There’s more to coffee than meets the eye. Whether you drink pour-over, drip, espresso, or the like, each brew requires a specific grind type to produce the desired flavor and consistency.
When choosing a coffee, you need to know the different types of coffee grinds to achieve the best results.
What Is a Coffee Grind?
How do you take your coffee? Whatever way you answer, you need to grind up the beans first. Coffee grind is the coffee beans’ coarseness level once you grind them up for brewing.
While it may not seem it when you order your daily cup or open up a bag of beans to brew your own at home, the way you drink your coffee relates to the coffee’s grind.
What Are the Different Types of Coffee Grinds?
Just as there are many different types of coffee, there are many kinds of coffee grinds.
The three main coffee grinds are coarse, medium, and fine, although each type has hybrid grinds. The different types of grinds depend on the type of brew you wish to make.
Using a coarse coffee grind means that the beans do not get pulverized or ground down too finely. In this grind, you will find large chunks of beans rather than a fine powder.
Cold-brew and french press roasted coffee usually rely on this type of coffee grind.
The grind’s coarseness prevents any small particles from passing through the French press’s mesh so that you don’t have any gritty residue invading your cup. A coarse grind is also ideal for cold brew because the beans need time to soak.
With larger particles, the water can infiltrate the grinds and soak without becoming too bitter. If you use a fine grind for cold brew, the filtration process can actually heat the grounds and alter the smooth flavor you want.
Similar to the french press method, using a coarse grind for cold brew prevents the possibility of a gritty residue.
However, when choosing a coarse grind for your brewing needs, you get two variations to choose from
While the two are still considered coarse grinds, they offer their own benefits and are more specifically suited to your needs.
When choosing a coarse grind to make cold brew coffee, choose extra coarse.
Since the beans will need to soak, the bigger the grind, the better. A typical cup of coffee is steeped or passes through boiling water. With cold brew, the grinds must soak overnight.
Image Source: https://grosche.ca/coffee-grind-chart/
Since the steep time is much longer than a typical cup, you do not want to grind the beans up too much because it will make the coffee’s flavor too bitter and murky.
Keep the grind extra coarse so that the water can properly soak into the beans without altering the flavor and consistency that you expect and want with cold brew.
A medium-coarse grind is somewhere in between a coarse and medium grind. It looks like a combination of sand and pebbles.
It is the ideal level of coarseness for a french press or specialty brew devices such as Chemex devices. Since these devices do not require the lengthy steeping process that cold brew does, they need more finely ground coffee.
However, the coffee needs to pass through a filter, and having small bits and pieces passing through as well isn’t ideal for drinking unless you want pieces of coffee beans stuck in your teeth.
A medium grind takes the medium-coarse grind a step further to produce a more delicate texture; however, it is still a bit dense like dirt rather than sand.
You will find this grind most commonly in drip and siphon coffees because they require a grind that is somewhere between coarse and fine.
The coffee in a siphon must pass through a cloth or metal filter. If the grinds are too small or too big, you risk clogging the device.
With a medium grind, the boiling water easily passes through the filter without any disruptions to provide the desired full-bodied taste and smooth consistency.
Similarly, with drip coffee, you want the best taste possible from a quick brewing process. A medium coffee grind is the most compatible grind for a quick brew time for a drip machine without sacrificing the flavor.
Grinding up the medium grind a little bit further, you get the medium-fine grind. You can use this grind with a drip or siphon but still risk clogging the machine and compromising your desired taste.
However, the medium-fine grind is ideal for pour-over coffee, especially if your pour-over device is cone-shaped.
If the grind is too thick, dense, or chunky, it will clog up the funnel of the pour-over, which is why you need something a bit finer but not so much so that it passes through the filter.
A medium-fine grind is suitable for a pour-over machine because the water will pass through smoothly without clogging the device and without causing pieces of the grind to pass through as well.
If you want the optimal texture and taste with your pour-over, you’ll need a medium-fine grind.
For the shortest brew times, you require a fine coffee grind. It is a form of coffee that is ground up to an extreme, producing a thin, sandy texture.
A fine grind is most commonly found in brewing espresso, either in a machine or on a stovetop.
Because both brewing types for express require very little time, they need the most finely ground coffee for the water to soak through quickly.
Since espresso also has a robust flavor, the grinds need to be fine enough during the brew for the water to soak up the flavor.
Espresso is the most sensitive type of coffee to make, which means the kind of grind you use to do so is vital.
If the grind is too coarse when making espresso, the water won’t properly extract the beans’ flavor in the allotted time it takes to make espresso.
While most coffees require a specific grind type to prevent a gritty texture, Turkish coffee actually requires it.
Turkish coffee is a solid brew with bits of the coffee grind in it, so it needs the finest coffee grind to make it; extra-fine.
Extra-fine coffee grinds resemble powdered sugar, making it even finer than what you would use for espresso.
Why Do Different Types of Coffee Grinds Matter?
Depending on how you drink your coffee, the grind makes all the difference.
Whether you drink cold brew, espresso, drip, or pour-over, the coffee is ground into a specific coarseness level dependent on the desired strength and taste.
Choosing a grind size comes down to contact time, flow, and extraction rate.
The coffee you choose to brew requires a certain amount of time to steep to produce its optimal flavor. Some espresso and drip types require very little time, while cold brew and french press coffee needs more time.
Because of these time variations, the coffee needs a grind that best suits its brewing duration.
For a faster brew, you need a finer grind. For a longer steep, the coffee needs a coarser grind.
The rate at which water–whether boiling, room temperature, or cool–passes through the coffee grind comprises the flow rate. To reach your desired flavor and consistency, you need to choose the appropriate grind size.
For instance, drip coffee has a short contact time but produces a full flavor; therefore, it needs a medium grind for the water to pass through quickly without compromising the coffee’s flavor.
Similarly, express has an even shorter contact time, so the water needs to pass through the grind very quickly.
The extraction rate directly relates to the flavor your coffee produces. It’s the rate at which the flavor is extracted from the grind. For some brews with slower contact times, their extraction rate is steady and deliberate.
For example, cold brew coffee requires overnight steeping to reach its ideal extraction rate. For this, cold brew requires coarse grinds so that the water has time to extract the desired flavor without producing one too strong or harsh.
In opposition, espresso and Turkish coffee have concise extraction rates because they don’t steep for long.
These brews sit for short periods but come with a strong flavor, which means they need a fine grind for the water to extract the flavor quickly, resulting in their classic flavors.
What Type of Grind Should You Choose?
The coffee grind you choose comes down to the type of coffee you intend to make. For faster brews including espresso and Turkish, you’ll need a fine grind.
For longer steep times including cold-brew and French press, you’ll need a coarse grind. For anywhere in between such as pour-over and drip, you’ll need a medium grind.
Ultimately, when deciding on a grind, you need to look at the contact time, flow rate, and extraction rate the coffee you want to make requires.
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