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Coffee grind size: Why it matters and how you should be grinding

How should I grind my coffee beans?

When it comes to making delicious coffee at home, way more goes into it then throwing some grinds in your coffee maker and flipping the switch. No one wants bitter coffee. No one wants weak coffee. If I wanted weak coffee, I'd drink decaf — but that's implying that it's even coffee in the first place.

There are many factors that go into making a good cup of joe at home to prevent you from ruining your morning fix. Water temperature and purity can greatly affect the taste of your coffee, and so does your brewing ratio. But arguably the most important factor is your grind size. 

Grinding coffee beans is more than plugging in your grinder and waiting a few seconds until they're completely ground. The smallest change in grind can result in a noticeably tastier outcome. Grind types include: 

  • Extra Coarse Grind
  • Coarse Grind
  • Medium-Coarse Grind
  • Medium Grind
  • Medium-Fine Grind
  • Fine Grind
  • Extra-Fine Grind

Why does grind size matter? 

Grind size affects contact time, extraction rate, and flow rate of your brewing. Let's break it down:

  • Extraction rates of coffee grounds increase with a larger surface area
  • To increase surface area, grind your coffee finer
  • The higher the extraction rate, the less contact time needed
  • Finer grinds reduce the flow rate of water, increasing contact time

For example, an extra coarse grind is best for cold brewing methods because it's brewed for a long period of time. Drip brewing methods, like you'd find in your typical auto-drip coffee maker, is best with medium grinds. 

If your contact time (how long your coffee brews) is too long and the grind is too fine, you'll most likely over-extract the brew and make your coffee bitter. On the other hand, if the grind is too coarse and the contact time is short, the coffee will turn out weak

How long should I grind my coffee beans? 

Some grinders out there already have settings for find grind, coarse grind, and so on. But if you're using your typical at-home grinder, here's how long you should grind based on your preferred brewing method: 

  • French Press (coarse): 6-9 seconds
  • Percolator (medium-coarse): 7-10 seconds
  • Auto-drip maker (medium): 10-12 seconds
  • Paper filter for pour-over cones (medium-fine): 12-15 seconds
  • Espresso (fine): 15-19 seconds
  • Turkish (extra fine): 19-22 seconds

The best way to find what grind fits your tastebuds best is to experiment! Now get grinding. 

Related: How to grind beans for every brewer