get a bit more advanced and you have a larger budget then you can think about getting an espresso or bean to cup coffee machine that grinds the beans for you and turns it into ground coffee and makes you a coffee without you having to do anything.
Here is an article that explains in detail:
Now you know exactly what ground coffee is and the best ways to make a cup of coffee with it.