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The Art of the Grind

The Art of the Grind

Mind your grind!

There are many factors which dictate the quality of a cup of coffee - quality of beans, the right roast, freshness, temperature, the brewing method, and last but not least the grind. Today’s blog is all about the grind. We will discuss the importance of consistency and provide a quick introduction to grind levels.  

Last week, we discussed some of our favorite ways to brew coffee.  Each brew method has an ideal grind ranging from coarse to fine. No matter what you brew, a uniform (i.e. consistent size) grind has a substantial impact on the the quality of the cup. Inconsistent grounds can result in varying levels of extraction throughout the brew, resulting in inconsistent flavor. While grinding right before you brew helps preserve the coffee’s freshness, you want to ensure your grind is as consistent as possible. If you are having a tough time with consistency, use the grinder at your local grocer, or we would be happy to grind for you.

A good quality automatic or hand burr grinder is the best way to ensure consistent and uniformly sized grounds. Burr grinders use ceramic or metal blades that the user sets to a fixed width. Most cheap commercial grinders are blade grinders - nothing more than tiny food processors. These grinders make it very difficult to control the size and consistency of the grind.  At Anchor Coffee Roasters, we use a Bunn burr grinder, an industry standard that enables us to grind your beans precisely to your specification.  At home, I use the Kitchen Aid Burr Grinder/Coffee Mill.  I like this grinder because of the ability to customize the burr settings by manually taking apart and adjusting the burrs, a feature few grinders provide at this price point.  Barantza’s family of grinders are some of the highest rated on the market, and their Encore and Virtuoso burr grinders are the go-to for home users which won’t break the bank.

So, let’s get to it.  A simple way to remember what grind level you need is to think about how long it takes to brew your coffee.  The longer the brew, the more coarse the grind, with one main exception, Moka pots.

Extra-coarse:  Our recommendation for extra-coarse coffee grounds is cold brew and cowboy coffee.  Cold brew coffee takes hours to perfect and slowly extracts the flavors from your coffee grounds. Cowboy coffee can be fantastic, so when you’re out camping, give it a shot with our beans.

Coarse Ground:  Coarse ground is best for French Press and Percolators.  French Press and Percolators take a longer amount of time for proper flavor extraction, steeping the coffee for minutes in each method.

Medium: There are multiple levels of medium grind, but for simplicity we are going to let you test things on your own with our medium grind as a guide.  Medium grind is best for Chemex, pour-over, auto-drop and Aeropress machines.  You can test various levels of grind size for your specific brew method at medium grind to nail down your preferred level.

Fine:  Espresso, Moka pots and Aeropress 1 minute brew.  Each of these brew methods require rapid extraction for the best flavor.  High pressure water is pushed through the grinds and extracts the flavors rapidly delivering a bold but enjoyable cup of coffee.

Some people have also asked “what should I do with my used grounds?”  There are many responsible uses for used coffee grounds, regardless of the grind size/type.  We recommend the following responsible uses:  compost for plants and gardens; facial scrubs; homemade candles; homemade beauty products; pest repellants.  Check out the various blogs for other ideas; the internet is filled with great ways to get creative with your grounds.
  • Post author
    Casey Johnson

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