How Fine to Grind Coffee For Eight Different Brews

Today there are seemingly endless ways to brew coffee. Find out how fine to grind coffee for your favorite brewing method. 

How Fine To Grind Coffee
Grind size depends on the brewing method you used in making a coffee

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how fine to grind coffee. The grind size depends on the brewing method you are using to make coffee. This quick guide covers which size grind to use and provides additional tips to help you improve the flavor of your coffee, no matter how you brew it. 

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Why Knowing How Fine To Grind Coffee Matters

Brewing coffee is the process of extracting compounds from coffee beans into water. Factors such as the amount of exposed surface area, the length of time the coffee remains in contact with water, the temperature of the water, and whether the brewing process takes place under pressure all have profound effects on the extraction rate.

Under-extracted coffee can develop a sour taste, while over-extracted coffee is often bitter. While you can adjust how you brew the coffee to compensate for over or under extraction, it is much easier and more consistent to change the size of the grind. 

How Fine To Grind Coffee For Different Brewing Methods

coffee grinds
Brewing methods are essential on how fine you are grinding your coffee

Most coffee grinders come with some scale to explain how finely you are grinding the beans. Some machines use numbers, while others use words to describe the grind size. Although this is helpful, it is essential to remember that no two brands of coffee grinders have precisely the same scale.

To compensate for the differences between machines, you may have to adjust your coffee grinder setting slightly from the suggestions below. 

1. The Turkish Setting

Turkish coffee is unique because the grounds remain in the coffee even after serving. Drinkers let the grounds sink to the bottom of the glass before drinking. The brewing method uses high heat and a short extraction time to produce a robust coffee. 

Many coffee grinders don't offer a fine enough grind for Turkish coffee. Try the finest setting on your machine to see if it produces an extremely fine grind, similar to flour.

2. The Espresso Setting

Pressure is a huge factor in the extraction process when making expresso. Commercial espresso machines apply 130 psi with a short extraction time to create an intensely flavored shot of coffee. 

The grounds must be extra fine, about a three for grinders that use numbers, for you to get the best taste. 

3. The Moka Pot Setting

Often called stove-top espresso machines, Moka pots use a small amount of pressure, about 22 psi, and low extraction time to brew bold coffee. 

Many people make the mistake of grinding their coffee to fine for Moka pots, leading to over-extraction. The ideal grind is medium-fine or about a five. The grounds should look like table salt. 

4. The Automatic Drip Setting

Automatic drip coffee is one of the most common methods for brewing coffee in the US. Automatic drip coffee machines are available at a wide range of price points and are incredibly simple to use. Most of the pre-ground coffee you find in the supermarket is ground for this brewing method.

The best grind for automatic drip coffee is medium, or about number six. It will look like smooth sand. 

5. The Pour-Over Setting

This manual brewing method is very similar to automatic drip coffee. By pouring the water by hand, you have more control over the water temperature and extraction speed. 

For the pour-over brewing method, a grind that is only slightly coarser than the automatic drip is appropriate. Use the medium-coarse or the number seven setting. 

6. The Percolator Setting

Percolators brew coffee by cycling the water through the grounds multiple times at a high temperature. Although many people consider using a percolator as an old-fashioned brewing method, it produces strong and flavorful coffee as long as you use the right grind size. 

Too fine of a grind will over-extract the coffee, making it bitter. Use a coarse grind, the size of kosher salt, or about a nine on a numbered scale.

7. French Press Pot Setting

coffee grinds in a french press coffee maker
French press pots delivers a full-bloodied coffee using its brewing method

French press pots use an immersion brewing method that delivers a full-bodied coffee. Combine the grinds with near-boiling water for around four minutes before straining. 

With a long extraction time and high temperature, the grinds need to be coarse to prevent the coffee from being too bitter. For grinders with a number scale, select a nine or 10. 

8. The Cold Brewing Setting

An extremely long extraction time of up to 24 hours is paired with low temperatures to produce a low-acid, full-bodied coffee in this brewing method. Cold-brewed coffee is ideal for iced coffee drinks or reheating to drink hot. 

Use the coarsest setting on your grinder. 

Final Word On How Fine To Grind Coffee

Like everything else when it comes to brewing coffee, let your taste guide you. Don't be afraid to experiment to find what you like and what you don't. Remember to keep track of any changes you make to allow you to repeat what you enjoy and alter what you don't. 

FAQs About How Fine To Grind Coffee

Is one type of grinder the best?

There are two basic types of coffee grinders: blade and conical burr grinders. Blade grinders use blades to break the beans apart, while conical burr grinders use two plates to crush the beans. 

Blade grinders are much less expensive than conical burr grinders, but they do not grind as evenly. Most coffee drinkers are willing to spend the extra money for a conical burr grinder.

However, if you use a brewing method that requires either very coarse or extremely fine grounds, a blade grinder may be a very suitable and much cheaper option. 

Does the size of the coffee grounds change the caffeine level of the coffee?

No, it is the extraction method that has the most significant effect on how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee. 

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