Any caffeine connoisseur knows the perfect cup of coffee is a unique blend of science and artistry. And nowhere is the science more obvious than in the grind. The size of your coffee grinds influences everything from the brewing and extraction process to the final flavor you get in your cup.
Thirst Perk CEO Jen Williams understands the intimate relationship between coffee grind and flavor profile. “Coffee is more than just a drink. It’s a symphony of complex tastes and aromas, all intricately tied to the type of grind used,” says Jen Williams. “Each grind size carries its unique melody, and knowing the right grind for your brew method is key to hitting the perfect notes.”
Good coffee preparation is so much more than just pouring hot water over ground coffee beans. Understanding the link between the coffee grind and the brewing process is an exciting journey that allows you to unleash the magic of coffee.
It takes a long time for water to unlock the flavors of extra-coarse coffee grinds. A slow extraction time is an absolute necessity. Otherwise, you’ll end up with weak and bitter coffee.
That’s why the extra-coarse grind is most commonly used for cold brew. The slow steeping process of cold brew can take upwards of 24 hours — that’s a long time for the chilled water to be slowly extracting the flavors of the coffee grinds.
This super slow brewing process allows for a smooth finish with a slightly sweet taste and a low acidity. Cold brew coffee is also known for its high caffeine levels, thanks, again, to the slow brew.
Coarse grind coffee is similar to kosher salt in consistency and perfect for brewing with a French Press. The French Press combines hot water with a longer steeping time, allowing the flavors of the heavier grind to become unlocked.
French Press coffee has a deep flavor with a strong body and a robust mouthfeel. The coarse grind also prevents sediment from sneaking into your cup through the filter. Larger grinds result in a cup that’s creamy and bold, without the grit.
A medium-coarse grind is best paired with pour-over coffee makers, a process known for celebrating intricate flavors. Pour over coffee pairs a filter with the infusion method, allowing the water to do most of the work. It passes through the coffee grinds at its own pace, for a balanced cup that’s delightful on the nose and the tongue.
The steady steeping method of pour over coffee creates a harmony of taste and smell. Medium-coarse grinds have time to unleash their flavors with the pour over process, without introducing grit into the cup.
Drip coffee makers are known for their ease and their consistency, which is why they’re the top choice for many households. They can provide big flavors while balancing acidity and bitterness, for an easy everyday cup.
Medium-ground coffee is ideal for the steady process of the drip coffee maker. Using a similar process to pour over coffee, drip coffee relies on gravity to extract flavor from the beans. A medium grind helps ensure a balanced cup with minimal work.
For espresso enthusiasts, a fine grind is the gold standard, although medium-fine can still produce a punchy cup. The espresso brewing process relies on pressure, resulting in an intense and bold flavor.
The combination of fine grinds and pressure brewing also create that rich layer of crema that defines an authentic espresso.
The finest grind of all is the Turkish grind. Turkish grind coffee is thick and frothy with layered flavors and a potent finish. For caffeine fiends, Turkish coffee is number one. Using cold water heated to just below boiling, the no-filter approach results in a robust cup.
When Turkish coffee has reached the frothy stage that signals it’s ready, the drink is poured without a filter. That means everything, the grinds and all, make it into your cup. To keep the mouth feel clean while boosting the caffeine level, ultra-fine coffee grinds are needed.
A careful consideration of grind size and brewing process is essential for achieving the perfect cup of coffee. As Williams points out, “The wrong grind can result in over-extraction, making the coffee bitter, or under-extraction, leading to a sour, weak cup. It’s an art and science combined to unlock coffee’s full potential.”
While science plays a key role, good coffee is also about creativity. Experimenting with grind size and method can result in disaster. But sometimes you can craft something special.