Got A Bean To Grind?

One of the most asked questions we hear is, “How should I grind my coffee beans?”


Grinding coffee is definitely one of the most important elements in extracting the best flavor from your coffee beans. The trifecta of a great cup of coffee is:  Beans, water & grind.
High quality, freshly roasted beans seems like a good place to start. Maybe even obvious. The measurement of quality coffee beans is a whole topic by itself, so I’ll let Timm expound on that in another issue.
 
Water - raise your hand if you’re a water snob!  *me raising my hand* Part of my early years was spent in Salem, Oregon. At the time, excellent water. The best of the best was out of the tap in my dorm room at Corban College. I’m pretty sure it was the quality of the water and not the economic station of the student, that made it taste so good. Pretty sure. All that being said, you may want to use filtered water.  It affects the taste and extends the life of your brewing equipment, by preventing mineral buildup.
 
Grind -- the reason we are here! The grind can make or break a great cup of coffee.  The size you grind your beans will depend on how you brew it. Really. That’s why we focus on whole beans, so you can grind according to your brew method and it will stay fresher longer. Once you grind it, more air touches more of the coffee and over time degrades the quality.
 
There are two mainstream types of grinders:  

  • Blade - chops the beans and kind of pulverizes them in the process.  Not the best option.  Have I successfully used a blade grinder in a jam? Yes.  Did the coffee taste good? Yes. Still, not our favorite for the serious coffee enthusiast. 
  • Burr -- conical burr. This allows you to adjust the setting to grind a consistent size, appropriate for your brewing method. This will be an investment. And even burr grinders will vary in quality.  

So here’s what I did one evening to show you a visual of how to grind for different brewing methods:  Using the Kruve sifter, which is a tool with screens to find precise settings, I ground several samples and compared them to coarse ground pepper.  
Here we go!  Pepper on the left > coffee on the right.  
  Almost as course as a home grinder will get. (Grinders vary). About the size of the coarse pepper. The more contact the water has with the coffee, the coarser the grind. I brew my press for 4 minutes.
Flat bottom drip should be a bit coarser than cone.
About the same as drip. Stovetop espresso makers are tricky and need a bit of attention but oh, so delicious!
We prefer Chemex and a ceramic pour over with a larger hole and flow grids on the side. Swirly flow grids. 
The grind range for an Aeropress can vary, according to personal taste.  From pour over to almost espresso size. There’s a couple different ways to brew--right side up & upside down. (So many ways I could go with that!). Stay tuned--Aeropress is a fave and deserves it’s own issue.
Remember--the longer the water is in contact with the bean, the coarser the grind. Espresso machines shoot pressurized water through a fine grind.  
So there’s a visual introduction to different grind sizes. There’s a whole lot more of nerdy, cool, science involved with coffee brewing. 
 If you want to research deeper, I’ve added some links below, but this should get you started.  
When you find the perfect grind setting, you’ll know. It’s a sweet spot.  Don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s fun and it will be worth it! 
Happy brewing. Let us know what you learn on your coffee grinding journey!


**Here are a couple links for more research:
Smithsonian Magazine
The Conversation
Barista Magazine

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