Coffee grind size is one of the most important factors to consider when brewing a great tasting cup of coffee at home. I know, we just want to get to the end of the process and enjoy our java. I’m with you on that! But, if you’re brewing your coffee at home and grinding fresh, whole coffee beans, the size of the grind matters so much, my friend.
The right grind size will produce optimal flavor and extraction levels in your cup. Grinding too coarse or too fine can lead to different problems and result in a cup of coffee that disappoints.
For example, if you use a very coarse grind with a brewing method that requires something finer, you might end up with over-extracted bitter coffee that is hard to drink. Why does this occur? It’s because the water isn’t able to extract all of the flavors and oils from such a coarse grind.
On the other hand, using a very fine grind might leave some coffee grounds undissolved in your cup because they were ground so finely that they couldn’t be pulled out by water passing through them easily enough. That’s not going to be enjoyable, my friend.
In short: Over extracted coffee tastes bitter, almost tasteless, and under extracted coffee tastes sour, acidic, and even salty. Bleh. Let’s not go down either of those roads, but instead, learn which coffee grind sizes work best with various brewing methods.
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- Coffee Grind Sizes to Know
- Which Coffee Grinder Works Best?
- Coffee Brewing 101
- Final Thoughts
Coffee Grind Sizes to Know
Okay, here are the details of different grind sizes for all of our brewing methods. There’s a good chance you don’t use all of these ways to brew a cup of good coffee, but why not get all the scoop?
Do you learn better with visuals and pretty images? This simple infographic explains in phrases and images how to grind the whole beans for your particular brew. Just below you’ll find more detail about each coffee grind size.
Extra Coarse Grind
If you have a hankerin’ for some authentic cowboy coffee (brewed right over the campfire, of course) or a refreshing cold brew, the extra coarse grind is the size for you.
What does an extra coarse coffee grind look like? It looks like ground peppercorns. quite rough in appearance. You’ll use the largest setting on a burr grinder. They have a very rough texture, and you can still see the shape of the original beans.
Coffee beans ground coarsely are used for brewing French press and percolator methods (remember the percolator sitting on the stove? They make great coffee!), because it doesn’t need to be as fine since the water passes through quickly enough, but still needs a bit of extra surface area in order to make extraction happen.
What does a coarse grind of coffee look like? It looks like flaky sea salt with large, even chunks.
A medium-coarse grind is defined as whole beans that are ground just coarse enough to ensure drip brewing is able to happen. This grind size allows the water time to extract all of the flavor from the grounds, but not so long that they become too powdery and clog up your coffee gear.
What does a medium-coarse grind of coffee look like? It looks rocky, rough sand.
A medium-coarse grind of coffee will be the right choice with a Chemex coffee maker, or a Clever Dripper.
You’ll want to grind your beans to a medium level for a drip brewer, and it is the most common grind size for pre ground coffee. This grind size is perfect for the slow-moving water in these brewing methods and will give your coffee just enough time to extract all of its flavor while still being coarse enough that there are no clumps in it when it’s done.
Coffee that is ground to a medium texture looks like smooth sand.
A medium fine coffee grind will be the right choice for a pour over coffee dripper, or an Aeropress with a 2 to 3 minute brew time. This grind will be a little finer than medium, but not so fine that the water flows right through it and doesn’t extract any flavor from the grounds at all.
This grind of coffee looks like beach sand.
Whole beans that are ground fine are the right choice for espresso coffee, a Moka pot, or brewing Aeropress with a 1 minute brew time.
Think of finely milled salt, almost powder-like, to visualize the look of a fine grind of coffee.
Extra Fine Grind
The extra fine grind is granulated, meaning that it resembles a powder more than any other kind of coffee. It’s sticky and clumps together when wet because the particles are so small. This coffee will also have a stronger flavor since there’s fewer molecular bonds to break down while brewing.
What does extra fine grind coffee look like? It resembles confectioners sugar.
The extra fine grind is perfect for Turkish coffee.
Which Coffee Grinder Works Best?
Whether you’re going to grind your coffee to a medium fine level, fine grind, coarse, or extra coarse grind, you will need a coffee grinder to make the job easier!
Can you manually grind the coffee? Sure. It will be somewhat of a workout on the arms, but if that’s your choice, go for it. The result will still be some freshly ground coffee that is ready for your brew method of choice.
Your coffee gear will function better and also have a longer life if it is maintained properly. Note the simple grinder cleaning instructions below for each type of grinder.
Blade grinders are relatively simple mechanisms, with a motor rotating 2 or 3 blades in a confined space. They are a budget friendly choice, but know that in return for going easy on the pocketbook, the coffee grounds will not be ground evenly.
Many times a blade grinder is used for grinding up spices. But, if you learn how your particular grinder functions and put a little effort into the process, you can grind your whole coffee beans with one and make a very tasty cup of joe. p.s. do not use the same grinder for both spices and coffee beans!
How to clean a blade grinder
To clean your blade grinder:
- add about 1/4 cup of dry uncooked rice to the hopper
- run the grinder until the rice looks like a fine powder
- discard the rice
- wipe out the grinder with a damp towel (of course, unplug it first!)
- repeat the process when your grinder gives you visual or aromatic clues that it’s time for a cleaning
A burr grinder operates by using two surfaces, one fixed and the other attached to a spinning wheel. As these surfaces rub together, they cut up your beans into smaller pieces that are then ground down further until it becomes powder.
The advantage of using burr grinders is that they create a much more even grind, which leads to less inconsistencies in the taste of your coffee. You’ll pay more for this luxury, but it is worth it when you take a sip of the great tasting coffee you just brewed!
How to clean a burr grinder
Some specifics of these simple instructions will vary based on the model you own. In general, to clean your burr grinder:
- remove the hopper (the area that holds the coffee beans) and lid, wash by hand
- run the grinder for a few seconds if you can, to remove any leftover coffee in the burrs
- unplug the grinder
- remove any other plastic or rubber parts and wash them by hand
- wash the bin that receives the ground coffee by hand
- remove the inner burr (note: you might need a tool for this)
- knock off any loose coffee grounds stuck to the inner or outer burr with a stiff brush
- wipe the inner and outer burrs with a dry cloth to remove any leftover coffee bean oils. Do not wash them with water
- once all parts are fully dry, reassemble the grinder
- repeat the cleaning process every few months
Can you brew a tasty cup of coffee using a blade grinder?
Absolutely, as long as you’re not a coffee aficionado and need every detail to be textbook perfect. Blade grinders are one of the most common types of coffee grinder and they can be found in many homes because it’s a budget friendly choice. The problem is that blade grinders create particle sizes that vary significantly from each other, which can affect the quality of the coffee’s taste.
However, if you get to know your blade grinder well, and learn how to use it properly, you can still make a decent cup of coffee. Actually, you can make a great-tasting cup of coffee!
Here’s a tip: Keep close track of how long it takes your blade grinder to grind the coffee beans to the desired size. One way to do this is by counting the number of seconds it takes. The appropriate amount of time varies depending on what type of coffee you’re brewing and how finely ground your beans need to be.
Once you know exactly how long to run the blade grinder, your ground coffee should produce a nice, hot cup of coffee to enjoy!
Coffee Brewing 101
We’ve discussed coffee grind size as it relates to the type of brew you’re making at home, as well as the grinder options available.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about how to make a great cup of coffee. Because most of us know how to make a cup of coffee that is not so great.
It really comes down to the ratio of coffee to water, as well as the type of water used. Here is a simple step-by-step for you, showing how to make good coffee using a drip coffee maker or pour over dripper.
Simple 3-Step Guide for Making Good Drip Coffee
Drip Coffee Maker or Pour Over Dripper
Do you like your java stronger? Learn how to make strong coffee right here!
Making a good cup of coffee at home is sort of an art, or at the least, a learned skill. It doesn’t just happen by itself, my friend. But if you really want to enjoy your java, understanding the coffee grind size as it relates to the type of brew you’re making is the place to start, and I trust you’ve found the answers to your questions right here.
Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You’ll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions. ☕