We all know that buying your beans fresh from a local roaster is a huge improvement from the months-old beans you’ll buy at Starbucks or the grocery store. If you need more convincing, check out THIS ARTICLE. But what do you do once you get those beans home? In this article, we not only give you a handy coffee grind size chart, we’ll also break down types of grinders, as well as give you a starting place for each specific brewing method. But before we get started, here’s the chart:
There are two main types of grinders, blade and burr grinders. Here’s a quick overview:
If you’re buying your grinder at Target, you’re likely looking at a blade grinder. Blade grinders do exactly what you’d think: they use blades to slice up your beans until they’re at the desired grind. These are great because they’re usually cheap and easy to use, but they are going to give you a far less consistent grind than the other type we’ll consider: the burr grinder. For all of the grind types below, it is far easier to get a consistent, even grind with a burr grinder.
Instead of cutting up your beans, a burr grinder will smash your coffee to a specified grind. Burr grinders use two burrs, one stable and the other rotating, that work together to grind your coffee. These are great because they are far more precise than a blade grinder, meaning you can set your burr grinder up for a French press, pour over, or drip brew, and the beans will be fairly consistent. The negative of burr grinders is that they are usually more expensive, and often larger than blade grinders. One way to combat the size and cost of a burr grinder is to buy a manual burr grinder, as opposed to an electric grinder. Here are a few favorites: HARIO CERAMIC MILL “SKERTON” | JAVAPRESSE MANUAL BURR GRINDER.
If you’re not willing to grind your beans manually, you can spend a few extra bucks and go for an electric burr grinder:
How Fine Should I Grind?
Buying the right beans and grinder will make a huge difference in the quality of the cup of coffee you can make at home, but only if the grind size is right. The grind you need is totally dependent on your brewing method, so let’s take another look at the graphic at the top of this page and dive a bit deeper:
If you’re making cold brew, you want your beans to be extremely coarse. Think kosher salt or finely crushed ice. Using a coarser grind will make the filtration process easier and your coffee taste far less bitter.
For French Press, you want your grind to be a bit less coarse than for cold brew or cowboy coffee. Take a look at the grated screen on your French Press, and aim for a grind that is just large enough to not pass through. When you press the filter down, you want mild resistance. If you have a hard time pressing it down, your grounds are too fine. If you can push it with no resistance at all, your grounds are too coarse.
For a Chemex, you’ll want your grind to resemble sea salt or gritty sand (not fine beach sand). This will allow for the best extraction and flow rate will brewing the coffee. If the water goes through quickly, your grind is too coarse. If it seems to plug up the flow of water, your grind is too fine.
There is little difference between the desired grind of a Chemex and a pour-over. Because of the conical shape of a V60, and the time involved in a pour-over, we prefer the grind to be just finer than that of a Chemex. More than other brew methods, the pour-over and Chemex methods will change flavor significantly with the size of your grind. Just remember, the coarser the grind, the less time the water will have to marinate in the coffee grounds.
An Aeropress is a great way to make a quick cup of coffee on the go, and your grind size will depend on just how quickly you want that coffee to brew. For a 2-3 minute brew time, you’ll want more of a medium grind (think sugar granules). For a 1-2 minute brew time, you’ll want it a bit finer than that, with a smooth feeling when you touch your fingers to it.
For espresso, you want an extremely fine grind. When you look at it and touch it, you don’t want to be able to distinguish one piece from another. Another way to get a feel for this grind is to go to a coffee shop and ask the barista to see the grind before they press it.
One of the great things about coffee is how customizable and personal it is. While this guide is a good starting place, play with it until the taste is just right. Know your coffee, know your grinder, and know your grind.
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