The Definitive Guide to Coffee Ground Size

What’s the best coffee grind size for your brewing method? What is the best grind size for drip coffee, pour over, French press, or cold brew coffee?

If you are wondering what the grind sizes for different brewing methods are, this article is for you.

Here, we are going to talk about the grind sizes for different brewing methods including AeroPress, Percolator, Cold Brew, French Press, Pour Over, Automatic Drip, Espresso, Chemex, Moka Pot, Siphon, and Turkish.

Did you know that most coffee lovers fail to brew a perfect cup of coffee right in the preparation stage? Yes, during the grinding of coffee beans is when most home coffee drinkers get it wrong hence making the final product taste strange.

You are lucky to have landed on this page because you will never brew coffee that doesn’t taste the way you wanted. If you get everything right from the selection of coffee beans to grinding and brewing, you rest assure of drinking great coffee.

Should You Grind Coffee Beans at Home or Buy Pre-ground Beans?

Most coffee lovers, especially beginners find themselves in crossroads when it comes to deciding which is better between buying whole beans and grinding them at home or picking pre-ground beans.

It’s worth noting that the fresher the coffee the great the flavor. Regardless of the coffee roast or the country they come from, if you want to get the most out of your beans, you must make sure they are fresh. And fresh beans are those that have been roasted and ground recently before brewing.

Remember that coffee beans begin to lose flavor 15 minutes after grinding since they are exposed to oxygen and this can make them become stale.

Also, even recently roasted beans will produce coffee that tastes bad if not ground before brewing.

Besides, different coffee makers require different coffee grind sizes. We will talk about this later in this article. Just keep in mind that buying pre-ground coffee beans, even though it is convenient, you may find it difficult to get the right grind size for your coffee brewer but grinding coffee beans at home will help to get the ideal grind size for you.

Grinding coffee beans at home also allows you to experiment with different grind sizes although it’s more time-intensive.

Different Grind Sizes You Need to Know

Generally, there are seven major coffee grind sizes. We will talk about each coffee grind size later in this article and let you know the brewing method suitable for each grind size. But just so that you know them before we get deeper into each one of them, here they are:

  1. Fine grinds
  2. Medium-fine grinds
  3. Medium grinds
  4. Extra-fine grinds
  5. Coarse grinds
  6. Medium coarse grinds
  7. Extra coarse grinds

Coffee Grounds, Over Extraction, and Under Extraction- What You Need to Know

In this section, we talk about critical things you need to know about coffee brewing.

As a rule, when brewing coffee, you need to avoid tow things namely under-extraction and over-extraction. They both affect the taste of your coffee. To keep yourself from these two things, you need to know what coffee grind size is suitable for your coffee brewer.

The reason for choosing the ideal grind size for your brewer is to extract as much flavor from your coffee as possible.

Here is the thing: If you use extra coarse coffee grounds, you face under extraction. Fewer flavors will be extracted from your coffee grounds.

Equally, if you use finer grinds you face over-extraction. Too many flavors are extracted from your coffee hence leading to unpleasant coffee.

Over extracted coffee tastes bitter and hollow. Under extracted coffee tastes acidic, sour, and salty.

What’s the Best Grinder: Burr Vs Blade Grinder?

Usually, burr grinders are much more preferred than blade grinders. In fact, baristas say that using a blade grinder is worse than buying pre-ground coffee and there are several reasons why many recommend using burr grinders instead of blade grinders.

First, consistency is everything when it comes to brewing a perfect cup of coffee. That’s why you need to use grinds of the same size to avoid over-extraction or under extraction. And no matter what you do to your blade grinder, you will not get the consistency needed.

Another reason why burr grinders are more preferred than blade grinders is that the later work by spinning the blades at a higher speed and this generates heat on the coffee grounds. This means your coffee is being heated before brewing which will lead to overcooking and the final product won’t taste fresh.

A burr grinder crushes the beans using uniform pressure hence resulting in close-to-consistent coffee grounds. Coffee beans are not heated during griding.

In short, if you want to grind your coffee beans rightly, opt for a burr grinder instead of a blade grinder.

If you don’t have a good coffee grinder, check our reviews of the best coffee makers with grinders here.

With that in mind, here is the best coffee grind size for each brewing method.

Suitable Coffee Grind Size for AeroPress

Different coffee grind sizes are suitable for AeroPress.

One of the good things about the AeroPress is that it is uniquely designed hence enabling it to brew coffee with different grind sizes.

Since it has a thick paper filter, coarse and fine grounds are kept away from entering your cup of coffee.

Generally, with AeroPress, you can use medium grounds that resemble sea salt and table salt. This will allow you to experiment with both long (with medium-coarse to coarse grind) and short brew time (with fine grounds). Besides, plunging is also easy for this matter.

Also, as mentioned earlier, the grind size can make or break the flavor and it will also determine the pressure required to plunger the coffee. For instance, if you use finer grounds, you will apply more pressure to plunge the coffee and this will hurt the flavor and body of the coffee.

Suitable Grind Size for Percolator

The Percolator is perhaps the best coffee brewer for traditionalists who don’t prefer fancy equipment when it comes to brewing great coffee. Well, if you get things wrong with this brewer, you can end up with bitter and sludgy coffee.

If you want to brew great coffee with a Percolator, use coarse grounds.

A percolator has a filtration system that’s not fine and this keeps extra residue from forming at the bottom of your cup.

A percolator will also keep your coffee from over-extraction since it brews at high temperatures. Coarse grounds keep the surface area exposed to the water minimal during the cycle hence producing a great cup of coffee.

Suitable Grind Size for French Press

The French Press is perhaps the most popular coffee brewing method and there are several reasons for this.

First, it’s simple to use. Secondly, it’s reasonably priced and thirdly, cleaning it is also a breeze. Another reason why most coffee drinkers prefer the French Press over other brewers is that it makes great coffee, especially if you use coarse grounds.

It’s simple to brew coffee with the French Press since you just immerse the coffee into the water and that’s why we recommend coarse grounds to avoid over-extraction.

The good thing about the French Press is that the latest models can be used with paper filters so you can experiment with finer grounds.

Ideal Grind Size for Cold Brew

For great cold brew coffee, we recommend using extra coarse grounds. With cold brew, the extraction time is longer and hence you don’t need grounds with large surface area to extract more flavors from coffee grounds.

Extra coarse grounds are ground using the largest setting on a burr grinder. They have a rough texture and retain the shape of the original beans even after grinding.

Using fine grounds on a cold brew can lead to over-extracted and bitter coffee. Another reason why we don’t recommend using fine grounds on a cold brew is that cleaning it after brewing can be difficult since you will have to tackle fine particles that have settled at the bottom of the brewer.

The Right Grind Size for Pour Over Coffee

For Pour Over coffee, you can experiment with medium-fine beans. These grounds have a smoother texture than sand.

It’s worth noting that getting the ideal coffee grind size for pour over coffee can be tricky. Remember that the grind size can make or break the flavor and it can also determine the brew time.

As a rule, if you are using cone-shaped pour overs, start experimenting with medium-fine grounds setting. If your coffee is too sour, it’s a sign of under extraction so you will want to experiment further with finer grounds. As well, if your coffee tastes bitter, you should experiment with coarser grounds.

With pour over, we recommend that you start with what the manufacturer suggests then adjust until you get the best grind size.

The Best Grind Size Automatic Drip Brewers

Most automatic drip coffee makers can brew a perfect cup of coffee with medium coffee grounds.

Automatic drip coffee makers are perhaps the most popular brewers for many home coffee enthusiasts since they are convenient and quick. Regardless of being an automatic coffee machine, you will still want to experiment with the grind size until you get the ideal one.

As a rule, you need freshly ground beans for you to get great coffee with your drip coffee machine.

If your automatic drip machine has cone-shaped filters, then you will want to try medium-fine grounds first. For machines with flat-bottomed filters, try experimenting with medium grounds.

Note that the shape of filters and the filter baskets will affect the time the water takes to go through the grounds. For cone-shaped filters, water will pass through the coffee faster and hence you need to use finer grounds. For flat-bottomed filters, water will pass through the coffee a bit longer hence the need to start with medium grounds.

The Perfect Grind Size for Espresso

With Espresso it’s all about pulling a proper shot and without a fine grind, you can exert the required pressure to pull it. Also, with an espresso maker, brewing time is short and so you need to extract the flavors within a short time hence the need for a large surface area.

Avoid going too fine as this will prevent the water from going through and for great results, use a burr grinder. You will also want to adjust the settings in your grinder until you get the right setting to pull an espresso shot.

The Perfect Grind Size for Chemex Brewer

Use medium-coarse grounds to get the best results with your Chemex brewer. Medium-coarse grounds look like rough sand. Using medium-coarse grind on your Chemex will help to balance extraction and brew time. Usually, when you use medium-coarse grinds, the flow rate is steady and the brew time takes around 3 to 5 minutes. If you find the flow rate is faster than this, experiment with finer grinds. If slow, experiment with coarser grinds.

Ideal Grind Size for Moka Pot

Moka Pots or Stovetops are popularly used in Europe. To get the most out of your coffee with the Moka pot or stovetop, you need to use medium-fine to fine grounds.

The brew time with this brewer is short hence the need to use fine grinds to extract more flavor from your coffee.

As well, you could experiment with different coffee grind sizes until you get the best size for you.

The Perfect Grind Size for Siphon

Siphon brewing is also known as vacuum brewing and the ideal coffee grind size for this brewing method is medium grinds.

Ideally, siphon brewers are a cross between soaking and drip brewing. The extraction time is normally 2 to 3 minutes with this brewing method.

For this reason, you need to start experimenting with medium grounds. The good thing about this brewing method is that it uses a paper filter so no fines will find their way to your cup of coffee.

Suitable Grind Size for Turkish coffee

For Turkish Coffee, you can start experimenting with extra-fine coffee grounds. Turkish coffee has a faster brew time and so you need to start with finer grounds.

Why Should You Worry About Grind Size

Overall, grind size can make your coffee less flavorful or more flavorful. It can also lead to tasteless and bland coffee.

What is Over-Extraction?

Over-extraction is when the water absorbs too much flavor as it passes through the coffee grounds. This usually happens when you use finely grounds.

Over-extracted coffee tastes bitter.

What is Under-Extraction?

Under-extracted coffee is coffee that lacks enough flavors. Under-extraction occurs when you use the wrong filter or when coffee is brewed under low temperatures. Another culprit of under-extraction is when you use coarsely grounds.

Under-extracted coffee is acidic, slightly salty and sour. It also has a bland and weak flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does grind size affect coffee?

Generally, brewing coffee with too coarse grounds produces under-extracted coffee that is also less flavorful. Equally, finer grounds can lead to over-extracted and bitter coffee.

Which is better between grinding your own coffee and buying pre-ground coffee?

When it comes to brewing the perfect cup of coffee, freshness with the coffee grounds is everything. It’s worth noting that, coffee starts to lose its flavor 15 minutes after grinding since it has been exposed to oxygen. For this reason, grinding your own coffee is better than buying pre-ground beans from the coffee shop. But you want to do it with a burr grinder instead of a blade grinder.

How finely should you grind your coffee?

This will depend on the brewer you are using. For instance, coarse grounds will work well with a percolator whereas fine grounds will be ideal for espresso.

Can you use pre-ground coffee for Pour over?

You can use pre-ground coffee to brew coffee regardless of the brewing method but using freshly ground beans is a sure bet to getting great coffee. Also, use medium grounds on Pour over coffee to make great coffee.

How long should you keep coffee after grinding?

We mentioned earlier that coffee starts to lose its freshness 15 minutes after grinding. As a rule, you should store coffee for one week or two depending on the container where you store it.

How often should you grind coffee to keep it fresh?

To get the freshest flavor, always grind coffee immediately before brewing since it will lose its flavor 15 minutes after grinding.

How do you keep ground coffee fresh for long?

It’s not easy to keep ground coffee fresh for long since it starts to deteriorate a few minutes after grinding. If you have to keep coffee grounds, especially if you are traveling, and you don’t want to carry a grinder with you, then you have to store them in an airtight container away from light and heat.

Final Words

If you want to brew a delicious cup of coffee, you must learn how to grind your beans. Fortunately, grinding your own beans isn’t as difficult as new coffee lovers may think. You just need to follow this guide to get the ideal coffee grind size for every coffee brewing method. Besides, there aren’t too many types of grind sizes.

As you can see, getting the ideal grind size for your brewing method is all about experimenting with different grind sizes. Nothing complicated.

Happy coffee grinding!!

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Sophia Green
Sophia is a long time coffee enthusiast and blogger, so the project started naturally five years ago. You can find useful information about coffee types, plantations, equipment and even tips and tricks or fun facts.

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