"The Grind" is arguably the most important and personalized choice for our coffee experience, but is often the most misunderstood. Grinding your beans fresh, uniformly and to the appropriate size will allow the best possible extraction to take place which in turn powers your finished cup of joe.
Remember 3 of the main enemies of coffee are…
Once you grind the beans into thousands of small prices those pieces are open to surface oxygenation. Oxygen starts to destroy the flavours and freshness of your coffee which is why we recommend purchasing whole bean and grinding only what you need just prior to brewing. (or no more than 2 days worth at a time)
However above all, the main reason we recommend grinding is you can control the level of grind to suits your needs, your taste, and your brewing application. “No one grind fits all”
Having said that if you just like a drip machine then pre ground is a excellent option as the commercial grinders have the perfect setting and do it right. But if you want to try French, pour-over, aeropress, stovetop espresso etc you will want to opt to whole bean and dial it in yourself.
Let’s talk a little about extraction and why it is so important to coffee.
Essentially we are creating a drink we know as “coffee” by passing water over the surface area of a solid (the ground beans).
Large coarse grinds will react much differently with this water than a fine grind with the same amount of water passed over it will. Large coarse grinds allow water to pass quickly and extract less, versus a fine grind which takes water more time to pass as there is more surface areas to contact.
We all know that if you crack 1 whole bean in half to create 2 pieces you have essentially doubled the surface area for extraction. Now apply that surface area principle as it relates to different grind size.
Now to dive right in, ideally, we want an extraction around 18-22%, which basically means the % of bean and its desirable compounds (carbohydrates, sugars, acids, oils, lipids and caffeine) that are dissolved into your cup via water.
Without taking us too far back to high school chemistry class this all has to do with surface area, solubility & extraction…
Basically, this is what you need to know:
- Too coarse a grind and you will have under extraction; not enough surface area and water passes to quickly, which usually results in sour, salty, weak, and watery coffee.
- Too fine a grind and you will over extract, too much surface area will choke the water flow, which leaves you with bitter, hallow, and negatively strong coffee.
yah blah blah blah blah right…. I stopped chemistry in high school for a reason right.
Bottom line is the grind is very important, and if you ask me, it is also a highly enjoyable part of the coffee experience as you take in all the amazing aromas.
At K9 Coffee we recommend you invest in a quality burr grinder that “grinds” and doesn’t “slice” the beans. A burr grinder allows for a controlled uniformed consistent grind, where a slicer just pulverizes the beans to an inconsistent level.
Slicer blade grinders can also potentially burn the edges of the beans in the process as the blade spins at such a high speed which produces heat. A burr grinder will crush the beans as they pass through from the hopper, and once they pass through the burrs they collect in a cup container.
A high-quality burr grinder is a worthy investment as it will last you years. Just Internet search “burr versus blade grinders” and you can read exactly why we recommend this equipment.
And remember, most coffees will have a “recommend” a grind level based on your application, but this is only a starting point. I highly encourage you to play around and find the grind that what works for you, your equipment, and makes your cup happy.
Grind Fresh & Bark On