What Is Grinding Your Coffee?
If you are new to the world of home-brewing or are beginning to explore the wonderful world of coffee, you will most likely be arriving at the topic of GRIND.
To break it down; grinding coffee is to crush a whole coffee bean into many tiny, (ideally) even-sized, particles.
If you tried making a cup of coffee with whole beans, the water wouldn’t have enough surface area to extract all the desirable flavors; it would taste weak and watery. The finer we grind, the more surface area of the coffee we are exposing to the water, and the faster the flavor will be extracted.
One thing to note is that not all of the potential flavor we can extract from the beans tastes good. It is possible to extract too little (known as under-extraction); resulting in a weak, sour, salty, astringent and unbalanced cup. It is also possible to extract too much (known as over-extraction); resulting in a bitter, ashy, unbalanced and empty tasting brew.
Knowing how to grind our beans properly is crucial for fine-tuning our extraction to get a balanced, delicious cup of coffee.
The adjustments we make can be described in relation to other particle sizes: coarse sand, fine sand, table salt, icing sugar. These may be usefully imagined as Macro-adjustments.
Tiny adjustments (imagine as micro-adjustments) to our grind setting can have huge results on the brew time and therefore flavor: in espresso, this is especially true; where 1/100th of a millimeter adjustment can alter the extraction.
The best way to understand this is to purchase your own grinder and experiment. Get close to the desired particle size for your particular brewer first, and then fine-tune to find your ideal brew.
Grinding is one of the most important factors as to whether a brewed cup of coffee will taste good or bad. Here is what we must know:
- Every type of coffee is different and therefore must be ground slightly differently.
- As a bag of coffee degasses (see our blog on storage and coffee-bean care here) we must also slightly adjust our grind size for the best results.
- Coffee is a natural product and is easy to stale. After grinding, the staling process occurs much faster.
To summarise; It is important that we know how to adjust our grind settings to control our extraction (and therefore FLAVOR), and we must grind just before brewing (ideally 15 mins before, max) for the best results.
The Roast Date?
We recommend brewing with your fresh beans after about a week from their roast date to allow them to rest. Apart from this initial resting phase, try using your beans as soon as possible, and ideally no later than 5 weeks after roasting.
Which Grinder Should I buy?
There are many different grinders on the market, but we can simplify what to look for by discussing the main types.
- Blade grinders
This type of grinder uses blades that spin, resulting in some big particles that won’t extract enough and many fines that will add a bitter flavor to the cup. Our resulting brew will probably not be super balanced or delicious.
Burr grinders utilize two cutting surfaces facing each other that have a small space allowing the coffee to pass only when it has been ground to a certain size.
The resulting grind is much more evenly distributed and will extract far better. You can find both manual and electric burr grinders on the market, both of which have a range of prices and quality. For espresso, find a grinder that is designed for espresso use.
Grinding your coffee fresh at home or work will dramatically improve your overall flavor and control of your brewing process, see you on the journey, and thank you for being here with us!