Drip coffee is one of the most popular and also one of the easiest types of coffee to brew at home. But there are many different qualities that will go into making a great cup of coffee, and getting the grind size right is often one of the most overlooked. Whether you are buying pre-ground coffee or using a manual or automatic coffee grinder to grind your favorite coffee beans at home before brewing, knowledge of the main differences between fine, medium and coarse grounds and what this means for the final results in your cup will make it easier for you to choose the right taste and texture when making drip coffee.
While it’s easy to think that all ground coffee will taste the same if it comes from the same beans, this is not true. Whether the coffee is ground still, fine, medium, or coarse will impact the texture and the flavor profile of the coffee. In general, the finer the coffee beans, the more surface area there will be for the water to pass through, which is why finer ground coffee tends to be more robust compared to coarser grinds.
Why Grind Your Own Coffee Beans?
You may be wondering if you really need to grind your own coffee beans when there are lots of different pre-ground coffee beans available to buy. And while you can certainly buy these for the convenience, grinding your coffee beans fresh for each cup will always provide a superior result. This is because, when coffee grounds come into contact with oxygen, it will quickly start to lose its flavor. In fact, freshly ground coffee becomes less flavorful just fifteen minutes after grinding, no matter how high-quality the beans are. So, grinding your coffee beans just before brewing them will ensure that you get the best flavor every time.
Different Coffee Grind Sizes
Made on setting 1-3 using a coffee grinder, finely ground coffee beans will be smooth in texture, and almost powder-like. They have a large surface area which allows the water to pass quickly through the coffee when brewing. Fine coffee grinds are best used in a high-pressure coffee maker or espresso maker. If you’re using a coffee maker or filter that is not suitable for finely ground coffee beans, this will result in a cup of coffee that looks cloudy and may taste salty.
Achieved with setting 4-6, medium ground coffee beans tend to fall in the middle of finely and coarsely ground coffee. This coffee is best used for brewing methods where the water and coffee interact with one another over a medium amount of time. They are quite versatile and can be used for pour-over coffee or in a standard coffee maker.
Use setting 7-10 to achieve coarser coffee grinds. When coffee beans are coarsely ground, this means that the coffee barely passes through the grinder and the beans will sometimes remain almost whole. As a result, there will not be as much of a surface area compared to fine and medium grinds, which results in a longer amount of time needed for a strong coffee flavor. Because of this, coarse coffee grinds are best used for a cold brew, which requires several hours of brewing, or in a French Press, which uses a metal filter that allows more of the coarsely ground beans to pass through.
Getting the Coffee Grind Size Just Right
You can use a coffee grind size chart to determine which size of grind you need for the coffee you are planning to make. When you select the correct grind size, the coffee that you brew should have a delicious aroma and taste. This is due to the extraction process that occurs due to water passing through the ground beans, which requires the grind size to be perfect. If it is wrong, the coffee may end up being weak or bitter.
It’s important to consider the filter that you are using when choosing the best grind size. Again, you can use a coffee grind chart to find a solution easily. If you are using a flat bottom filter, medium coffee grounds tend to work best. With cone-shaped filters, a medium or finely ground coffee is an ideal choice, while plastic permanent or gold filters work well with medium grinds. If you’re using a metal filter such as that found in a French Press, coarsely ground coffee will work well. You can try each of these out and adjust the size of your coffee grinds until you find the perfect match. Make your grinds coarser if your coffee is bitter, while finer ground beans should rectify the problem if your coffee tastes weak.
The Best Grind Size for Drip Coffee
Use fine to medium coffee grinds for the perfect drop coffee. However, bear in mind that sinch each drip coffee maker is different, there is no single best grind size to use as it will depend on your machine. You may need to choose a grind size for Vietnam drip and other drip coffee options with a little trial and error to find a size that makes the perfect brew in your drip coffee maker. You can make the grinds finer or courser before tasting the coffee before finding out what grind setting for drip coffee you should use. Always check the filter first to see which one your machine uses to get a better idea of the ideal grind size.
Over- and Under-Extraction of Coffee
The size of the coffee grinds is a critical component when it comes to the extraction of the coffee. Extraction occurs when hot or cold water moves through the coffee grounds, extracting the flavor and aromas. When you have the grind size wrong, this can lead to either under-extraction or over-extraction.
Over-extraction will occur if the coffee beans are ground too finely. This is due to the fact that finely ground coffee beans have a large surface area for the water to pass through, which results in the water picking up too much flavor. On the other hand, under-extraction will happen when you use coffee beans that are too coarse. Because there is a smaller surface area for the water to pass through, it will lead to a watery, weak flavor as the water will not be able to extract as much flavor from the coffee beans as it should.
Making Adjustments to the Grind Size
While it’s important to stay within the generally recommended grind size when making drip coffee, it is possible to make some minor adjustments to the grind size to ensure that your final cup of coffee is exactly how you like it. Bear in mind that coffee beans that are ground too coarsely will lead to water passing through without extracting enough of the coffee flavor. This can lead to the coffee missing those important hints of sweetness, and in some cases, a sour taste that you will not be able to drink. The good news is that if you’re noticing that your coffee tastes sour, you can usually easily fix this by grinding the beans just a little bit finer.
On the other hand, coffee beans that have been ground too finely will pass through the filtration quickly. This leads to over-extraction, which is usually characterized by a cloudy, muddy brown coffee that tastes more bitter. You can achieve a more refined cup of coffee and get rid of the bitter taste by grinding the coffee beans more coarsely.
Choosing the Right Coffee Grinder
The good news for people who want to invest in a super automatic espresso maker is that there is typically a grinder included, which you can set to the perfect setting for the drink that you want to make. However, when you are making drip coffee at home, you will usually need to grind your own coffee beans to make sure that you’re using fresh coffee grounds for the best taste every time. If you are currently using a blade grinder to grind your coffee beans, you have been making a very common mistake. While blade grinders are easy to find and affordable to buy, they can often provide results that lead to an even worse cup of coffee than you would get from using pre-ground coffee.
This is because the key to brewing amazing coffee is consistency. If your grinds are not all the same size, this will lead to some being over-extracted while others are over-extracted. To avoid this, it’s worth investing in a burr grinder. These grinders use rotation and uniform pressure to crush the beans and produce a grind with perfect consistency. They can do this at a low speed, meaning that there is no additional heat that will ruin the taste of the coffee. You can find a range of burr grinders available with both electric and manual options to choose from depending on what you prefer.
There’s no denying that grinding your own coffee beans produces a superior cup of coffee. However, getting the grind size right for your drip coffee is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting the taste and texture just right.