Everything about Coffee Grinding
If grinding, grind consistency, bean oiliness, grind size settings and coffee beans humidity are new or only once-heard terms to you, Friend, we've done this guide for you. It will not make you a world class coffee master in 5 minutes but you will learn what they know and use.
So what do those coffee nerds baristas (barista: coffee preparation specialist) know and do what we don't?
- Baristas will grind coffee beans by themselves.
- They know how to grind coffee and keep it fresh.
- They paint on milk froth :)
- Have a decent coffee grinder and espresso machine.
Table of contents
Most coffee drinks start with a shot of espresso as a base and grinding coffee beans freshly is a single most important thing in its preparation. See that picture on the right? It's a coffee grinding chart we've made to introduce you to grind coarseness settings. If you click on it you will get an enlarged version. Beware, it's truly HUGE! If your computer managed to load it I suppose we can continue.
Our grinding chart shows only approximate size of grinds for different coffee drinks. It is difficult to see the difference between grounds size at the end and beginning of, for example, espresso part. Before you try to adjust your grinder or acquire a new coffee mill you should learn more of what impact the choice of a grinder, its settings and what makes coffee taste heavenly. Continue...
To blow confussion away, term Consistency is used to discuss the sameness of ground coffee particles.
Consistency or sameness of coffee grounds has an impact in preparation of almost any type of coffee. If you like to put ground coffee into a cup directly and simply pour water on it, consistency will not have an impact. Fractionally uneven coffee particles are good to go with drip coffee maker, French or Aero press. The reason is simple: small particles will clog filters of latter mentioned brewers thus preventing water flow. Probably the main coffee drink - espresso - requires very evenly sized particles and the reason is much more complex.
Espresso machines pump water through ground coffee with high pressure. While consistent particles create a spongy or porous coffee mass (see the picture <<) where water can quite easily seep through, a mix of differently sized particles creates a stone kind structure which holds back the water. In first case you will make a nice shot of espresso and in second case - an over-extracted something without crema. Is there anything you can do about it?
Yes there is. It's up to you to choose a coffee grinder. In a picture above on the left you can see a production of a blade coffee grinder. This type of grinders chop coffee beans again and again and in the end you receive grind in a form of lumps, sand and dust. Avoid blade grinders. On the right is a production of high-end conical burr grinder. As you can see, all particles are almost of the same size and with a load of such consistent grind you will prepare a truly decent espresso with thick crema, such as one on the left.
As seen in the grinding chart on the right, espresso grounds are slightly finer than granules of sugar. Take some sugar with finger tips and feel the size. Do the same with coffee grounds. It's easier to feel than see.
A decent espresso grinder costs about $300 to $2000 or maybe more. Some glorified espresso grinders for home: Rancilio Rocky (~$360), Mazzer Mini (~$600), Baratza Vario (~$450). That doesn't mean you cannot make espresso with a cheaper grinder. There are a few conical burr coffee grinders at $80 to $200 that will grind just fine enough for espresso. For example, Baratza Virtuoso, having in mind its price of ~$200, will grind exceptionally well for espresso.
If you don't plan preparing great espressos (though these grinders could do but will grind with much less grounds uniformity), a conical burr coffee grinder, like Capresso Infinity (~$84) or flat wheel burr grinder like KitchenAid ProLine (~$140) will grind consistent enough for drip coffee or French press. These two grinders are the most popular among home users.
Some baristas and coffee fanatics will adjust their grinding settings when grinding different oiliness and humidity beans. Dark roast oilier beans will require slightly coarser setting and less roast coffee conversely. It's impossible to measure coffee particle size or see the difference visually. You'll have to test everything by yourself.
Some enthusiasts will go very deep into grind settings search for a perfect espresso shot. While it's difficult to tell if such search of precision is science or craziness I suggest you focus on more important things.
Attention! Some coffee grinders tend to stick with oilier beans. If you love oilier dark roast coffee, you should pay attention to this problem.
You can see the sizes compared in the chart on the right.
Espresso - grounds are smaller than granulated sugar but not as fine as flour. See in the chart.
Turkish coffee - grounds are as fine as flour. Turkish coffee grounds in the chart look like granules but actually it is flour-consistency mass cling into small gatherings.
Drip coffee - grounds are from granulated sugar size to a bit larger particles.
French press - grounds are larger than sugar particles.
Pick a grinder for your needs. Usually an espresso grinder will be adjustable to grind for French press, drip or turkish coffee as well. Once you own a decent, non-blade, coffee grinder don't try to achieve same grind size as shown in our chart. It shows you a way to grind and you will have to test for the best results by yourself. Go now, to a hunt of coffee grinder.
Browse our website to learn more about coffee grinders and read reviews of actual mills untill you find one suitable to your needs.