If like me, you love to drink coffee, then the best way to produce a good quality brew is to make it yourself every day. This means you get the full flavours on offer, but the decision on how fine to grind coffee beans will have a major impact on the resultant drink. It can be the difference between a weak tasting brew, an overly bitter one or, ideally, a rich tasting drink.
In this article, we will look at the best coarseness of grind for the type of coffee you want, and the way to extract the most from your coffee.
Coarse VS Fine Ground Coffee?
Brewing coffee involves suspending the ground beans in hot water so the oils contained within are extracted to produce the drink. The surface area of bean in the water is crucial to this process, as it exposes more of the bean to the water and allows brewing to happen quicker. The amount to which a bean has been ground will affect how long it needs to be brewed before it is ready, the amount of flavour that can be extracted, and how well water can flow through the filter.
The more ground the coffee is, the more surface area it has. Extraction rate increases with a higher surface area, the contact time (amount of time the bean needs to be in the water) is reduced- but if the bean is ground too fine, the flow of water may be limited and result in an increased contact time.
While it may, therefore, seem preferential to have a much finer grind, if it is too fine, or the contact time is too high, you risk over extracting the bean and will get a coffee that tastes bitter. Conversely, if the contact time is too short, or the bean isn’t ground enough, you will under extract the bean and get a weak tasting drink.
The different types of descriptions for the grind of the coffee beans are as follows:
- Extra Course – Ground to the same size as ground peppercorns
- Coarse – This is when the bean is ground to a similar size to rock sea salt
- Medium Coarse – This looks like a coarse sand
- Medium – Same consistency as normal sand
- Medium Fine – Just a bit finer than sand
- Fine – Slightly finer than table salt
- Super Fine – Similar to icing sugar or flour
The Grind for Different Coffee Types
The grind has a major effect on the texture and flavour of the resulting coffee, so to achieve certain results you will need to pay close attention to the consistency required. As a guide, the following types of coffee need the bean to be ground in the following way:
- French Press – A French Press works by immersing the coffee bean in water for a number of minutes before straining it. This is a fairly long contact time, so the best French Press Grind is a coarsely ground bean (check out this post on grinders for French Press coffee).
- Drip Machine – This is the type of coffee machine you may see in a café or a coffee shop. Water is dripped through a hole within the unit, so depending on this and the effect it has on contact time, you will need to use a grind between medium or medium coarse.
- Espresso – Espresso coffee is made by using high pressure to pass the water through the granules. This gives a very short contact time, so the ideal espresso grind size is a finely ground bean.
- Turkish – To make a true Turkish coffee requires an extremely finely ground coffee bean, similar to the consistency of icing sugar.
How Fine to Grind The Beans
There isn’t too much difference with the ability of various grinders to achieve the desired result, but you will need to experiment with the particular one you have. Hand powered grinders give you more precise control over how much of a grind you get, and are often popular because they are a more traditional way of doing it. Electric grinders are, of course, much easier to use and most come with suggested settings that will get a grind quite close to what you are looking for.
Coffee is such a varied drink that the way you prepare it has a massive effect on the resultant flavour and taste. The fineness of the grind affects the amount that can be extracted from the bean while brewing, and the amount of time it takes to do so. This means that different grinds are needed depending on the way you will be preparing the drink.
If you are wondering how fine to grind coffee, usually you would need to go for a Medium or Medium Fine for a traditional cup of coffee, but if you are making a French Press you’ll need something much coarser. Choose the ground coffee that suits your taste buds and make sure that it is exactly the consistency and quality that you want.