4 ways to ruin that great cup of coffee!

How to Ruin Coffee

by Rich Finzer


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If there's anything the average American will stand in line for, it's a decent cup of coffee. Coffee is expensive to buy and we don't care. Coffee will stain your teeth or porcelain sink, and we don't care. Some members of the medical profession insist that drinking coffee will ruin your health and again, we don't care. Now having said all that, why ruin your coffee, even before you have the chance to drink it? Well, apparently, many folks don't seem to care about that either. So if you enjoy the robust taste of a cup of Joe, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Avoid the Freezer: For preserving meat or making ice, nothing beats using your freezer. And I apologize, but storing ground coffee in there can only be characterized as stupid. Freezing robs moisture (can you say "freezer burn"). So by freezing coffee, you rob it of its aromatic oils. And those aromatic oils are what give coffee its wonderful taste. You wouldn't store freshly churned butter in a warm sunny place in the hopes it will become rancid, right? So why perform essentially the same thing by freezing your freshly ground coffee? Worse yet, because of coffee's porous nature, while the freezer is stealing away the essential oils, your coffee may begin absorbing odors from the frozen salmon you stored it next to.

Ground Versus Whole Bean: If comparing one to the other, whole bean coffee is the best option to purchase. In the un-ground state, a coffee bean has significantly less surface area than the equivalent amount of ground. The reduced surface area resists drying out as quickly. After you open the package, store any unused product in a dark colored air-tight container, preserving those precious aromatic oils.

Grinding: By necessity, purchasing whole bean coffee means you'll have to spring for a small counter-top grinder. The units are not terribly expensive and will last for many years. I purchased mine in 1986, and it still grinds beans like who laid the rails. Just keep it clean, but don't wash it. Simply wipe the inside occasionally with a paper towel. And never grind more coffee than you intend to use that day. If you've never ground coffee at home before, it may take a few days of experimentation before you determine the correct quantity of beans to use, but you'll get the hang of it. And here's an interesting thought. Grinding coffee can present an unfortunate conundrum to a hangover sufferer. You're in dire need of a cup of the stuff, but the sound of the machine operating may drive you to the brink of madness! So if there is a genuine proviso against the over-consumption of adult beverages, this might be it.

Don't Stock Up: This strategy runs counter-intuitive to much of what Dollar Stretcher advocates, but there are exceptions to every rule. Over time, even vacuum-sealed coffee begins to lose its flavor. Plainly stated, it gets stale. Now if the grocery store is running a "BOGOF," it's fine to pick up a couple of deals. But don't try to fill the pantry shelves with dozens of bags. The last ones you open won't taste nearly as good as the first few. You're better off using coupons and saving a little on each purchase. The math works out about the same and the object lesson here is to end up with decent tasting coffee. If saving money is your sole motivation, quit drinking coffee altogether.

By any definition, drinking coffee is one of the tiny luxuries we penny pinchers grant ourselves. So buy some, grind it up, and enjoy it. Just don't waste hard-earned money by ruining the stuff once you get it home.

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