Grind 101Aug 11, 2014
When people ask us about better brewing tips, getting the grind right is always at the top of our suggestion list. With that, we present to you a slew of tips and tricks to help you master the daily grind.
Freshly ground coffee is unparalleled. The minute you grind your coffee it starts to oxidize and accelerate the aging process. Grind it within 15 minutes before you brew for the best results.
Burr is better.
In general, burr grinders are better than blade grinders. Blade grinders unevenly chop and shatter coffee beans, while burr grinders give you a more even grind which allows, in turn, for a better, more balanced brew. Having a larger range of particle sizes will lead to flavor of both under- AND over-extraction. In a pinch, blade grinders work best if you give them a little cocktail shaker shimmy when grinding. But burr is best.
Dial it in.
Grind size affects the surface area of coffee that is exposed to water – we use the term “extraction” to describe this. Smaller particles will have more contact with water, and thus extract more quickly. The reverse is true, too. Basically, if you extract too much from the coffee (grind too fine or brew too long), the coffee may taste bitter and chalky, like aspirin. Extract too little (grind too coarse or too little brew time) and you’ll get sour flavors of vinegar with a lack of depth.
Not blowing your mind? Adjust your grind!
We offer grind suggestions in our brew guides as a starting point – so when we say, the grind for your Chemex should be about as coarse as Kosher salt, that’s a good guide but may need some adjusting in grind and/or dose. If you find your coffee is tasting too strong or bitter you may need to coarsen your grind or lower your dose. If it’s too weak, or watery, you might tighten your grind or increase your dose. Experiment away, and find what suits you best.
Man vs. Machine.
To start, we stand behind all of the equipment we sell in our shop and we’ve tried, tested and approved all of our grinders. That being said, there are pros and cons to both manual and electric grinders.
Hand grinders are a favorite around here because we are a bunch of rambling men and women. They are compact, durable and portable – great for camping or travel. But these babies are not for the faint of heart. They are a bit cheaper but what you save in money you spend in muscle and time. If you’re making coffee for a crowd or are a morning grump, do yourself a favor and go electric.
We carry Baratza electric grinders because of their quality, consistency and solid customer support track record – the grinders are repairable and Baratza stocks all replacement parts. (Grinders, like all mechanical things, will eventually need upkeep and/or replacement parts.) Baratza even offers a grinder repair program which allows you to refurbish your grinder for a flat fee if you don’t want to do the work yourself. Click here for a breakdown of the Baratza grinder models.
Take a peek at our brew videos for a better glimpse as to what your grinds should look IRL. Watch here.