How to Grind Your Coffee
What is the best way to grind coffee beans? Everyone loves to wake up to the wonderful smell of freshly brewed coffee. However, most people don't realize that depending on the grind, the grinder, the amount of coffee and water used in the brewing method, the same coffee bean can give a variety of flavor profiles.
Purchasing whole beans and grinding coffee yourself, you’re assured a level of freshness that pre-ground coffee doesn’t provide. The exterior of the coffee bean seals in the oils and aromas. Once ground, those volatile oils can begin to evaporate. To get the most from your coffee, it’s always best to grind coffee beans yourself just prior to brewing.
Making great coffee involves using water to extract the flavor of the coffee. The temperature of the water, the grind of the coffee bean, and the length of time that the water and ground coffee are in contact determine how strong or weak, bold or mild the coffee will be.
The first step to grinding your own coffee bean is to choose a coffee grinder.
Which Coffee Grinder Should I Buy?
There are several types of coffee grinders available, each one with its strengths and weaknesses.
Blade Coffee Grinder
For most of us, these are the most familiar type of coffee grinder. Available nearly everywhere, they use a rapidly spinning blade to grind the coffee. The biggest advantage to this type of coffee grinder is that it’s available in every store and is very inexpensive. The problem is that a blade grinder grinds the coffee unevenly. You will often end up with large and tiny particles in the same grind. This is likely to give you an inconsistent cup of coffee.
With a blade coffee grinder, it can be difficult to get the same results from the same coffee day after day.
Flat Disk Burr Coffee Grinder
A burr coffee grinder uses two fast-spinning disks to smash the coffee precisely. The flat disks can heat up, changing the taste of the coffee, but this grinder gives a very precise grind every time.
Conical Burr Coffee Grinders
This is the type of coffee grinder used in coffee shops. The motor operates more slowly and keeps the unit from heating up. The conical disks grind the coffee to perfection. It’s easy to get everything from a coarse grind to a Turkish ground coffee with one of these machines. While they’re more expensive, the payoff is in a perfect grind every time.
Hand Coffee Grinders
For those who want to make sure they can get great coffee even when the power is out, these are hand coffee grinders. Once the norm, every house had one mounted on the wall, they have fallen out of favor. Since there’s no motor, there’s nothing to heat up the coffee. You can get a very precise grind from a hand coffee grinder. The real downside is that it takes a lot of work to get a little coffee. Coffee beans are hard and resistant to being ground, so you’ll get a great morning workout from a hand grinder.
Types of Coffee Grinds
Coffee grinds are often confused with coffee roasts when it comes to coffee.
The coffee grind is the coarseness to which the coffee is ground, from coarse to pulverized. The coffee grind is chosen based on the type of brewer being used.
The coffee roast is how hot and long the coffee beans have been roasted by a coffee roaster.
When choosing how to grind your coffee, you need to consider what type of coffee brewer you’re using to make coffee.
Coarse Grind Coffee
Coarse grind coffee will have the largest particles, about the size of commercial bread crumbs. This is an ideal grind for making French Press coffee, Cold Brew coffee and Percolated coffee. To extract the full flavor of the ground coffee, you need to leave the coffee in contact with hot water longer.
Medium Grind Coffee
Medium grind coffee is about the size of granulated sugar, and medium grinds are the most common in pre-ground coffees. They are best for vacuum and some drip coffee makers. The water needs to be in contact for a few seconds. Since this is the “middle of the road” coffee grind, it’s the most versatile.
Fine Grind Coffee
Fine grind coffee is an espresso grind. It’s perfect for espresso machines, but it can be used in electric drip and filter brew coffee makers. It’s not usually used when making a French Press of coffee simply because it will leave a lot of sediment in the glass.
Extra-Fine Grind Coffee
Extra fine grind coffee or pulverized coffee feels like flour. It requires a special coffee grinder and is used in making Turkish coffee. This type of coffee will be allowed to cook and boil for a few minutes to extract that full flavor. In Turkish coffee, it’s usually mixed with spices and sugar to give it a warmth and full flavor.
When you buy ground coffee
If you choose not to grind your own coffee, your next best alternative is to buy ground coffee. Where can I have my coffee beans ground near me? When you buy coffee online, you’re given a choice of the type of coffee and the coffee grind you need. The coffee seller will usually grind the coffee just before they ship it to you.
How to decide which coffee grind to use?
The finer the grind, the bolder the flavor. For a standard “American” cup of coffee, a medium grind in a drip coffee maker is standard. For, an espresso machine, which uses high-pressure steam to brew coffee, fine grind coffee is best.
No matter what type of coffee grind you choose, the key to success is a consistent grind. That’s what makes burr coffee grinders the professionals’ and connoisseurs’ choice or simply letting a great coffee roaster do it for you.
We are artisan coffee roasters from the San Francisco Bay, and we love what we do. Our Master Coffee Roaster has been roasting coffee since 1980 and worked side by side with Alfred Peet and Sal Bonavita from 1980 to 1984. John Weaver was the Master Coffee Roaster at Peet's Coffee for 27 years, until he left Peet’s Coffee in 2007 to start our company with Renee Brown, Michael Brown, and Bryce Inouye.