I've only sold my roasted coffee in whole bean form, but get alot of feedback from customers wanting it ground. What is everybodies thoughts on this? do you do it? I know the arguements for freshness etc are for whole bean and grind just before use..but am I being to much of snob for selling packaged ground coffee? should I get off my "high horse"? I'm torn on this one...I have a high belief in service, but I also want the best coffee experience for my customers?

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Replies to This Discussion

What type of packaging do you use Dennis?
Currently I'm using foil with valve and a 1 inch heat seal. since you ask that it makes me think about the valve...does it make a difference if I offer ground? should the ground be done in a no-valve bag? I'm thinking yes...but I could be wrong on this...any thoughts on that?

Chris Cockrell said:
What type of packaging do you use Dennis?
In my experiance if you are sealing the bag and it is valved, ground should keep fresh a good while - much like the WB. the air is being kept out by the bag/seal/valve...do some testing of your own with a couple of bags one ground and one WB and see if you are pleased with the results after a few weeks or a month or longer. If you are pleased, I'd say you customers will be too! My .02

Chris

Dennis said:
Currently I'm using foil with valve and a 1 inch heat seal. since you ask that it makes me think about the valve...does it make a difference if I offer ground? should the ground be done in a no-valve bag? I'm thinking yes...but I could be wrong on this...any thoughts on that?

Chris Cockrell said:
What type of packaging do you use Dennis?
It's funny you posted this because I have been struggling with this as well. I currently only offer whole bean as well. It surprises me in a way that most roasters who work so hard at producing a great product and promote grinding just before brewing, etc. would offer ground coffee. Some of these folks no longer offer 20 oz. drinks to preserve product integrity--so why would they offer pre-ground coffee?
Sales - I guess...



Stefan said:
It's funny you posted this because I have been struggling with this as well. I currently only offer whole bean as well. It surprises me in a way that most roasters who work so hard at producing a great product and promote grinding just before brewing, etc. would offer ground coffee. Some of these folks no longer offer 20 oz. drinks to preserve product integrity--so why would they offer pre-ground coffee?
I think it's the sales issue...we all have bills to pay and I guess it's the service vs quality arguement. how stubborn we are. I'm still torn because those customers that are asking for ground are relatively new customrs to the premium fresh roasted game...so do I rationalize it that I'm introducing a new person to fresh roasted coffee and then try and bring them to the "grind before use" club? Or one thought I had was maybe an incentive card...ie. a free grinder (maybe a cheapo blade grinder) after your 20th pound or something. So how do we bring our customers understanding up to the high standards we believe in?

Stefan said:
It's funny you posted this because I have been struggling with this as well. I currently only offer whole bean as well. It surprises me in a way that most roasters who work so hard at producing a great product and promote grinding just before brewing, etc. would offer ground coffee. Some of these folks no longer offer 20 oz. drinks to preserve product integrity--so why would they offer pre-ground coffee?
Free grinder idea...where do I sign up!!! I think it's a good idea!!!



Dennis said:
I think it's the sales issue...we all have bills to pay and I guess it's the service vs quality arguement. how stubborn we are. I'm still torn because those customers that are asking for ground are relatively new customrs to the premium fresh roasted game...so do I rationalize it that I'm introducing a new person to fresh roasted coffee and then try and bring them to the "grind before use" club? Or one thought I had was maybe an incentive card...ie. a free grinder (maybe a cheapo blade grinder) after your 20th pound or something. So how do we bring our customers understanding up to the high standards we believe in?

Stefan said:
It's funny you posted this because I have been struggling with this as well. I currently only offer whole bean as well. It surprises me in a way that most roasters who work so hard at producing a great product and promote grinding just before brewing, etc. would offer ground coffee. Some of these folks no longer offer 20 oz. drinks to preserve product integrity--so why would they offer pre-ground coffee?
Things to consider:
-You incur a series of additional costs, after roasting and before packaging, when you grind coffee. Be sure that you understand what these costs are. Then, decide whether or not to recover them via surcharge or margin.
-Your coffee, after a month ground, will still probably provide a superior taste, flavor and mouthfeel compared to whatever your potential customer drinks now. Most coffee drinkers purchase pre-ground coffee directly (as a CPG) or indirectly (as a brewed beverage). How relevant to your growth plans are "most coffee drinkers".
-Nevertheless: always explain the rationale for recently roasted, whole bean coffees, ground shortly before brewing/extracting. Be sure that you are educated about grinding and granulizing technologies, and sell grinding equipment that targets consumer price points, including the very best.
Chris, I disagree on grinding. Sorry. Say hey to the guys at Sunergos for me.

But here's my rationale for not grinding. Grinding coffee increases surface aria. So there is more aria to allow the trapped gasses to escape. That is part of the flavor of coffee. So your customer is loosing some of the flavor they payed for. Whole bean in a good container (and it sounds like your container is great), lasts 3 or so weeks before the flavor starts to drop off. 6 weeks or so and it's compost (at least at my house). Grinding it shortens that time down to days. 3 or 4 dyas later it's in the compost.

The issue is that there is no standard in the coffee industry. I know one shop that uses just over a half pound of coffee per 2.2 liter airpot. I use like 6 ounces. They brew at 200 degrees, and I brew at around 185. We grind corser than they do. It all results in a totally different cup. In wine, temps and portions are basically set. A white is served closer to 40 and a red close to room temp. A pour is 4 ounces. In beer a porter should be served at around 50 degrees and a pilsner closer to 40. Pour is either 12 or 20 ounces. Coffee has nothing like that. How big is a 2 shot latte? Espresso is the closest thing to a standard. But even there, we disagree. Preinfuse or no, exactly 21 seconds or till the shot blonds, robusta in your espresso or no. Then take your customers machine. Do they french press with exactly the right temp water for exactly 4 min? Or do they use a Mr. Coffee pot they bought while in college that continually re-cooks their morning brew?

I'll grind it in store for you if you as me. I'll even grind if a bulk customer asks. But I ask them not to tell where they buy their coffee from. I haven't been asked by a customer to ship ground coffee because I don't offer it to them. If they asked, I'd say no and explain why.

This is one of my recent soap boxes. I'd really like to hear other ideas on this subject too. Maybe I could change my mind.
Eric - you must have taken my comment wrong...I do not recommend grinding...I never recommend it to customers when they buy - but if they don't own a grinder, what are you going to do, not sell them beans?

We were disucssing that some customers always ask for it ground. The idea was that we should give away a grinder to all of those customers so they could buy whole beans.... I'm with you man...!!!!!!!

Chris




Eric Hammond said:
Chris, I disagree on grinding. Sorry. Say hey to the guys at Sunergos for me.

But here's my rationale for not grinding. Grinding coffee increases surface aria. So there is more aria to allow the trapped gasses to escape. That is part of the flavor of coffee. So your customer is loosing some of the flavor they payed for. Whole bean in a good container (and it sounds like your container is great), lasts 3 or so weeks before the flavor starts to drop off. 6 weeks or so and it's compost (at least at my house). Grinding it shortens that time down to days. 3 or 4 dyas later it's in the compost.

The issue is that there is no standard in the coffee industry. I know one shop that uses just over a half pound of coffee per 2.2 liter airpot. I use like 6 ounces. They brew at 200 degrees, and I brew at around 185. We grind corser than they do. It all results in a totally different cup. In wine, temps and portions are basically set. A white is served closer to 40 and a red close to room temp. A pour is 4 ounces. In beer a porter should be served at around 50 degrees and a pilsner closer to 40. Pour is either 12 or 20 ounces. Coffee has nothing like that. How big is a 2 shot latte? Espresso is the closest thing to a standard. But even there, we disagree. Preinfuse or no, exactly 21 seconds or till the shot blonds, robusta in your espresso or no. Then take your customers machine. Do they french press with exactly the right temp water for exactly 4 min? Or do they use a Mr. Coffee pot they bought while in college that continually re-cooks their morning brew?

I'll grind it in store for you if you as me. I'll even grind if a bulk customer asks. But I ask them not to tell where they buy their coffee from. I haven't been asked by a customer to ship ground coffee because I don't offer it to them. If they asked, I'd say no and explain why.

This is one of my recent soap boxes. I'd really like to hear other ideas on this subject too. Maybe I could change my mind.
Eric;

I'm with you on this, although my experience is that after 7-10 days WB's are "Yuk" and after 12-14 are (in my case) kindling for the fire (I hear screams of "heresy"!), but my byeline is "Coffee Without Compromise" and I practice that. I also advise and try to educate my customers to the preference and advantages of grinding immediately before use, but will grind if they need me to.

To support the aargument, I also find that if I grind for espresso, dose, tamp & lock, and don't extract within 20-30 seconds I get a watery, substandard extraction, fit for waste only! Increased surface area (ie ground finer) = faster oxidation. When I grind, I package into ziplock plastic bags, exclude the air, and return it to the brown paper bag the WB are originally packaged in.

FWIW; I'd be keen to hear other's opinions.

Eddie
Machiatto Espresso
Wairarapa, NZ

Eric Hammond said:
Chris, I disagree on grinding. Sorry. Say hey to the guys at Sunergos for me.

But here's my rationale for not grinding. Grinding coffee increases surface aria. So there is more aria to allow the trapped gasses to escape. That is part of the flavor of coffee. So your customer is loosing some of the flavor they payed for. Whole bean in a good container (and it sounds like your container is great), lasts 3 or so weeks before the flavor starts to drop off. 6 weeks or so and it's compost (at least at my house). Grinding it shortens that time down to days. 3 or 4 dyas later it's in the compost.

The issue is that there is no standard in the coffee industry. I know one shop that uses just over a half pound of coffee per 2.2 liter airpot. I use like 6 ounces. They brew at 200 degrees, and I brew at around 185. We grind corser than they do. It all results in a totally different cup. In wine, temps and portions are basically set. A white is served closer to 40 and a red close to room temp. A pour is 4 ounces. In beer a porter should be served at around 50 degrees and a pilsner closer to 40. Pour is either 12 or 20 ounces. Coffee has nothing like that. How big is a 2 shot latte? Espresso is the closest thing to a standard. But even there, we disagree. Preinfuse or no, exactly 21 seconds or till the shot blonds, robusta in your espresso or no. Then take your customers machine. Do they french press with exactly the right temp water for exactly 4 min? Or do they use a Mr. Coffee pot they bought while in college that continually re-cooks their morning brew?

I'll grind it in store for you if you as me. I'll even grind if a bulk customer asks. But I ask them not to tell where they buy their coffee from. I haven't been asked by a customer to ship ground coffee because I don't offer it to them. If they asked, I'd say no and explain why.

This is one of my recent soap boxes. I'd really like to hear other ideas on this subject too. Maybe I could change my mind.
I am personally a fan of offering it ground as well as whole bean. When a customer places an order on my site they have the option of ordering it whole bean, or ground for either drip, french press, or even espresso. Most of my customers thankfully order "whole bean" but I also have a loyal customer base that appreciates the fact that I'm willing to grind it for them if that is their preference.

I decided to go that route for a number of reasons. Firstly, a GOOD pre-ground coffee is still better than a BAD pre-ground coffee - and if that's what they've been drinking (and been fine with) they ARE going to notice a significant improvement in the cup if they're purchasing from a quality roaster. There are also many reasons why people don't have grinders besides ignorance of the benefits: cost, lack of counter space, noise (up before the children and heaven forbid they wake up too early), messiness, planning on taking the coffee to work or on the road, etc. I'm also not okay with basically telling a customer I won't sell them my coffee until they invest in a burr grinder (would them using a blade grinder REALLY be superior to me grinding for them on a properly calibrated quality burr grinder?). But mostly, it's because that's what they want and they appreciate the fact I'm willing to give it to them. A happy customer is a loyal customer, and whenever possible I explain to them the benefits they would enjoy if they stepped up their coffee regimen to include a quality burr grinder.

For people just getting interrested in the coffee world it can all be a little overwhelming. Chances are they're going to need to take it in steps, and I'd like to be there for them from the very beginning and educate in increments that work for them.

And there you have it! My take on the issue. I also do grind immediately prior to shipping (I only ship priority) and package both the whole bean and ground orders in valved/heat sealed bags. "Keep your customers happy and educate tactfully whenever the occasion presents itself", is my motto.

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