Buying pre-ground coffee is considered a huge violation by some of the most avid coffee enthusiasts. While you don’t have to agree of course, it’s still a good idea to think about why that may be, and why certain grinds are preferred for specific types of coffee. If you’ve never paid attention to this aspect of your coffee preparation, you’ve been missing out on a lot. Coffee grind size is one of the most crucial factors in brewing that perfect cup of coffee and taking the time to figure out which size works best for you can go a long way towards improving the quality of your own coffee.
Are You Grinding Your Coffee Right?
If you don’t know how to grind your coffee properly, you aren’t doing it right, especially if you enjoy certain types of brews; for example, making coffee with a French press works best with a coarser grind. On the other hand, coarse ground espresso doesn’t usually taste that well, especially if you’re trying to make a special variant of it, like Ristretto.
It’s also important to use the right tool for the job. Automatic grinders are great, but they are also considered a bit restrictive by some enthusiasts, who prefer the complete control that manual grinding provides them with. A simple coffee grind chart will also be nice to have in an easily visible place in your kitchen, as it will help you learn the basics as quickly as possible.
Different Types of Grinds
Once you start experimenting with this, you’ll quickly start making some connections, and you’ll figure out why certain types of grinds are preferred for certain brews. A good coffee grind size chart will get you started nicely if you want to learn the basics as quickly as possible, though it’s not mandatory if you’re just going to experiment with a few basic grind sizes for a start.
Knowing how to grind your coffee beans coarse or fine, how much pressure to apply (if using a manual grinder), how to keep your equipment clean to avoid cross-contamination of flavors – all of those will take some time and experience to get up to speed with, and it’s important to have some patience at first. Then, you can start thinking about more specific points like how fine should you grind coffee for an espresso machine, what grind setting to use for drip coffee, and more. There is also some personal preference involved in all of this.
How Grind Size Affects Flavor
The general rule is that finer coffee tends to have a richer flavor, but there are some exceptions to this. The example of the French press we mentioned above is a good one – even though you typically want to go as coarse as possible for a French press brew, you can still expect a rich, thick flavor profile from it. In addition, coffee made in a French press tends to contain more oils compared to other preparation methods, further adding to the thickness of the taste.
For some types of coffee, like espresso and especially Turkish coffee, you’ll want your grind as fine as possible. This allows more flavor to be extracted, and typically results in a tastier brew with a more pronounced profile. Some people don’t enjoy the sludge that’s produced by these types of brewing methods, and it’s mostly the product of the finely ground beans. With that in mind, if you enjoy your coffee with a purer taste and without many particles floating around, you might want to go with a finer grind and brews that use it accordingly.
So, what’s the best coffee grind – coarse or fine? There is no right answer to that, as it comes down to personal preference just like most things in the world of coffee. But if you lean towards enjoying certain types of brews more than others, you should obviously focus on grind sizes that are more suitable for them. But in the end, whether it’s a fine or a coarse grind, coffee is coffee, this is about adjusting the flavor to your own preferences and nothing else.
Why You Should Grind It Yourself
Regardless of what type of grind you choose, the most important thing is that you grind your coffee yourself. Buying it pre-ground comes with many downsides and doesn’t bring much to the table, other than simplifying the process a little bit and saving you a couple of minutes in your preparation ritual. The problem with coffee is that it quickly starts to lose its flavor after being ground, to the point where even a couple of hours can make a noticeable difference to the experienced coffee lover.
That’s why so many enthusiasts prefer to buy their beans whole and only grind them right before they’re about to brew a cup. That way, you ensure that your coffee will have preserved as much of its flavor as possible, and that each cup will be rich and thick in its profile. Even if you use an airtight container, you will still lose some of the overall flavor very quickly. Do yourself a favor and simply start grinding your own coffee if you haven’t been doing it until now. If your favorite brand sells your daily coffee in whole beans in addition to pre-ground, you should buy one package and compare the taste for yourself. You’ll see a huge difference straight away, and you’ll never want to go back to buying pre-ground.
Experiment with Variations
Should your coffee grind be coarse or fine? What’s the best espresso grind setting? Does it matter if you push hard on the grinder or take things slowly? There are many questions you likely won’t have an immediate answer to, and it’s important to track your progress as best as you can while you’re experimenting with different variations. That way, you’ll know exactly what type of grind works for certain kinds of coffee and which doesn’t, and you’ll have a lot of data to back you up instead of relying on your intuition.
That’s not to say that your intuition won’t come in play at some point though. Once you’ve gone over the basics, you’ll quickly figure out that certain options work well together, even without being explicitly described that way by anyone. Just because there’s no recipe involving a medium grind in a Moka pot, doesn’t mean that you’re prohibited from doing it. Quite the opposite – there is no shortage of opportunities for discovering new things in the world of coffee today, and some of the most popular inventions there are actually relatively new.
Get It Done by Someone Experienced if You’re Still New
In the beginning, it can also be worth it to get your coffee ground when purchasing it if you still don’t have a good grinder or aren’t too confident doing it yourself. Many supermarkets have their own in-store grinder that you can use for beans you’ve purchased at the store, and any good coffee shop that sells beans should offer you the option of grinding them as well.
Remember what we mentioned above though – you’re going to lose some of your flavor if you’re quick to grind your coffee straight after purchasing it. If you buy in smaller batches, this could work, but then you’ll have to make more frequent trips to the store. It’s a balancing act until you figure out how to grind your own coffee, and this should motivate you to figure that out even faster.
Investing in a Good Grinder
A good grinder can make a huge difference, not just in the quality of your grind but also in how easy it is to use. If you want to start your day with a fresh cup of coffee every time, it might get annoying to use a clunky grinder that takes more effort to use than it should, and this can actually get your day started on a negative note instead of the typical positive one.
A good manual grinder doesn’t cost a lot of money and can last a long time – plus it doesn’t take up a lot of space. Automatic grinders are more expensive and tend to be quite bulky, but they can be a worthwhile investment if you want to get through that process as quickly as possible every morning. Keep in mind that they tend to be very loud though, so if you live in a shared household, a manual one might still be a better option.
Ready to experience a whole new side of the world of coffee? Grinding your own beans can help you add that extra kick to each cup you’re brewing, and it will go a long way towards helping you understand some of the more intricate details of how coffee works in general, and how to brew the best cup for yourself every single time. Try it once and you will never want to go back to buying pre-ground coffee!