Grocery stores are convenient places to get coffee, but there are some drawbacks. Most of these stores simply don’t care about your coffee quality, and they only ever offer two options: whole bean and ground.
One powerful way to rise above the low-end coffee at grocery stores is to take control of the way you grind your beans. Being able to choose specific grind sizes enables you to reach new levels in your coffee journey, and the coffee only gets better.
Don’t run away from grinding your own coffee. Grocery stores want you to think it’s too complicated or not worth the effort – it’s how they trap you. While a hint of extra effort is required, the reward is unquestionably worth it.
What Is This Reward?
Different coffee brewing methods work best with different size coffee grounds.
For example, espresso shots are created when water is forced through tightly packed coffee grounds in a matter of seconds. If you use a coarse grind (large particle sizes), the water will run right between the grounds without producing anything you would want to drink. It takes a very fine grind size to force the water through the coffee grounds evenly in order to produce a balanced and flavorful shot.
The french press, on the other hand, is most often used with a coarse grind size. There are two main reasons why:
- The fine metal mesh filter of the french press can easily become clogged by fine coffee grounds.
- Since the water and coffee sit together for a period of time in a french press, a coarse grind keeps the water from getting inside the coffee grounds too quickly and extracting too much (which would produce a bitter cup).
It’s All About Extraction
When water and coffee come in contact, the water digs into the coffee bean grounds and pulls out the ingredients that turn clear water into black coffee.
- If the coffee bean particles are too big, water won’t be able to pull out everything it needs during the time they are together. The produced liquid will be sour and acidic.
- If the coffee bean particles are too small, the water will extract more from the grounds than we want, producing a mug of coffee that is bitter and astringent.
Coffee brewing is all about finding that balance of flavor and strength. The sizes of our coffee grounds are the variable we can change to find that balance.
Problem Solving Like A Pro
The Pour Over
Let’s say you’re brewing a cup of coffee with a Hario V60 and you notice the water drains in less than a minute. You take a sip and realize that the coffee in your mug is thin and undeveloped in flavor. What do you do?
Weak, sour, thin, and overly acidic coffee indicates that you need to extract more to produce a balanced cup. This can be done by reducing the coffee particle size.
On another day you are using your handy-dandy Aeropress and find that the coffee is just not very flavorful and that it feels kind of rough on the back of your throat.
The solution is simple: bitter, dull, overpowered coffee should let you know that you need to extract less. You can do this by grinding your coffee a little coarser next time.
From whole coffee beans to super fine espresso grounds, there are many options for adjusting the grind to achieve a better brew. Here are a few starting points you can use to launch you into your quest to find the ideal grind size for your brewing devices and methods.
- French Press – Coarse
- Cold Brew – Coarse
- Chemex – Medium to Coarse
- Aeropress – Medium to Fine
- Hario V60 – Medium to Fine
- Espresso – Very Fine
- Turkish – Nearly Invisible Fine
Make minor adjustments, one at a time, from these starting points.
All It Takes Is A Grinder
See how empowering owning a coffee grinder can be for you home barista skills? Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be very expensive either. A few hand grinders have emerged as market leaders over the years, making reliable, consistent grinding a possibility for the common man.
We highly recommend the Hario Slim Mini Mill as a coffee grinder that is affordable, durable, and effective. Paired with a reliable coffee brewer and some of the best coffee you can buy, this grinder will take you places you could never have imagined.
Tip: Find Hario Slim Mini Mill at department stores like Isetan, or if you are lucky, at a bargain on Carousell.
Have fun grinding! 🙂