Usually coffee is whole bean roasted, ground with a coffee grinder, the brewed. We’re going to talk about “How To Grind Coffee Beans”. You’d think the answer to this simple activity would be short and sweet. It’s simple, but a few tips will help you grind your coffee better and faster.
Why Grind Your Coffee Beans Yourself?
Good question. You can often grind your whole beans when you buy them at the store or you can purchase pre-ground coffee. Here’s the problem. Coffee starts going stale, i.e., as soon as they’re done roasting. And grinding the whole bean coffee makes the ground coffee to go stale much faster.
Generally, the coffee is better if you grind the coffee right before brewing it. Therefore, pre-ground coffee is out of the question. A better, but still poor solution is to buy whole beans and grind them at the grocery store. OK, this is better, but still far from optimal.
The Fresher The Bean The Better The Coffee
Here’s a little known fact. All coffee starts going stale, i.e., bitter as soon as it’s roasted. Most expert specialty coffee roasters will tell you that roasted coffee lasts for about a month. That is to say, even you, a non-expert-professional will start tasting the difference after a month. If the beans are kept whole and not ground, they last and taste better over that 30 days.
Here’s a second little know fact. No amount of space-age packaging technology is going to keep that roasted coffee fresh past 30 days. Great-Grandma purchased her coffee in an old-fashioned tin-tie paper bag. Besides she was going to use that whole bean coffee over the next month.
General Coffee Grinding Rules
- Buy fresh roasted whole bean coffee
- Grind those beans right before brewing
- The finer the grounds the bolder and more bitter the coffee
- The courser the grounds to smoother and less flavorful the coffee
- Burr grinders produce more consistent grounds than do blade grinders
Course or Fine Grind
As stated above, fine grounds produce bolder and more bitter coffee. Where course grounds produce smoother (non-bitter), but less tasteful coffee.
The trick is to experiment and find what works best for you.
Experiment With Your Brewing Technique
Deciding fine or course grounds is just the beginning of experimenting with your brewing techniques. You see, there are over 100 unique molecules in coffee. Each of those molecules produces a different taste. When brewing coffee, there are literally dozens of variables.
- Frist, how old is the roasted coffee?
- Second, how has the roasted coffee been stored?
- Third, How do you grind the coffee?
- Fourth, how fine or course is the coffee grounds?
- Fifth, how long ago was the coffee ground?
- Sixth, how was the ground coffee stored?
- Seventh, how old is the ground roasted coffee?
- Eighth, how hot is the water
- Ninth, how long does the water and ground coffee interact with each other (steep)?
Whole Bean Coffee Grinders
There are a slew of ways that you can grind coffee, including:
- Pounding coffee between two rocks
- Using a hammer
- Mortar and Pestle
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Food Processor
- Spice grinder
- Salt grinder
- Pepper grind
- Blade Coffee Grinder
- Burr Grinder
Blade Coffee Grinder
A blade coffee grinder is perhaps the most popular coffee grinder for most coffee drinks. Why is it so popular? The reason is simply for the price. You can buy a decent blade coffee grinder for under $40. In concept, a blade coffee grinder isn’t much different than a blender or a food processor. It’s basically a blade whipping around so fast that it “cuts” the beans.
Here’s the problem with blade coffee grinders. In a single batch of ground coffee, the blade grinder produces a variety of sizes of grounds. Some of the grounds are fine, some are course, and some are somewhere in between. This hodgepodge of ground sizes, while in contact with the water, will release a slew of different molecules from the grounds.
I don’t like blade grinders, but in a pinch, they’ll get the job done.
Burr grinders have been in use since at least the 1600’s, initially used for grinding spices, salt, pepper, etc. A burr grinder just grinds the roasted coffee beans between two grooved plates. One type of burr grinder grinds the beans between two grooved steel flat plates. The other type of burr grinder is a conical burr grinder? Think of a small steel ice cream cone inside a larger steel ice cream cone with the inside one spinning and the beans dropping between the two cones.
In my humble opinion, nothing beats a Burr Grinder. Some people say that conical burr grinders will last longer or do a better job than does a flat plate burr grinder. I have one of each and both have lasted for over a decade of daily use. So, in my humble opinion, either will do fine as long as it’s a burr grinder. (See my recommendations for which burr grinder to buy on THIS page.)
Course or Fine Grind?
Whether you grind course or fine, that all depends on what you like and your brewing method. Below, you will find a list of brewing methods and my recommendation as to how I like my grounds.
Keep in mind this list is in order from my favorite brewing method to my least favorite. Therefore, if I were you, I’d listen closely to the top three and take the rest of recommendations with a grain of salt (figuratively). Again, this is just my personal preference. If you’re a hard-core espresso fan, then go for it. Drink what you like.
- AeroPress – Medium Fine
- Cold-Brew – Course
- French Press – Medium Course
- Hand Drip – Medium
- Drip Machines – Medium
- Moka Pot – Medium Fine
- Espresso – Fine
How To Grind Coffee Beans
Grinding coffee isn’t rocket science. I think the trick is consistency. I experimented with different grinds and brewing methods and eventually ended up with the list shown above.
Since my favorite brewing method, depending on my mood, is either the AeroPress or Cold Brew; both of which you can watch a video HERE. Now if you want a slap-in-the-face bold cup of coffee, then definitely try the French Press. Now, the French Press has a tendency to be bitter, BUT if you grind it right, and don’t let it steep for more than 2-3 minutes (the longer the steeping, the stronger and more bitter the coffee). The good news is that there’s a happy medium in there somewhere for you to find when experimenting.
Lake City Coffee
Alisha, our Lake City Coffee customers, and I all like smooth coffee. We detest burnt and bitter industrial coffee. So we buy only one “Costa Rican” bean and offer only 4 roasts:
- Dark (barely)
- Decaf (medium)
Keep in mind that we roast and ship very early Tuesday morning (West Coast Time), so get your orders in before then.