What is the proper grind setting to make coffee?

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grindsettingsAccording to the Lumosity “brain games” app on my phone, my memory isn’t great.  Combine that with the fact that I brew by more than one method at home, and that my burr grinder has 18 different settings, it’s a wonder I can make good coffee at all.  Many coffee lovers struggle with what grind setting to use.  If you only brew your coffee one way, I have good news.  You’ll only need to remember one of the settings below.  Set your burr grinder to that setting, and never change it.

If you brew by more than one method and have a memory like mine, I’ll give you a quick explanation of the science of grind settings that hopefully helps you remember the right setting for your brewing method intuitively.

If you have a propeller grinder rather than a burr grinder, I strongly suggest making the small investment in a burr grinder.  Check back in a few days, where I’ll have a separate post written that I hope helps you realize the great benefits that proper grinding has on the flavor in your cup.

An Easy Guide
– Espresso maker or Aeropress: Use the Fine grind.  I don’t suggest messing with degrees of Fine.  Move the dial all the way to fine.
– Drip brewer or pourover (Melitta or Chemex): Use the middle grind.  When you buy pre-ground coffee at the grocery store, this is usually the default way in which it was ground for you.
– Press pot (French Press or Bodum): Use the Coarse grind.  Same advice as with Fine – just move the dial all the way to coarse.

cuisinartgrinder     Since I have every brewing method mentioned above available to me, it can get confusing.  To help you understand why settings differ by brewing method, here’s a primer.  The longer the brewing method, or longer the water is going to be in contact with coffee, the coarser a grind you need.  If you used a fine grine in your French Press, you would “overextract”, or draw too many solids from the coffee and have a drink more like sludge.

Conversely, if you used a coarse ground coffee in your espresso maker, the water is not in contact with the coffee long enough to draw enough solids from the coffee, making you a weak coffee.  Imagine in this example, the coffee at a microscopic level.  It is ground coarse, so each piece is bigger.  The water extracts solids from the surface area of the piece, but isn’t exposed to it long enough to get at the solids deeper than the surface.

Drip brewed and pourover coffee falls in the middle, and calls for a medium grind.

Mind your grind!  It’s important to the flavor in your cup.

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