Inside this article on how to grind coffee at home, we cover all bases to ensure you get the best tasting brew possible for your filter or espresso drinks. If you’ve bought pre-ground coffee before, you’ll have noticed that it’s a little like shopping for clothes: while one store’s idea of a medium-sized jumper might fit, the next shop’s medium actually measures as a large. There’s a whole range of grind terminology out there too, which can make things feel a little overwhelming. That’s why we’ve kept things simple, with three ground options to choose from when you buy online with us. Here, we’ll discuss all things grind–from size, to method, and the benefits of grinding your coffee at home.
There are plenty of reasons to buy ground coffee–convenience, for one. Whether you’re just starting to explore the world of speciality coffee, or you’ve never considered switching over to whole beans for your home brew ritual, this guide will break down your options, and talk through how to get the best from your coffee, no matter how you like to brew.
WHOLE BEAN VS. GROUND COFFEE
First things first: there’s nothing wrong with buying ground coffee–no judgement, no taboo--which is why we offer all of our coffee as whole bean, or ground, including for our full range of subscriptions. From not having the time, or equipment, to simply enjoying the convenience, plenty of people choose to buy their coffee pre-ground. So, what’s all the fuss about buying whole bean? It all comes down to flavour.
Like most perishable food and drink items, exposure to oxygen speeds up the oxidation process (which is why we recommend storing your coffee in an airtight container). Coffee beans will go through this process naturally over time; when coffee is ground, more of the surface area is exposed, which speeds up the process, releasing all the C02 gases that have formed during roasting. Freshly ground coffee begins to lose its full flavour after grinding–even when using the highest quality beans.
It’s not just about the freshness, though. Grinding your coffee from the comfort of home keeps your brew options open: you might favour an espresso in the morning, and a pour-over in the afternoon. Grinding your own beans puts you in control of your brew choice.
Sometimes, though, it’s just not possible to grind at home. That’s why we’ve created three simple grind options in 250g bags, meaning you’ve got just the right amount of coffee to enjoy with minimal effort. We roast to order and, with two despatches a day, we aim to get your coffee to you as quickly as possible while it’s fresh.
COFFEE GRIND SIZES
Coffee ground too coarse or too fine for its intended brewing method isn’t a case of some Goldilocks behaviour: getting the grind just right really is key, having a huge impact on flavour. Considering the time of your extraction (the process by which the water picks up compounds from the coffee, affecting flavour) and remembering this simple principle will help you make the right choice when it comes to selecting your grind size.
Water runs slower through finely ground coffee, and passes faster through coarser grinds. With a finer grind, there are more particles for the water to run through; think of it like pouring water through sand, and then stones: there’s less space between those grains of sand, but plenty more between a batch of stones, where that water can pass through quickly.
Brew extraction relates directly to the fineness of your grind, due to the surface area of ground coffee. The finer the grind, the faster coffee can be extracted as water runs through it. This is because water makes contact with a much larger area of the ground coffee, and therefore extracts quickly (which is why a delicious espresso will be extracted between 28-32 seconds). The coarser the grind, the more time it will take to extract the same amount of coffee using the same amount of water–which is why a drip coffee takes up to five minutes to brew.
Our three grind size options have been designed so you can make a confident decision based on your preferred brewing method. Shorter timed extracting methods, like espresso, are suitable to use with our finer grind size, while longer timed brews, like cafetière, will be perfect with our coarse grind option.
Best suited for: Espresso Machine / Moka Pot
If you like to brew on an espresso machine, then this is the grind for you. Espresso machines have pressurised water systems, which pump out a small amount of water in a fast time, so finely ground coffee is needed to extract a lot in a short amount of time, without the water passing through the coffee too quickly.
Best suited for: AeroPress / Espresso De’Longhi
The beauty of an AeroPress is its versatility, which is why it’s such a popular brewing method for professionals and home coffee drinkers alike. We recommend using a medium grind for a 2-3 minute AeroPress filter-style coffee, but there’s room for exploration here, and the opportunity to find a recipe that you love.
An Espresso De’Longhi machine offers the same principle and methodology as other home espresso machines–but in our experience, these machines tend to have a lower water pressure than other espresso machine brands. If you own an espresso machine by De’Longhi, we’d recommend our medium grind, as a finer grind size might extract beyond a desirable amount of time.
Best suited for: Pour Over (V60, Kalita Wave) / Cafetière (French Press) / Drip Filter
These methods all have slower brew times, with cafetières on the longer end of the brew time and extraction spectrum. The coffee grinds sit idle for most of this brewing process, only meeting water resistance with the end plunge. If you’re brewing with any one of these methods, then our coarse grind will ensure a delicious pour.
MANUAL OR ELECTRIC COFFEE GRINDER
The most obvious of differences when it comes to a manual or electric coffee grinder is arguably the price point, but there are other pros and cons that you might want to consider if you’re looking to up your coffee equipment collection.
Manual grinders are usually lighter on the budget, and they’re handy for when you’re short on counter space. As well as being easy to clean and put away, they’re portable too, making them ideal for travel. They’re quieter than an electric grinder, and there’s something to be said about adding to the ritual of brewing your coffee, in grinding the beans yourself.
While electric grinders are more of an investment, and take up more room in the home, they are quick, convenient, and clever. Some grind to weight, and plenty come with numerous settings, making light work of your home brew with precision and consistency a big plus. And if you like to host, and show off those brewing skills, an electric grinder makes a lot more sense than spending a long time manually grinding before you can share your coffee with others.
BLADE VS. BURR
One of the most common questions you’ll find people ask when considering a coffee grinder, whether it’s manual or electric, is whether it has blades, or burrs. It might seem like a step too far in speciality coffee talk, but it’s worth considering which might work better for your needs.
Blade grinders use metal blades that rotate in a propeller motion, cutting the beans as they turn. They’re simple to use and the mechanics are easy to understand, adjusting your grind time depending on the size you need: grind longer for a finer grind, and less time for a coarser grind. Blade grinders are often less expensive than burr grinders, but they can be less precise, which can mean an inconsistent grind result. They’re also not for the weak of arm if you’re looking to grind fine, often.
Burr grinders work by crushing coffee beans between spinning ‘plates’ or ‘rings’. You’ll find debates on flat vs. conical burrs, and ceramic vs. steel–but that’s another blog topic. Burr grinders offer a range of grind size settings, which alter the distance between the burrs. While these grinders can be more expensive, they’re often favoured for their greater consistency.
THE RIGHT GRIND FOR YOUR BREW
Espresso brewing is a fast extraction, using a high pressure, so a fine grind is key to the success of this method. Getting to know your machine will help you determine the perfect grind size. If your machine has a lower pressure output, then try grinding a little coarser until that extraction time hits the sweet spot: too fine, and you’ll notice an overly-long extraction, as the grinds will pack together in the basket, clogging the mesh and slowing down the flow of water.
Watch espresso brew guide video - here
A true coffee ritual–if you’ve ever witnessed or made coffee using a Turkish Pot (also known as a cezve), then you know this brewing method requires patience, as well as an exceptionally fine grind – similar to that of flour – as the coffee is not filtered, instead becoming part of the drink.
Often a popular choice for packing up alongside your hand-grinder, a moka pot is simple and convenient for campers and hikers–or just those who like the ease of an espresso-style brew. When grinding at home your grind will sit somewhere between fine and medium – not quite as fine as you might grind with your espresso (while a moka pot uses high pressure, it’s still no match for an espresso) – as you don’t want to clog the filter screen.
With an AeroPress, the grind size is all in your brew recipe and preference. Grind fine for quick brew times, and coarser for longer brewing. We’re a big fan of our Barista Trainer, and regular AeroPress competition runner (and winner), Rhoji Hope’s winning brew recipe–try it for yourself here.
Watch AeroPress brew guide video - here
With its design unchanged since its invention in 1941, there’s a reason that the Chemex has remained a favourite piece of brewing equipment in many homes. Consistent and classic, the precision and patience that can be required is worth it for the pleasure of this brewing ritual. Here, you’ll want a coarser grind than you’d find yourself doing for another pour-over method, as the filter papers for Chemex are thicker, slowing down the extraction.
Watch Chemex brew guide video - here
KALITA WAVE / CLEVER DRIPPER
Known for its ability to create a clean cup, thanks to three extraction holes that eliminate the chance of the water channelling, a medium-coarse grind will have you brewing a great cup of coffee using the Kalita Wave.
Sitting somewhere between a V60 and a cafetiere, the Clever Dripper is an immersion and filter brewer, combining two brew methods and leaving little room for error. Grind medium to coarse and you’ll have a consistent go-to for easy brewing.
Watch Kalita brew guide video - here
It’s no wonder that the Hario V60 rightly occupies counter space in many coffee shops. As another versatile brewer, you’ve got room to explore different grind variants with the V60. Here, the same logic applies: the finer the grind, the slower the brew time; the coarser you go, the faster the water will pass through. Every part of the V60's brewing process is up for exploration here, with control over all brew variables, including your grind size, water temperature, and ratio.
Watch V60 brew guide video - here
This is a slow brewing method made for ultimate ease. Whether yours is set on a timer so you pour and go in the morning, or you get brewing while attending to other tasks, a drip coffee machine is a pleasure to use for its convenience. Grind your beans coarsely, as you’ll be extracting that coffee slowly as the water passes through, taking between three to five minutes.
CAFETIERE / FRENCH PRESS
Coarse is the way to go when it comes to grinding coffee for your cafetiere (also known as a French Press). As the coffee sits submerged in hot water for a much longer period of time than other brewing methods, the flavour needs to be extracted slowly. You’ll also not want any coffee grinds slipping through the mesh plunger–grind too fine, and you’ll find yourself with a rather gritty cup of coffee.
Watch cafetiere brew guide video - here
Shop our range of coffee grinders - here