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How to grind coffee – does the grind size matter?

If you’re still exploring the best barista and brewing methods for the perfect cup of coffee, it will be important to factor in the coffee grind size, for the most professional results.

Depending on the coffee you are trying to create – french press, cold brew or espresso – the coffee grind size will matter. From coarse to fine, and everything in between, grinding coffee has a lot of significance to the final flavour and texture.

What is the best way to grind coffee?

Coffee beans themselves are quite robust, so it will take some old school elbow grease, if you choose to grind coffee with a pesel and mortar. Most people rely on mechanical ingenuity to get the job done, however.

Blade grinders, burr grinders and food blenders have all been known to crush the coffee but with varying results. The major differences between them being control, consistency and cost.

You can pick up a food processor or blade grinder for relatively cheap. However, you will often be left with inconsistent results, depending on how many coffee beans you put in and the length of the bursts you perform to grind them.

For quality control and accuracy, a burr grinder would be your best option. You can set the control to the specific grind size you require for the quantity of coffee you choose.

Why grind coffee at home?

Grinding coffee at home is recommended for optimum freshness and flavour.  As we all know, as soon as coffee beans come into contact with oxygen, they begin to lose flavour. Therefore, choosing to purchase freshly roasted beans and then grind them as and when you require a coffee will give you the strongest chance of a beautiful brew.

A further reason to grind coffee at home is so that you can control your grind size. If you buy ground coffee online or in store, not only has it begun to lose its freshness but it tends to be of one texture only. Grinding coffee at home allows for more experimentation of specific flavours and styles of coffee.

How fine should you grind coffee?

This is all related to your desired results and how you wish to brew your coffee. To help you we’ve outlined the grind size for some of the most popular brewing methods below.

Cold Brew

Extra course coffee grind will work for cold brew coffee, and this is something you can probably achieve with a simple grind method. With a coarse grind you will still see the shape of parts of the coffee bean.

French Press

For a French press or Cafetiere brewing method you can use coarse ground coffee. Coarse ground coffee has a texture similar to that of rock salt granules, and coarse ground coffee is also used for ‘cupping’ and quality assessment.

Drip Coffee

Medium ground coffee tends to work well for drip coffee makers. Medium ground coffee is the most common ground coffee you will find and has a texture smoother than sand.

Espresso

To make the perfect espresso you will need a fine ground coffee. Fine ground coffee is almost powder like in texture, and it is very smooth. You will also find fine ground coffee in ‘pre ground’ bags of coffee.

Turkish Coffee

For Turkish coffee you will need a grind even finer than you might use for espresso. An extra find ground similar to the texture of flour is what you will need to prepare a Turkish coffee.

Why does coffee grind size matter?

The coffee grind size can influence the eventual texture and flavour of your coffee. If you want to brew brilliant coffee, the grind size and extraction can be the difference between beautiful and bland.

As you can imagine, different styles of coffee have different style filters. As a result, the grind size can move through a filter’s perforations causing a mirky, overly textured coffee or it can take much longer to brew.

The extraction process is the route of water through the coffee grounds and its ability to pick up flavour and caffeine. The size of the grind will determine the speed (path of least resistance) of the water flow through the coffee and how long it may take to extract, ultimately impacting the final outcome. 

What is under extraction?

The under extraction of coffee is when water passes through the coffee grounds but does not pick up, or collect, enough of what’s good about coffee. The wrong filter or temperature of the water can contribute to this but the biggest factor will be that the coffee grounds are too coarse. This makes the path of the water less resistant and results in a weak and bland coffee flavour which is dominated by acidic, salty or sour notes.  

What is over extraction?

Over extracted coffee does the opposite to the above. The ground coffee is that fine, it becomes compact and the water struggles to pass through it. In doing so, it collects too much of the coffee’s qualities, leaving it bitter and dry to the taste.  

Brewing for best results

Here at Lincoln & York, we are constantly experimenting with grind sizes and extraction, to fulfil exciting flavour profiles for our customers.

We witness first-hand how a grind size or extraction can hinder or enhance the flavour of coffee. Our knowledge of the beans origin helps us understand some of the flavour we can expect, but getting them to shine through after roasting, grinding and extracting is another challenge in itself.

Luckily, we have in-house experts in the form of baristas and Q-graders who dedicate their days to creating the perfect coffee.

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