HOW TO GRIND COFFEE
COFFEE GRINDERS AND GRIND SIZES EXPLAINED
There is nothing as refreshing as a freshly brewed cup of coffee in the morning. The same coffee beans can give you a variety of flavors depending on the grind, grinder, or brewing methods. One of the most important steps in coffee making is the ‘’coffee grind’’.
Though it may be easier to buy pre-ground coffee, it is not the best option. When you buy whole beans and grind it yourself, you are rest assured of a level of freshness pre-ground coffee doesn't have. Thus, you must understand the type of grinder and the proper grind to use. We’ll give you a detailed explanation of the various grinders to buy, the grind sizes that are perfect for your brew, and the mistakes to avoid when grinding.
TYPES OF COFFEE GRINDERS
There are two main types of coffee grinders- Blade grinders and burr grinders
These are one of the cheapest grinders for the general purpose of coffee making. These grinders chop off the coffee beans into smaller particles as opposed to grinding them. Blade grinders have a propeller-shaped stainless steel blade that revolves at a high speed (20,000- 30000rpm). You can control the fineness of the ground by how long the blades chop the coffee beans. The longer you run it, the smaller the particle size.
Blade grinders have one major disadvantage, it gives you uneven coffee grounds. Ideally, the grind particles ought to be even, be uniform in size and shape. If you use a blade grinder, you'll get a mixture of ground coffee ranging from coarse to fine, with dusty particles. This happens because the blade grinder doesn't actually ‘’grind’’ the beans, it slices and shaves them. And this will give you an inconsistent brew quality. Thus, inconsistent grinds that vary in sizes and shapes will extract unevenly and unequally and may result in an unbalanced bitter brew.
Another disadvantage of this grinder is that the grind is heated and it might burn your coffee due to the friction caused by the blades at a very high speed. If you grind your coffee for long, without pausing, more heat will be created by the blades and it can give your coffee a burnt flavor. Also, because of the high speed of the blades, the grind picks up a static charge. This will cause some grind particles to jump out of the reservoir and stick to everything they come in contact with, and it could be messy.
Hopefully, these difficulties did not make you feel like all hope is lost, we have provided some guidelines that can greatly improve the chances of using a blade grinder to grind, and brew a delicious cup of coffee.
- Use a short burst (grind for some seconds and stop) to prevent the coffee from burning.
- Grind your coffee as close to brewing time, to get the full flavor profile of your beans.
- Adjust your grind according to the brew method you are using. To get this correctly, rub some of the grounds on your fingers, it will give you an idea of how coarse or fine your grounds are.
- To get a coarse grind, start with 8-10 seconds
- For a medium grind, try using 10-15 seconds.
- Brew, taste the results and adjust accordingly. You’ll eventually get a sense of how long you should grind your coffee beans.
NOTE: If you are using a drip coffee maker with paper filters, the grind won't affect your brew so much. The paper filter will prevent most coffee dust particles from passing on to the final cup. Also, if your goal is to make an espresso, you just have to get a good burr grinder.
A burr grinder is seen as superior when it comes to flavor and grind sizes. Although it is more expensive than the blade grinder, it is widely recognized for consistency and overall uniformity.
How does it work?
Burr grinders are of two types: Conical burr grinders and flat burr grinders. Both grinders produce a consistent and high-quality grind, but they are different. We’ll explain the differences so you can figure out which burr grinder is right for you.
Conical burr grinders
These are more expensive grinders, they are the industry standard. They use a cone-shaped center burr with an outer serrated burr, this is why it produces well-grounded coffee over and over. Conical burr grinders are designed to be energy-efficient and heat-resistant, which explains why it is a great option for professional baristas and individuals. A conical grinder is easy to clean and produces consistent flavor without leaving grounds trapped in it. Trapped grounds could, depending on how often you clean your grinder, contaminate other batches and throw off the flavor of your brew.
Flat burr grinders
Flat burr grinders have two donut-shaped burrs that face one another with very sharp edges. Because of this design, the beans can stay between the burrs until they are perfectly grounded. They are also expensive. But, flat burr grinders are louder than conical burr grinders. They utilize more energy and heat during the grinding process, this makes them ideal for commercial use or even home use. So, these grinders produce different types of grinds.
We’ll show you the different grind sizes that fit your brewing methods so you won't feel overwhelmed or be tempted to buy pre-ground coffee.
Coarse beans have a texture similar to sea salt with even large chunks. This grind is best for cupping coffee and a French press. It is perfect for a French press because it will be steeped in water, the contact time between the water and the coffee is much longer, hence the coarse grind. Remember, don't grind the coffee too coarse as it will make the coffee weak, or grind too fine as it will make the coffee taste too bitter.
Medium coarse grind
This ground has a texture like smoother sand. The grind is perfect for pour-over coffee. A medium-coarse grind will be similar to a French press grind but it has to be less chunky. If you are using a cone-shaped pour-over, then you should use medium-fine coffee grounds. There are different pour-over brewers so each one will need a slightly different grind. You have to do a bit of experimenting till you find the method that works best for you.
This kind of grind is perfect for a siphon coffee maker. Siphon coffee makers use a cloth or a metal filter that produces a full-bodied, delicious, clean cup of coffee. The grounds should be fine, so they won't clog the filter. When they are ground too big, they will lack that flavor you are looking for.
Finely ground beans are very smooth, like powder. This grind is perfect for stovetop espresso makers. This grind should be slightly coarser than a grind used for regular espresso machines. The grounds should be fine because of the short brewing time (the grounds have a short contact time with water). Pressure builds up in the stovetop espresso maker which forces the water through the fine grounds. If you use a medium-coarse for this method of brewing, the water will not be able to extract the flavor you were looking for in the first place.
Extra fine grind
This grind has the texture of flour. Extra fine grind is mostly used to make Turkish coffee and it is sometimes referred to as ‘’Turkish grind’’. Turkish coffee is very strong with fine grinds in it. The grinds should be finer than what you use for espresso.
SOME USEFUL TIPS
- Don't buy low-quality beans: Buy specialty coffee beans to avoid getting over-roasted coffee or stale beans.
- Don't grind the coffee too early: If you grind your coffee too early before you brew, you’ll lose the freshness and flavor of the beans. Make sure that your brewing water is ready when you grind, to avoid losing the flavor as you wait for the water to heat.
- Don't grind too little or too much coffee: If you grind more coffee than you need, you may just end up wasting it. It's better you know how much coffee you consume in a day and grind what you need.
- Use the right water to coffee ratio: Have you ever brewed a cup of coffee and it came out too weak? Well, you probably used too much water or not enough coffee grounds. You need to use the proper ratio for it to work. The general ratio is using 2 tablespoons of coffee per cup. You can modify the ratio if you need to.
Learning how to grind beans shouldn't be a difficult task anymore, with the help of this guide, you now know the perfect coffee maker and grind size to use. Your next cup of coffee will definitely taste better.