To brew the most delightful cups of coffee, we need to approach the coffee grounds with a little more attention to detail. The three variants that need to be considered include – brew ratio, water temperature and grind size.
In this article, let us focus in on the grind sizes and why it matters. We shall also go through the most suitable grind sizes for common coffee brewers.
Understanding Coffee Grind Sizes
Coffee is ground to increase and expose the surface area of the roasted beans. This way, the extraction agent (water) makes contact with more coffee during the brewing process and extracts coffee oils and flavours from the ground coffee.
By controlling the size of the ground coffee, you control the amount of coffee that is in contact with water. For example, the most suitable grind size for Pour Over coffee maker is medium-coarse. It is less chunky and smoother than a French Press grind. If the grind is too fine, you may over-extract the coffee due to its higher surface area and end up with bitter flavours.
On the other hand, if the coffee is too coarse, the extraction will be deficient. This will result in a sour and watery cup.
Grind Sizes for Common Coffee Brewers
The contact time between the water and coffee is relatively long for French Press. It is around 4 minutes. Plus, French Press brews via immersion where the coffee grinds are steeped in water throughout the brewing time. So, a coarse grind size is suitable for this brewer.
A coarse ground coffee will have a texture similar to sea salt.
Pour Over Coffee Makers brew via infusion method where the water is slowly added to the grounds to extract coffee. Given the infusion method and the brew time (3 to 4 minutes), the most suitable coffee grind size for Pour Over is a medium-coarse grind. The grind size will be less chunky than the coarse grind size.
However, there are several types of Pour Over brewers and each brewer requires a slightly different grind size. Here are suitable grind sizes for some of the most popular Pour Over Coffee Makers -
- Chemex - A medium-coarse grind is suitable for Chemex since it uses a thick paper filter.
- Hario V60 - For Hario V60, we need to use a medium-fine grind size since the spiral ridges in the dripper allow for a faster flow rate.
- Espro Bloom - A medium-coarse grind is suitable for espresso bloom since the extraction happens in less than 3 minutes.
For AeroPress, we can go with a medium-fine grind size since it brews via pressure and brews quickly. The texture is finer than sand and coarser than an espresso grind.
Medium-grind size prevents drip throughs while brewing. This size also makes it easier to press through.
Similar to AeroPress, Moka Pot brews via pressure. So, consistently ground coffee in the size of fine to medium-fine is suitable for Moka Pot. Moka Pot is an easy alternate for coffee lovers who prefer espresso based coffee as the final cup will brews like an espresso based coffee
Syphon coffee brewers use a cloth or metal filter to produce bold and clear cups of coffee. In this case, if we use grind sizes that are too fine they will clog the filter. On the other hand, if we use grind sizes that are too coarse, it can result in a weak brew. Hence, we need to use a medium grind size.
It takes about 18 to 24 hours to make a cold brew and we brew via immersion. So, a coarse grind size will make the brewing process easier and the coffee will taste more balanced.
The ideal grind size for an espresso machine is fine grind. However, it will slightly vary depending on the particular machine. Furthermore, finer grind sizes are easier to tamp which ensures an even extraction.
Rule of Thumb to Choose the Right Grind Size
Below are some points to remember about coffee grind sizes. This will help you find the right grind size for your brewer when you can not find a guide.
- Choose a coarse grind size if the coffee is in contact with the water for a longer time. For instance, cold brew requires the coarsest grind size of all brews since it takes longer hours to brew it.
- Choose a finer grind size if the brewing method takes a shorter time. For instance, Moka Pot and espresso require a fine ground size.
- The size and nature of the filter in the brewer also matters when choosing the grind size. For instance, French Press has a filter with wider holes, so using coarse grinds means no sediments stuck in the filter.
Choosing the right grind size for your brewer may seem complicated. With time, however, you will be able to choose the right size and brew amazing cups of coffee at the comfort of your home.
The way each roaster interprets grind size may vary slightly. So, we recommend purchasing whole beans and grinding them fresh at home using a coffee grinder.