From pour-over to French press, every brew method needs a different coffee grind texture for the perfect cup. Keep reading to choose the right grinder, create a flawless consistency, and even learn how to grind coffee beans at home.
Coffee beans are roasted, then ground to help brew strong flavor into every cup. During the brewing process, hot water extracts soluble materials from the beans like acid, sugar, caffeine, carbs, and lipids. By grinding your beans to the perfect texture, you'll create a well-balanced cup of joe.
Your grinds' ideal texture depends on the brewing method you use, as you don't want your hot water filtering through the grinds too slowly for an extra bitter, intense cup or too quickly, resulting in a weak brew.
We'll explain below which brew methods need which grind textures, but no matter which one you use, you'll want your coffee beans ground into consistent pieces. The water won't evenly filter if you mix large chunks of coffee beans with tiny pieces, leaving you with an uneven brew.
Which is better - pre-ground coffee or whole bean? Once we roast whole coffee beans, they slowly lose their freshness as the inside of the beans are exposed to air, eventually becoming stale. That means coffee beans you order from the processing facility aren't as fresh as the ones you grind at home.
Enjoy the most flavor from your coffee beans by grinding them shortly before brewing. If you're a dedicated coffee drinker like me, it's worthwhile to buy your beans whole and invest in a relatively inexpensive, good-quality bean grinder.
We recommend roasting your beans within 30 days of buying and consuming within 2 weeks of grinding.
To grind beans at home, you’ll need a coffee grinder. The two most common options are the blade grinder and the burr grinder – and though both will get the job done, there’s one clear winner.
One of the keys to finding just the right grind lies in the consistency: does your grinder break your beans down into even, consistent sizes, or are they all over the place?
A burr grinder is by far the very best coffee grinder type on the market, though it’s usually priced as such and can set you back quite a bit of cash.
Whether you choose a flat or conical burr grinder, you’ll end up with a very consistent bean grind. Conical burr grinders work by pushing coffee beans between two flat rings and chewing through them, with the grinds falling through the burrs only as they reach the desired size – this cuts down on the too big and too small bits in your brewer.
While flat grinders do a great job, some pieces may become stuck in the grooves, which can negatively affect your grind results. Another nice thing about burr grinders is you don’t need to worry how long to grind coffee beans. When the grinding finishes, the beans will all be in the receptacle at the bottom.
A blade grinder is often the best choice for an amateur coffee fan who is looking more for affordability than enjoying the subtleties of the best-tasting cup. The blade grinder won’t grind your beans perfectly, but they will give you freshly-ground beans, which goes a long way to improving coffee’s taste compared to pre-ground beans.
Another downside to pre-ground coffee is there aren’t many grind size options. And as you’ll see in our coffee grind chart below, size matters when it comes to coffee grinds!
Coffee beans have mostly insoluble compounds that should be extracted in a particular way to produce a satisfying cup. You need the proper coffee-to-water ratio, water temperature, and best brew time, along with the right grind.
Grind size matters because different sizes change the total surface area of the beans. The finer the coffee grind, the more surface area exposed – the more extensive surface area is best to extract all of the essential oils and flavors from the coffee bean during quicker brew methods.
In contrast, slow brew methods need less surface area to avoid over-extracting your beans. The bottom line is, if you pour water through a pile of rocks, it will flow down almost immediately, while running water through sand provides more resistance – the water takes longer to flow to the bottom.
Under-extraction happens when your grinds are too coarse for your brew method, making coffee taste highly acidic and sour.
Over-extraction occurs when your grinds are too delicate for your brew method, making a cup of bitter, dark coffee with all subtle undertones lost.
Now that you know why coffee grind size matters, how will you know when to use a coarse ground coffee, medium-coarse grind, or medium-fine ground coffee? And what do those even look like?
Take a look at our handy coffee grind chart so you can easily recognize all the primary coffee grind sizes.
No matter how you use to make your coffee grinds at home, we've got you covered! Find which one of coffee brewing methods works the best for different types of coffee grind, then use a grinder above or choose an alternative coffee bean grinder method below.
Texture: Coarsely ground black pepper
The French press uses an immersion brew method in which the grounds make direct contact with boiling water before being pressed through a mesh screen. Because of the prolonged direct contact and the larger holes in the mesh, using a French press grind works best to keep the sludge and grinds in the press instead of your cup.
Cold-brew coffee brews at room temperature or colder, requiring a longer brew time. Stick to extra-coarse grinds to ensure you don't over-extract them throughout the long brewing time.
Texture: Coarse sea salt
Most coffee makers are simple, fully automated, pour-over drip brewers. The hot water moves through the beans in the filter at a medium rate of flow, which requires a medium to coarse grind.
Texture: Table salt
When you're making coffee with a pour-over coffee maker and a gooseneck kettle, you'll want a medium grind to ensure the flow rate is spot on. The manual drip method requires a slightly finer grind than a drip coffee maker, as the brewer pours the water a little quicker than the machine.
Texture: Table salt
The Aeropress brews faster than a pour-over, but this method uses extra pressure to help speed up the extraction process. Use a medium grind, just as you would for a pour-over grind.
Texture: Ground cinnamon spice
Espresso beans are a very fine texture for the steam extraction process. Avoid making it too fine and powdery. Otherwise, the water will flow through channels in the grinds instead of saturating all of them.
Texture: White flour
Turkish coffee is ready lightning-fast. Grind your beans extra-fine to perfectly extract the grinds as you brew.
Learn just how easy it is to grind coffee beans at home! You likely have a few simple tools kicking around the house that you can turn into a homemade grinder.
A mortar and pestle grind herbs and spices just fine, so why not use it for your coffee, too? The hammer and rolling motions help create a fairly consistent texture.
Can you grind coffee beans in a blender? Absolutely! The blender chops coffee beans much in the way a blade grinder would. Beware that just like a real blade grinder, a blender won't give you consistent grinds.
Some high-end blenders include a grinding speed setting meant for the task! Stick to blending the beans in quick bursts rather than continuously running the blender to avoid heating the beans' oils, making an extra-bitter cup.
A rolling pin isn't just meant for pie - you can use it to crush your coffee beans in a pinch. You can closely control the pressure on your beans, which means your grinds should end up with a fairly even texture. Get ready to sweat as you crush those firm beans and learn how to grind coffee beans without a grinder.
Grind your beans with the flat side of a kitchen knife's blade, not the sharp edge. Most butcher or chef's knives work well, as they have a broad, stiff blade with plenty of contact area and leverage to crush the beans quickly.
This method can be a little tricky, but it offers plenty of control over the grind.
The food processor works much like the blender, so it won't be giving you winning consistency, but it will certainly work in a coffee emergency!
Now you know how to grind coffee beans without a grinder and can easily start grinding coffee beans at home!
We let you skip the confusing guesswork by picking the perfect coffee bean for your brewing pleasure. We've even helped you pick the easiest brewing methods.
Get peak freshness out of your favorite coffee beans by roasting and grinding them at home, and lucky for you, you don't have to have a kitchen appliance just for coffee grinding!
Whether you go all-out and invest in fancy coffee gadgets, or use an inexpensive grinder and coffee maker, the most crucial aspect to a cup of coffee that tastes good is its freshness – try to grind your coffee at home as much as you can!
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