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The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Grind Size

Posted by Bean & Bean on
The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Grind Size

Did you know that coffee grind size makes a HUGE difference in flavor? While it’s only one of many variables that influence the coffee flavor, but like water, heat, roast, it’s difficult to nail down.

We explain how coffee grind size influences coffee extraction and brewing, and which grind size works best with which brew methods and equipment.

Why Does The Size of My Coffee Grounds Matter?

Grind size bean and bean

Coffee ground size is important because it impacts the coffee extraction, brew, and flavor. Grind size affects is surface area. Coffee isn’t a dissolvable substance like sugar, rather it needs water to help pull the flavors out of it. The more chances water has to interact with coffee, the more extraction takes place. If you have one coffee bean and slice it in half, there is more surface area exposed that water can now reach. Cut the halves in half, and you have even more surface area. With this logic, larger coffee grounds will take longer to extract while smaller coffee grounds will extract quicker.

Another factor grind size affects is resistance, specifically related to brewing methods where water travels down through coffee grounds, like in a pour-over. Imagine running water through a cylinder of sand vs a cylinder of small rocks. There are more gaps in-between the rocks compared to the sand, so there is more space for water to flow through.

Similarly, finer coffee grounds will provide more resistance to water, elongating water flow time, while coarse coffee grounds will provide less resistance. (Source)

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-grind-fits-all for coffee. Each brew method has a specific grind size that works best with it so that you don’t get under or over-extracted coffee that doesn’t taste good.

What Does Poorly Extracted Coffee Taste Like?

There is such a thing as poorly extracted coffee and it’s important to understand so you can extract the perfect amount of flavor for your coffee. You can both under and over-extract coffee and each tastes distinctly different. In general, it’s more common to over-extract with too fine coffee grounds and under-extract with too coarse coffee grounds.

Under-extracted coffee: tastes acidic, sour, salty.

Over-extracted coffee: tastes bitter, flavorless, muddy. 

The good news is that you can always tweak the grind size or brewing style to adjust to both under or over-extracted coffee. Here’s a video that explains what you should do to save your coffee:

Type of Coffee Grinders

Grinding coffee beans at home means you’ll need a coffee bean grinder. There are three types of coffee grinders: blade, manual, and burr.

Blade grinders: typically the most inexpensive grinders. They work by using a blade to cut up the beans in a propeller motion. While it is sleek and durable, it makes inconsistent coffee grounds with some more fine than others, and it is quite noisy to use.

Manual grinders: handheld grinders that you manually operate by turning a crank. They’re portable, don’t need a power-source, quiet, and makes consistent coffee grounds. But they may take a while to grind your beans and it’s not the easiest to clean.

Burr grinders: crushes the coffee beans against a static grinder wheel where the size of the coffee grounds is set by the position of the burr, usually the most expensive but creates very consistent coffee grounds in about a minute.

Depending on what you’re looking for and what your budget is, there is a coffee grinder for everyone. We offer a variety of grinders on our website

Types of Coffee Grinds and Which Method Works Best With Them

Coffee beans grind size

Here are the 7 most common grind sizes, along with size references, and which brewing method they are most used with:

Extra Coarse Cold Brew Coffee, Cowboy Coffee
Coarse (Sea Salt) French Press, Cupping Coffee, Coffee Percolators
Medium Coarse (Rough Sand) Chemex, Clever Dripper
Medium (Sand) Cone Shaped Pour Over Drippers, AeroPress, Siphon Coffee Maker
Medium Fine (Smooth Sand) Cone Shaped Pour Over Drippers, AeroPress, Moka Pot
 Fine (Table Salt) Espresso, Moka Pot, AeroPress
Extra Fine (Powdered Sugar) Turkish Coffee

Although size references help, we know that it’s tough to know whether or not you’ve ground something to an accurate size without having a machine setting or in person size reference. Our tip is to practice grinding beans and brewing them, tasting to see what you like (or don’t like) and tweaking as you go. These size recommendations are just the most common grind sizes used for specific methods, but you might find that you like a slightly finer or coarser grind for your coffee.

If you don't want to grind your coffee at home, we offer pre-ground coffee in a variety of sizes! We grind them to the specific brewing method you want to use, like espresso or cold brew.

Stay on your grind when it comes to grinds

As mentioned, coffee grind size is hard to get consistent and there is no standard when grinding and brewing coffee. It probably won’t turn out the way you want the first couple of times and that’s okay! Practice makes perfect and keep tweaking your grind size and brew methods until you get the extraction just the way you want it. Good coffee needs patience, but once you get the hang of it it’s worth all the effort. Good luck! 

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