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How to Grind Coffee Beans Properly

Posted by Erwin Bryan Young on

Image of Coffee Grinder

Did you know that there are a wide variety of ways that you can grind coffee beans? It’s possible to use a blender, an old fashioned mortar and pestle, or even get truly down and dirty by employing a hammer to do the grinding.

The best way, though, is to use a conventional coffee grinder – even an old fashioned, hand-operated grinder. But simply using a grinder isn’t enough. You need to match your grind level to your coffee maker as well as the type of beans you are grinding.

Coffee Makers and the Best Type of Grind for Each

  • Cold-brew makers. You need a very coarse grind.
  • French press pots. A coarse grind with very distinct particles of coffee is required.
  • Drip pots. This most popular type, which uses cone and flat-bottomed filters, needs a medium grind that is kind of like coarse sand.
  • Turkish coffees and espresso. For best results, grind your beans very finely, so that you get a consistency that is almost powdered – close to flour.

Selecting a Grinder Just for You

Now you have to select a grinder to match your coffee maker:  blade, burr, or hand grinder (forget that hammer for now!)

  • Blade grinder. This works well for drip coffeemakers as well as French presses and cold brew makers.
  • Burr grinder mill. Love Turkish and espresso coffees? This is the grinder for you. They are, unfortunately, a lot more expensive than blade units, but they provide uniform sizes to ensure full aroma brews.
  • Hand grinders. These may not give you as precise a blend, but they are fun to use — especially for those who like doing things the old fashioned way! You’ll find these readily available on the internet.

A less expensive coffee grinder does not always have coarseness settings, so you may have to experiment with how long to let it grind.

When and How to Grind for the Best Taste

To give yourself the tastiest, freshest cup of coffee, you need to grind it just before you plan to use it.

But what does that really mean? Recommendations range from literally using it right away to using it within 2-3 days. Translation: if you truly want to ensure your coffee is at its freshest, you can’t go wrong with grinding right before you brew… but if you want to plan for a day or two ahead, you’ll probably be fine.

So how do you get started? Follow this general formula:

If you like strong coffee, add two tablespoons of coffee beans for every six ounces.

Like it more watery?  Then use those two tablespoons for every eight ounces.

You may have to experiment and change this ratio depending on your grinder and coffeemaker, because they’re all a bit different. If the coffee is too strong for you, add more water. If it is too weak, add less water. In other words, grind to taste!

Once you’ve decided, simply pour the beans into the grinder at your desired ratio and grind the coffee.  Burr grinders require you to press the top until you achieve the desired grind.  For blade grinders, you need to push down on the top or press the button — and perhaps pulse the beans until they reach the proper grind.  Hand grinder users should pump the handle until the beans are ground.

If you really insist on grinding beans without a grinder…

  • Set it on pulse and grind away to satisfaction.  The result will be perfect for a French press or cone filtered drip coffeemaker.
  • Mortar and pestle. For this truly “hands-on” operation, you have complete control. You also might feel exhausted by the time you’re done, but really all you have to do is grind away until you have the desired grounds.
  • There really aren’t any tips for “grinding” coffee beans with a hammer. Simply place the beans between two sheets of waxed paper and smash them to a grind you like. This is probably the least expensive way to go, but it’s really not recommended — start smashing away at your own risk! Watch out for your fingers.

And there you have it. Refer to this handy-dandy cheat sheet, and you’ll be a grind master in no time.


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