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Ground coffee from supermarket - lack of info on packaging

Hi, I have searched through Choice Reviews and Community but haven’t found any info about this: I haven’t decided yet about spending the money for a good coffee grinder, so I am looking at pre-ground coffee from the supermarket. Shock! horror! I know this will be heretical to some, but I am talking about the information provided on the packaging about the grind; I am not referring to flavour or quality, or lack thereof. Obviously, the optimal grind type differs for the different methods of coffee preparation - stove-top, cafetiere, perccolator, etc. Remember the old days when there was a coffee grinder in the coffee section - you picked your beans, selected your grind type, then ground them yourself. The whole aisle filled with that wonderful coffee aroma. The grinder is gone, and there are whole shelves of ground coffee … most have roast info, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one that mentioned the grind. We can presume that they all go for the common denominator of grinds … which is? and why shouldn’t they state that on the packaging? I realise that this is “merely” a consumer issue, but I for one would like to have this information on the packaging to assist with product selection.

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We still purchase ground coffee some of the time.
I can express the same amazement re grind. The packets purchased typically have an indication of what methods the product is suitable for. Many offer only one product which is described as suited to all methods. Really!

It would seem unlikely the typical supermarket will go back to the customer selected grind.

Experiences with a barista quality espresso machine and fresh beans with an adjustable grinder vs packaged ground product says the grind makes a difference.

Does it reduce to a simple observation.

  • Those of us who believe in making the best coffee will want fresh beans and will invest in a quality grinder.
  • The rest have decided on optimising the personal coffee outcome by choosing a preferred method/s, and most likely use ground coffee, capsules included.

The second option is a compromise. Although local specialty coffee roasters offer the option of having their beans ground to your preference. Not quite supermarket convenience.

Choice has numerous reviews and guides on coffee machines and grinders. Some content is member only.

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Hi @mark_m , I am in the process of moving away from non-reusable pods to something more sustainable so I am doing my research and going down a few pathways … I don’t want to spend any more money without more information, and grinders are hundreds of dollars (I read the review :slight_smile: .

I purchased some reusable pods to try out but of course I need coffee to put in them - see Reusable coffee capsules. A poster in that conversations said that he bought a K-Mart grinder, but I have yet to find out what that is.
I bought a percolator but the supermarket ground coffee that I tried gave a bitter cup of coffee. Research says that it meant that the grind was too fine for the method of brewing, hence over-brew, and bitterness. Hence the search for a coarser grind, and the difficulty if finding out what grind was used …
Since covid, I mostly shop online. The specialty coffee sellers online mostly sell beans … but there must be somethign drinkable in the supermarket! Why shouldn’t I be able to have enough information on a product at point of purchase to make an informed choice?

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Whilst I never used the supermarket coffee grinders, I can certainly recall them.

Coffee grinds spilt all over the shelves and the floor of the coffee aisle.

I assume that they were removed due to health and safety concerns as well as the cost of cleaning the machines and the mess.

I think it’s a great point to be making.

Whether there is a sufficient level of consumer interest follows. Will the industry respond to the needs of a few?
I suspect there is marketing advice about looking different without being different. Once a product has added detail such as a measure of the grind, it opens the market to consumers making judgements based on the grind.

Is there a recognised coffee industry standard for interpreting the grind? With other products there are Australian Standards which prescribe how to measure products based on percentage passing different gradings. That part is established science and method.

On bitterness, it also can depend on more than the dwell or infusion time. It is also influenced by the bean and roast. Some like coffee to be bitter in varying strengths.

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Here’s a nice example of a scale that could be used to enhance the labelling:

:grinning:

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I have used a French press for years and a particular ground coffee for most of that time. Recently the grind has become much finer whereas a French press needs a coarse grind. There is also very little choice on supermarket shelves when it comes to ground coffee. There are plenty of pod choices but I don’t want to go that route.

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I drink about 1.5 kg of pre-ground coffee every month. Two mugs of really, really strong black coffee every morning.

I love it.

I prepare it in a plunger and I use a fine grind. (Yes, there is sediment, but the coffee flavour is so much more intense.)

The plunger is thermos style, not glass. It can’t break and it keeps my second mug hot for me. These go for $100+ in home-ware stores, or $15 when Aldi has them on sale. (It has been a couple of years since the last sale though.)

My coffee fave is Vittoria Mountain Grown. The 1 kg pack contains 4 x 250 g vacuum sealed satchels. I wait until Woolies has the coffee on special (RRP $36.95) and when the price hits between $20 and $15 per kg I buy up big. (7 kg in my cupboard as I type.)

As a black coffee drinker it’s easy to tell when a barista hadn’t cleaned their equipment recently. In any event, I greatly prefer the coffee I brew to just about any store-bought coffee I’ve ever tasted.

I thought about a grinder, but I go through the satchels in less than a week, so freshness isn’t a problem.

Give it a whirl.

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Lavazza and Vittoria ground coffee are both espresso grind, and can be had on special for a good price.

And for brewing, I still use a stainless steel stove-top espresso maker from the 1990s (like these: http://bialettiaustralia.com.au/) and warm the milk in the microwave. The EM needs a new gasket every 5 years or so (kitchen-wear shops have them).

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That depends on the machine in my experience. I once mistakenly picked up a pre-ground Lavazza and my Sunbeam EM7000 did not realise their were grounds in the basket unless I used a double wall.

Anyone buying pre-ground or even a different brand of bean would be well served to purchase the smallest bag to see how it goes in your machine, to your taste.

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Supermarket Ground coffee is often stale. Coffee to be at it’s maximum needs to be freshly ground. having said that, a coffee grinds freshly roasted beans for me, takes me a few weeks to get through it.

The last cup of coffee is never as good as the first.

You are missing aero press

Perhaps divide the bag into smaller containers and freeze some.

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I purchase 250g bag of ground freshly roasted beans and when I say freshly roasted I mean freshly, a day old at most.

Hello Loghl
I bought a Cafe Series SUNBEAM coffee grinder which gives you course to fine type grind. I use a coffee dripper and so use the finest grind. It works really well and have had no problems with it. It does 3 or so cups of beans at a time. Hope this helps.

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Hi @Loghl - I sympathise with your problem, but can I from the outset, encourage you to get yourself a ‘good coffee grinder’. There are many benefits.
: it will open up a greater range of coffee beans to choose from
: you will not be restricted to a supermarket for your beans
: your beans will be fresher
: you will grind only what you need to use
: You can set your grinder for espresso, drip, or French press
: a local roaster will become your friend and advisor

Pre-ground supermarket coffee might suit French press or drip but rarely provides for that ‘mouse-tail’ pour from the group handle of an espresso machine, and that’s the doorway to producing good crème for that rich coffee taste.

We need to understand that even the best producers of roasted coffee beans suffer a long time span between roast and the cup. After bagging, the bags are boxed, then warehoused. They are then freighted to another warehouse who is a distributor for a major chain of stores. Here they sit until it’s ‘their turn’ to be shipped to a store that could be anywhere. At the store they will remain ‘out-the-back’ until they’re ready to be put on a shelf, and we know that means the back of the shelf. The outcome of all this can be several weeks before it finally gets placed in a grinder. Many such bags are not resealable; some don’t have a gas vent. By café standards, your coffee is stale before you open the bag.

A way forward is to locate a good local roaster who also sells to the public. Explain what you want. This may follow with a taste test. A bit like wine - sniff and taste and assess the impact to your palette. Then buy what you like. While it’s super-preferable to grind the beans yourself, they will generally grind the beans for you (note their grind setting) but only get a small pack done initially so you can assess how well it suits your coffee machine and palette. Assess if the beans need to be ground finer or coarser for your machine. Once you know your bean and your grind, the shop will dispense accordingly, and have what you buy bagged (sealed) into what you can consume in 1 to 2 weeks, otherwise it goes stale and that’s not a good taste either. If it takes you 2 weeks to consume a bag, then only buy 3 bags (guide only - you’ll work it out). Hope that helps.

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I remember having to hand grind coffee for our percolators back in the days it was hard to even buy coffee here in Australia. The hand grinder produced variable sized grounds, and it worked perfectly well in a variety of steam percolators and make great cups of coffee. Consequently, I don’t worry too much about how the coffee is ground. I just use it. Also, I find that the vacuum packed coffee lasts perfectly well for a considerable time.

We have two small grinders (any brand will do) which I can use to grind coffee on rare occasions when we want really strong (dissolves the spoon) coffee. Now-days, having cut down the quantity, I can’t be bothered to use the percolator, and just use a plunger. I find the same coffee works perfectly in both.

It takes time for a new percolator to work well. You will find that with time the flavour improves as the coffee oils imbue themselves into the metal.

If it is still bitter, try taking the percolator off the heat sooner. The optimum time will take experimentation. You may have to accept that less coffee will be produced but it may taste better, and it may be stronger if less steam has passed through.

If the previous suggestions don’t work, I would suggest that you try different coffee beans. Coffee, like chocolate, wine or whiskey etc, etc, is an individual taste. What is bitter to you, may be perfect to someone else.

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