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  #1  
Old 05-06-2005, 12:04 PM
Shoeless Shoeless is offline
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Another coffee question - why does bean cost more than ground?

Rather than hijacking this thread, I thought I would post this question separately. This has been bugging me ever since I got a coffee grinder for Christmas a couple years ago. If you compare the price of a "pound" (13 oz) of the same brand of coffee (Folgers, Cains, etc.) the whole bean package is usually about a buck higher than ground. It's one of those situations where it seems like the reverse would be true -- it costs more to grind it than to leave the beans whole. Are they taking advantage of us whole-bean snobs?

And on a similar note, why is the vacuum-packed "brick" of ground coffee more expensive than a can of the same size?
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2005, 12:24 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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WAG

Fresh ground coffee is approximately 43 times better than stuff that was ground 8 months ago and left to go stale in the can.
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Old 05-06-2005, 12:25 PM
Crown Prince of Irony Crown Prince of Irony is offline
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Quote:
Are they taking advantage of us whole-bean snobs?
WAG: I am not a coffe retailer (IANACR?), but I would think that it may partly be due to the common knowledge that if the coffe is bought whole bean and ground as needed, it is better. So it may be a pure profit thing.

However, it may also have a lot to do with the fact that whole bean coffee needs to be treated more carefully during packing and shipping due so that the beans do not become damaged. Also, I would venture that the preground coffee is made from lower quality beans that may not be aesthetically up to par to be sold whole bean.

Again, WAG.
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  #4  
Old 05-06-2005, 12:33 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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I dunno, I think maybe it's because coffee starts losing its flavor when it is ground, thus whole bean would make a better cup of coffee--the implication of course is that you grind it immediately before brewing. I've not had much like brewing whole beans.
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  #5  
Old 05-06-2005, 01:00 PM
SmackFu SmackFu is offline
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People who buy whole bean coffee are willing to pay more for it, because of the quality improvement. The underlying cost difference is nearly irrelevant.
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  #6  
Old 05-06-2005, 01:05 PM
iwakura43 iwakura43 is offline
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Also, it costs (marginally?) more to ship whole beans than to ship ground coffee. The particles fit closer together than the whole beans do. If you've ever raked leaves and stuffed them bags, you'll have observed the principle: if you use a leaf chopper, the chopped leaves take up about a quarter the space unchopped leaves would.
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  #7  
Old 05-06-2005, 01:07 PM
meanoldman meanoldman is offline
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I am mildly a coffee snob. Not a coffee retailer. However, it is my understanding ( an understanding that is open for enlightenment) that much of the pre-ground coffee sold in tins contains pieces and parts of the coffee plant, not -just- beans.

Same as for mushrooms, I guess. You pay more for whole mushrooms than you would stems and pieces.
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  #8  
Old 05-06-2005, 01:18 PM
coffeecat coffeecat is offline
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Gourmet whole-bean coffee is a better quality bean than Chock Full O' Nuts ever was, even before it was ground. These guys have more to say about it, and they'll even sell you dirt-cheap whole beans if you insist. (with matching dirt flavor)
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  #9  
Old 05-06-2005, 01:41 PM
Bippy the Beardless Bippy the Beardless is offline
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Surely the fact that ground coffee is easier to transport being denser would make the price cheaper.
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  #10  
Old 05-06-2005, 01:52 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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Obligatory link to a coffee book Highly recommended for the history of coffee. Doper recommended.
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  #11  
Old 05-06-2005, 01:56 PM
Danalan Danalan is offline
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Coffee pounds are 13 ounces? Is this some standard I missed? Sorry, I'm not a coffee drinker, so I don't know.
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  #12  
Old 05-06-2005, 02:18 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is online now
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Ecomony of scale? (bean coffee is a nitch item while grounds are mass produced)

Quote:
Coffee pounds are 13 ounces? Is this some standard I missed? Sorry, I'm not a coffee drinker, so I don't know.
IIRC coffee companies made the claim a while back that they have improved the way they roast and grind the beans, so what used to take 1 lb, now can be done with 13 oz.
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Old 05-06-2005, 02:23 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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IOW they found a way to trick us into paying for 3 ounces of nonexistence.
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Old 05-06-2005, 03:00 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Quote:
you compare the price of a "pound" (13 oz) of the same brand of coffee
Don't forget that a 13-ounce "pound" of grounds will be about 19% more expensive once you make it an actual 16-ounce pound of whole beans.
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  #15  
Old 05-06-2005, 04:30 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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Note that a pound of fresh peaches cost more than a pound of canned peaches.

I don't think it's coffee-specific.
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  #16  
Old 05-06-2005, 05:25 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is online now
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Quote:
IOW they found a way to trick us into paying for 3 ounces of nonexistence.
I don't think they tricked us, most of us knew this was BS, but we had no choice, it is Big Coffee you know
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Old 05-06-2005, 05:49 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRDelirious
IOW they found a way to trick us into paying for 3 ounces of nonexistence.
Hey, they're only human beans.
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  #18  
Old 05-06-2005, 06:42 PM
PatriotX PatriotX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meanoldman
However, it is my understanding ( an understanding that is open for enlightenment) that much of the pre-ground coffee sold in tins contains pieces and parts of the coffee plant, not -just- beans.
I find this to be incredibly dubious.

Who on earth told you this?
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Old 05-06-2005, 08:01 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords
Don't forget that a 13-ounce "pound" of grounds will be about 19% more expensive once you make it an actual 16-ounce pound of whole beans.
Yeah but ya gotta admit that would be a helluva trick and well worth the price!
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  #20  
Old 05-06-2005, 08:05 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatriotX
I find this to be incredibly dubious.

Who on earth told you this?
Those guys up in post #8.


Now, for a caveat --- it is actaully hard for me to get coffee as bad as the kind many big roasters use. These coffees often come in polyethylene "super sacks" (they are not even worth putting in a burlap bag), and they are sometimes not even whole seeds, but broken bits called "triage coffee." They often contain moldy beans, lots of dead "black beans", and a lot of rocks and sticks. Large roasters use equipment called destoners and scalpers to remove foreign matter from ultra cheap coffee.
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  #21  
Old 05-06-2005, 08:47 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meanoldman
I am mildly a coffee snob. Not a coffee retailer. However, it is my understanding ( an understanding that is open for enlightenment) that much of the pre-ground coffee sold in tins contains pieces and parts of the coffee plant, not -just- beans.
IMO not to a massively significant extent. Coffee "beans" are the pits of berries that grow on bushes. These berries are picked, dried, depulped, washed, dried again, the pit is shucked of its outer husk, then dried some more before shipping to the roaster (I may have parts of the order off, I'm working from childhood memory, growing up in a coffee-producing area.)
Then it is that the "beans" are separated: some will be roasted to be factory-ground, some will be roasted to be shipped whole, the best batches will get specialy roasts. Folgers regular blend (not any "specialty" varietal) "beans" will arrive at the forward end of the roaster all in the same condition re: non-coffee matter in the batch, and it's mostly stubborn bits of berry skin and pit husk that refused to be shed in the pitting/washing/drying, and general foreign matter you'll pick up in agricultural processing. The roaster itself will burn off some more of the contaminants, but a further difference in "foreign matter"may result from the shipping of whole 'beans' as that gives any remaining residue a further chance to shake loose.

(Here in PR, the picking of the coffee berries is strictly by hand -- no big automated machines that blindly rip off whole branches of the bush, a human being picks the berries.)

Something that IS very likely to happen is that when you get batches of over- or under- roasted/dried "beans", or just an overall inferior batch, this gets thrown in the hopper of the grinding machine, lowering the quality of the blend. And, of course, ground coffee goes stale much faster -- essential compounds will evaporate out, or be attacked by oxygen, much faster in grounds than in a whole seed. That's partly why if you find yourself with too much preground coffee it's advisable to freeze it.
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  #22  
Old 05-07-2005, 12:27 AM
meanoldman meanoldman is offline
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Oh good. I was wrong, but I learn something along the way.

As I read this, it looks like only somewhere between 5 - 10 % of stuff in the tins can be non-bean or bad bean. That's about 3 times less than what I was thinking.
http://www.ams.usda.gov/fqa/aa20213b.htm


Max "defects" seems to be 10% by weight.
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  #23  
Old 05-07-2005, 01:05 AM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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FWIW: the coffee pickers make in a day about what we pay for a cup of Large coffee.

( per the above forementioned linked book.)


Just thought I'd share the guilt I have over every cup of non-fair trade coffee.
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  #24  
Old 05-07-2005, 01:12 PM
BookReader BookReader is offline
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parts is parts ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by meanoldman
I am mildly a coffee snob. Not a coffee retailer. However, it is my understanding ( an understanding that is open for enlightenment) that much of the pre-ground coffee sold in tins contains pieces and parts of the coffee plant, not -just- beans.
I disagree with this one ... I've grown coffee, picked coffee, worked in coffee roasters and mills, and I don't think you'd be able to disguise ground wood or plant parts as ground coffee ... they just wouldn't look the same at all; it would have to be powdered before you wouldn't be able to tell.

'Course, that would make it INSTANT coffee ... and THAT tastes like pieces and parts (of burnt leather, monkey poop and donkey hair) anyway ...
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  #25  
Old 05-07-2005, 03:34 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meanoldman
Oh good. I was wrong, but I learn something along the way.

As I read this, it looks like only somewhere between 5 - 10 % of stuff in the tins can be non-bean or bad bean. That's about 3 times less than what I was thinking.
You really expected as much as a quarter to a third of each can of Maxwell House to be chaff??
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