Grinding coffee beans. Does it matter?

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Update February 2022

Whether you’re a coffee drinker or not, you may be familiar with the concept of quality. There are some “unwritten rules” if you want to achieve quality, regardless of the business in question.
When it comes to coffee, grinding coffee beans properly is paramount.

In this article, we will look at how important is to grind coffee specifically for your needs. Of course, we will take for granted that all the previous steps of the coffee supply chain such as harvesting, processing, storing and shipment have been respected.

Grinding coffee beans. Why does it matter?

When grinding coffee beans there are two direct consequences: the contact time and the soluble particles that you are going to extract which can be sum up in TDS.
Both of them are strongly connected: grinding coffee beans in the right way enables you to get the right flavours out within an ideal range of time.

Now, there isn’t one single solution to everything as any brewing method calls for its ideal grind size. Bear in mind that it’s more complex than that as grinding coffee beans has to do with much more variables such as the device used, the grinder used, the amount of coffee brewed, how fresh the coffee in question is, the material of the filter used and the filter itself.

For instance, grinding coffee beans while making a Kalita pour-over or a V60 one is different, as it’s different if you’re going to brew with a French Press, Syphon or Turkish coffee.

An article will never be enough to cover all these topics, so again, we are taking for granted also all these variables, assuming that we are going to brew after having chosen the best recipe for what coffee we are going to use, brewing method and so on.

Firstly, it goes without saying that you need to brew with fresh, high-quality coffee: you can get the best coffee grinder in the world, but if you don’t have good coffee, you won’t get out a great cup of coffee.

Grinding coffee beans with the right grinder has the greatest impact on the result. To me, you can brew using tap water, wrong pouring skills and a wrong recipe but with a uniform size of coffee grounds, you will get a result. Also, getting the right water and learning the necessary skills will not take you ages.

While using the right water with the right skills and recipe but with a blade grinder won’t get you a similar result.

So, what grinder to choose?

Choosing the right grinder should be the first thing to do to everyone that want to brew coffee both in a coffee shop or at home.

Generally speaking, an electric grinder would be a better option compared to any hand grinder. Unless you’re picky or you’re opening your coffee shop, you do not have to choose between a conical or a flat burrs one, both will be a great fit for you, especially for home brewing.

What’s important is to buy something that delivers a uniform size of coffee grounds.

What really matters when grinding coffee beans is to choose the proper grinding size according to the brewing method chosen.

We can say that the longer the contact time, the more we are going to extract and the shorter the contact time, the less we are going to extract

 Grinding coffee beans at home

grinding coffee beans for moka pot
grinding coffee beans: grinders are really important for the coffee taste guide on the grind size needed to brew

with the selected brewing methods (in no particular order):

  • French press: the most popular immersion method. It’s quite easier to brew with a French press and forgiving too. It’s also super cheap so a great brewer to start with at the very early stage of your coffee journey. Grinding coffee beans for the french press range from medium to medium-coarse as it depends on how much time you want your coffee to be steeped. It will surprise you as there’s is a lot to play with.
  • Syphon: the most difficult device to brew with. It requires quite an effort to deal with it. Grinding coffee beans for the syphon should be slightly finer than a drip coffee. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not achieving a great cup of coffee in the first few times.
    Turkish coffee: this brewing method required the finest grinding size ever. Also called “Turkish coffee”, specifically for this brewer, the size of the coffee grounds have to look like the cocoa powder.
  • Kalita/V60: these two brewers are the most commonly used for brewing pour-overs. They work quite similar but they slightly differ when it comes to grinding size. Kalita is much more forgiving than V60. The 60° degrees shape of the V60 calls for a finer grind than the Kalita and produce a faster brew (usually it takes 30 seconds less on average).
  • Chemex: the brewer requires quite a larger grind size because of the ability of the filter to retain more oils but has to be slightly finer than the French Press. The result? A much cleaner cup compared to most of the brewers. Just remind yourself to not grind too fine as it will take too long for the water to pass through the filter and so, it would lead to an over-extracted extraction.
  • Aeropress: a super versatile device to play with. Grinding coffee beans for the Aeropress has less impact with this brewer and has got more to do with the total time. You can decide to try various grind size according to how much time you want your coffee ground to be immersed.
  • Moka pot: the Italian coffee culture is fond of this brewer. The Moka pot requires a fine coffee ground size slightly larger than it is with the espresso. The reason is that a finer grind size would clog the tiny holes at the bottom of your filter, making it harder for the water to pass through.

This is a short, simple guide. It’s a great starting point if you want to start with something new but it’s also good to be consulted whenever you like as all written above has been updated to this day.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m still brewing with most of these guidelines.

It’s just up to you and your taste from where to start.


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