If you know anything about coffee, you know there’s a difference between coffee and espresso. However, many people don’t know that it’s not the bean itself that sets them apart — it’s the grind.
Picking the right grind is essential when it comes to producing the optimal coffee drink. The texture of ideal grounds for a mild morning coffee is entirely different than what’s needed for a quick shot of espresso.
Choosing the wrong grind will result in bitter, weak, or simply unpleasant tasting coffee. However, the perfect grind allows for every desired flavor to flourish, creating the best cup possible.
What are the Different Kinds of grinds?
No matter the final beverage, all coffee starts out as the same bean. Though different roasts may lend themselves better to different final products, it’s ultimately the fineness or coarseness of the grind that determines what it should be used for.
Basically, the different sizes of the grind will determine how long the water will be in contact with the ground bean. The finer the grind, the quicker the water is pushed through. Courser grains indicate that the water will be in contact with the grounds longer.
Allowing coffee to seep longer, like in a French press or drip machine, will create a different set of flavor profiles versus an espresso-style drink in which the water was quickly pushed through the fine grinds.
Here’s a quick description and breakdown of the different kind of coffee grinds:
Largest grain size, similar to kosher salt. Chunky with pieces of the coffee beans still easily visible
Long seeping coffee brewing methods like a French press, cold brew or percolator
Similar feel to sand, with occasional coffee bean pieces still recognizable
Your average coffee pot. Perfect grind for anything with a flat, paper filter
Similar consistency to table salt. Coffee bean pieces no longer recognizable.
Espresso machines or Aeropress
Very fine powdered sugar.
Turkish or Greek coffee
And for some additional visuals on the difference between coffee grounds, check out these images from I Need Coffee.
Best grinds For Different drinks
So what are the best coffee drinks for different grinds?
- Espresso-Since espresso is quickly forced through the machine, you’ll want a fine, very consistent grind. If you’re a daily espresso connoisseur, we strongly suggest investing in a high-quality grinder. Though a good grind is always important, even small inconsistencies make huge differences, especially when it comes to espresso.
- French Press-The seep time in a French press is longer than most brews making a course grind perfect for evoking the best flavors.
- Drip Coffee-A medium grind is ideal for your daily cup. With a seeping time less than a French press, but not as quick as an espresso, look for a grind right in the middle.
- Cold Brew-Since the refreshing cold brew will likely seeping for many hours, the grind actually isn’t incredibly important when it comes to flavor profiles. Instead, a courser grind is preferred as it’s less likely to create cloudy coffee after filtering.
- Keurig or Single-Cup Coffee-Typically dispensed quicker than drip coffee but slower than espresso, a medium-fine grind is perfect for the reusable K-Cups used for Keurig, or similar machines.
Choosing the Best coffee grinding machines
Don’t be fooled into thinking all grinders are made the same. Though you don’t need a top-of-the-line coffee grinder to make great coffee, do avoid anything excessively cheap.
Why does it matter? It’s all about the taste. As grinders chop up whole coffee beans, small dust and particles, also known as “fines,” are made. These fines created will evoke bitterness in your coffee.
Choosing a good grinder will not only substantially minimize these fines, they also create a more even grind. This is essential when wanting that perfect cup. Inconsistently sized grinds will end up causing flavors that are far from ideal.
Burr Grinders vs Blade Grinders
The worst offenders for poor grinds are often blade grinders. Especially if they’re cheap, blade grinders are notorious for uneven cuts and excessive fines. No one needs that.
Instead, purchase a well-made burr grinder. Using quickly spinning metal or ceramic “teeth” to pulverize the beans, burr grinders are typically considered the best overall style on the market. They not only create consistent grinds, they will also greatly reduce any fines left behind, leaving only the best flavors for your cup of joe.
A good burr grinder can be pricey with most machines ranging from about $50–$800, but for something you look forward to enjoying every day, isn’t the quality worth it?
A better grinder also employs slower grinding speeds. This is important because high speeds create high temperatures, which can actually change the flavor of the beans. Getting a high-quality grind at a low temperature ensures the right flavors come through.
What’s the Right Machine for Me?
There are countless burr grinders on the market, all with different settings, sizes, prices, etc. So how do you choose the right option for you? Simply consider which features are most important to you.
- Casual Coffee Drinkers- If you’re a fairly casual drip coffee drinker, at under $50 Cuisinart DMB-8 Supreme Grind is likely perfect for your needs. Compact in size and with 18 grind levels, this machine will elevate you morning routine to the next level.
- Budget-Minded-Who needs electricity when you can get the job done on your own? Hand-powered burr grinders are very effective, very affordable, and take up less kitchen space. At under $25, this stainless steel JavaPresse Manual Burr Grinder will get the job done for less.
- Espresso Obsessed-If you’re after coffeeshop quality espresso in your own home, trust a higher end model to meet your needs. With digital controls and precision grinding, the Baratza Sette 270W Burr Grinder dispenses commercial quality grounds in one compact machine.
- French Press Fanatic-Though any high-end burr grinder have a wide range of grinding capabilities, some machines are better than others at creating consistent courser grinds. The Capresso 560.01 Infinity is fantastic at grinding beans perfectly for all of your French press needs.
Ready to start grinding up some of the best coffee on Earth? Perfect for everything from a refreshing cold brew to a sharp shot of espresso, Carta Coffee’s exceptional small-batch 100% Kona beans always provides a delicious cup. Grown and harvested in Kona, Hawaii, Carta Coffee proudly cultivates some of the world’s best beans direct from our farm to your home.