Grinding your own beans can easily make for a better cup of coffee, but only if you know how to do it correctly. The type of coffee grinder, size of the coffee grounds, and even when you grind the coffee beans can make a huge difference on overall flavor.
What’s The Best Type of Grinder?
There are two different types of coffee grinders to choose from: a blade grinder and a burr grinder. There are pros and cons of each but you’ll find that burr grinders dependably perform the best compared to blade grinders.
Blade grinders are more popular simply because they’re the less expensive and faster option compared to a burr grinder. Much like a food processor, a blade grinder uses rotating blades to cut up coffee beans in a fairly inconsistent manner.
In contrast, a burr coffee grinders uses two rotating pieces of ceramic or metal work to precisely crush the coffee beans to your desired size. Even though a burr grinder is pricier, once you try one out you’ll quickly find that it’s the best coffee grinder you can buy, which explains why you’ll find most speciality coffee shops opting for burr grinders. See bottom for other product links if you’re unwilling to dish out $129 for a burr grinder.
When To Grind Your Beans
Plenty of aromas are released during grinding so it’s essential that you only grind your coffee immediately before brewing. These great flavors can really elevate a cup of coffee, but only if grinding is directly followed by brewing.
It’s important to avoid buying ground coffee since it gets stale exceptionally faster than whole coffee beans. Grinding your own beans at home just before brewing ensures that the majority of the coffee bean aromas contribute to the final coffee product, rather than the air.
Does Grind Size Matter?
In short: yes. Depending on the brew method, the ideal grind size will vary greatly. The correct grind size is influenced by three main factors, which include extraction rate, contact time, and flow rate. This is why the coffee maker needs to use a burr grinder.
Extraction rate refers to the flavors that are extracted from the coffee beans. Contact time is the amount of time that the coffee grounds are submerged in water, while flow rate is how quickly the water can move through the grounds.
Generally, you want to grind beans the coarsest for brew methods that have the longest contact time. This means that French press and cold-brew methods work best with coarse grinds, while espresso and Turkish coffee demand finely ground beans. Using a burr coffee grinder will allow you to easily control this. Most methods allow you to experiment with grind size to provide you with your optimum flavor; however, espresso always requires extra fine grounds since even the smallest alteration can greatly affect the resulting cup. So can you imagine using your blade grinder and ruining your coffee beans? Time to upgrade from a blade grinder to a burr grinder.
Overall, investing in a grinder is an easy way to enhance your home-brewed coffee. If you’re not quite ready for the large expense, a manual burr grinder, or hand coffee grinder, is a great option.
With time and experience, you’ll learn to grow more comfortable with grind size, extraction rate, contact time, and flow rate and you’ll soon be brewing a truly high quality cup of Joe – no matter if you’re partial to pour overs or a fan of French Press. And if you’re going to brew that cup of perfect cold brew, for sure get the burr grinder.
Get a burr grinder and use this as a rule of thumb:
- Coarse ground – French Press, Cold Brew
- Medium ground – Pourover, drip coffee
- Fine ground – Espresso, Turkish
Here are our top picks:
JavaPresse Handheld Burr Grinder $25 – Amazon Link