You don’t have to be a chemist, to get a phenomenal cup of coffee; but there are a few things you should consider, if you truly want the most out of your cup of coffee. Such as, how fresh the beans are, what equipment are you going to use, is your water filtered, what temperature will you brew at and lastly what’s the best grind size.
In terms of priority, grind size is only second, to how fresh your roast is. In our blog post we’re going to attempt to help you chose the best grind for your brew.
Why it matters…
You might be asking, “why does grind size even matter, doesn’t it just come “ground”? Yes and also yes, but there is so much more. Coffee is so much more than your grandfathers cup of coffee, that either tasted burnt or sour. There’s a reason for that… Coffee is all about, extraction; this is where the science comes in. Water, combined with a bit of pressure, pushes all the coffee goodness right into your cup.
Now the best example, I can think of is my Espresso Machine vs my French Press. My lovely Breville Barista Express operates at a consistent 9bar (the Industry standard) or about 130.534 pounds per square inch (PSI) to extract a delicious shot of espresso. My French Press on the other hand, uses practically no measurable pressure and as a result you get a totally different type of drink. Simple right? Not so fast.
Grind Size is a lot like a filter, think of it as a lots of big holes vs lots of little holes. In the coffee world we go from Extra Coarse to Extra Fine; generally speaking, the ground coffee you pick up at the local grocery store, is somewhere in between. If you go with a Coarse grind, the water will rush right through the coffee, leaving a lot of those essential oils, dissolvable solids, and flavors behind. Conversely, if the grind is too fine, you’ll pick up all the oils, dissolvable solids, and flavors, including some you don’t want.
Now that you’re getting the hang of this, maybe you’re seeing that there’s a bit of chemistry to this. What you want to do is find the right balance between grind size and the amount of pressure applied to create the ultimate extraction, thus getting the most out of your coffee.
Above, you might have noticed, we alluded to three grind types, Coarse, Extra Fine and something in between, we’ll call that Medium. There are in fact 7 agreed upon grind types.
- Extra Coarse – This is about the size of ground peppercorns. It’s the perfect grind type for Cold Brew coffee, ensuring a smooth, well balanced tasting cup of coffee. Think of this as taking the longest time to get the best extraction.
- Coarse – This is about the size of sea salt. It’s the perfect grind for a French Press or Cowboy Coffee done in a Percolator but will even work for Cold Brew. Example is our own Open Range Cold Brew.
- Medium Coarse – This is right in between sea salt and sugar. This grind type is ideal for brewing in a Chemex Coffeemaker.
- Medium – This is about the same consistency as sugar or sand and is the go to for pretty much all retail bags of coffee, as it has a wider variety of applications or brewing methods, such as Pour-Overs, Drips, Siphon’s and the infamous AeroPress. Most of our roasts are ground medium such as Cowboy Coffee.
- Medium Fine- This is getting into your artistic sand… It’s not quite Espresso Quality, it’s better suited for Drip, Pour Over or AeroPress.
- Fine – Now we’re in Espresso territory, this stuff is finer than table salt works well for Espresso. A great fine grind espresso is our Outlaw Espresso.
- Extra Fine – This is in line with powdered sugar or flour and is often used for Turkish coffee. This grind type is difficult to master without an exceptional burr grinder. If you’ve ever seen Turkish Coffee made it’s truly an art
So, by now you’re probably thinking, there’s so many choices, what is the best grind type for me and what I’m making. I thought this would be simple…Well it is…sort of… Let us simplify.
For Cold Brew you’re going to want to select a Extra Coarse or Coarse for your grind type. This ensures that you get that phenomenally smooth and balanced flavor you’ve come to love with cold brew. If you plan on steeping your brew for longer go with an Extra Coarse.
For French Press brewing, you’ll want to select a Coarse or Medium Coarse grind. If you select a Medium or Medium Fine grind you’ll end up with a coffee that has coffee grounds in it or a coffee that taste silty.
For Pour-Over’s or as we like to call them, the holy grail of brewing you’re going to want to select a Medium or Medium Fine grind to ensure you get the best extraction. This brew method is really where the science takes place. We recommend obtaining a Scale, with built in timer, as well as a Goose Neck Kettle, Quality Paper Filters and practice.
For Espresso you should select a Fine Grind. Espresso requires a lot of pressure and a quick extraction to get the best results.
Other Things to Consider…
Grind size can impact how strong your cup of coffee is. Not just in flavor but also in caffeine content. Now this is dependent on other factors such as how long your extraction is, pressure involved… among other things. Generally speaking, if you use a Coarse grind and a quick extraction method, it’s going to be weak in both flavor and caffeine. Conversely, if you use a Fine grind, you’ll get a stronger cup of coffee.
The type of grinder you use matters. We’ll cover this in another post, but basically, we strongly recommend a Burr Grinder over a Blade Grinder for several reasons, but the main one is that a Burr Grinder produces better grind quality and has a better range of grind types.
The Daily Grind for Cattlemen’s Coffee
At Cattlemen’s Coffee we strongly recommend our whole bean coffees, for their versatility and ability to deliver the freshest coffee you can get. All of our roast, are roast to order, so that means, when you buy from us, you’re order is transmitted to our roasting facility, where it’s roasted, bagged, packed and shipped, all within 3 days’ time. If you prefer us to grind it, we’ve selected the best grind type for the application, meaning that our Outlaw Espresso is a Fine grind, our Open Range Cold Brew is a Coarse grind and all others are set to a Medium grind, to ensure the best versatility.