Matching Coffee Grind to Brew TypeJuly 18, 2023
We can either buy whole coffee beans that we grind at home, or we can buy coffee pre-ground. But wait, there’s more to it than that – we need to decide what type of grind…from the fine grind of espresso to the more coarse grind used in a French press – all of this to turn those coffee beans into that beverage we love!
Types of Grind
Coffee Grinds are on a continuum from coarse to very fine, and the planned method of brewing determines the choice of grind… or, phrased another way – the type of grind dictates the brew method…
A Coarse Grind is primarily used with the following brewing methods: French press (press or plunger pot), vacuum single origin coffees maker, and percolators (making a comeback).
A Medium Grind works best with auto drip coffee makers with flat bottom filters.
A Medium/Fine Grind is used with auto drip coffee makers that use cone-shaped filters.
A Fine Grind is used in stove top espresso pots and some drip makers with cone-shaped filters.
A Super Fine Grind is reserved for espresso machines.
A Turkish Grind is used with Turkish style coffee.
All right, a brew process is chosen, so it is time to grind those coffee beans.
The Grinding Process
The coffee grinding process is sometimes referred to as “milling” the coffee. Ground coffee deteriorates more quickly than roasted beans due to the exposure to oxygen, so many coffee drinkers prefer to grind their coffee beans themselves immediately before brewing their coffee.
There are four methods of grinding coffee for brewing – burr-grinding, chopping, pounding, and roller- grinding.
Burr mill grinding gives more uniform results while preserving the delicate natural oils of the beans – for a better cup of coffee. A grind selection dial lets you automatically adjust the texture of the grind – from a very fine grind for espresso to a coarse grind for Turkish coffee and percolator brewing.
Burr coffee mills can be manual or electric and crush the coffee beans between two revolving abrasive elements such as wheels or conical-shaped grinding elements. These mills grind coffee to a somewhat uniform size, releasing the coffee beans’ oils which are then more easily extracted when infused later with hot water, leading to a rich and smooth-tasting coffee.
These mills often offer an assortment of settings, allowing them to grind coffee for such brewing systems as espresso, drip, percolators, French press, or others. Many burr grinders, however, are unable to grind the coffee beans fine enough for Turkish coffee.
Conical burr grinders use steel burrs which rotate relatively slowly, preserving the maximum aroma. These grinders are more quiet and less likely to clog than disk-grinders.
Grinders that use disk-type burrs rotate faster than the conical burrs and tend to be cheaper than the conical burr grinders. The disk-type grinders work well with small amounts of coffee for home use.
Coffee beans can also be chopped in a blade grinder designed for coffee or spices or in a home blender. These grinders are often cheaper than burr grinders and tend to last longer. The grind, however is not as uniform using this method, producing particles of various sizes. This method also produces some friction which can warm the coffee. If only grinding enough beans for a few cups of coffee, this heat has minimal impact on the coffee.
These blade grinders can create a type of “coffee dust” that clogs up espresso machines and French presses, thereby making these grinders better suited for grinding coffee for drip brewing.
Coffee beans for Arabic and Turkish coffees need to be ground almost powdery, much finer than most burr grinders can achieve. This coffee powder can be created using a mortar and pestle.
A roller grinder uses pairs of corrugated rollers to grind the whole coffee beans, producing a very even grind size. This method tends to heat the coffee less than other grinding methods. This type of grinder, however, is used exclusively by industrial scale coffee producers due to the size of these grinders and their cost.
Water cooled roller grinders are also used commercially for fine grinds such as Turkish and espresso.