How fine or coarse should your ground coffee be? Although the right coffee grind size plays a crucial role in crafting the perfect brew, many coffee lovers tend to overlook it.
Most people merely go to the store, grab a packet of pre-ground coffee beans and use that to make their coffee. Even if you employed the best brewing practices, used the best coffee makers, and maintained the optimal coffee-to-water ratio, you still wouldn’t enjoy the full flavor of your coffee beans.
In this comprehensive coffee grind chart, we explore why you should grind your coffee beans, the appropriate grind sizes, and the best types of grinders. Read on to discover all you need to know about grinding coffee.
Also, here’s a really great video by The Coffee Chronicler on how to grind for different coffee brewing methods:
Why Should You Grind Your Coffee Beans Yourself?
Each coffee bean contains delicate, volatile soluble substances within it that influence its flavor. Once you grind the coffee, oxygen in the air reacts with these substances oxidizing them. In under 15 minutes, approximately 60% of its aroma is lost.
Furthermore, moisture in the air also reacts with the soluble oils within the coffee cells responsible for its flavor. The moisture dilutes these oils which leads to some loss of flavor. Therefore, it is best to avoid pre-ground coffee and always grind your coffee immediately before brewing.
(Tip: on automatic coffee makers, you can make sure you always use freshly ground beans by using a grind&brew coffee maker.).
So, now that we’ve established why you should grind your coffee, let’s look at the different types of coffee grind sizes and how they affect the taste.
How Grind Size Affects Coffee Taste
The grind size plays a huge role in extraction, which simply means dissolving the desirable compounds from coffee beans during the brewing process. Other factors that can affect this process are:
- the water temperature;
- the ratio of water to coffee;
- the amount of time the water is in contact with the coffee;
- and the roast.
The water dissolves the flavor compounds beginning with the fats and acids that give the coffee a sour taste during extraction. Next are the sugars and plant fibers that give the coffee a bitter, thin taste.
Choosing the wrong grind size can easily result in over-extraction or under-extraction.
Under-extracted coffee has a sharp, sour taste since the water doesn’t get the chance to extract sugar compounds from the ground coffee to counter the fats and acids from the first phase of extraction. This mainly occurs when the grind size is too coarse.
Over-extracted coffee, on the other hand, has a thin, bitter taste. This is because the water extracts out all the sugar and starts breaking down plant fibers that give the coffee a bitter and almost hollow taste. Over-extraction is often a result of grinds that are too fine.
The Different Types of Grinds for Coffee
The grind size varies from extra coarse to extra fine. Let’s go over the different types of grinds, how to identify each and the brewing methods that go with each.
Extra Coarse Grind Size
This type of grind has a particle size of about 1.5 millimeters, and its texture is similar to that of rock salt or broken shells. It is usually the largest grind you can get on most grinders.
- cold brew coffee
- cowboy coffee
Coarse Grind Size
A coarse grind has particles that are about 1 millimeter in size. Its texture is like that of clay particles, and it has an appearance similar to flaky sea salt.
- French Press
- Coffee Cupping
Medium-Coarse Grind Size
As the name suggests, medium-coarse is a grind that is neither medium nor coarse. It has a particle size of about 0.85 millimeters and resembles coarse, rocky sand in appearance and texture.
- Clever Dripper
- Café solo brewer
Medium Grind Size
This type of grind has a particle size of about 0.75 millimeters. Its texture and consistency are similar to that of regular sand or beach sand.
- flat bottomed drip coffee makers
- siphon brewers
- cone-shaped pour-over coffee makers
- Aeropress (for brew times above 3 minutes)
Medium-Fine Grind Size
Also referred to as pour-over grind, this grind size has particles that are about 0.5 millimeters in size. Apart from its gritty texture, it also has a consistency similar to that of table salt.
- Cone-shaped pour-over brewers (Kalita Wave, Hario V60
- Aeropress (for brew times of 2-3 minutes)
Fine Grind Size
Fine grind size is the most common in pre-ground coffee and has a particle size of about 0.3 millimeters. It resembles finely granulated sugar or finely milled salt in appearance and has a soft texture.
- Espresso brewing
- Stovetop espresso (Moka pot)
- Aeropress (for brewing times of 1-2 minutes)
Extra Fine Grind Size
It has extremely fine particles of about 0.1 millimeters in size. It has a light and powdery texture as well as a consistency similar to that of flour. This grind size is sometimes referred to as Turkish coffee grind as it’s primarily used to make Ibrik (Turkish coffee). You’ll require a Turkish coffee grinder to get this grind size.
- Ibrik (Turkish coffee)
Should You Use Blade or Burr Grinders?
To achieve your desired coffee grind size, you will need a suitable coffee grinder. While there are countless types of grinders, we’ll only focus on blade and burr grinders.
Blade Coffee Grinders
A blade grinder has metallic blades at its bottom that rotate very fast to chop up the coffee beans. This mechanism comes with several significant drawbacks that place the blade coffee grinder way down in the list of grinders you should go for.
The blade grinder’s biggest flaw is that it produces an inconsistent grind. A lot of the time, it ends up grinding some beans more than others, producing particles that are larger than others. This ultimately results in part of the coffee being over-extracted while the rest is under-extracted leading to a poor cup of coffee.
Also, the rotation of the blade causes friction and heat in the grinder. This, in turn, ruins the flavor, making the coffee taste overcooked.
That being said, blade grinders are cheaper and easier to clean. What’s more, with a little bit of effort, you can achieve some consistency in your grind size.
Burr Coffee Grinders
The mechanism of the burr grinder, also known as the burr mill, is completely different from the blade grinder. Rather than using blades to chop the coffee beans, it uses two rough discs known as burrs. The burrs apply even pressure and slower rotation to grind the coffee beans, producing a more consistent grind size.
The type of grind produced depends on the distance between the burrs. Therefore, you can obtain any size from extra coarse particles to fine particles by adjusting this distance. As a result, burr coffee grinders are better than blade grinders and are definitely worth the extra cash.
Burr grinders come in two types; flat burr grinders and conical burr grinders.
The Ultimate Coffee Grind Chart
Now let’s take a look at what size coffee grind you should use in various situations. Consider this your ultimate coffee grind chart:
What size coffee grind for Espresso?
Espresso is brewed in a very short time, usually under 40 seconds, and hence a fine grind size is used.
The smaller particles allow for optimal extraction of flavor in minimal time. Too coarse a grind results in under-extraction while too fine a grind results in bitter coffee.
What size coffee grind for Pour-Over?
Pour-over coffee is a more hands-on method of brewing coffee and gives you more control over the entire process.
Medium and medium-fine grind sizes are suitable for efficient extraction.
What size coffee grind for Drip Coffee?
Drip coffee utilizes medium-coarse grind size perfectly.
This is because its long brew time allows the water to extract the flavors and oils from the coffee without over-extracting it.
What size coffee grind for Chemex?
For Chemex, since the filter used allows water to stay in contact with the coffee for at least a couple of minutes, a medium-coarse grind is preferred.
This allows for just the right amount of extraction.
What size coffee grind for Aeropress?
Aeropress is a more versatile method that is more dependent on the brewing time.
Use a medium grind size for brewing time of 3-4 minutes and medium-fine grind size for 1-2 minutes brewing time.
What size coffee grind for Hario V60?
Hario V60 employs the use of a thin filter meaning that water seeps through faster.
A medium-fine grind size provides a large surface area for optimum extraction in that timeframe.
Use These Burr Grinder Settings for the Perfect Grind Size
Finally, it’s important to use the right settings to achieve the perfect grind size. Let’s go over the recommended settings for two of the most types of grinders:
Conical Burr Grinders
A conical burr grinder has an outer serrated burr and a conical center burr. When you place coffee beans in the grinder, the conical burr rotates. Its sharp, angled teeth pull the beans into the grinding area where they are crushed.
Conical grinders produce two sets of grinds each time, small and large, though they are easier to clean and quieter. While no two conical burr grinders are the same, it’s advisable to stick to a setting of #20.
Flat Burr Grinders
Flat burr grinders are made up of two ring-shaped burrs with sharp edges that are placed to face each other. The coffee beans are fed in through the center and are grasped by the inner teeth of the burrs which forces them through to the outer teeth that are more frequent and precise.
Flat burr grinders produce incredibly uniform grind sizes, although a large amount of the ground gets stuck between the teeth. They also generate more noise and heat since they require greater mechanical power. We recommend adjusting your flat burr grinder to a setting of #5.
The grind size is probably why your coffee doesn’t taste as good as you’d like. Fortunately, those days are over now. This article is your ultimate coffee grind chart as you navigate the coffee brewing realm in search of that perfect cup.