I’ve become obsessed with coffee grinds lately. That led me to compare different coffee grinds, then all the information you’d need to know about how they impact taste.
Here’s what you’ll find when reading:
Let’s grind some beans.
- You’ll have 2 main grind consistency options: coarse & fine
- Or break those down into further categories: extra-coarse, medium-coarse, medium, medium fine, & extra-fine
- Different grind consistencies work better for varying brewing methods (e.g., coarse grind for French press)
- Grind size effects extraction, which in turn affects the taste and quality of your coffee drink
Coffee Grind Size Chart
Let’s compare coffee grind sizes and brewing methods they pair well with:
|Grind Type||Appearance||Best Brewing Methods||Flavor Profile|
|Extra-Coarse||Large, uneven chunks||Cold Brew, French Press||Produces a weak, less complex cup|
|Coarse||Large, slightly uneven grains||French Press, Percolator||Produces a strong, bold cup with a lot of body|
|Medium-Coarse||Gritty with some larger particles||Chemex, Clever Dripper||Produces a balanced cup with a smooth, clean finish & a medium body|
|Medium||Sand-like grains with some texture||Drip, Pour-Over||Produces a well-balanced cup with a clean finish, medium-high acidity, & medium body|
|Medium-Fine||Fine, powdery texture with slight grit||AeroPress, Moka Pot||Full-bodied cup with a smooth finish, high acidity, & pronounced flavors|
|Fine||Very fine, smooth texture||Espresso||Creamy texture, high acidity, & pronounced flavors|
|Extra-Fine||Powdery texture||Turkish||Produces a bold cup with a thick, heavy body & a strong, bitter flavor|
Different coffee grinds compared.
The extraction and flavor profile of each grind type can vary based on other factors such as the coffee bean origin, roast level, water temperature, and brewing technique.
Use this table as a general guide only.
Coffee Grind Size Basics
The following sections will cover all the basics of coffee grinds, including:
- Size: different sizes compared
- Grind size & how it impacts extraction
- Factors to consider when choosing a grind size
- Brewing methods & ideal grind sizes
- How coffee roast types also play a role in coffee taste
- Adjusting to your preference
We have much to cover. Let’s go.
1. What Is Coffee Grind Size?
Coffee grind size refers to the particle size of ground coffee beans, and it plays a crucial role in determining the flavor and strength of your brew.
Grind sizes generally range from extra-coarse to extra-fine, each suitable for specific brewing methods.
Here are the standard coffee grind sizes:
- Extra-coarse: Resembles chunks of broken coffee beans; perfect for cold brew & French press.
- Coarse: Similar to kosher salt; ideal for French press & percolators.
- Medium-coarse: Comparable to coarse sand; works well for Chemex & some pour-over methods.
- Medium: With a texture like regular sand, it’s great for drip coffee makers & certain pour-over methods.
- Medium-fine: Slightly finer than sand; suitable for AeroPress & some pour-over methods.
- Fine: Has a consistency similar to powdered sugar; used in espresso machines & Moka pots.
- Extra-fine: Almost like flour; excellent for Turkish coffee & specialized espresso machines.
Shorter brew times require finer grinds for optimal flavor extraction. Longer brew times demand coarser grinds.
2. How Grind Size Affects Extraction
Grind size impacts coffee extraction, influencing the taste and quality of your brew. When you adjust the grind size on your coffee grinder, you’re affecting the surface area exposed to water, which alters the extraction rate.
Here’s how grind size affects coffee taste and extraction:
- Fine grinds: With a large surface area, fine grinds enable quicker extraction, resulting in bold, strong flavors.
- This grind size is ideal for espresso, where a short extraction time is necessary.
- Coarse grinds: These have a smaller surface area, leading to slower extraction & mild flavors.
- Coarse grinds are well-suited for methods with longer brewing times; like cold brew.
The relationship between grind size and extraction is essential to understand:
- Over-extraction: Occurs when coffee grounds interact with water for too long or are too fine.
- This results in a bitter taste.
- Under-extraction: Happens when coffee grounds aren’t in contact with water long enough or are too coarse.
- This yields a weak, sour flavor.
3. Factors Influencing Grind Size Selection
Consider these factors to determine the coffee grind size:
- Brewing method: Different methods require various grind sizes for optimal extraction.
- For instance, a French press needs a coarse grind, while an espresso machine calls for a fine grind.
- Brew time: Shorter brew times require finer grinds, as water requires less time to extract flavors.
- Longer brew times require coarser grinds, allowing water to penetrate the coffee grounds slowly.
- Desired flavor: Experiment with grind sizes to find your preferred taste.
- Since altering the size affects the coffee’s strength & flavor profile.
4. Brewing Method
Grind sizes impact different coffee brewing methods by influencing extraction rates and flavor profiles.
Fine grinds are ideal for quick extraction methods like espresso, while coarse grinds work best for slower brewing methods such as French press, ensuring optimal flavor and strength for each method.
Here are the best bean grinds for different brewing methods:
|Brewing Method||Best Coffee Bean Grind|
|Japanese iced coffee||Medium-fine|
Best coffee bean grinds for different brewing methods compared.
5. Coffee Bean Type & Roast Level
Different types of roasting and coffee roast levels affect the taste. Requiring adjustments in grind size to complement the flavors and brewing methods.
Roast levels are typically classified into four categories, each with distinct taste characteristics:
- Light roast: Features a light brown color, bright acidity, & mild flavors, often retaining the coffee bean’s natural taste.
- Medium roast: Exhibits a medium brown color & balanced acidity, with a slightly stronger flavor than light roasts.
- Medium-dark roast: Has a rich, dark brown color with some oil on the bean surface, boasting a full body & bolder flavor profile.
- Dark roast: Showcases a very dark brown, almost black color, with a shiny, oily surface, & delivers a strong, intense flavor & low acidity.
Light and medium roasts often require a finer grind to ensure a proper extraction rate and prevent under-extraction. Due to their delicate flavors.
Medium-dark and dark roasts benefit from a coarser grind, which reduces the risk of over-extraction and bitterness. This grind compliments their robust flavors.
Here’s a quick guide to pairing grind size with roast levels:
- Light roast: Fine to medium-fine grind
- Medium roast: Medium to medium-coarse grind
- Medium-dark roast: Medium-coarse to coarse grind
- Dark roast: Coarse grind
The right coffee grind size depends on the bean type, roast level, and brewing method.
6. Personal Taste Preferences
The same brewing method may yield different results for different people, as individual tastes vary. Experimenting with grind sizes will help you find the perfect balance of flavor, aroma, and strength that suits your palate.
Begin by considering your preferred flavor profile:
- Bold & strong: If you enjoy robust, intense flavors, you might prefer a finer grind size that extracts more flavors from the coffee grounds.
- This works well for espresso & AeroPress brewing methods, which rely on shorter extraction times.
- Smooth & mellow: For those who prefer a more subtle, well-rounded taste, coarser grind sizes might be the way to go.
- This is ideal for longer brewing methods like French press & cold brew, which benefit from the slower extraction process.
Finer grinds will increase extraction and often result in bolder flavors. Coarser grinds do the opposite and yield mild flavors. However, the type of beans you get will also factor in what your coffee tastes like.
Choosing the Right Grinder
Whether you aim to achieve the best taste possible with your coffee, or are a casual drinker, you’ll need to know how to buy a grinder.
Casual coffee drinkers who aren’t obsessed with taste should save money and use an electric blade grinder. If you’re short on time, fork over more money for an electric grinder. It’s worth the investment.
Coffee lovers should opt for an electric conical burr grinder. They’re loud and expensive (sometimes), but you’ll have the most consistent grind and optimal extraction. And hence, the best-tasting coffee drinks.
1. Types of Coffee Grinders
You must choose between blade and burr (flat and conical) coffee grinders. The former offers a more budget-friendly solution for casual drinkers. The latter works better for anyone serious about making excellent-tasting coffee drinks.
I’ll compare these grinders throughout the following couple of sections.
1. Blade Grinders
A blade grinder is a type of grinder that uses a spinning blade to chop coffee beans into smaller particles. They’re available as hand grinders and electric grinders.
They’re an affordable and straightforward option for grinding coffee at home.
Pros of blade grinders:
- Cost-effective: More affordable than burr grinders.
- Compact: Their compact size & simple design make them easy to store & transport.
- Versatile: Besides coffee beans, you can also use them to grind spices & other dry ingredients.
Cons of blade grinders:
- Inconsistent grind: Often produce an uneven grind size, which may lead to uneven extraction.
- Heat generation: The fast-spinning blades generate heat, and affect the coffee’s taste by causing the beans to heat up.
- Less control: Limited control over grind size, making it challenging to achieve the desired consistency.
Blade grinders may not provide the consistency and control that true coffee lovers seek. If you’re a casual coffee drinker on a budget, a blade grinder might be the right choice.
If you want to elevate your coffee game and achieve a consistent grind, consider investing in a burr grinder. For more precise control over grind size and extraction.
2. Burr Grinders (Conical & Flat)
A burr grinder uses 2 abrasive surfaces (burrs) that grind coffee beans into a uniform size. Available as hand grinders and electric grinders, burr grinders come in two types: flat and conical. Both offer a more consistent grind than blade grinders.
But each has its pros and cons.
Pros of burr grinders:
- Consistent grind: Burr grinders deliver a uniform grind size, ensuring balanced extraction & flavor.
- Adjustable settings: Provide greater control over grind size, suiting various brewing methods.
- Less heat: Burr grinders produce less heat during grinding, preserving the coffee’s flavor & aroma.
Cons of burr grinders:
- Price: Burr grinders are generally more expensive than blade grinders.
- Size: They tend to be bulkier & take up more space in your kitchen.
- Maintenance: Burr grinders require regular cleaning & maintenance to keep them functioning optimally.
And let’s compare flat vs. conical burr grinders:
- Flat burr grinders: These grinders have two flat, parallel burrs that produce a consistent grind.
- They often require more frequent cleaning & may generate more heat.
- Conical burr grinders: Featuring a cone-shaped burr inside a ring-shaped burr, they are less prone to clogging & produce less heat.
- They usually produce a more uniform grind, making them a popular choice among professionals & home baristas alike.
Flat and conical burr grinders offer excellent grind consistency and control. Conical grinders perform better due to their uniform grind, reduced heat, and lower maintenance demands.
2. Consistency & Adjustability
Consistency and adjustability are crucial factors to consider when hunting for a grinder. A consistent grind size ensures balanced extraction and flavor. Adjustability allows you to tweak the grind size to suit your brewing method.
Burr grinders offer excellent consistency and adjustability.
Flat burr grinders use two flat, parallel burrs to create a uniform grind. But they tend to generate more heat and need frequent cleaning.
Conical burr grinders feature a cone-shaped burr inside a ring-shaped burr. Resulting in a more uniform grind, less heat generation, and reduced clogging.
3. Cost & Durability
While blade grinders are more affordable, burr grinders offer better consistency and adjustability. Which in turn enhances your coffee experience.
Burr grinders, though more expensive upfront, offer greater durability and longevity.
Burr grinders, made from durable materials like stainless steel or ceramic, can withstand daily use for years. Blade grinders—made of less durable materials—may wear faster and require replacement.
Investing in a burr grinder is a smarter choice in the long run. Its durability and superior performance will save you money and provide better-tasting coffee.
The benefits of a burr grinder, such as consistency, adjustable settings, and durability, make it worth the investment.
4. Manual vs. Electric Grinders
Both options have their pros and cons. Understanding them will help you make an informed decision that suits your preferences.
Manual grinders, also known as coffee mills, offer several advantages:
- Budget-friendly: Manual grinders are generally more affordable than electric ones.
- Portable: Their compact size & lack of cords make them perfect for travel or small spaces.
- Quiet: Manual grinding produces less noise than electric grinding machines.
However, manual grinders also have some downsides:
- Time-consuming: Grinding beans by hand requires more time & effort.
- Limited capacity: Manual grinders usually have a smaller bean capacity.
Electric grinders, like the popular Baratza Encore, provide their own set of benefits:
- Speed: Electric grinders quickly grind coffee beans with minimal effort.
- Consistency: They offer a more consistent grind size compared to manual grinders.
- Capacity: Electric grinders are more suitable for brewing larger quantities of coffee.
But electric grinders come with a few drawbacks as well:
- Price: Mostly more expensive than manual grinders.
- Noise: Run quite loud during operation.
Your choice between a manual and an electric grinder will depend on factors. Such as budget, portability, and personal preferences. Weigh the pros and cons of each type, and choose the grinder that best meets your coffee grinding needs.
5. Popular Grinder Brands & Models
Here are a bunch of popular coffee grinder brands and models:
|Breville||Smart Grinder Pro||Electric Burr||$$$$|
|Capresso||Infinity Conical Burr Grinder||Electric Burr||$$$|
|OXO||Brew Conical Burr Grinder||Electric Burr||$$$|
|Hario||Skerton Pro||Manual Burr||$$|
|Timemore||Chestnut C2||Manual Burr||$$|
|Bodum||Bistro Electric||Electric Blade||$$|
|Cuisinart||Supreme Grind Automatic||Electric Burr||$$|
Popular coffee grinder brands and models compared.
Tips & Tricks for Perfect Grind Size
Read the following sections to further optimize your coffee grinds for better-tasting coffee.
1. Adjusting Grind Size for Specific Brewing Methods
Match your brewing method with the right grind. For instance, coarse grinds are ideal for French press and cold brew. Medium grinds work best for drip coffee makers. And fine grinds are perfect for espresso.
2. Tweaking Grind Size for Taste Preferences
To tweak grind size for taste, start with the recommended grind size for your brewing method. Then adjust from there.
If you find your coffee too bitter or strong, try a coarser grind. If it’s weak or sour, go for a finer grind.
3. Storing Coffee Beans & Grinds Properly
Proper storage of coffee beans and grinds plays a crucial role in maintaining flavor.
Store them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture . Grind only the amount of coffee you’ll use immediately. As ground coffee loses freshness more rapidly.
4. Experimenting with Different Grind Sizes for Unique Coffee Experiences
Start with the recommended grind size for your brewing method. Then try coarser or finer grinds. Take note of the changes in taste and body, and remember the settings that work best for you.
Read on and find frequently asked questions about coffee grinds.
Will Starbucks Grind my Coffee Beans?
Yes, Starbucks will grind your Starbucks brand coffee beans for free . You can’t have opened them and they shouldn’t have passed their expiration date.
How Does Coffee Grind Size Affect the Flavor & Strength of Coffee?
Grind size is an important factor in determining the flavor of a cup of coffee. The size of the grind affects the surface area exposed to hot water.
Which in turn affects the extraction rate of the coffee. A finer grind exposes more surface area, which increases extraction rate and leads to a stronger, more bitter flavor.
How Can I Measure & Adjust My Coffee Grind Size at Home?
You can use a refractometer to measure the strength of your coffee . From there, adjust the size of the grind accordingly. To use a refractometer, place a small drop of coffee on the prism and close the cover.
What Are Some Common Mistakes to Avoid When Grinding Coffee Beans?
One mistake is using a blade grinder instead of a burr grinder. Blade grinders can only work by spinning fast, which causes heat and friction. Heat and friction are both bad for your coffee and heat is a number one killer of flavor in your coffee.
If you’re serious about getting a great taste, get a high-quality conical burr grinder. And choose a grind consistency that best matches your desired brewing method. The type of grinder chosen will matter more than the quality of the actual coffee maker.
Though, the latter also can play an important role in determining taste.
This piece didn’t cover much information regarding high-quality coffee grinders. We saved that for a different guide. Check it out.