There are many pleasures in this life but few compare to the pure joy of gobbling up a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
The method used to grind coffee (and when you grind) influences the final taste of your coffee brew. An incorrect grind can ruin everything despite having the highest quality coffee, the perfect roast, premium filters, and pure water. Different rules exist for the coffee grinding process but we simplify these to you derive the best taste, aroma, and flavor. In this coffee grinding guide, we offer tried, tested and practical steps to a perfect brew.
Regardless of the different brewing methods, the main goal remains to break down the roasted coffee bean and to expose the bean’s interior to allow the extraction of the right amounts of oils and flavors. Grinding coffee increases its surface area thus allowing water (extraction agent) adequate contact with coffee when brewing. Increased contact leads to more flavor extraction and increased yields.
What Are The Rules To Grind Perfect Coffee
Coffee beans come in varying types and qualities but the coffee grinding process is governed by a set of rules for the entire process.
My guess, once you master these coffee-grinding hacks, you’ll be on your way to becoming a competent coffee brewer.
- Always grind your coffee just before you begin brewing.
- Consider coarseness and fineness while choosing the right coffee grind size.
- To ease the coffee grinding process, select a high-quality coffee grinder.
- Maintain your coffee grinder spotlessly clean.
The entire process before getting to the perfect coffee cup matters. To get a rich and delicious coffee with an impeccable exquisite flavor, mastering the craft is a necessity.
What is the purpose of grinding coffee?
Extracting all the delish coffee flavors happens when the coffee beans and the hot water come together. In my mind, I compare this moment to a wedding ceremony when the bride and groom decide to come together as one. A smaller coffee ground facilitates faster penetration of water to extract the acids, oils, and solids quickly compared to larger ground.
During the brewing process, acids are extracted first and have a sour and intense salty aftertaste. The acids are followed by dissolved solids, sugars, and aromatic oils. Of course, the bitter components are extracted last. The key lies in creating a balanced blend for the best and most complete coffee taste.
Why does coffee grind size matter?
As mentioned, the coffee brewing process involves the extraction of caffeine and flavors from ground coffee. Finer grounding results in faster extraction. To understand this point, look at how the coffee espresso machine operates. Coffee for espresso machines is ground fine and water passes very quickly at high pressure through the grounds. On the other hand, cold brew utilizes coarse-ground coffee since the method allows increased time for contact between the coffee and water. The espresso machine only allows 30 seconds of contact while cold brew lasts hours.
Grind size affects elements such as extraction rate, flow rate, and brewing duration. Notably, if the contact time for fine ground coffee lasts longer than required, over-extraction occurs and the resultant coffee is bitter. For coarse ground coffee which doesn’t last long enough, it results in weak coffee. For instance, the magical taste of an espresso happens within 30 seconds, inclusive of the pressure time to extract the flavor required.
Coffee tip 1
In case your coffee turns out too bitter, mitigate this by making a large grind size. Also, if it gives a grassy taste, you should try out finer ground coffee.
The Proof is in the Pudding
Most people are unaware that coffee has more than 800 aromatic compounds. Now you know!
Let’s explore the science of grinding
By all means, the ultimate goal of coffee grinding is extracting the aromatic elements before the acidity and bitterness find a way to ruin it all. Usually, the entire process should be as easy as pie but coffee beans come in different sizes. When ground, the coffee breaks into different sizes, and to cap the complication; the pieces carry different tastes.
A typical coffee brew contains bigger tasteless boulders while the finer coffee is acidic and bitter.
What’s the solution?
For the umpteenth time, grinding coffee aims to achieve a perfectly balanced blend that can make an exquisite final coffee brew. The burr grinders aid in the process. These coffee grinders are reputed in the coffee world for their ability to produce exceptionally ground coffee.
The next section digs deeper to find an understanding of how coffee grinders help in attaining excellence in the coffee taste.
Coffee grinders come in two forms:
- Burr grinders operating with grooved discs.
- Blade grinders that apply propeller-type blades that chop coffee beans while spinning.
Selecting the Best Coffee Grinder
So, what kind of grinding mechanics are applied by these devices?
Grinds vary depending on the construction and shape of the burrs. Typically, the burrs are made of metal, conical or flat in shape. Regardless of the shape, a good burr bears sharp grooves along its grinding surface.
When grinding coffee, the burr grinders crush the beans between a moving non-moving surface and a moving wheel. The burr size is adjustable to regulate the grind size. Burr grinders sequentially grind a few coffee beans at a time and thus provide a more consistent and even grind.
Burr grinders are also renowned for their ability to produce super-fine and equal coffee particles at a faster rate. An additional advantage of using burr grinders is their use of constant pressure and equal rotation to crush the coffee beans.
Types of burr grinders.
- Conical burr – Most recommended coffee grinders for purchase. It spins slower than the wheel model, rendering them quieter and less messy. Furthermore, when grinding flavored or oily coffee, the conical burr grinders are unlikely to clog. One thing we can confirm is the extra costs required to acquire the conical burr coffee grinders. However, they offer value for money and are definitely worth every penny!
- Wheel burr – Operates under the same model as the conical burr but with a higher rotation speed. Due to the velocity, they are noisy and messy.
Advantages of the burr grinders:
- Preserves the coffee taste and flavor since it does not overheat, unlike the blade grinders.
- Have broad grind adjustments and thus grind fine to coarse. In fact, some even do Turkish. Cool, huh?
- Produce an even grind which makes for an even finer cup of coffee
Disadvantages of the burr grinders:
- Burr grinders tend to be noisy and louder
- Are slow as they methodically grind the coffee beans
- Definitely more expensive than blade grinders
These deploy sharp metal blades to chop the beans. As the blades spin, the coffee beans get chopped. One controls the fineness of the coffee beans by ‘pulsing’ the power button to satisfaction. Judging the amount of coffee to grind is difficult and when fine grinding, one can leave the coffee beans longer than required, leading to overheating of the blades. Overheating gives the coffee a burned taste and dilutes some of the flavors. Opt for the blade grinders only for basic use.
Advantages of blade grinders:
- Are less expensive hence affordable
- A basic design makes it easier to operate
- Poses less risk since you only need to ‘pulse’ the power button
- Small in size thus easy to store
- Grinds fast
Disadvantages of blade grinders:
- Uneven grinding with some coffee powdered while others are left too large
- Inconsistency and the grind can be too fine or coarse
- Need to measure the amount of coffee each time as it lacks a portion control
- It’s limited.
Other types of grinders
While the above-mentioned form the main forms of coffee grinders, there are other types of grinders, though not commonly used.
With the purest intentions, these grinders are for lazy coffee lovers.
These are coffee grinders with limited time to hand-grind their coffee beans. These grinders work fine since all you need is to adjust the settings, dump the buttons and press a button. The work will be done within no time!
The good news is you get to choose between the burr and blade grinders even when automated with each model bringing its due advantages.
Coffee fanatics and pros say manual grinders eclipse automatic coffee grinders when it comes to producing coffee grounds. However, we feel it all comes down to the model.
Tellingly, all the manual grinders incorporate burr grinders.
Grinds and Taste
The long and short of a well-brewed coffee lies in the coarseness of the grind. It’s the sole element that determines the process of coffee beans producing a superb taste worth the time and effort.
As a reminder, avoiding over-extraction or under-extraction holds key to avoiding poor brewing. An over-exploited coffee has a burnt and bitter taste while an under-extracted coffee is weak and sour. What could be worse than a coffee with these traits?
Start taking notes of the factors you should be mindful of to achieve a coffee flavor.
Grind size: It greatly affects the flow rate and contact time (how long coffee and the water interact) of the brew. A short contact time leads to under-extraction of the coffee and vice versa holds true. The flow rate refers to the pace at which water travels through the coffee grinds. A high flow rate leads to under-extraction whilst a low flow rate leads to over-extraction. It may sound complicated but once you internalize the concepts, you’ll be sipping coffee worth the name!
Temperature: This refers to the temperature of the water used in the brewing process. The use of high temperatures brings out a full-bodied and sweeter cup of coffee while low temperatures produce uninspired, bitter, and sour coffee.
Coffee is brewed at temperatures around 91 and 96 degrees Celsius and variation in the brewing temperature can entirely change the flavor. It’s important to keep this in mind while adjusting the coarseness of your coffee grind.
Therefore, coffee extraction is founded on three key pillars – temperature, size of the grounds, and brew time. Try to even them as much as possible by selecting the right equipment for use.
Grind Size vs. Brewing Method Chart
|Grind Size||Ideal Brewing Method|
|COARSE||Vacuum coffee pot French press Percolator Plunger pot|
|MEDIUM||Best for drip coffee makers with flat bottom filters (Bloomfield, BUNN, etc.)|
|FINE||Suitable for coffee makers with cone-shaped filters (Cuisinart, KRUPS, etc.)Espresso Moka pots|
|EXTRA FINE||Espresso machines – steam Espresso machines – pump|
Coffee tip 2
Always avoid over grinding the coffee beans. In most instances, the extra fine coffee grinds clog filters for most devices. It can easily result in bitter flavors.
The Coffee Challenge
If you’re passionate about coffee as we are and wish to rewrite the history of manual grinding, try the grinding process without any device. For espresso and French press lovers, overlooking the use of grinders for coffee beans will bring out a taste and aroma to treasure. With a mortar and pestle, or meat tenderizer or rolling pin, these competently substitute any coffee grinder in the market. You just have to apply the right amount of strength and enjoy the magic!
Grind well and enjoy each sip
Now that you’re enlightened on the importance of coffee grinding and its impact on the final flavor and taste, conduct some research on available products in the market and settle on one that best reflects your passion and love for coffee.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll not settle for anything less than the best!
At least, we can agree that coffee is too precious for us not to optimize its value.
Frequently Asked Questions on Coffee Grinding Process
How do you properly grind coffee?
It is important to properly grind coffee in order to extract the most flavor and aroma from your beans. The optimal grind size will depend on the brewing method used, but generally speaking, you should aim for a uniform particle size for maximum extraction.
Start by selecting the right type of grinder for your needs. A burr grinder is best for achieving a uniform grind size, as it uses two revolving abrasive surfaces to crush the beans. Blade grinders are cheaper but can result in inconsistent grind size.
Once you’ve selected your grinder, set it to the appropriate setting for your brewing method. For the French press, opt for a coarse grind size, while pour-over coffee will require a finer grind. It’s also important to adjust the grind size when switching between different types of beans; lighter roasts are best enjoyed with a finer grind size than darker roasts.
When you’re ready to grind, start with small amounts at a time, and make sure the beans are spread evenly over the grinder. This will ensure a more consistent grind size and help to prevent clumping.
Grind for no longer than 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring between pulses if necessary. Over-grinding can lead to bitterness and an unpleasant taste in your cup of coffee.
What kind of grind is best for coffee?
The best grind size for coffee will depend on your brewing method. A coarse grind is usually best for French press, while pour-over coffee requires a finer grind. Espresso machines typically work best with an extra-fine grind size. For most other brewing methods, such as drip coffee and Aeropress, it’s best to go for a medium grind size.
If in doubt, start with a finer grind and adjust as necessary until you find the right balance for your taste. Experimentation is key when it comes to coffee grinding, so don’t be afraid to try different grind sizes to see what works best for you.
Overall, proper coffee grinding is essential for achieving the best flavor and aroma from your beans. With the right tools, knowledge, and a bit of practice, you’ll be able to find the perfect grind size for any brewing method.
What are the 5 main grinds of coffee?
The five main grinds of coffee are extra-fine, fine, medium, coarse and very coarse. Extra-fine grind is best for espresso machines and Aeropress, while course grind is ideal for French press brewing. Medium grind size is commonly used for drip coffee makers and pour-over coffee makers. Fine and very coarse grinds can be used for specialty brewing methods and cold brew coffee respectively.
It’s important to note that the grind size you use will have a major influence on the flavor of your final cup of coffee, so it’s important to experiment with different grind sizes in order to find the right balance for your taste.
What is the coffee grinding process?
The coffee grinding process involves breaking down coffee beans into smaller particles to extract flavor and aroma. This is usually done using either a burr grinder, which uses two revolving abrasive surfaces to crush the beans, or a blade grinder, which uses high-speed blades to chop the beans.
Once you’ve selected your grinder, you’ll need to adjust the grind size to match your brewing method. This can be done by adjusting the settings on the burr grinder or by grinding for a certain amount of time when using a blade grinder.
It’s important to remember that over-grinding can lead to bitterness and an unpleasant taste in your cup of coffee, so it’s best to grind for no longer than 20-30 seconds at a time. Experimentation is key when it comes to finding the perfect grind size for your brewing method.
By following these steps and using the right grinding technique, you can achieve maximum flavor and aroma from your coffee beans. With practice, you’ll be able to finesse the perfect cup of coffee every time.