Coffee has been around for centuries and so there is a countless number of coffee recipes. Some of them are easy, some not too much. Making the perfect cup of coffee surely requires some knowledge about different factors such as water quality, water temperature or even air pressure (if you want to use a manual brewer).
Today’s topic however focuses on another key-point: Grinding your roasted coffee beans to the right consistency.
Grinding your own roasted beans is very important since most people don’t really know how to treat their coffee correctly, they just leave it in an open bag which releases all aromas and flavors after a certain time (it takes approximately one week until 98% of the flavor is gone).
The key factor however is the grinding of your beans, badly ground coffee will never taste good. A lot of people are still buying their coffee preground at the grocery store or some speciality store which guarantees you fresh coffee but often it’s already too late since they package these beans in an airtight container – releasing all aromas instantly.
1. Why grinding coffee beans is important
So, why is grinding coffee beans so important? Well, coffee consists of a layer called chaff which contains all the aromas and oils that are released after roasting.
This chaff gets very fine during the grinding process and if it would be inhaled by humans it could easily trigger an allergic reaction in some people since it’s still connected to caffeine even though less than 1% of the actual bean.
Some other larger components in a coffee bean are starch and cellulose, these don’t have a flavor or a stimulating effect on humans but they do prevent from having an optimum aroma release while brewing – resulting in a flat taste.
These ingredients should be removed before brewing hence the importance of grinding your own fresh roasted beans at home! Of course you can use preground coffee but it’s never the same, especially when you grind your own beans right before brewing.
2. How to grind coffee beans (Grind size, Burr Grinder, Blade Grinder)
Grinding size is crucial for freshness, too coarse and the coffee will be under-extracted which means flat tasting or even bitter, too fine means overextracting, resulting in a bitter taste. T
he most common grind sizes are coarse (like sea salt), medium (coarse sand) and fine (sugar).
A good starting point would definitely be medium since it’s the most versatile setting but you can also experiment with different grind sizes to get adapted to your own preferences faster.
Since there are so many types of coffee makers that require various levels of fineness there are basically 2 ways of grinding your beans: With a Burr Grinder or with a Blade Grinder .
There isn’t really an answer to which one is better since it’s a matter of taste and the type of coffee maker you use.
A Burr Grinder uses two metal plates to crush beans between them, creating more or less consistent powder depending on distance setting. A Blade Grinder chops the beans into smaller pieces with rotating blades which results in a very inconsistent grind.
There is also a third method called “Percolator” which only requires hot water and coarsely ground coffee – I will talk about this topic later on my blog so keep an eye out if you are interested!
3. What are the best grinds for different brewing methods (French Press, Drip Coffee Maker, Espresso Machine)
Choosing the right grind size is crucial when you want to make the perfect cup of coffee. Especially when using a Drip Coffee Maker there can be a big difference in taste depending on how fine or coarse your coffee powder is.
The best way to find out what kind of grind you like most is by trying out different settings until it tastes perfect for your own preferences!
A good rule of thumb would be: Coarse Grind = Filtered Coffee (e.g. French Press) , Medium Grind = Standard drip coffee makers, Fine Grind = Espresso machi ne
– French Press : Not too coarse , not too fine, somewhere in the middle. You can use a coarser grind if you want to fill your press pot with hot water for more than 4 minutes without losing taste.
A finer grind will result in an increased extraction speed so it’s important to have your coffee ready within 4 minutes.
– Drip Coffee Maker : Similar to french press but for drip machines, aim for medium or even slightly narrow, depending on how fine your machine can adjust the grind size setting (some cannot).
I would recommend experimenting until you find that one perfect setting – the ideal time frame should be between 3 and 5 minutes (including boiling hot water) .
* Tip: Some coffee makers like the Chemex filter the coffee so it brews directly into your cup – which means you need to select a finer grind size than recommended in the paragraph above. For instance for Chemex I highly recommend using a medium fine grind or even slightly coarser .
– Espresso Machine: Probably one of the most precise methods of brewing coffee – you will have to experiment with different grind sizes and extraction speeds but as a rule of thumb, very fine , almost powdery! A good starting point would be a 10 on a scale from 1 (very coarse) to 12 (very fine).
* Tip: An espresso machine requires more heat and pressure when extracting at high temperatures therefore you should make sure your grinder is capable of doing this job properly otherwise caffeine levels will drop drastically.
4. Tips and tricks to make the perfect cup of brewed coffee every time!
A lot of factors can influence how your coffee tastes in the end and it’s good to know a few of them beforehand:
a) Water type
Brewing with hard water, which has a high mineral content, will result in a more bitter taste compared to soft water. Using filtered or bottled water instead would be a good idea if you want to make a perfect cup of coffee from scratch.
b) Coffee grind size & coarseness
The coarser the ground is the longer it takes for extraction to take place – During this time valuable acids and oils that provide taste will dissipate so using a medium or fine grind will result in an increased caffeine level and better aftertaste.
On top of that, if you use natural spring water you will need less coffee to get the same taste compared to using distilled or demineralized water*
c) Temperature of extraction
Basically, if your coffee is too hot it will lose its precious aromas and flavours which are very important in order to taste that sweet coffee flavour in the end. It’s good to keep the temperature within this scale: For Drip Coffee Maker = 176-185 ˚F , for French Press 140-160 ˚F – not boiling!
d) Extraction time
The ideal time frame should be between 3 and 5 minutes when brewing with a drip machine. Brewing times longer than 5 minutes might result in undesired results so watch out when experimenting with your own preferences.
Using cold water and letting it extract over night is not recommended – It will result in an extremely bitter taste.
e) The type of coffee machine
There are a lot of different types of coffee machines and manufacturers so try to find the one which suits you best and keep trying until you find that perfect cup! Avoid static pressure buildup when using automatic drip machines because this could increase bitterness .
On top of that , if there was no water run through your machine for at least 30 minutes it might take a while until your next cup due to warming plate warmup time or thermal block heating up times. If you use fresh, cold water every time it’s ready in about 2-3 minutes.
f) Coffee grind origin & freshness
If possible, try to grind your coffee beans right before actually brewing! If you buy pre-ground coffee always make sure the package is airtight and vacuum packed as well as kept away from sunlight.
Try to find a roastery which roasts their beans on demand – this will ensure optimal freshness compared to buying pre-roasted.
g) Cleanliness of your equipment
It’s good practice to clean your equipment after every use , including: filters, brewers and grinders. Coffee residues will burn over time and leave an unpleasant taste in the machine which will result in a bad tasting cup of coffee so keep it clean!
h) Coffee specific storage
Before storing unopened bags or cans, be sure they are hermetically sealed and preferably kept in a dark, dry place at room temperature or lower. If you buy your coffee in bulk make sure it is tightly packed to avoid oxidation for maximum freshness *
i) Water quality
Bad tasting water will result in bad tasting coffee! Adding milk, creamers and sugar will not be able to cover up the bad taste if your water contains too many minerals or has an unpleasant smell compared to cleaner spring or distilled water.
There are a lot of ways to experiment with grinding coffee beans and finding the perfect grind size for your taste buds. You can use different types of water, various extraction times, and even type of machine to make that cup of joe just how you like it. We hope this article was able to help you find your favorite way to brew up those precious grounds!