best ground coffee uk

Ground Coffee Explained 2024 (Expert Guide)

If you’re living in the UK, the chances are you live a pretty busy life. Am I right? Waking up and sipping on freshly ground coffee is critical to your morning routine, productivity and overall energy levels. It's certainly critical to mine.

But not all ground coffee is created equal. In this article, I'll share my expertise with you after working for over a decade in the coffee industry.

You'll understand this wonderful beverage in all of its parts and by the end, you'll know exactly where to buy the best ground coffee that you can get your hands on. First up, we'll start with the basics.

What is Ground Coffee?

Ground coffee is what is produced after whole coffee beans have been ground, either manually or using an electric coffee bean grinder.

The reason coffee is ground is to extract as much flavour as humanly possible from the beans and this is only possible when hot water has access to tiny coffee particles. The grinds are then added to your coffee maker of choice for example, a Cafetière.

I put together this article so you can find what is the best coffee to buy for espresso. It is a must check out.

Types of Ground Coffee Available

When buying ground coffee beans online you’ll be given a selection of grind sizes to choose from before you purchase. This can be quite confusing if you’re used to purchasing in the supermarkets. Why?

Because they'll typically only give you a standardised ground coffee option. The trick is to match up your grind type with how you're making coffee at home. For example, if you're making french press coffee, choose a cafetiere / french press grind option - voila!

Before I delve into the three primary types of grind size categories, you'll need to learn about some basic coffee science. We'll use the analogy. A course coffee grind is like 'pebbles' whilst a fine grind is like 'sand'.

Coffee Grind Sizes

Here's a quick 1 minute video I put together on coffee grind sizes. Understanding what grind settings match what coffee maker is really important. It'll help you produce the tastiest ground coffee at home time after time.

Coarsely Ground

A coarse coffee grind setting has larger coffee particle sizes compared to medium and finely ground. This is because the brew methods like the Cafetiere require a brewing process called 'immersion brewing'. In other words, the coffee and hot water are infused together for a longer period of time (5-10 minutes), and that is how the flavour is extracted.

By comparison, if you were to use a fine grind setting with the Cafetiere brew method, you'd likely experience bitterness as a result of something called 'over extraction'. Want to know where to buy course ground coffee for french press? Visit our online coffee shop.

Medium Ground

A medium ground coffee consists of medium sized particles. This sits pretty much in the middle between a cafetiere style grind and an espresso grind. These grind type is designed to work for brew methods that utilise gravity to extract the coffee via water.

Brew methods for a Medium Ground Coffee include: Chemex, V60, Filter Coffee, Aeropress

organic ground coffee

Finely Ground

A fine grind (see below), is designed for espresso coffee. Espresso uses applied force from your espresso machine or Moka pot vessel to push / pump water through the puck of ground coffee.

Finely ground coffee is perfectly suited to the Moka pot, espresso machines and of course a Turkish style brew. To learn more about ground coffee beans for espresso, check out our definitive Top 12 Best Ground Coffee Beans For Espresso. Here's an image of my home coffee machine showcasing what finely ground coffee looks like.

finely ground coffee

The Ultimate Ground Coffee Buying Guide

I'm really excited to share this ground coffee buying guide with you today. You're going to learn all about the different quality grades of coffee, including where and how to buy the best ground coffee online.

Ready to get stuck into it? You might want to grab a coffee for the read.

Quality Vs Commodity Explained

Before you get to the stage of buying ground coffee online, I want to break down some important information about the quality choices available to you.

This will ultimately help you choose the right ground coffee to suit your personal preferences.

Commodity Grade Coffee

Did you know? That around 95% of the coffee produced worldwide (commercial grade coffee), which is susceptible to mould, mycotoxins and pesticides. All of which can be harmful to your long term health.

You might be thinking, how on earth can ground coffee harm my health? Let me explain... Unfortunately, as the name suggests, commodity is a low grade classification of coffee grown for mass production.

Larger cooperations follow unethical farming practises to increase production output. Don't get me wrong, they help supply billions of people with coffee around the world, but there are better ways to operate with health and our planet in mind.

These larger giants need to do whatever they can to boost production efficiencies, which is why they utilise machinery and harmful chemicals such as pesticides on the crops with the intention of repelling insect damage.

This means commodity grade coffee can be harmful to health as Holly Roser suggests.

moka ground coffee


Organic Certified Coffee

By comparison to commodity grade, Organic certification holds plenty of weight and is highly recommended. But why? Coffee that is classified as organic means that the coffee farm is verified by the certification to ensure that a given coffee passes a number of important check procedures.

For example, fertilisers used must all be 100% organic. Pesticides must not be used, and a sustainable crop rotation system must be implemented to avoid soil erosion. If you're looking for additional information on the benefits of drinking organic coffee then read on to learn more.

Speciality Grade Coffee

Ever heard of the term 'Speciality Grade Coffee' before? It's a relatively new term but refers to the highest possible standard of coffee available.

It checks all the boxes of organic coffee whilst also adding an additional layer of sophistication to determine a higher quality. For example, a coffee must have no more than 5 defects per 350g. Speciality coffees are scored are scored using an official grading system too.

If a coffee meets the standard of 80 points and above of a 100 point scale, it's classified as speciality coffee. Now you're fully up to speed on how the coffee certifications work, you can now make an informed decision when buying ground coffee online or in the supermarket.

Where to Buy the Best Ground Coffee?


If you’re looking to purchase your ground coffee online, it’s likely you enjoy a quick, hassle free solution. If you want to try us out at Balance Coffee, then give us a go and let me know your feedback.

balance-coffee beans coffee beans

Otherwise, just do a simple search for 'best coffee roasters' to find a coffee company who provides top quality coffee in just a few clicks.

I wrote an article on, coffee for cafetiere in case you're looking for help choosing coffee for home.

Alternatively, if you'd like to receive ground coffee on autopilot, then you can explore the benefits of our balance coffee subscription which include a 15% saving on every order.

At Balance, we only buy speciality grade coffee, and pride ourselves on healthy coffee that’s good for your body and kind on the planet.


If you're somebody who prefers to buy things in-store then that's okay. There are a number of places you can stock up on coffee supply at home.

The supermarket is one, although generally the coffee is not as fresh as it should due to transportation. Our recommendation is to find a local independant cafe who'll supply top quality fresh beans, Plus you'll be supporting small businesses this way,

Filter Coffee Coffee prepared in a V60 Filter Maker

How to Choose the Best Ground Coffee

This is a big question. With coffee being highly subjective, it’s really all down to your personal taste preferences.

But to be honest, it's really about letting your tastebuds do all the work. And that means experimenting until you find a coffee you like. There are other factors to consider however. For example, taste, quality, price, reliability and support from your roaster.

There are also ethical sustainable and ethical practises to consider if you care about the environment. I thought it'd be useful to provide you with a buying checklist so you can ensure you're buying the best ground coffee in the UK. Don't worry, thank me later!

Ground Coffee Shopping Checklist

1. Flavour / Taste

You’ll be drinking ground coffee daily so it needs to taste incredible. How it you brew it has a huge impact on flavour. Stick to our recommended coffee brewing guides further down in this article and you'll be in good hands.

2. Healthy Coffee

Is the coffee you're buying healthy? Have you checked the quality scale and sourcing policies? Most importantly, is it free from nasties like Mould, Mycotoxins and Pesticides?

Remember, around 5-6% of coffee produced worldwide is speciality grade. This means the coffee is the best quality you can get. Particularly when compared to sub-standard commodity grade options.

At Balance, all of our coffee is available in ground coffee format. We carefully sourced from top quality farms to ensure that we bring you a healthy cup.

We pay a higher price (25%+) for this too. To bring you a coffee guilt-free guarantee. We’re proud to be shipping healthy coffee to customers across the UK every single day.

low acid espresso

3. Coffee Freshness

Coffee freshness is similar to bread. Bread deteriorates rapidly when it has contact with oxygen.

Ground coffee experiences the same drop in quality so a correctly packaged freshly roasted ground coffee is key. Buying little and often is my biggest takeaway for you.

4. Price

Price is always a factor for most people when purchasing anything. Although similar to wine, and most food and drink products, it's worth spending that bit extra to get all the benefits associated.

You can always benchmark a few options to see what stacks up as the best value for money. If saving money is what you're after then you should definitely look into our coffee subscription. Subscribers save 15% on every single order.

5. Sustainability and Ethical Coffee

As ground coffee is a widely purchased product (due to the nature of its convenience), there are lots of places you can buy ground coffee online. This means you'll need to do your research before you decide on the best option for you.

Always read reviews and look for a company’s sustainability practises to ensure it meets your personal standards.

For example, at Balance, we plant trees every month, donate 1% of sales to a coffee charity, and we ensure our coffee bags are recyclable. If you'd like to understand more about what makes a coffee ethical, you can read our guide to buying ethical coffee.

6. Shelf Life

If you’re buying your coffee ground, then you’ll need to understand that the shelf life on the product is greatly reduced. That’s because the small particles make it easier for oxygen to access. Sadly, this kick starts the ageing process.

Generally speaking, you’ll have around 4-8 weeks to consume ground coffee providing it’s correctly sealed in your bag or container.

However, for maximum flavour of each freshly roasted coffee, it's best enjoyed up to 4 weeks from roast date. One of the biggest misconceptions when buying ground coffee in the supermarket is the date on the packaging.

This is likely the use by date not the roast date. For ultimate coffee freshness you'll need to carefully check the label.

Sam Brand - Pro Cyclist Sam Brand - Pro Cyclist enjoying Balance

Ground Coffee Roast Style

The other consideration you’ll need to make is, what roast style to go for. Roast styles consist of light, medium, dark roasted coffee. Each can play an important role in the coffee you enjoy and choose to buy online.

At Balance Coffee we have a range of coffee roast profiles to suit everyone. From lightly roasted single origin coffees designed for filter coffee. To medium roasts perfect all rounders and medium-dark for those who enjoy their coffee with a kick.

We do recommend medium-light as it unlocks the naturally sweet and delicious characteristics inside the coffee bean. But that's for you to decide.

Most companies offer a selection between espresso or filter coffee when you're shopping for coffee online.

Buy Espresso Coffee – choose this option if you prefer chocolatey, rich notes from your coffee with a bit of a punch. Espresso options are generally coffee blends.

Buy Filter Coffee – choose this option if you prefer fruitier, more interesting flavour notes. Filter coffee options are generally single origins.

I wrote an entire piece on the difference between Light and Dark roasted coffee in case you're interested in learning more.

Ground Vs Beans

Coffee is delicious, we know that for certain. But are there any differences between roasted ground coffee and beans? Absolutely.

Here are some fun coffee facts: Ground coffee has a shorter life span than coffee beans.


Yep. A whole coffee bean is able to preserve the flavour for a much longer period. Simply because the oxygen cannot access the individual ground coffee particles. As soon as it's been ground, both the aroma and flavour will deteriorate.

It will be at lightening speed because the air is able to access more surface area. Ever heard the term 'grind fresh and brew'.

It's a top coffee tip if you're looking to maximise on coffee flavour in your cup. Coffee Beans require a grinder to correctly grind the beans to the perfect setting. This means you'll need to invest in a coffee grinder which cost between £30-£350 depending on what you decide to buy.

If you're ready to upgrade then you can take a look at our blog covering the best coffee grinders in the UK. If you're the type of person that likes things done quickly without the faff, then ground coffee might be for you.

Using Coffee beans requires some extra effort however, you'll reap the rewards in terms of flavour upsides that's for sure.

ground vs coffee beans

Ground Decaf Coffee

Decaf get's a lot of stick, but if you love the flavour of coffee, but you suffer from coffee jitters or simply cannot consume caffeine, then finding a quality ground decaf coffee is essential.

Luckily our decaf is rated 5 stars and is highly popular with our customers. You can order online and get it delivered to your door.

If you want to know more, read our detailed article explaining exactly how the caffeine is removed in our best decaf ground coffee blog.

How to Store Ground Coffee

Storing coffee may be one of the most important topics to discuss if you care about your morning brew. So how do you store ground coffee?

It's first important to understand that when exposed to air, coffee faces a significant drop if quality and flavour. You should therefore do everything you can to avoid air contact.

Did you know, if exposed to the air for more than 20-30 minutes you will notice an obvious change compared to a freshly ground coffee. Now you'll see why it's important you protect those beautiful grounds at all costs! So what can you do about it?

decaf ground

Invest in A Good Quality Storage Container

Store coffee in an airtight jar with a suction lid. This will ensure no drop in quality. Make sure the coffee brand you buy your coffee from uses a re-sealable, sturdy packaging. This will avoid air getting in.

Don't panic if you see a valve on the coffee bags, Check out our guide to the best storage containers in the UK for the best selection of products.

Most bags have a one-way valve which is there to allow natural CO2 to escape which is an important part of the post-roasting degassing period. Here are some more common questions around storing coffee.

Should I put coffee in the fridge? Absolutely not!

Unfortunately, this is one of those coffee myths which has circulated for a long time. When you add coffee into the fridge, it takes on moisture and unpleasant smells from other food products (cheesy coffee No thanks!).

It's best to store your ground coffee in a jar inside a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Will room temperature affect your coffee? Y

es actually, Sunlight and temperature is another factor to consider when storing coffee correctly. When the room temperature changes, your coffee changes density which can have a big impact on the coffee extraction.

In other words, it can ruin the flavour. Another reason why storage is such an important part of brewing great coffee at home.

organic ground coffee

Freshness Tips

So you're about to buy amazing coffee online? I recommend making sure your coffee is freshly roasted and shipped quickly.

But why? If your coffee has already lost freshness due to transportation or poor shelf life management (Ahem, supermarket coffee), then there is no chance for the ultimate morning coffee experience.

This also highlights another issue surrounding expiry date. When looking at coffee life span, you should be using ‘roast date’ as the indicator of freshness instead of ‘expiry date’.

Expiration is determined by the company meaning it could be 2 year old coffee if those are the parameters they use. With roast date, you can clearly see the date it was produced and therefore, you'll know exactly when to use it by (or bin it).


How to Brew?

One question we hear often is, Can you just add hot water to ground coffee? You can get away with just pouring water over your coffee and get good results.

However, if you're wanting to really maximise the flavour from every cup, you can follow these steps to make coffee like a pro. Enter coffee pro (that's you). First, you'll need to invest in some coffee scales.

Then, you can follow one of our brew recipes to perfect the measurements. You can start with our ultimate guide to cafetière coffee.

Once you've mastered this recipe you're officially brewing coffee better than most people across the UK (congratulations in advance).

Do you need a coffee maker for ground?

Yes, ground coffee requires a coffee maker which is used as a vessel to hold the coffee grounds.

There are a wide range of coffee brewing devices you can choose from. If you're looking for something simple, then start with a cafetiere. Want to become a home barista? Simply, upgrade to an Aeropress or another common coffee making device.

Which is healthier, ground coffee or instant?

Ground coffee is without doubt a healthier solution than instant coffee. Why? Simply put - its fresher and.has less chemical processes applied during the processing stage.

Instant coffee is made by freeze-drying and spray-drying the concentrated extract of coffee beans.

Once brewed, the water is removed using evaporation techniques. The Instant is then frozen to create the coffee granules. Once you pour boiling water on to the coffee powder, the coffee dissolves in your cup.

How much per cup?

One common question I often get asked is, how much to use per cup? It will depend on what coffee brewing device you are using and what strength you prefer however, is a good all round guideline: 13-15 grams = Weaker 15-18 grams = Medium Strength 20-23 grams = Stronger

Can you use Ground Coffee as Instant?

Not exactly. Instant coffee is classed as 'freeze dried' coffee. This means, it's soluble in hot water so the grounds pretty much disappear under the boiling temperature.

Coffee grounds are particles which are ground coffee the beans fresh. This means there is residue left over in the cup after making coffee. The result, a much cleaner, flavoursome cup compared to Instant Coffee.

Can you drink ground coffee without a coffee machine? Yes you can. In fact, for best results with a coffee machine, you should always use whole bean coffee as you'll produce a better crema. It's also better for flavour too.

Our recommendation is that using ground generally works best for anything filter coffee related. For example, Cafetière, Aeropress, V60, Chemex and the Moka Pot is okay too.

Thanks so much for reading out article. I'd love to know what you think. Did we miss anything? Drop us a note in the comments and we'd love to include your feedback. You can follow us on our socials for more awesome coffee content.