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How to Grind Coffee Beans Properly

The Daily Grind: Getting the Beans Right

image of grinding coffee beans

If you’re reading this article, then it’s a safe bet that you’re a coffee lover, and that you appreciate the difference that quality coffee beans can make.

But did you know that the manner in which your precious coffee beans are ground could have a substantial effect on the quality of the final product? That’s correct: if you’re grinding your coffee beans incorrectly, then you could be missing out on your coffee’s true potential.

In this article, we’ll talk about why coffee is the best. We’ll also discuss the different types of coffee grinders, and how you can get maximum satisfaction from each cup of coffee you brew at home.

Why Fresh-Ground Coffee Is Better

For a long time, most people drank pre-ground coffee. But as coffee connoisseurship made inroads into the consciousness of the general public, more and more coffee lovers have decided to grind their coffee beans at home. Why is that?

Well, your coffee’s flavor and aroma are the result of oils found within the coffee bean. Once those volatile compounds are exposed to oxygen, they’re immediately released, and those that remain in inside the beans begin to oxidize. As a result, flavor and aroma begin to dissipate as soon as your coffee beans are ground. In fact, ground coffee loses more than half of its aroma within 15 minutes.

And, as coffee oils are water-soluble, H2O in the air immediately goes to work diluting those oils. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, ground beans also start to lose CO2, which is an essential component of the brewing process.

To sum it all up, if you’re not using fresh-ground coffee beans, you’re not letting your coffee reach its full potential.

Grinder Shootout

Now, let’s talk about coffee grinders. If you’re like many coffee drinkers, then you might have a blade grinder. They’re the kind with two blades that spin when you press down on the lid. They’re better than nothing, but they’re less than ideal, because they tend to grind coffee unevenly. Plus they give off heat when they’re running, which can scorch your coffee beans.

Disk burr grinders are a definite upgrade. They’re much more precise than blade grinders, and they run at considerably cooler temperatures. They use two rotating plates to smash your coffee beans uniformly.

If you want to take your at-home coffee brewing game to the next level though, you’ll want to invest in a conical burr grinder. These are the type of coffee grinders you’ll find at your local espresso shop. They’re capable of doing everything from a coarse French press grind to a fine Turkish coffee powder, and their motors barely produce any heat.

Which Grind Is Best?

So how should you grind your coffee? Well, that depends on how you’re preparing it.

If you’re using a French press, vacuum coffee maker, a toddy maker, or percolator, you’ll want to go with a coarse grind. Coarse grinds don’t provide for the most complete extractions, but they do prevent grounds from getting loose and ruining your French press experience. Your coffee grinder probably has a setting for coarse grind, but if not, just grind your coffee to a chunky consistency.

image of grinding coffee properly

A medium grind is the consistency of granulated sugar or table salt. This is an ideal consistency for drip coffee makers like most people have at home – fine enough to give a good extraction, but not so fine that you end up with grounds in your pot or a bitter cup of coffee.

Next up, we have the fine grind. Fine-ground coffee is used in espresso machines, where the extraction process is intended to be quick and thorough. For many consumer coffee grinders, this is the limit for precision.

However, if you happen to have a pro-caliber conical burr grinder on hand, you can take it one step further with and go with a Turkish grind, which is about the consistency of fine flower or powdered sugar. Unless you plan on making Turkish coffee, you probably won’t use this setting very much.

Coffee Is for Lovers

Any (well, almost any) cup of coffee is certainly better than none, but there’s always room for improvement. Why not maximize your coffee-drinking pleasure? We hope these tips help you do just that.