For people just beginning their coffee brewing journey, one of the first things you need to figure out is the ideal coffee grind size for your brewing method.
That’s because even the highest-quality coffee beans can spoil if you grind them to the wrong size. This guide attempts to get to the bottom of one of the most nuanced aspects of the coffee brewing process – the grind setting.
The ideal coffee grind size can vary depending on preferences, including brewing methods. We will show you a clear coffee grind chart with photos, and demonstrate how different coffee grind sizes affect your coffee flavors. Let’s get started, you’ll know everything about how to grind your coffee.
Coffee Grind Chart – How Does Each Coffee Grind Size Differ In Appearance?
The terminology used in this coffee grind chart is commonplace across all brew guides to convey coffee grounds’ coarseness. However, further elaboration is still necessary, with the photos accompanying the descriptions can help you better understand the grind sizes.
Also referred to as extra-fine grinds, these resemble the consistency of flour of powdered sugar. This particular grind is rarely needed. However, for those who enjoy Turkish coffee, it is the one to consider. Basic coffee grinders are generally unable to grind coffee beans as fine as this.
This may only be one step up from the super-fine grind, but it’s a lot more commonplace. Indeed, this grind size is often the one you’ll find in packets of pre-ground coffee and usually used when making espressos and Moka pot coffee. A fine grind will resemble table salt for consistency.
Pour-over coffee lovers often use this grind size. The consistency will fall between table salt and beach sand. Most of the quality burr grinders can produce consistent medium-fine grounds.
With a grind size resembling sand, this is the go-to setting for people looking to brew a standard cup of drip coffee, it works well for most drip coffee machines.
If you examine a scoop of medium-coarse grounds, you’ll see that it resembles either coarse or rocky sand in its consistency. It’s suitable for Chemex or Clever dripper.
The coarse grind resembles sea salt or coarse kosher salt for consistency and is a little finer than an extra coarse grind. This relatively chunky grind is ideal for brewing methods including coffee cupping, percolators, and French press. If you don’t bother grinding the beans yourself, some coffee roasters grind them for you. We selected the best coarse ground coffee in another guide.
This extra coarse grind is similar in size to ground peppercorns and is the largest grind size.
Coffee Grind Chart Summary
|Grind Size||Brew Methods||Coarseness Reference|
|Extra Fine||Turkish Coffee||Flour of powdered sugar|
|Fine||Espresso, Moka Pot||Table Salt|
|Medium Fine||Pour Over, Moka Pot||Between table salt and beach sand|
|Medium||Pour Over, Drip Coffee Maker, Siphon||Regular sand|
|Medium Coarse||Chemex, Clever Dripper||Coarse or rocky sand|
|Coarse||French Press, Percolators, Cupping||Sea Salt|
|Extra Coarse||Cold Brew||Ground peppercorns|
Which Grind Size Is Best For Different Brewing Methods?
Grind Size For Turkish Coffee – Super-Fine
One of the critical components for making excellent Turkish coffee is the grind size – you should aim for the finest grind you can get. Think flour, powdered sugar, or baby powder, and you’ll be on the right lines.
There are several reasons why extra fine grind is necessary for Turkish coffee, including that they will assist with attaining the correct body for the coffee. Also, with Turkish coffee, the coffee grounds are part of the drink, they don’t filter before drinking. The boiling water only interacts with the grounds for a short period during the brewing process. The extremely fine particles are required to generate the most flavor and aroma for this brew method. And more importantly, it helps to create the foam on top of the coffee, which is a signature of Turkish coffee. You can consider getting a Turkish coffee mill to get the very finely ground coffee. Here is our detailed instruction on making Turkish coffee at home so you can better understand the process.
Grind Size For Espresso – Fine
Using the correct grind size when brewing espresso is arguably the most important of any brewing method. The main reason for this is that espresso-making requires an incredibly short brewing time, making these fine particles vital. Not only that, but they offer resistance to the water – another crucial aspect of espresso brewing.
Because of espresso brewing’s rapid extraction speed owing to the high-pressure brewing technique used, fine grinds are necessary so that they press close together. If this process didn’t occur, the water wouldn’t stay in the coffee bed long enough to make a consistent espresso.
However, finding a balance is necessary: if the grind is too fine, the water will spend too long on the coffee bed, drawing out the time to brew the coffee and over-extracting it. You will taste more bitterness in your cup.
For these reasons, iteration is important. For example, if you have 18 grams of coffee and would like a 36 gram shot of espresso in around 30 seconds, you would tweak your grind setting to enable that to happen. From there, you would taste-test the coffee, making the necessary incremental changes – either finer or coarser – until you find the perfect spot.
Because of the need to find this balance, getting the grind size just right is more critical with espresso than any other coffee. This also explains why knowledgeable espresso baristas tend to be particularly exacting with the coffee grinder they choose.
It’s not just a case of whether a particular coffee grinder can make fine enough grounds, either – they also need to be able to make the necessary adjustments to find the correct balance. That’s why cheaper grinders aren’t usually the best choice for espressos. Indeed, specialist espresso grinders are favored by espresso fans for that reason.
Grind Size For Moka Pot (Stovetop Espresso Maker) – Fine
A fine coffee grind is ideal for stovetop espresso brewing. However, make sure it’s not quite as fine as that used in regular espresso makers. Instead, aim for something with the coarseness of sugar.
Moka pot requires pressure, but it’s not nearly as high as that used by espresso machines. Again, because the water only interacts with the grind for a relatively short amount of time, a fine grind is needed. From there, the stovetop maker will enable pressure to build, eventually making the water pass through the coffee grounds and filter funnel on its way to the upper chamber. Check out our Moka Pot brewing guide.
Again, a balance is necessary, as too coarse a grind would prevent the water from extracting the fullest flavor from the coffee beans.
Grind Size For Drip Coffee – Medium
Depending on the make of the auto-drip coffee maker, the filter it uses may vary. This means flow rates will alter accordingly. However, for most, a medium grind is the ideal size. The flow rate will decrease the finer the grind while increasing the time the water and coffee interact, thus extracting more.
The opposite is true the more coarse the grind is. For these reasons, experimentation is critical in choosing the right grind. As a rule, if the coffee is too weak for your tastes, your grind may be too coarse. If it’s too strong, you may be using too fine a grind.
Here’s a general guide on how fine your grind should be, depending on the filter of your drip coffee maker:
Flat Bottom: Medium
Cone-Shaped: Medium Fine
Plastic Permanent/Gold: Medium Coarse
Grind Size For Pour-Over Coffee – Medium
Medium is usually a reliable grind size for pour-over coffee. There are exceptions, though, depending on the shape of the dripper.
If you’re using a filter that’s cone-shaped, such as the Hario V60, medium-fine grinds work best. This is because, more often than not, filters of this nature are used for smaller batches of pour-over coffee, requiring slightly finer grinds. Check out the Hario V60 guide.
Because less water is used, it’s not as easy to prolong the brewing time. The finer grind offsets this issue by creating a faster extraction. Another consideration is the sizeable drip hole at the base of the cone-shaped dripper. The finer coffee grinds provide resistance allowing a slower dripping of the water.
Flat bottom filters such as the Kalita wave have fewer drip holes, meaning a medium-coarse grind is more suitable. A grind of this size will neither be too difficult for the water to get through nor will it over-extract. Here is the step by step Kalita Wave brewing guide.
Another well-regarded pour-over coffee brewer is the Chemex, which has a relatively thick paper filter. Because of this, opt for a medium to medium-coarse grind. A medium-coarse grind will ensure the coffee is not over-extracted, while the filter will stop the coffee from draining too fast.
In a similar vein to the ideal drip coffee grind size, making incremental adjustments can lead to the perfect cup of coffee. So, a brew that is too bitter could benefit from a coarser grind and so on.
Grind Size For Vacuum, Siphon – Medium
A medium grind is necessary for siphon coffee. A metal or cloth filter is usually preferred for this brew method, making a clean and full-bodied brew. If the grind is too fine, the filter is likely to become clogged. However, if the grind is too coarse, the flavor will suffer due to the fast brewing time.
Grind Size For French Press – Coarse
A coarse grind size is a good option for the French press. However, even then, it is possible to get a weaker and more watery cup of coffee than you’d like.
Another thing to take into account with French press coffee is the water to coffee ratio. For example, a 1:18 ratio will almost certainly lead to an under-extracted, weak coffee lacking the necessary body to be enjoyable and satisfying.
One way to alleviate this issue is to try a finer grind that’s a little smaller in consistency than coarse sea salt. This will prevent the grounds from seeping through the metal mesh filter. However, patience is your friend here: don’t force it when you plunge the filter, allow the coffee grounds time to settle before pouring, and when you do pour, do so slowly. This brew guide shows you the way to make great coffee using a French Press.
Grind Size For Cold Brew – Super-Coarse
In our opinion, the most effective option for cold brew is an extra coarse grind. Unlike the coffees mentioned so far, cold brew coffee interacts with the water for at least 12 hours at room temperature. Contrast that with the 30 seconds of high-pressure contact with the water espresso’s finely ground coffee has.
There is a logic here, too – namely, that the longer the water spends with the coffee, the coarser the necessary grind will be.
One way that perfecting the art of brewing cold brew coffee is similar to other coffees is the need to experiment. The longer you steep cold brew, the coarser the grind needs to be. We advise fine-tuning this until you find your sweet spot. We picked the popular cold brew coffee brands for you, check it out.
Grind Size For AeroPress – N/A
AeroPress differs from other brewers insofar as there is no ideal grind size. Instead, the type of coffee you want, combined with the length of brewing time, are the vital components.
As a result of this, recipes for AeroPress are commonplace online. The official AeroPress recipe suggests that fine grinds somewhere between drip coffee and espresso are the most suitable. However, this is contradicted by the World AeroPress Championship recipes that have succeeded using more coarse grinds recently. Check out our AeroPress Instruction.
A medium-coarse grind allows for a brewing time of between three and four minutes. This will create a French press-style brew. However, if you want a concentrated espresso-like coffee, a finer grind will only require a minute.
AeroPress is also an excellent way to make cold brew in a shorter time. It’s so versatile, you can try different grind sizes on the coffee grind chart to start your own AeroPress experiments.
How Does The Grind Size Affect The Flavor?
Coffee grinding is a vital component of the finished flavor. Even with the best coffee grinder on the market coupled with the highest-quality coffee beans, it won’t be good enough if the coffee isn’t extracted properly. The extraction is determined by grind size, which in turn changes the coffee ground resistance and surface.
Surface Area Of The Coffee Grounds
The finer the grounds you use, the more exposure there will be of the surface area. To visualize this, consider the effect of chopping a single coffee bean in half. There wouldn’t be much surface area exposed. However, if you proceeded to continue chopping the bean into tiny fragments, it would expose much more of the bean’s interior.
This means that regardless of the brewing method you opt for, the finer grounds will take a shorter time to extract than coarser grounds.
Resistance Of Coffee Grounds
The grind size also affects the way the grounds react to one another.
When you add water to coarser coffee particles, the more significant gaps between the grounds means that the water will pass through them more quickly. Conversely, finer grounds have smaller gaps between them, meaning the water will take longer to pass through them. Anyone who has brewed espresso will have seen an obvious example of this.
Because of this, there will be more extraction with finer grounds as the drip flow will be slower with the water and coffee in contact for longer. Therefore, if the grind is too fine, there is a danger of over-extraction.
The opposite is true for coarser grinds, which speed up the drip flow and the contact time, leading to a decreased extraction. The coarser the grind, the more susceptible it will be to under extraction.
Result In Coffee Taste
Under-extracted coffee has an acidic, sour taste due to failing to extract the necessary flavor from the grounds. Meanwhile, coffee that is over-extracted tastes hollow, bitter, and lacks satisfying flavors. That’s because if you extract too much flavor, the subtlety is overpowered and not pleasant to taste.
Avoiding these issues is the essence as to why other coffee makers implement different grind sizes.
How To Tweak The Coffee Taste
Armed with the knowledge of the ways grind size alters the extraction and flavors of coffee, it is easier to make informed tweaks. As a general rule, coffee that is weak and sour needs a finer grind, while strong and bitter coffee needs a coarser one.
This isn’t the entire story, though, and there are several factors to consider when brewing coffee, with the grind’s size just one of them. Total brew time, the ratio of coffee to water, pressure, and water temperature, and how the beans were roasted are just some of the other issues to consider.
|Status||Coffee Flavor||Grind Size||Water Temperature||Brew Time|
|Under-extracted||Weak, Sour||Coarse -> Finer||Lower -> Higher||Shorter – >Longer|
|Over-extracted||Strong, Bitter||Fine -> Coarser||Higher -> Lower||Longer -> Shorter|
Choosing A Coffee Grinder
Knowing about grind size is important, but you will still require a good grinder to grind your beans to the correct size.
Some of the more expensive grinders cover all grind sizes, such as the Niche Zero Grinder. However, not everyone has the budget to purchase one. For those looking for cheaper – but still good – alternatives, there are options available to suit most of your brewing methods.
Drip coffee only requires a basic electric grinder or manual burr grinder to do a good job.
A coarse grind is necessary for French press coffee. However, you should find one that does the job at a reasonable price that can also brew drip coffee.
Espresso is one coffee that will need a higher-priced grinder. The good news is that grinders that can make a good espresso will also make either Turkish or Greek coffee, which uses the finest of all grinds.
Burr Or Blade Coffee Grinders?
For the most consistent results, a good quality conical burr grinder is undoubtedly the best option.
Blade grinders tend to grind beans to differing sizes, meaning some will be very fine while others will be chunky. This makes it hard to get consistent results, which affects the extractions and, in turn, the coffee’s flavor. Consistency is vital with coffee brewing, and with different sized grinds within a single batch, some will be under-extracted, some over-extracted.
A burr grinder differs in that it uses a lower speed to apply the same amount of pressure to every coffee bean, leading to consistent coffee grind sizes.
Not surprisingly, a burr grinder usually costs more than a blade grinder. However, they have a range of settings meaning that whether you want an espresso, a cold brew, or any coffee in between, you can utilize any brewing method by adjusting the coffee grind sizes from a chart.
Electric or manual coffee grinders can both be good options. Top-of-the-range hand grinders, in particular, can make grounds fine enough for either an espresso or Turkish coffee. However, you must be prepared to take the time needed to make grinds this fine with a hand grinder.
Tips For Using A Blade Grinder
While a blade grinder is still good for those without the necessary budget if you use it correctly. Inconsistent, freshly ground coffee is far superior to the pre-bagged ground coffee.
If you are using a blade grinder, for the most consistent grinds, pulse manageable measures of your beans beforehand in a way that doesn’t overfill the grinding chamber. Carry out pulses of 10 seconds, then check the consistency, and shake it before pulsing again.
Blade grinders are perfectly fine for the coarse grind size needed for French press coffee and drip coffee, but you’re unlikely to achieve satisfactory results if grinding for espresso.
With the necessary know-how for coffee grinding, all that’s left for you to do is acquire a good grinder and some high-quality, freshly roasted beans.
We advise looking at the grounds shown in the images earlier in the article and compare them to yours. Be prepared to make small tweaks to achieve the desired results and in line with the advice given.
Eventually, you should find the perfect grind size for you, and that’s when you’ll be able to enjoy perfect-tasting coffee consistently.