Choosing the right coffee grind size can be tricky. When I first became aware and started to drink specialty coffee I found that walking into a coffee shop and deciding what bag to buy, what grind size I needed, and what coffee might be to my taste a little daunting. In some coffee shops asking for a cappuccino was even seen as a little common! So, as we build out our own selection of specialty coffee I would like to help simplify things to help coffee novices who may not be too sure on the basics a lot more comfortable so that they too can enjoy coffee just as much as the fancy pants hipster pour-over types of the world.
So let us start by helping with the conundrum that is coffee grind size…
So why is coffee grind size so important?
No matter what brew method you choose, coffee-making involves extracting flavor from your coffee grounds at varying strength levels. The finer you grind your coffee beans, the more you increase the exposed surface area of the grounds, resulting in faster extraction. This is why coffee for espresso machines is ground fine since the water from an espresso machine passes very quickly at high pressure (7-15 bars) through the grounds. Cold-brew, on the other hand, is made with very coarse-ground coffee, since this cold-extraction method allows the coffee to sit with the water for a much longer period of time (several hours, compared to espresso’s 25-30 seconds).
Why would I need a grinder?
Pre-ground coffee is readily available, so why grind your beans at home? The primary reason is that whole beans have a longer shelf life than ground coffee. Roasted whole beans contain carbon dioxide, which prevents oxidation and staling. Once ground, more of the beans’ surface area is exposed to oxygen, causing the grounds to lose flavor. So where possible grind your coffee just before brewing. When you order coffee online from us we grind it fresh and pack it that day to ensure what you get delivered is as fresh as it possibly can be.
What are the different types of grinders available for home?
The components used in coffee grinders fall into one of two categories: burr grinders (which grind coffee between a pair of revolving abrasive surfaces) and blade grinders, which use a rotating blade. Much is made of the difference between the two – blade types are usually the more affordable option, but burr grinders tend to grind more consistently, and therefore produce uniformly ground coffee.
The best coffee grinders can grind coffee beans to various levels of fineness, so the ground coffee can be used in different ways. Burr grinders achieve this by offering the ability to adjust the distance between their grinding surfaces, while blade grinders tend to use the less effective method of manual on/off control.
Grinding coffee by hand also has its benefits. Manual grinders tend to be small and easy to store. They don’t use electricity and are therefore more economical and eco-friendly.
There are many options available on the market and it can be a little confusing so I’ll add a video below from the excellent James Hoffman that I found to be useful.
Depending on your brew method it is relatively simple to decide on what grind you need. If you try to brew coffee in a french press with espresso grounds you’ll soon figure out why there are different grinds for each method. There are many schools of thought on exact grind sizes and dialing in the grinder perfectly but when starting off it’s important to get the basics right so you have a decent starting point for comparison.