Grinding your whole-bean coffee correctly before brewing it makes sure it remains fresh. It also helps reduce its exposure to oxygen that is known to destroy its flavor and prevents the coffee from turning stale and bland. That said, not every machine comes with a coffee grinder, or you may not have a separate coffee grinder.
What can you do in such a case? Can you grind coffee beans in a blender? Will it affect its overall taste?
To give you a short answer, yes, you can use a regular blender to grind the coffee beans. It is not exactly what you are looking for, though, especially if you are looking for a perfect cup of rich-tasting coffee. There is a whole lot you need to know why a coffee grinder is better and what you need to do if you opt to use a blender, so we will go in-depth on this topic below.
Why Do You Grind Coffee in the First Place?
One of the most common questions asked is why we grind the coffee to begin with. The basic goal of making your cup of coffee is getting what is sealed inside the bean, which is the delicious oils and flavor components, out of it.
The original method to do so involved boiling the entire roasted bean in a pot of hot water while agitating them. With a lot of time and patience, you would eventually end up with a high-caffeine, bitter coffee solution that will surely perk you up.
Thankfully, we do not have to resort to such an insanely complicated and time-consuming process of making coffee. Now the method is far more efficient.
By just merely grinding the coffee beans in a proper coffee grinder, you help the water used in brewing your coffee extract what's inside the bean much efficiently, and this results in a significantly better aroma and taste. The efficiency in extracting can be owed to two factors, and they are:
1. Increased Total Surface Area
When you take the whole coffee bean and cut it into half, you will increase its total surface area. This results in greatly increased extraction efficiency because there is more surface area for the hot water to act upon, from which to extract all of the flavor components. Now, these halves are further divided into halves, resulting in an increased overall surface area, and again, it helps in an efficient extraction process.
Eventually, you will end up with the perfect grind size that you prefer for your brewing method. This efficiency in extraction also helps in dramatically cutting down the brewing time.
2. Decreased Particle Size
Having a smaller particle size will make the distance from the center significantly shorter. This will not only allow for more efficient extraction, but also for a fuller extraction of the soluble flavors contained within the particle.
Why Should You Not Buy Pre-Ground Coffee?
A full roasted coffee bean is an elegant, protective package that keeps all the coffee oils where you exactly want them, which is inside the bean. As long as you aren’t messing with the coffee beans’ flavor components that are volatile, delicate, and water-soluble, they will remain safe. That said, if the protective shell breaks, then all the bets are off.
Here are the four reasons why you should avoid buying and using pre-ground coffee:
The cells inside the roasted bean contain about a thousand different volatile flavors and aromas. Once ground, these aromas get released right away, and they react with the oxygen in the atmosphere, which causes oxidation. Within just 15 minutes of oxidation, the coffee can lose about 60% or more of its aroma.
The oils in the coffee bean are quite delicate, and this makes them quite easy to get contaminated. Whatever odors are around the ground coffee will easily taint it in ways that will make your coffee tasting experience disappointing.
Carbon Dioxide Depletion
With an increase in the surface area of the bean, it results in a greater CO2 liberation. During the process of roasting, a lot of carbon dioxide gets created. Since the bean is porous, a bit of it gets lost during the cooling process.
That said, quite a lot of it gets retained within the cells of the bean. The CO2 ends up playing an important role, which is getting all of the essential oils into the coffee once they get released.
The issue is that with the increased surface area, it permits for a higher CO2 gas liberation. About 80% of the gas gets released in the air within a minute of grinding. As such, if you wait too long, you will significantly lose all of its flavors.
As mentioned, coffee oils are readily soluble in water. This is a good thing, or else, we would have a hard time trying to get all of these oils out of the coffee bean.
On the downside, moisture tends to become a massive problem for pre-ground coffee. When you expose ground coffee to the atmosphere, it will moisten immediately and will start to dilute the oil present, resulting in a bland cup of coffee.
Can You Grind Coffee Beans in a Blender?
As mentioned, you can grind your coffee beans in a regular blender. In fact, later, we will also talk about the exact process of how you can do so. That said, there is a huge issue when you do this.
One of the biggest risks of grinding your coffee in a blender is getting a lousy cup of coffee. By using a good grinder meant for grinding the coffee, it attempts to grind the beans into pieces that have a uniform size. This is regardless of whether these are a relatively coarse-sized particle, for instance, the ones you would use for Turkish coffee, or the very fine kinds, the one you would use in an Espresso.
As coffee lovers, we are all aiming for the particles in the grind to be about the same size, if not exactly the same. This is because when the hot water hits the uniformly sized ground coffee beans, it will all react the same way. This results in the coffee having an even flavor.
Now, if some of the particles in the coffee are larger and the others are smaller in the same brew, then when you pour hot water over it, some of it will be in contact for much longer compared to the other particles, or not even long enough. That will result in your coffee tasting over-extracted and sour, bland and flat, or even a bit of both.
When you use an average kitchen blender, it goes without saying that it will not grind your coffee beans with the same adjustable precision that a good quality coffee grinder would. Instead, what you will be left with are coffee beans that are all ground in random-sized particles.
No matter how hard you try, this is something you just cannot avoid when you use a regular kitchen blender, and then ultimately, you are left with an average or bad tasting cup of coffee.
The Secret in Using a Blender to Grind Your Coffee
If you are left with no choice but to use your kitchen blender to grind your coffee, then let us talk about how you can use it to make the best out of it. Amongst everything out there, using a blender is still a much adequate coffee grinder replacement when you are in a pinch.
The blade in a blender will chop the coffee beans in a way that can be a bit similar when you use a blade grinder, but of course, this will be nowhere as consistent as a burr grinder.
If you are amongst the lucky ones, your blender may come with a grinder setting that is specifically meant to grind coffee beans, but this is quite rare. It is important to remember that when you are using a blender, you must grind the bean in a short and quick burst rather than running the machine continuously.
That is because the blade tends to have extremely high speeds compared to a coffee grinder, and they can even heat the beans. This results in overheating the oils in the bean which will end up with a harsher and a bitter-tasting cup of coffee.
By grinding the coffee beans in short and quick burst, you still allow the bean to be ground somewhat correctly, and this technique will help deliver a much coarser grind. After grinding the beans, make sure you clean the blender properly so that it does not take on the smell and taste of the stale coffee. Absolutely, no one wants to sip on a shake that tastes like an unwashed percolator.
The Step-by-Step Process of Grinding Coffee Beans Using a Blender
If you are looking for a more detailed and step-by-step process of grinding your coffee with a regular blender, let us help you with that. Again, if your kitchen blender does have a coffee grinder setting, then always opt for that. That will ensure that your coffee beans are as uniformly-sized as possible.
- Take a small amount of the coffee beans in your kitchen grinder and make sure you are placing the lid firmly on the top. Never grind the beans without using the lid since the beans might end up flying out when you run the blender.
- Carefully grind your coffee beans as per your desired consistency. Make sure you are using the pulse technique we mentioned above so that the grinding is quick and short.
- For even better results, we recommend that you tilt your blender a bit from one side to another while you are grinding. By doing so, it helps lead the larger portions of the coffee beans into the path of the blade. Through this, you are left with a grind that is a bit evener.
- Once you are satisfied with the grind, empty the contents of the blender and add in the new beans. Repeat this entire process until you reach the amount of coffee that you need.
Factors that Could Influence the Grind
It is also important to know the couple of factors that could also influence the way the roasted beans behave as you grind them. These include:
The lighter the roast, the more tenacious and pliable the bean is. Thus, having the bean lightly roasted is going to be more tenacious and pliable than a darker roasted bean. The reason is that by roasting more, the moisture gets lost, and this results in the bean becoming more brittle.
Air Quenching vs. Water Quenching
When you pull the beans out of the roaster, you must cool them down right away so that they don’t over-roast. This is referred to as quenching. Some coffee roasters tend to add water to the air stream that will cool the beans to start the cooling process, and this is known as water quenching.
That said, the latter, if done incorrectly, tends to damage the surface of the roasted beans and can also add water that is lost during the roasting process back into the beans. In contrast, air quenched beans are cooled by pulling the air through the beans while they get stirred, so no water gets used during the process.
The entire takeaway here is that the method you choose to cool down the roasted beans can directly impact it in ways that will ultimately result in a more inconsistent grind particle.
To answer whether can you grind coffee beans in a blender or not is a yes, you definitely can, but it comes with a cost. Even if you follow the process mentioned in this article to the T, you must remember that nothing you do will result in an evenly sized particle. Therefore, as much as you can, try to ensure that you are using and investing in the best coffee grinders to get the best out of the coffee beans and also to make it worth it.