Coffee Grinding

Basics

The way you grind your coffee will determine how the final brew tastes. You can have the highest quality coffee, purest water, premium filters, an excellent coffee maker and still ruin the brew with an incorrect grind.

Regardless of your coffee grinding method, the basic goal of grinding coffee is the same: Break down the roasted coffee bean to expose the interior of the bean allowing the right amount of oils and flavors to be extracted. The Grind Size of the whole beans is based on the brewing method.

1. Grind your coffee right before you are ready to brew
2. Choose the right grind size (fineness/coarseness)
3. Select and use a high quality coffee grinder
4. Keep your coffee grinder clean

Choosing the Right Grind Size

The ideal fineness or coarseness of your ground coffee depends mainly on the brewing method.

In general, if you brew coffee that is ground too coarse, the coffee can be under-extracted, weak and less flavorful. If your coffee is ground too fine the coffee can be over-extracted and bitter.

Small changes in grind size can drastically affect the taste of the final brew.

GRIND SIZE DESCRIPTIONS 
  • Coarse: Distinct, chunky, pieces of coffee beans. Like heavy kosher salt.
  • Medium: Gritty texture with visible flakes. Like very coarse sand.
  • Fine: Much smoother texture. Like table salt, maybe a little finer.
  • Extra Fine: Coffee grains still barely discernable. Finer than granular sugar.
GRIND SIZE vs. BREWING METHOD CHART
Grind Size Ideal Brewing Method
  COARSE
  • Plunger Pot
  • French Press
  • Percolator
  • Vacuum coffee pot
  MEDIUM
  • Drip coffee makers with flat bottom filters
  FINE
  • Drip coffee makers with cone shaped filters
  • Espresso moka pots
  EXTRA FINE
  • Espresso machines - pump
  • Espresso machines - steam
 

 

 

Selecting the Right Coffee Grinder...Blade or Burr

Blade Grinders

Most inexpensive grinders use a sharp metal blade to literally chop up your coffee beans. As the blade spins, the coffee beans are chopped. You control the fineness of the grind by "pulsing" the power button until you're satisfied. It can be difficult to judge how much coffee to grind, and how finely to grind it. Another downfall – if you are grinding finely, and therefore leaving the beans in the grinder longer, there can be significant heat created by the blades. This can give your final coffee a burned taste and destroy other flavors. Blade Grinders are fine for basic use, for coffee aficionados we recommend using a Burr Grinder.

ADVANTAGES:

  • Less Expensive: 
  • Easy to Operate: just "pulse" the button
  • Easy to Olean: simple design with only one moving part (blade)
  • Easy to Store: small size means a small countertop footprint
  • Faster: just pop some beans in and go, grinds fast...maybe too fast

DISADVANTAGES:

  • Grinds Unevenly: some beans will be powdered and some left too large
  • Inconsistent: you control grind, so it's easy to grind too fine or too coarse
  • No Portion Control: you have to measure the amount of coffee beans every time
  • Overheats Coffee: tends to heat coffee while grinding, adversely affecting flavor
  • Less Capable: cannot grind much better than fine 
Burr Grinders

Burr grinders crush the beans between a moving grinding wheel and a non-moving surface. Typically, the burr position can be adjusted to regulate the grind size. Because burr grinders grind a few beans at a time, in sequence, they provide a much more even and consistent grind. In the burr category, there are two different types.

Wheel Burr - The less expensive of the two burr grinders. The higher rotation speed of the wheel can make these grinders a little more messy and noisy, however.

Conical Burr - These are the best grinders money can buy. The burr spins slower than the wheel model, which makes them quieter and less messy. Also, conical grinders are less likely to clog when grinding oily or flavored coffee. Conical burr grinders are more expensive, but definitely worth the extra cash.

ADVANTAGES:

  • Grinds Evenly: an even, consistent grind makes for a better cup of coffee
  • Broad Grind Adjustments: grinds coarse to fine (some will even do Turkish)
  • Preserves Flavor: will not overheat coffee like a blade grinder

DISADVANTAGES:

  • Louder: many burr grinders tend to be a little noisy
  • Slower: burr grinders methodically grind your beans...it's worth the wait, though
  • More Expensive: burr grinders can by pricey, but you get what you pay for

 

Sign up for BeachyNews