Much like roasting the beans, the degree to which the coffee is ground is one of the main factors that affect the flavour and texture of the coffee. Depending on the grind type – fine or coarse – the resulting coffee will be completely different in terms of taste and consistency. The choice of grind is therefore decisive in obtaining the optimal product.
In shops, coffee grinders usually indicate the grind to be used depending on the type of machine used to make the coffee. However, if you grind the beans manually, you instead have to rely on your eyes. To get it just right, here’s a guide of the different grinds to be used based on the device type and the coffee brewing method.
The finer the grind, the stronger the coffee will taste. This is because the fine particles retain water for a while. Although the extraction takes place quickly, the period of contact between the beans and the water is prolonged, thus emphasizing the coffee’s aromatic substances. This grind type is ideal for very full-bodied coffees such as Turkish coffee or espresso.
The Turkish grind is the finest of the two, with a consistency approaching that of powdered sugar. When done well, this grind lets you obtain a good crema, the emulsion that forms on the surface of the coffee due to the mixture of fats, sugars, and gas that comes from the beans.
Coarser than espresso grind but finer than that of filter coffee, medium-fine grind is suitable for Italian coffee makers (Moka).
Grind for filter coffee makers
We can call this “medium” grind. However, there are, in fact, two subcategories of grinds for filter coffee makers: one for machines with V-shaped baskets and one for flat-bottom machines. The first is slightly finer than the second.
Contrary to popular belief, filter coffee contains more caffeine than espresso due to the longer brewing time. To avoid making filter coffee that’s too strong and bitter, the grind size is therefore of critical importance.
This grind is only suitable for brewing methods that involve a long extraction and infusion, such as the percolator, the French press (Bodum), and cold brew coffee. Coarsely ground coffee should be brewed for a long time in order to capture the appropriate number of aromatic components. In the case of the percolator and the French press, this also allows you to achieve a beverage with a high caffeine level.
Making the perfect coffee
The guidelines above are given for informational purposes only and may vary depending on each person’s devices and preferences. The best advice for determining your ideal coffee grind is to make small test batches, taking notes each time, until you achieve the desired result. You’ll notice that slight variations in grind size and amount of coffee can make all the difference.
Among the other factors that can affect the taste of the coffee, water temperature, the number of minerals present in the water, brewing time, and the freshness of the bean should also be noted. Brewing coffee is both an art and a science. It’s through mastering this perfect balance that you can savour this very rich and complex concoction in all its splendour.