Coffee Grind Size; flavour and consistency
Grind size is an important factor when thinking about what you’re brewing your coffee with and what flavours you’d like to extract. Coffee grind size refers directly to the size of the coffee particles and how quickly or slowly coffee travels through the water. As a rule of thumb; the finer the grind, the slower the brew time, the more concentrated the flavour. The coarser the grind, the faster your water flows through, and the more diluted your brew becomes.
Sometimes, the words fine, medium and coarse can be quite confusing and overwhelming, but it’s simple to understand once you get the hang of it.
The finer coffee is ground, the smaller and more compacted coffee looks, almost like flour. We use a finer grind when we want to extract coffee and not allow a lot of water to pass through too quickly, the flavours are usually a bit more intense but balanced, like the espresso that comes out an espresso machine or a moka pot.
A medium grind looks a bit more coarse than a fine coffee grind, but the particles aren’t as big as what we would expect for coarsely ground coffee. Medium ground coffee allows water to pass through a bit easier as the coffee particles have more room to move around and interact with the water. We use a medium grind often when we make coffee through pour-over brewing methods which use paper or metal filters like an Aeropress or V60. Coffee extracted through a medium grind is balanced, sweeter and well rounded.
When coffee is ground coarse we can expect coffee particles to look almost like rough sea sand, they are a bit bigger and more visible than a medium/finer grind. Coarsely ground coffee allows water to pass through quickly, having less time for coffee and water to interact with each other. Most of the time coarsely ground coffee is used with immersion brews, like a French Press/Plunger – where coffee and water sit for an extended period of time.
Clock-wise from the bottom: fine grind, coarse grind, medium grind, whole coffee beans
The difference between Burr and Blade Grinders
The grinders we use to grind our coffee either at home, on the go or in a café can either make a coffee taste amazing or not so great. There are different grinders that we can use, but the most popular are blade or burr grinders.
Blade grinders come in electric or hand held and have a metal blade inside which chop up the beans. They are usually used for a coarser grind.
Burr grinders grind coffee in a wheel like motion, pushing coffee beans together while the burrs move in opposite directions to grind the beans. The result is a finer and more consistent grind. The manual handheld burr grinders are quite expensive due to their stainless-steel conical wheel burrs and are often used by coffee aficionado’s on the go or at home. Electric burr grinders are the grinders that you’ll often see in cafes and are used in conjunction with espresso machines.