Why Coffee Grind Is Important
Knowing how to properly grind your coffee will make a massive impact on the quality of coffee in your cup. We’ll walk you through the science of coffee extraction, a grind setting guide.
Why coffee grind is important
When coffee is ground correctly it brings out the best flavor of your coffee beans. The process of brewing coffee extracts its soluble materials like caffeine, acids, sugars, lipids, and carbohydrates, all the things that give coffee its iconic flavor. The goal is to extract the proper amount of solubles to create a balanced cup. Grind setting and brew time are the two primary variables for perfecting extraction. If coffee is over-extracted (ground too fine or brewed too long) it’ll taste bitter due to the bitter solubles overwhelming the sweetness, and if it’s under-extracted (ground too coarse or brewed too quickly) it’ll taste sour due to the lack of sweet-tasting solubles getting extracted. So it’s important to properly grind your coffee to get the best flavor out of your favorite beans.
Whole bean or pre-ground?
Roasted coffee slowly loses its freshness and becomes stale over time just like most foods. This is due to oxidation or the deterioration the air has on organic materials. The greater the surface area for the air to get to, the faster the rate of its deterioration. That’s why it’s best to start with freshly roasted whole bean coffee. For the most flavorful cup, we recommend brewing coffee that’s been roasted within 30 days and brewing pre-ground coffee within two weeks of it being ground. Anything longer than this and you’ll start to notice its staleness.
Types of Coffee Grinders
Blade coffee grinders aren’t so much grinders as they are choppers chopping your beans by spinning a blade for an indeterminate amount of time. In theory, the longer you chop, the finer your grind. But blade grinders are notorious for inconsistency. Since the blade only chops what it comes in contact with, there’s no guarantee that the coffee particles will be of a consistent size. This inconsistency means the smallest particles will over-extract whereas the larger particles will under-extract which won’t produce the best cup. Though blade grinders are small and affordable, if you’re looking to get the best out of your beans, you should consider moving to a burr grinder.
Burr coffee grinders crush coffee beans by passing them through two rotating metal or ceramic burrs. Unlike the blade grinder, the fineness of the grind is determined by the space between the burrs and not the amount of time grinding. This produces a very consistent grind. There are two types of burr coffee grinders: flat burr and conical burr. Flat burr grinders have two metal rings that rotate in opposite directions whereas conical burr grinders have one stationary ring while a cone-shaped burr rotates and presses the beans into the stationary burr. The grinder used in your favorite cafe is more than likely a conical burr grinder.
How to Grind Coffee Beans
Whether you're looking to grind coffee for a french press, your home coffee maker, or to make that perfect shot of espresso, follow this coffee grinding guide for all your favorite brew methods. It will give you a good starting point from which you can tweak to get your extraction just right.
Cold brew is brewed with room temp or cold water which makes your brew time really long. And since your brew time is long, grinding extra coarse will ensure you’re not over-extracting your beans.
Grind: Extra coarse
Texture: Coarsely cracked pepper
Ratio of coffee to water: 1:10
Brew time: 10 hours for ready to drink cold brew. 24-48 hours for concentrates of varying strength.
French presses have a metal screen to separate the coffee grounds from the water. But because the screen isn’t ultra-fine, you’ll want to grind a bit coarse to prevent a lot of grit from ending up in the bottom of your cup.
Texture: Sea salt
Ratio of coffee to water: 1:12
Brew time: 4 minutes
Home Coffee Maker
Home coffee makers are basically just automated pour overs. You want the water to move through the beans and into the carafe at a rate that isn’t too fast or too slow. A medium grind optimizes for that flow rate.
Grind: Medium Coarse
Texture: Table salt
Ratio of coffee to water: 2 Tbsp per 6oz "cup" (2 Tbsp heaping for stronger)
Brew time: 5 min
For pour overs, water should move through the beans and into the carafe within your target brew time. A medium grind optimizes for that flow rate.
Texture: Table salt
Ratio of coffee to water: 1:16
Brew time: 3:30 - 4 minutes
Aeropress has a faster brew time than a pour over, but since you’re giving it a little extra oomph by applying pressure, a medium grind size will help you hit the extraction target.
Texture: Table salt
Ratio of coffee to water: 1:15
Brew time: 2:30
Espresso is ground fine but not like a powder. If it’s too fine, the water will create channels instead of saturating the coffee equally.
Texture: Ground cinnamon
Ratio of coffee to water: 1:2
Brew time: 30 - 40 seconds