Buying coffee fresh from the roasters is a great first step toward enjoying the full potential of that sweet, smooth steaming nectar of goodness that is coffee. But another important part is doing the right grind.
So what grind is the best to use for your coffee then? Well, it depends on your brewing method.
But before we get into that, let’s talk about what grinding actually does.
How Grind Size Affects Coffee Flavor
When you grind your coffee, you’re opening up the bean to expose surface area to allow for optimal flavor extraction. That’s why coffee smells so great when you grind the beans. The coffee particles wafting into your nostrils are the same particles that will serenade your taste buds.
The finer you grind your coffee, the more surface area you expose and the more you increase your coffee’s flavor extraction potential. As such, you can use the grind consistency to regulate flavor extraction.
Does this mean that the finer the grind, the better the coffee? Not necessarily. If your grind is too coarse for a given brew method, the coffee will be under extracted and the flavor will likely exhibit too much sourness and acidity. If too fine, you will have a bitter, lack-luster cup of joe.
So now let’s talk about brew methods. Generally speaking, the longer the coffee sits in the water, the coarser your grind should be. Conversely, the shorter the time, the finer the grind.
Your Guide to a Proper Grind
Here is our guide to help you use the best coffee grind for your brew method.
Cold brew — With our cold brew coffee recipe, the coffee is in the water for 24 hours. To prevent over-extraction, we recommend a very coarse grind.
French press — Our French press recipe, as most, calls for a 4-minute steep time. In this case, not only does the coarse grind keep the coffee from being over extracted, it keeps the plunger’s filter from becoming clogged with too many fine particles.
Drip brewer, Chemex or other pour-over brewing methods, and the Aeropress (if using longer steep times) — These methods typically take a few minutes to brew and tend to use paper filters. Going too fine may clog their filters.
Espresso, The Aeropress — As making espresso exposes the grind to water for a mere 15-30 seconds, the finer grind allows more extraction in lesser time. The same is true for the Aeropress whose steep time is only one minute.
Now that you’ve got a basic guide on grind consistencies and brewing methods, let’s talk about grinding methods as not all are equal. Nor will they all give you the best cup.
Using the proper grinder
Grinders typical are either of the blade or the burr variety.
Though blade grinders are cheaper, we recommend using a burr grinder. Why? While budget-friendly, quick and easy to use, blade grinders produce a very inconsistent grind.
Using a blade grinder, you may be able to achieve a somewhat course, medium or fine grind for the most part, but you’ll also get some chunks and some fine coffee dust — resulting in inconsistent extractions, not to mention potential issues with filters clogging and such.
That’s why we recommend a burr grinder.
While more expensive, a burr grinder will not only can you get a consistent grind minimizing dust and chunks, but most of the time you will be able to set the consistency exactly how you want it — no guessing how long to hold the button to achieve the proper grind, popping the lid off and making a mess only to discover you need to grind some more.
Additionally, burr grinders do not so easily “cook” the grinds while making them as do blade grinders, the latter method potentially adding an unwanted flavor.
Finally, as we have mentioned in other blogs, we recommend buying coffee whole bean and grinding it as you need it to preserve freshness. But, if you don’t have a grinder yet, don’t want the hassle of grinding or you plan on quickly using the coffee, you can order your coffee pre-ground. With us, you can select “Whole Bean”, “Drip - Pour Over”, “French Press” or “Espresso Machine.”
Essentially, in order to get that cup of wow, your aim should be to match the proper grind to the proper method. Using the guide above should help you to do just that, so you don’t either over extract or under extract with your particular brewing method.
Hopefully this helped resolve some questions about coffee, grinding and proper settings.
Grounds 4 Compassion is an Oklahoma City-based company focused on providing freshly roasted quality coffee for our customers and investing back into our community. Our goal is ultimately to help improve our community and our world as we endeavor to make a good cup of coffee.
Click here to learn more about or to shop Grounds 4 Compassion.