Should You Buy Coffee Beans at the Grocery Store?
Like so many other Americans, coffee is our absolute favorite. From the good old staples (like drip coffee) to adventurous forays into new flavors and brewing methods (lavender and marshmallow latte, anyone?), we live and breathe delightful caffeine concoctions. Perhaps we should write an ode to the wondrous nature of coffee—we love it that much!
Thanks to this passion (some might say “obsession”), we’re in the continual pursuit of coffee perfection. While we won’t speak ill of any coffee-based beverage, there’s no question that some brews are better than others.
There are many factors that influence the quality of your coffee, and we recommend doing a deep dive if you want to enjoy the best cup possible. Among them, the beans themselves are arguably the most important, which leads to a great question—should you buy coffee beans at the grocery store?
What Affects the Quality of Coffee Beans?
With so many options lining the shelves at grocery stores and your local coffee shop, sifting through the information (and the beans themselves) to determine which coffee is worth your dollar can be quite a challenge. Throw in clever branding and bold claims on the packaging, and the decision-making process is anything but clear.
Thankfully, you can strip away all the distractions and determine the quality of coffee beans with relative ease once you know the meaningful factors that influence the quality of a given bag of coffee. While there are many elements at play that can affect whether or not you enjoy a coffee—including your personal preferences—there are three key things to note when searching for your next bag of coffee beans.
The Origins of the Coffee Beans
While coffee can be grown in a variety of regions, that doesn’t mean that the outcomes are the same across regions. Some places are simply better suited for growing coffee, and the results speak for themselves when it comes to the quality of beans produced.
The first thing to note when selecting coffee beans is where they are grown. The coffee beans from different regions have unique traits that affect their quality and flavor. We recommend trying beans from a variety of places and deciding which you prefer!
If the bag you’re considering buying doesn’t say where the beans originate from, it is best to put it back on the shelf and move on. Quality beans will state where they’re from with complete transparency.
When the Coffee Beans Were Roasted
The fresher the roast, the better the beans. This holds true no matter where you shop for coffee beans, from a generic supermarket to your favorite local coffee house. That being said, you’re more likely to find freshly roasted beans at a coffee shop than you are at a grocery store.
There is not a magical amount of time when beans suddenly transform from fresh and delicious to dated and flavorless. A two-week rule of thumb is typically a good guide, as beans roasted more than two weeks ago begin to diminish in quality. The more time that passes, the more flavor the beans will lose.
Just like the origin of the beans, if a bag of coffee does not include the roasting date of the beans, it is best to avoid it. If they were roasted over a month ago, they are probably not worth considering at all. If you want the freshest, best beans from a local coffee roaster, you’re best off buying from your local coffee shop!
Whole Bean or Pre-Ground Coffee?
One of the major factors that affect the quality of coffee is the grind. This not only applies to the type of grind (and corresponding brewing method) but also the timing of the grind. One of the downfalls of pre-packaged coffee beans is the tendency for them to come pre-ground.
If you are in the business of procuring the most flavorful cup of coffee, you will want to avoid pre-ground options. There are many reasons for this, but they can be distilled into a simple fact: ground coffee loses flavor at a higher rate than whole-bean coffee does.
Enjoying the best possible coffee hinges on freshness, and waiting until you’re ready to brew to grind your beans is an essential step in ensuring your coffee is fresh and flavorful every time.
The Best Place to Buy Coffee Beans
It is possible to find good coffee beans at a grocery store or market, especially if they offer specialty and local options. That being said, most stores in these categories are overpopulated with pre-ground, mass-produced options that lack transparency, freshness, and flavor.
If you care about the quality of the coffee beans you use to brew your daily cup of joe, you should consider purchasing your beans directly from your local coffee roaster or hometown coffee shop. For example, if you’re local to Ocala, FL, you’ll want to visit the best local coffeehouse in the area, Chelsea Coffee, to buy your beans.
Chelsea gets its beans—both those it uses for its signature brews and the ones for sale in the shop—from local coffee roaster, Sweetwater Organic Coffee Co. Based in Gainesville, FL, this coffee roaster uses premium beans as the foundation for its various roasts and blends. Because they’re just up the road, you can feel confident that the beans you get at Chelsea Coffee are as fresh as possible.
Better still, you can opt for whole beans or have them ground to your liking in-house. Either way, they’ll be fresh, high quality, and local!
Chelsea Coffee is proud to be Ocala’s top coffee shop. Whether you’re enjoying the shop with your family or just dropping in for a resupply of your favorite Sweetwater Coffee beans, we’ll welcome you with open arms and a genuine “Welcome to Chelsea" greeting.
If you consider yourself a coffee aficionado or want to expand your coffee knowledge, we encourage you to check out our coffee blog. We update it regularly with all of our local coffee shop knowledge, giving you a free insight into the inner workings of all things coffee!