EVERY THING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Grinding coffee is one of the most crucial steps in the coffee brew game and
there are many details to consider. Grind size can completely change the overall taste
of the coffee. There’s a long way to go from a coffee bean to a perfect coffee cup.
Every single stage of processing coffee is vital if you wish a delicious and rich
final result. Let’s dig into the science behind grinding and reveal
how to master the skill of crafting an exquisite coffee flavor.
All that jazz...
In order to avoid consuming an undrinkable fiasco, you need to know what's exactly going on during the process of brewing.
We extract all the delish coffee flavors in the magic moment of coffee beans and hot water coming together.
The smaller the coffee ground, the less time it will take for water to penetrate all the way to the center. This means the water will
extract the acids, oils, or solids from the ground more quickly. The larger the ground is, the longer the extraction will be.
The acids are the first components that are extracted during coffee brewing. They’re sour and intense with often salty aftertaste.
The next ones are sugars, aromatic oils and dissolved solids. Bitter compounds are the last ones to be extracted from the
grounds. We aim to have just a small amount of these to reach a flavor intensity. The key is to discover the perfect blend of all of
these ingredients in order to achieve the complete coffee taste.
The importance of grind size
The main idea behind grind size is based on how long the coffee is in contact with water during the brewing process. Grind size
affects several vital factors: brewing duration, extraction rate and flow rate of the brewing. If the contact time (how long the
coffee brews) is too long and the grind is too fine, the brew will be over-extracted with coffee way too bitter. On the other hand, if
the grind is too coarse and the brewing time too short, you will end up with coffee that is too weak.
For example, all the magic of an espresso happens in 30 seconds – it's exactly how much time it takes for the coffee to be exposed
to water, including the pressure-time that extracts all of the beautiful coffee flavors.
Pro tip: If your coffee is too bitter, try making a larger grind size and if it has a grassy flavor, that means you should try out the finer grind.
The Science of Grinding
Did you know the coffee has more than 800 aromatic compounds?
The result of a perfect grind should be extracting as many of the pleasant aromatics before acidity or bitterness dissolve into the
brew. All of this would be a piece of cake if all the grounds were the exact same size. However, ground coffee is never entirely
even as coffee beans tend to break into pieces of different sizes. And what makes the equation even more tricky is the fact there
are two types of pieces, each tasting differently.
The typical brew contains boulders (bigger pieces) that are usually tasteless and the fines (smaller pieces) tasting acidic and
We wish to achieve the most balanced grind we can, because it is the best way to make an outstanding final brew. To do this, we
should use, so-called, burr grinders. In the coffee world, these devices are known for producing an exceptionally even grind.
Let's jump into the next chapter to find out how the two fundamental types of coffee grinders can help us achieve excellence in
our coffee taste.
Coffee grinders come in two basic forms: blade grinders that use propeller-type blades that chop the beans as they spin and burr
grinders which operate with grooved discs.
So, what’s the secret of these grinding mechanisms?
The grinds will depend on the shape and construction of the burrs. Burrs are typically either conical or flat, made of metal, but
they vary in shape. Have in mind that a good burr, regardless of shape, has sharp grooves all along the grinding surface. This is a
crucial detail as it will make the pieces more even.
This mechanism also reduces the beans into the finest particles very quickly, providing super equal grinding. Another feature
that separates burr grinders as better than the blade grinders is that they use constant pressure and equal rotation to crush
beans. This is achieved at low speed – meaning no extra heat that will affect the bean flavor.
On the other hand, the system of a blade coffee grinder works only by spinning extremely fast, causing overheating. Both extra
friction and heat will result in a coffee’s bad taste making it overcooked.
Pro tip: Blade grinders will not make a wowing result in grinding. Go for a conical burr grinder to achieve beautifully and finely grounded beans.
Grinds & Brewing Methods
Each brewing method requires a different grind size. And if we fail there, the coffee will fail as well, ending up as a bitter mess
nobody wants to drink. Remember: when brewing coffee, you’re extracting all the rich flavors from the beans to the water –
precisely this process is what makes your coffee cup a true joy.
Before we jump onto the essentials of grinds and brewing methods, let’s learn how to distinguish different grind sizes.
Coarse grind is made of
chunky pieces of coffee
beans looking something
like kosher salt.
almost like table salt.
Coffee grains finer
This grind is basically
a powder with a
The best grind for this brewing method is a medium grind. It gives enough resistance when you press, and it helps to extract all
of the flavors of the coffee without leaving it bitter.
Have in mind that if you have to press too hard, it means your grind is too fine, while if you face slight resistance while pressing,
you should choose a finer grind. The best option for French Press brew is a coarse grind. Read more on the art of French press coffee here.
Medium to medium-coarse grind is the perfect choice when it comes to Chemex brew. This size lets the water sit in the grounds
and brew before it slowly starts dripping through the filter. If the grind is too coarse, the water will quickly pass through the
grounds, making weak, sour coffee.
The type of grind you'll need for drip coffee will depend on the kind of drip pot that you have. If you use flat bottom, stick to a
medium grind to avoid over-extraction. With cone-shaped drip pots, however, the better choice would be a medium-fine grind.
Our tip is to try out a medium-fine grind (somewhere between an espresso grind and pour over grind).
In order to increase pressure and extract more flavor and caffeine, stick to a fine grind with this brewing method. If you notice,
that your coffee is coming out too bitter, consider switching to a medium-fine grind.
THE CLEVER DRIPPER
This is a brewing method that has elements from both pour-over and immersion brewing methods. Therefore, the best way to
brew your coffee is by picking a medium size grind.
THE KALITA WAVE
It is basically a standard pour-over method with a flat bottom that helps speed up and even out extraction. The Kalita Wave
requires a medium-fine grind, but you can use a finer grind as well.
The critical moment with an espresso is to build up as much pressure as possible to extract flavor in caffeine quickly. To do this,
use a fine grind.
The perfect cup of a Turkish coffee will be prepared by using an extra-fine grind with the consistency of flour. Make sure to use
Arabica beans. Robusta beans make the coffee over-extracted.
Grinds & Taste
Alpha & Omega of a well-brewed coffee is the coarseness of the grind. This element controls the whole process of a bean
becoming a superb coffee cup with a taste to remember.
Over extraction and under extraction are two key reasons for a poor brewing. Coffee that's under-extracted may taste weak or too
sour, whereas coffee that's over-extracted often tastes bitter and burnt. Nothing worse than this, right?
So which factors to have in mind if we wish to achieve the maximum of the coffee’s flavor? Read on and take a few notes.
The size of your coffee grinds has a profound effect on the flow rate and contact time of the brew. Contact time refers to how
long the water is interacting with your coffee grinds. If the contact time is too low, you'll end up with under-extracted coffee.
Meanwhile, if it's too high, your coffee will be over-extracted. It is, also, out of utmost importance to take control of how quickly
or slowly water travels through the coffee grinds – this is what we call a flow rate. A high flow rate usually results in
under-extracted coffee, whereas a low flow rate leads to over-extraction. Sounds like a science? There’s more.
Don’t forget the effect of the temperature!
The final flavor of your coffee will highly depend on the temperature of the water used in the brewing process. Higher
temperatures produce a more full-bodied and sweeter cup, while lower temperatures tend to produce coffee that is sourer, less
bitter, lacking fullness.
Coffee is typically brewed between 91 and 96 degrees Celsius, but small variations of the brewing temperature can enormously
affect the final flavor. Keep this in mind while adjusting the coarseness of your grind.
To sum it up:
Coffee extraction is a result of three things - the temperature, the brew time and the size of the grounds. Make them even as
much as possible by using the right equipment!
Grinds & Taste
As we already mentioned, there are two main types of grinders – blade and burr grinders. The key difference is the fact the first
type uses blades to grind, while the burr grinder mechanism is based on a specific type of discs.
There are pros and cons to both types. In general, burr grinders tend to grind more evenly, as only a few beans at a time can pass
through the discs. Blade grinders, on the other hand, produce unevenly ground beans, as their powerful blades actually chop the
Blade grinders are usually a right choice for beginners or people who aren't quite ready to commit to serious grinding.
How it works
as the blade spins, the coffee beans are chopped. The fineness of the grind can be controlled by pulsing the power button until
you're happy with the result. Many times, it will be difficult to judge how much coffee to grind. One of the key flaws of this
blender is the fact it heats the beans significantly, during the process of fine grinding. This can ruin other flavors giving your
coffee a burned taste.
Blade grinders are good because they cost less, they are very easy to operate and most of them come with a simple design. The
main downfalls are that they grind unevenly and that you have to control grind – this means it is super easy to grind too fine or
too coarse. Also, you have to measure the amount of coffee beans every single time and be very careful not to overheat your
How it works
These grinders crush the beans between a moving grinding wheel and a non-moving surface. Because burr grinders grind a few
beans at a time, in sequence, they provide a much more even and consistent grind. The best grinder to use is Conical Burr. Coffee
pros swear these are the best grinding gadgets money can buy.
What’s the trick here?
The burr spins slower than the wheel model, which makes them quieter. Also, conical grinders are less likely to clog when,
You will, for sure, get the better cup if using this type of grinder because they will never fail in giving you an even, consistent
grind. They also have very broad adjustment options so you can grind from coarse to fine, even do a Turkish coffee. There is no
heat to affect the coffee flavor, either. They are, however, noisy and the process of grinding is slow.
Pro tip: Don't ever over grind the coffee. Extra fine grounds can clog the filter in most devices. This can also release the bitter flavors.
There is also a third type of grinders – a sort of a masher that uses an ancient-style mortar and pestle. The beans are crushed,
producing granules of an uneven size that are most of the time not good to use.
Let’s not skip these – apart from the main two types we already mentioned, there are grinders for lazy ones too, or simply for all
the coffee lovers with no much time to hand-grind their coffee beans. An automatic grinder is a perfect choice for you! They
work simply – all you have to do is to choose your setting, dump in the beans, and push a button! The grinder will finish all the work in no time.
You can get automatic grinders with either blades or burrs. Still, have in mind the ones with the burrs will produce the uniform
grind we tend to have for our perfect coffee cup!
Many coffee pros and passionate coffee lovers will tell you that manual grinders absolutely beat the automatic ones, when it
comes to producing better coffee grounds. We think – it all depends on the model.
The key element that makes manual grinders slightly more supreme is the fact all the models operate with burrs rather than,
If you have the time, the patience and wish to break the boundaries in manual grinding, try doing it with no grinder at all!
Learning how to grind coffee beans without a grinder can produce the best ground coffee for the French press or espresso. Play
with mortar and pestle, a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer! They can compete with the best burr grinder if you do things in the
Before you decide to purchase your grinder be aware: features like the timer switch and auto-shutoff are useful additions and
make a massive difference between the poor grinder and the good one.
Now you know how much grinding matters. It’s not just a step in coffee brewing. It can literally
make or break the deal, making your coffee cup a miserable mess or a true joy. Do your research
on the products available in the market and make sure you invest in good grinding equipment based
on how much time and passion you wish to devote to grinding your coffee. Now that you've got the grind down, let's move onto the brewing process; checkout the brewing guide here.
Be well and grind well!
Because, we’ll all agree on one – life is too short to drink bad coffee.