Coffee 101: What Grind is Best for Your Home Coffee Equipment?
Along with time and temperature, grind is yet another critical variable that can cause excellent coffee to go to waste.
There are so many different kinds of coffee equipment available on the market for today’s coffee connoisseurs. From French presses to pour overs to the 10-cup automatic drip machines that have become kitchen staples across the country, there are multiple ways to get our coffee fix and multiple grinds that will ensure it’s a rewarding experience.
Failing to select the correct grind for your home equipment can cause over-extraction or under extraction, which alternately results in overpowering and bitter sludge or a big, watered-down cup of disappointment for your guests.
Below we take a look at some of the leading coffee equipment styles, and how your daily grind can bring out the best in each:
Automatic Drip Coffee Maker
Ah, the tried and true, automatic coffee machine available at every big box store, pharmacy, and discount outlet across the country. Think Mr. Coffee or Black & Decker. These units typically arrive with a flat bottom or reusable gold filter, both of which call for a medium “drip” grind for best results. Aim for 2 tablespoons per cup for a well-balanced brew.
Coffee that is ground too fine can hinder the flow of water through the paper filter. When water does not pass through quickly enough, the filter backs up, overflows, and allows sediment to seep into your cup.
An immersion brewer, the French Press is composed of a carafe and a plunger assembly outfitted with a metal screen at the bottom. Coffee is allowed to steep for 3-4 minutes in the basin or beaker, before the user presses the plunger down, separating the grounds and trapping them at the bottom.
A coarse grind is recommended for French Press coffee. Because finer grounds are denser and less permeable, they require more force when depressing the plunger, which often allows sediment to seep around the filter, creating a gritty brew.
Coarse grinds are also recommended for old-fashioned percolators. This method is great for providing coffee for large groups and requires only a stovetop or a hotplate to start brewing. Percolators work by forcing hot water up into a filter basket that holds the coffee grounds. Because this basket is less fine than a traditional drip maker, a coarse grind is preferable to prevent grounds in the coffee.
Pour over methods have become incredibly trendy in recent years. The process itself gives users a great deal of control over the variables – from amount (typically 25 grams of ground coffee) to water temperature (205 degrees), and even the precise flow of water when poured from a gooseneck kettle.
Using a paper cone filter and finely ground coffee, the user can make certain all grounds are fully-saturated. This degree of control mitigates error. Fine grounds are also ideal for stovetop espresso makers.
Commercial espresso machines
An espresso grind has the consistency of table salt or sugar. When sifted in one’s hand, the grounds should stay together. This grind is meant specifically for robust espresso machines, such as those from the Breville line. Too coarse of a grind, and the espresso will disperse too quickly, affecting extraction. Too fine, and it will come out too slowly – also affecting extraction. Espresso, when poured, should resemble warm honey.
In addition to the more traditional methods of making coffee, there are a few novel pieces of coffee equipment that are growing in popularity or making a comeback.
Turkish coffee is made in a copper pot called a cezve or an ibrik. Using an extremely fine Turkish grind, the consistency of baby powder, the coffee is brought to a boil three times before being served.
Popular with the artisanal Third Wave movement, the AeroPress utilizes a paper filter, an oversized syringe, and a medium grind.
Also utilizing a medium grind are vacuum pots, which resemble something from a mad scientist’s laboratory, and cold brew or iced coffee methods. The latter, which is steeped overnight and then passed through a strainer into a vessel, can also accommodate a coarse grind.
Regardless of the style of coffee equipment you use, striking the right balance – the proper amount of coffee to the proper amount of water – can often feel like an experiment. And, it is. Ultimately, everything boils down to personal preference.
Put this information to good use and order a bag of Orinoco Coffee today!