Grind Size - What you need to make great coffee at home

Coffee grind levels

Exploring Coffee Grind Levels and Their Optimal Brewing Methods

Coffee, a beloved beverage around the globe, owes much of its flavour and character to the way its beans are ground. The grind level of coffee is crucial in determining the extraction rate of the flavors from the coffee grounds when brewed. Different brewing methods require different grind sizes for optimal flavour extraction. In this article, we will explore the various grind levels and the best brewing methods for each.

1. Extra Coarse Grind

Appearance: Resembles peppercorns. Best for: Cold Brew, Cowboy Coffee.

Extra coarse grinds are the chunkiest grinds and are ideal for cold brew coffee and cowboy coffee. The cold brew method involves steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period (usually 12-24 hours), which suits the slow extraction rate of extra coarse grinds. Cowboy coffee, boiled in water and left to settle, also works well with this grind due to its rustic, unfiltered nature.

2. Coarse Grind

Appearance: Similar to sea salt. Best for: French Press, Percolators, Cupping.

A coarse grind is slightly finer than extra coarse but still quite chunky. This grind size is perfect for a French Press, which uses a steeping method allowing the coffee grounds to fully saturate. It's also suitable for percolators and coffee cupping, where water interacts with the coffee grounds for a moderate amount of time, ensuring a full-bodied and robust flavour.

3. Medium-Coarse Grind

Appearance: Roughly the texture of coarse sand. Best for: Chemex, Cafe Solo, Clever Dripper.

Medium-coarse grinds are less chunky than coarse grinds and are best suited for pour-over methods like the Chemex or the Cafe Solo, where water filters through the grounds more slowly than in an automatic drip machine. This grind size also works well with the Clever Dripper, which combines a full immersion brew with a filtered method.

4. Medium Grind

Appearance: Similar to regular sand. Best for: Drip Coffee Machines, Aeropress (with a longer brew time), Siphon Coffee.

The medium grind is a versatile size, ideal for most automatic drip coffee machines. It’s also suitable for the Aeropress when used with a longer brewing time, and for siphon coffee, where the water and coffee grounds interact briefly under a vacuum for a clean extraction.

5. Medium-Fine Grind

Appearance: Finer than sand, but not as powdery as fine grinds. Best for: Aeropress (with a shorter brew time), Pour-Over (V60, Kalita Wave).

Medium-fine grinds are excellent for the Aeropress with a shorter brewing time and advanced pour-over methods like the Hario V60 and Kalita Wave, which require precise control over the pouring process and extraction time.

6. Fine Grind

Appearance: Similar to table salt. Best for: Espresso, Moka Pot.

The fine grind is most famously used for espresso, where the coffee is extracted under high pressure for a short period, resulting in a concentrated and flavourful shot. It’s also ideal for the Moka Pot, which uses steam pressure to pass water through the coffee grounds.

7. Extra Fine Grind

Appearance: A flour-like consistency. Best for: Turkish Coffee.

Extra fine grinds are almost powdery and are primarily used for Turkish coffee, where the coffee is finely ground then simmered with water and sugar in a cezve to create a thick, rich brew.

Understanding the relationship between grind size and brewing method is key to making great coffee. Each method requires a different grind size for optimal extraction, balancing flavor, acidity, and body. By matching the right grind size with the appropriate brewing method, you can elevate your coffee experience and enjoy each cup to its fullest potential. Experimenting with different grind sizes and brewing methods can also lead to discovering your personal preferences, making each coffee experience uniquely enjoyable.