Grinding is arguably the backbone of your coffee. The amount and type of grinding decides how your coffee is going to smell and feel. The two primary things that make the brewing of your magic potion are grinding type and contact time. All that it needs is coffee beans and boiled water.

 This is where ‘extraction’ comes in handy. The whole idea of grinding acts out when extraction of flavors happen along the way. Extraction is the act of bringing out the coffee solids in whichever quantities taken out by the passing through of pressured water which results in the final outcome of your drink. Time is crucial in the extraction process and the overall grinding size and area of your coffee bean determines it.

Usually two scenarios are created… either you get a finer grind in which case the extraction time taken becomes higher due to the heavier and more in depth contact of the water with the beans. In case of a coarser grind, the opposite happens i.e. the extraction time taken is much lower… this is because due to the bigger grind size of the coffee beans its contact with water is much lower and lighter. If the extraction time is too long however or the grind sizing is way too fine you might end up having an extremely bitter tasting coffee. Similarly if the extraction time is too short and your grind is too coarse, you will end up having a coffee that tastes raw, stale, thin, sour and undercooked. You can always create your preferred sweet balance by managing the brewing time and the optimum grinding size to give you a complete extraction that facilitates both a full bodied drink and innate sweetness in its taste. Needless to say, extracting a perfect cup of coffee from the right grind size is highly individualistic on what your ideal love for taste is.   

The extraction factor that is primal to create your distinct tasting cup of coffee is the grinding size. The kind of taste and type of brew you desire from your coffee will depend on the grinding you use.

The main types include…Extra coarse grounds, coarse grounds, medium grained grounds and fine medium grounds and superfine grounds.

  • Extra coarse grinds maybe used for cold brews.
  • Coarse grounds are usually used in methods like Channi brew and French Press brewing.
  • Medium-coarse grounds are used for Chemex or clever drippers.
  • Medium grounds are preferred for a medium drip coffee.
  • Medium-fine grounds prove great for pour over and siphon coffees.
  • Fine grounds are classically used for espressos.
  • Super fine grounds are used for coffees like Turkish coffee.

    Ground sizes of coffee

An extra coarse grind is supposed to be somewhere near 1.5 mm following the consistency of a rock salt. A coarse ground is one step ahead of the extra coarse ground and sizes about 1 mm following the size of a coarse sea salt particle. This is stepped ahead by medium ground which has a size of about 0.75 mm and has the consistency of beach sand particles. Then on comes the medium fine ground which has the size of a normal table salt and sizes at about 0.5mm. A finely ground coffee will be around the size of finely granulated sugar at about 0.3mm. The finest ground coffee also called as “superfine grind” sizes at about 0.1 mm and has the powdery consistency of flour.

 These sizes are tentative and a good amount of measures to compare a coarse ground with can be peppercorns! Machines like the common blade cutters or burr cutters are used to size these beans. The most commonly used grinding machines are usually the normal blade cutters used at home. Even for buying grinds, it is mandatory to check the size and prescribed brew for a finer coffee experience and not a stale or bitter liquid in your cup!

Grinding only comes to play when brewing takes place to finally result in a good cup of joe! Brewing and grinding are therefore very closely related steps. Now there are multiple types of brewing to fit to your grinds of the day. There is the Dripping Cone process, the Espresso press, the French press, the Siphon, the Chemex style, the Aero-press, the Stovetop, Moka pot and others. How you push the water through your grind creates a difference in your ultimate brew. Grinding is deeply personal and every cup of coffee you brew from these grinds should leave a statement of you in it with the beauty of taste.

For brews like French Press and the Channi Brew it is always prescribed to have a moderately coarser grind. This is because the time of contact between the water and your coffee grind is much higher than your average filter methods, so higher time will be balanced by coarser grinds. Another perk of a coarse grind is the easy straining of your coffee from the drink after your brewing is over. However allow it the stipulated time otherwise such a coarse grind will result in thin and sour tasting coffee. Coarse grounds are also perfect for using in any percolators.Extra coarse grounds are best used in drinks like cold brews which involve a much higher aspect of steeping time of 12 to 24 hours and contact as a cold brew is often kept overnight.

Medium grounds are the easiest and the average coffee shop you stop at for a quick sip must be using their rounded mid-grinds to make coffees. Medium grounds are great for all kinds of drip brewing methods. Finer grounds go ahead to make brews like moka pots, espressos, Aeropress because drinks like espressos need powder like consistency to push through and dissolve quickly as the extraction time is short. A moderately fine grinded coffee is great for use in cone shaped filters   

Therefore grinding breaks down the beans into their final state: coffee powder or grains ready to be brewed into your perfect cup of warm coffee, or cold who knows?

coffee grinding chart

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