The Ultimate Guide to the Right Coffee Grind Size for Perfect Extraction

Are you looking for the best way to make a cup of coffee? The grind size of your coffee beans is important in ensuring that your cup of joe tastes just right.

Having the wrong coffee grind size can result in a subpar experience – from bitter and overly strong to watery and weak. But achieving the perfect balance doesn’t have to be complicated. It starts with selecting the correct grind size based on your brewing method.

Check out our ultimate guide below. It will provide everything you need to know about coffee bean grinding size. So, you can brew up barista-level quality coffee every time!

Brewing with the Right Coffee Grind Size

The definition of grind size is essential when it comes to brewing coffee. Grind size is the size of the coffee grounds you must choose for each brewing method.

Grind size depends on the coffee you make [1]. It can vary from a coarse grind for a cold drip process to a fine grind for an espresso.

From the wrong size (often caused by a poor understanding of recipes) to inconsistent grinds, there are many factors that can go wrong. The result? Anything from sour or bitter brews to an inability to recreate that perfect cup.

Sam Koh, Perfect Daily Grind

First of all, it is crucial to understand the concept of coarseness and fineness when referring to the size of the grounds.

Coarseness refers to the size of the particles, which are larger and can be more easily seen by the naked eye. Fineness is the opposite – the smallest particle grind and can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Different brewing methods also need different grind sizes. It depends on how much pressure and extraction of the coffee you want.

Generally, coffees brewed using the drip method need a coarse or medium-coarse grind size. This is because the longer the grounds are exposed to hot water, the more extraction will happen.[2]

French press and pour-over coffees need a medium grind size, as the finer grounds will just pass through the filter. Espressos, on the other hand, require a very fine grind size. Grounds need to stay in the espresso for a few seconds to extract the flavors from the grounds.

When you use a fine grind in a longer brewing process, such as a French press, you will get over-extraction. 

larryscoffee.com

Knowing what grind size you need for each brewing method can make all the difference when it comes to the taste of your cup of coffee.

Remember that the grind size will also depend on the type of coffee beans. Bean size and shape can influence how long it takes the water to extract flavor from them.

Impact of Different Grind Sizes on Coffee Flavor, Strenght, and Body

The grind size of coffee beans has a direct impact on the intensity and flavor of the final cup of brewed coffee. Different grind size also affects the extraction rate of the coffee. For example, how long it takes to brew, and the flavor it produces.

The impact of different grind sizes on coffee flavor is determined by many factors. Such as the brewing method used, the particle size distribution, and the roast degree.

From a particle size perspective, ground coffee falls into one of five categories. Extra coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and extra fine.

If your coffee tastes watery and acidic, you may be grinding your beans too coarsely. Try a finer grind, and see if that fixes the issue. If your coffee tastes overly bitter, you may be grinding too finely. A coarser grind may improve your brew. (Brew time and temperature will affect flavor as well.)

Gordon Ramsay, Featured MasterClass Instuctor

Different brewing methods need different grind sizes to achieve optimal extraction rates. For example, French press coffee requires a coarse grind. But espresso coffee requires a fine grind.

Each grind size will also influence the body and taste of the coffee. As a general rule, coffee that is brewed with a finer grind will contain more bitterness and acidity [3]. But, coarser grinds will produce a softer yet robust flavor.

Different roasting degrees will also impact the flavor and grind size requirements. Generally speaking, darker roasts need coarser grinds.

The purpose is to extract plenty of flavors and avoid too much bitterness or acrid taste. Lighter roasts, however, need finer grinds to extract more of the flavors [4].

The ground area of lighter roasts should be slightly increased by grinding them finer. 

Linda, thecommonscafe.com

The size of particles in ground coffee can impact its flavor. A uniform grind will produce a fruity taste. But an irregular one will bring out more bittersweet, nutty, or woody notes.

It is, therefore, crucial to be aware of your coffee’s particle distribution. Also, need to understand what grind size best suits your brewing method.

Understanding Too Fine vs. Too Coarse Grounds

When it comes to making coffee, there are a wide variety of grind sizes available, each offering its unique flavor profile and brewing method. While the type of coffee beans used can play a significant role in the taste, the grind size can also hugely impact the finished product.

In this article, we will explore the different grind sizes, their associated brewing methods, and the art of creating the perfect cup of joe.

Grind SizeLook LikeSuitable For
Extra coarse grindPeppercornsCold brew, Cowboy coffee
Coarse grindSea saltPercolators, French press, Coffee cupping
Medium-coarse grindbetween the size of granulated sugar and common sea saltClever dripper, Chemex coffee maker, Cafe solo brewer
Medium grindSandFilter baskets, Pour-over brewers
Medium-fine grindResembling sand but finer than sea saltPour-over brewers, Siphon brewers, Aeropress
Fine GrindLittle finer than table saltEspresso, Moka pot, Aeropress
Extra fine grindFine powderTurkish Coffee, Greek coffee

Extra Coarse Grind

  • Similar to: Peppercorns
  • Suitable for: Cold brew, Cowboy coffee
Extra-coarse Grind

Extra Coarse Grind is the coarsest of all coffee grinds. This grind size is best reserved for cold brew.

It is also the recommended grind size for percolators or French presses. Extra Coarse grinds are larger, less refined, and will require more steeping time to extract a full flavor. However, the smaller grind produces less sediment, making for a smoother cup.

Coarse Grind

  • Similar to: Sea Salt
  • Suitable for: Percolator, French Press, Coffee cupping
Coarse Grind

Coarse Grind is slightly finer than Extra Coarse, and as such, it is also popular for French Press and Percolators.

The size of the grind affects the flavor extracted from the beans, as the larger particles allow for more flavor to be extracted with a slower steep time.

Coarse grinds produce less sediment and create a stronger, bolder cup.

Medium-Coarse Grind

  • Similar to: between the size of granulated sugar and common sea salt
  • Suitable for: Clever dripper, Chemex coffee maker, Cafe solo brewer
Medium-coarse Grind

Medium-coarse grind is one of the most popular sizes for coffee grinds, especially popular when it comes to drip machines.

A medium-coarse grind is somewhere in between the size of granulated sugar and common sea salt.

Coffee beans that have been ground this way will showcase a more intense flavor profile than a finer grind, yet also tend to result in less bitterness with a balanced flavor complexity.

Medium Grind

  • Similar to: Sand
  • Suitable for: Filter baskets and pour-over brewers
Medium grind

Medium Grind is considered the standard grind size for most home coffee makers and is the best size for filter baskets and pour-over brewers.

Medium grind provides a good balance of flavor, extraction, and body, and the uniform size represented by this grind size helps ensure maximum flavor extraction.

Medium-Fine Grind

  • Similar to: resembling sand but finer than sea salt
  • Suitable for: Pour-over brewers, Siphon brewers, Aeropress
Medium-fine grind

A medium-fine grind is best suited for pour-over brewers, and siphon brewers. It’s also suitable to use when making cappuccinos or lattes.

The medium-fine grind has a particle size resembling sand but finer than sea salt. The grind should be fine enough that you can see some of the individual particles, but not so fine that it feels powdery.

This grind size yields fast extraction with crema on top and a smooth beverage in the cup.

Fine Grind

Fine grind
  • Similar to: Little finer than table salt
  • Suitable for: Espresso, Moka pot, Aeropress

Fine Grind is an even finer grind size and is ideal for espresso machines. Since espresso is brewed under pressure, a finer grind is needed to get the most out of the beans, as the finer grind will draw out more of the rich, intricate flavors.

Extra Fine Grind

Extra-fine grind
  • Similar to: Fine powder
  • Suitable for: Turkish coffee

Extra Fine Grind is the smallest of all grind sizes and is primarily used for Turkish coffee. With this grind, the particles are almost like a powder, which allows the particles to hold onto the sides of the pot, creating a beautiful crema on the surface of the cup.

The Different Brewing Methods

The different grind sizes will affect the flavor of the coffee you brew. So choosing the right grind size for the brewing method you’re using is essential.

As a general rule of thumb, the finer the grind, the stronger the cup. The coarser the grind, the less intense the flavor will be.

As such, the grind size for cold brew, French press, and pour-over brewers is typically on the coarser side. For espresso, the finer grind size should be used.

What Are the Different Types of Coffee Grinders?

Getting the perfect cup of coffee entails more than finding the right beans and roast. A coffee grinder is one of the most important tools you can have in your brewing arsenal.

A good grinder is an essential piece of equipment that can make a huge difference in the flavor of your cup. However, with so many options on the market, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out which one is right for you.

So let’s explore the different types of grinders, their differences, and when each type is appropriate to use.

Manual Burr Grinders

Manual burr grinders, sometimes called hand grinders, are small machines, usually composed of metal burrs and a hand crank.

This grinder is ideal for people who are just getting into coffee brewed from freshly ground beans. Moreover, it can be used for both French press and pour-over brewing methods.

The grind is achieved by manually turning the crank in a circular motion. These grinders tend to produce consistent, uniform grounds, although it can take some time and effort to produce enough quantity of grounds.

Manual burr grinders are also great for traveling because of their small size and portability.

Electric Burr Grinders

Electric burr grinders are the most popular type of grinders for those who are serious about their coffee making. The burrs are powered by a motor, which can generally be adjusted to produce different grind sizes.

The adjustable burr plates allow people to obtain a consistent grind size which is crucial for making a great cup of coffee. Having an electric burr grinder is great for those who want to make large quantities of coffee quickly and with ease.

These types of grinders tend to be on the more expensive side, but often times it is worth the investment.

Blade Grinders

Blade grinders are one of the least expensive types of grinder, and they tend to be the most popular due to their affordability. Blade grinders have a motorized blade inside the grinder that whirs to chop up the beans.

It is important to note, however, that due to the inconsistent grind size of blade grinders, they are not ideal for French press or pour-over brewing methods.

Instead, these grinders may be used for espresso and other coffee drinks where a bit of inconsistent grind can be used.

Below is the video where you’ll get some tips on how you can make a more consistent grind using a blade grinder compared to the conventional approach.

Mixer Grinders

Mixer grinders are a popular choice for those who want to quickly make large quantities of coffee. They are a combination of a grinder and a blender, allowing users to grind and mix multiple ingredients to make their coffee.

This grinder is great for those who need to make a large amount of coffee for a party or an event.

How to choose the best grinder for your next cup of coffee?

Choosing the right grinder depends on a few different factors. First, you should consider what brewing method you will use, as each type of grinder is best suited for certain brewing methods.

Secondly, you should take into account how often you will be using the grinder, as well as your budget.

If you are an occasional coffee drinker, a manual burr grinder may be the best choice for you. However, an electric burr grinder is probably your best bet if you are a die-hard home barista.

The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Grinding Coffee at Home

Making your own coffee at home has become increasingly popular in recent years. Not only is it cheaper than buying a cup of coffee from your local coffee shop, but it is also incredibly rewarding.

You get to decide the exact strength, flavor, and texture of the coffee you drink without compromising on quality.

However, one crucial part of the coffee-making process that often gets overlooked is grinding your coffee beans. For you to really enjoy your homemade cup of coffee, you need to get the grind size just right.

This is because incorrect grinding can cause under-extraction and poor flavor, making your coffee taste sour or bitter.

To help you make the perfect cup of coffee, here are the most common mistakes people make when grinding coffee beans at home.

Choosing the Wrong Coarse Grind

When brewing a cup of coffee, the coarseness of your grind is an essential factor that can influence its taste. If it’s too coarse, you will end up with a bitter and over-extracted brew; however, if it’s too fine then your coffee won’t be rich enough and will taste under-extracted.

When it comes to espresso, you’ll typically want to use a finer grind size. This will help you maximize the flavor you’re getting from the coffee beans.

However, for pour-over brewing and Aeropress, you should use a coarser grind size to prevent grinding too quickly and over-extracting the coffee.

Using The Wrong Grinder

As well as the grind size of your coffee, the type of grinder you use is also essential. Generally, it’s best to use a burr grinder as it provides superior and more consistent grinds. Blade grinders, on the other hand, can produce uneven grinds that can affect your coffee’s flavor.

Not Storing the Coffee Beans Properly

Just like when you buy any food, the way you store your coffee beans will impact the flavor. Coffee beans should always be stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dry place. This will help preserve their freshness and prevent them from going stale.

Leaving Grinds on the Grinder

No matter how careful you are when grinding your coffee beans, some grinds will always be left behind.

This is why it’s crucial always to clean your grinder after each use. Leaving grinds behind can result in an overpowering, bitter taste and affect your coffee’s flavor.

Using Too Much or Too Little Coffee

When it comes to adding coffee to the filter, it’s essential to use the correct amount. If you use too little, your coffee can be weak and lack flavor. On the other hand, if you use too much, the coffee can be too strong and overpowering.

Finding the perfect balance between the two will ensure you get the most out of your coffee beans.

Coffee Grind Quick FAQs

How do I use a coffee grinder to make espresso?

The best grind size for espresso machines is a very fine grind. This helps ensure that the water is in contact with the coffee grounds long enough to extract all the essential oils, flavors, and aromas that make espresso so enjoyable.

The finer the grind, the shorter the extraction time will be. For espresso, the grind size should range from a fine powdery consistency to one that’s slightly coarser than table salt.

So, in your grinder use the fine grind setting while grinding for espresso.

Which Grind Size is Best for Drip Machines?

The best grind size for drip machines is a medium grind. This helps to ensure that the water passes through the grounds quickly enough to extract all the flavors but not so quickly that it over-extracts or results in a watery cup.

How often should I replace my burr grinder?

Generally speaking, you should replace your burr grinder every 1-2 years depending on the frequency and intensity of use. If you grind a few tablespoons of coffee each day, you may be able to extend the life span of your burr grinder up to 5 years or more.

However, if you are using it several times a day, it’s best to replace your burr grinder more often due to normal wear and tear as well as the buildup of coffee particles which can affect the flavor of your coffee.

Additionally, if your grinder is made from metal, you will want to make sure it is properly cleaned so that any old grounds do not corrode the burrs prematurely. Taking these steps will ensure that you get the most out of your burr grinder for years to come.

What is the best way to store coffee beans?

The best way to store coffee beans for maximum freshness is in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. You should also avoid leaving the beans around areas where there is humidity or direct sunlight.

The less exposure to light, heat, and moisture, the better. It’s important to make sure that the bean container is sealed tight so that air can’t get in and cause the beans to lose their flavor. By following these steps, you can enjoy your coffee beans at their best.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or new to the world of grinding beans, we hope this guide has helped you better understand how different grind sizes can impact your cup of coffee.

Use the factors above to determine what type of grind is best for your brewing method, and don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the perfect size that suits your taste.

References:

  1. https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/a-guide-to-coffee-grind-size-consistency-flavor/
  2. https://larryscoffee.com/our-blog/why-coffee-grind-size-matters
  3. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/coffee-grind-size-chart
  4. https://www.thecommonscafe.com/exploring-the-impact-of-coffee-roasting-on-grind-size-and-flavor/
Dipan Shaw

Leave a Comment