A Guide To Coffee Grind Sizes

Not understanding coffee grind sizes could lead to you drinking bad tasting coffee.

I know, I know, it might feel overwhelming knowing about all the different grind sizes. But it will be to your benefit. This article will help you to understand all the different coffee grind sizes, what impact grind sizes can have on the coffee taste, and which grind sizes to use for different brew types.

Importance of Knowing Grind Sizes

Having the best coffee machine and the best coffee beans doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know about coffee extraction. And how do you manipulate coffee extraction? By knowing which grind size to use for which coffee brew type.

You can’t simply use one grind size for all types of coffee brew. There isn’t one optimal grind size for all coffee brew types. The optimal grind size depends on the brewing method.

That is why here at Home Barista Cafe, I don’t recommend you buy pre-ground coffee. It limits your coffee grind to just one grind size, so it means you can only use one brewing method with that pre-ground coffee. Another reason, though not directly related to this topic directly, is that pre-ground coffee is not as fresh as using coffee beans and grinding them before brewing.

Using the wrong grind size for that given coffee brewing method could mean you end up with coffee fragments in your cup of coffee. An example is if you used fine grind coffee with a French Press, you could end up with coffee sediments in your French Press. That is not ideal, right?

Another thing that would happen when using the wrong grind size for a given coffee brewing method is the coffee taste could end up horrible due to extracting an unbalanced amount of coffee. We will talk about extraction in the next paragraph.

Coffee Extraction

Coffee extraction is the process of dissolving flavours from coffee grounds into the water. And the biggest factor that determines how much coffee is extracted? If you’re sharp, you would have answered “grind size”. And that would be correct.

When brewing coffee, two things we should avoid are overextraction and underextraction. What are they?

  • Overextraction – too much flavour is extracted from the coffee; this usually happens when the grind size is too fine
  • Underextraction – too little flavour is extracted from the coffee; this usually happens when a grind size is too coarse

Overextracted coffee generally tastes bitter, hollow and slightly burned. Fixing overextracted coffee would involve using a coffee grind size that is slightly more coarse so that not too much of the coffee substance is extracted.

Underextracted coffee generally tastes sour, acidic and salty. Fixing underextracted coffee would require grinding coffee beans a bit finer so that more of the coffee substance is extracted.

Overall, when you’re grinding your coffee beans, you want a balanced extraction where all tasting notes can be tasted and the coffee is well-rounded.

How Grinders Impact Grind Sizes

When it comes to grinders, there are two types of them:

  • Blade grinders
  • Burr grinders

And among them, you can get manual grinders or electric grinders. Deciding between a manual grinder or an electric grinder depends largely on the brew type you’ll be using. Manual grinders are more suitable for brews that produce singular coffee, like the Aeropress or the pourover. Electric grinders would be better suited for coffee brewed in large quantities.

However, those are not hard and fast rules.  

Blade Grinder

These use blades that sit at the bottom of the grinder, and the spinning motion of the blades chops the coffee beans into small pieces.

Because there is nothing to determine how often or how much the coffee beans get chopped, the result is that the coffee grind sizes are inconsistent. This can lead to bad tasting coffee because inconsistent grinders lead to bad water flow when water is extracting the coffee.

Another important point is that the blade grinders spin fast. That spinning motion creates heat and friction, which indirectly heats the coffee slightly and affects its taste before it has even been brewed.

If possible, you should avoid blade grinders. Burr grinders are better. You’ll see why in the next paragraph. 

Burr Grinder

Burr grinders are two revolving burrs in between each other. This means the coffee beans are crushed, rather than chopped like in blade grinders.

The speed this crushing motion takes place in is at slow speeds, meaning there is no additional heat or friction caused by the grinding that can affect the coffee’s taste. Coffee grounds from burr grinders also lead to more consistent grinds.

It’s for those two reasons that you should buy a burr grinder over a blade grinder. 

The only thing the blade grinder has over the burr grinder is that they are generally more affordable than burr grinders.

Which Grind Sizes To Use For Coffee

Now you know that there is not one grind size that can be used for all coffee brew types, and that the optimal grind size is dependent on the brewing method. 

With that said, here is a list of the most common coffee brewing methods and the ideal grind sizes to use for them:

  • Coarse grind – cold brew coffee, French Press, percolator
  • Medium-coarse grind – Chemex, Clever Dripper
  • Medium grind – Hario V60, Aeropress
  • Medium-fine grind – Hario V60, Aeropress
  • Fine grind – espresso, moka pot
  • Extra fine – Turkish coffee

If your coffee brewing type is not mentioned above, or you want to see which number grind setting of your grinder equates to which grind size, then you can check out this coffee grind size chart.

Final Thoughts

Knowing about grind sizes is important because it will help you to create the optimal coffee extraction for your chosen coffee brew type. Using the wrong grind size could lead to an unpleasant tasting coffee.

If you have read this article all the way to the end, you should now be more knowledgeable about coffee grind sizes and have no more excuses for drinking bad tasting coffee.

Picture of Parin Hemtanon

Parin Hemtanon

Hi, I'm Parin, the lead home barista for this site!

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