One of the most frequently asked questions we get is how fine or how to grind coffee for a particular brewing method. And, although there are some general rules to follow, unfortunately there’s no hard and fast answer.
However, there are some guidelines you can follow in order to get a good start as well as some easy to follow methods to determine if you’re grinding too coarse or too fine.
In this post, we’ll start out by giving you a simple, step by step solution to determine what is the perfect grind size for your particular brewing setup. Then, we’ll finish up with a table that will give you a very general starting point for determining the correct grind.
When we roast a brand new coffee, or even if we’re experimenting with a new roast profile, we have a very specific method that we use to figure out the best way to brew that coffee in a particular method. It goes like this:
Pretty simple, eh?
Brewing coffee is all about extraction – we’re extracting as many oils and other goodness from the coffee as we can. The fineness of our grind setting is one of the ways we can control how much or how little of these oils and other components are extracted from the coffee. In my opinion, it’s also one of the most significant ways to do that.
The finer the grind, the more surface area water comes in contact with. More surface area means more extraction is happening. Finer grinds also tend to slow the water down as it passes through. There’s less space between each coffee ground for water to sneak by on it’s own. So a finer grind is going to cause the water to take more time, thus more extraction.
There are a lot of variables in coffee brewing. When we’re using this method to test extraction, we need to start with at least one of those variables not changing. Start with a consistent, measured amount of coffee each time. This will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend trying to figure out how much coffee you used and what variable changed.
In the grid below, we’ve put in a couple of good starting points for the different brewing methods that we use. Stick with that as a starting point and, once you’ve dialed in the correct grind, you can start to adjust your brewing ratios and see how that changes things – but that’s a post for another day.
We love our Baratza grinders so we’re basing these settings on the Baratza Virtuosso grinder. If you’re not familiar with that grinder, it has settings that are numbered from 0 through 40 with zero being the finest grind and 40 being the coarsest. Twenty is a good midpoint and probably lines up with the middle grind setting on most other burr grinders.
Again, it’s important to mention, these are good starting points while you’re brewing. You may need to start with a coarser grind. There are a million variables here and no one answer for everyone. I’ve even found on a busy day brewing, I might make adjustments to my grind size in the middle of the day because something has changed – the ambient temperature, the coffee, the water. Who knows.
If you want to explore more about what variables to adjust, you might want to consider taking a look at the Coffee Brewing Compass post and really geek out on dialing in your brew.
Have fun! Brew lots of great coffee and let us know below what the perfect recipe was for your particular setup.