When it comes to coffee, grind size should not be an afterthought. The wrong grind can ruin your coffee, turning even the best beans into a sour, bitter mess.
When you brew coffee, you’re extracting more than just caffeine. All of the rich flavors that make your cup stand out need to move from the beans to the water. But the best way to do this varies depending on the brewing method, and requires different grind sizes.
When you use the wrong grind size for a brewing method, the coffee will come out either too strong or too weak. If the grind is too fine, the water will extract more bitterness from the beans. If the grind is too coarse, not enough flavor will make it into your coffee, making it taste sour and watery.
|Brewing Method||Grind Size|
|Kalita Wave||Medium Fine|
|Regular Drip Coffee||Medium|
|Turkish Coffee||Extra Fine|
Types of Coffee Grinds
With an extra coarse grind, the particles should come out the size of peppercorns. This will usually be the largest size that any standard Burr grinder will allow. It’s a great grind for cold brew.
Coarse grind will look and feel something like sea salt. It’s the best grind size for French Press, as well as some types of percolators.
With a medium coarse grind, you should shoot for a texture that’s similar to large grains of sand. It should feel thicker than powder, but finer than sea salt. This is the best grind to use with a Chemex or Clever Dripper.
With a medium grind, you should try to get a texture that feels like regular beach sand. Although you’re starting to get close to a powder, you should still be able to feel the individual grains of coffee. Medium grinds are great with most pour over brew methods, as well as siphon brewing.
Fine grind is standard coffee grind, and it’s the default for most pre ground coffees you’ll find at the store. A fine grind should feel something like table salt. If you look closely, you can see the individual grains, but you may have to strain your eyes a bit.
Although it’s common, you shouldn’t use a fine grind with every method. It works best with espresso and moka pots, and you can also throw it into your Aeropress.
An extra fine grind is not very commonly used with standard brewing methods. You’re most likely to find it with Turkish coffee. This type of grind is so fine that it feels like flour.
Coffee Brewing Methods and Grind Sizes
Aeropress – Medium Grind
Aeropress is a great way of quickly making a quality cup of coffee. It’s also pretty forgiving when it comes to grind size, provided that you pay attention to brew time.
With an Aeropress, you should start out with a medium grind. This gives you enough resistance when you press, and it helps you extract all of the flavors of the coffee without too much bitterness.
That said, you can also play around with some other ground sizes and get good results. As you make the grind finer, you should decrease the brew time to avoid over extraction.
French Press – Coarse Grind
The French Press is a tough method to get right. Many people use the wrong grind size, leading to excessively bitter coffee or a cup that’s way too watery. Make your life easier by sticking to a coarse grind whenever you use your press.
You should also do some testing with your press. If you notice that you have to push hard, then you likely are using too fine of a grind. On the other hand, if you face little resistance when you press, you should opt for a finer grind.
Moka Pot – Fine Grind
Although moka pots are not a true substitute for an espresso machine, they do use a similar grind size. In most cases, you should stick to a fine grind when using a moka pot, as this will help increase pressure and extract more flavor and caffeine.
Keep in mind that not every moka pot is the same, so you may have to experiment a bit to find the right grind size. If you notice that your coffee is coming out too bitter, you should consider switching to a medium fine grind.
Chemex – Medium Coarse Grind
With a Chemex, you’ll want a medium to medium coarse grind to make the perfect cup. This size lets the water sit in the grounds and brew before it slowly drips through the filter.
If you use a grind that is too coarse, the water will quickly pass through the grounds, leading to watery, sour coffee. With too fine of a grind, the water will sit in the grounds for too long, leading to over extracted coffee.
V60 – Medium Fine Grind
The V60 requires a fairly long brewing time, so you should stick to a fine grind. Make it a bit coarse than what you would use for an espresso, but finer than the grind you would use with a Chemex.
It can take a while to really get the V60 down pat. If you notice that your coffee is coming out too thin for your taste, try out a finer grind. And if your coffee is too strong, then switch to a coarser grind.
Clever Dripper – Medium Grind
The Clever Dripper is a bit of a hybrid, taking elements from both pour over and immersion brewing methods. Because of this mixed brewing type, you should pick a grind size that’s also somewhere in the middle.
We recommend a medium grind to start. This will give you good extraction while preventing the coffee from getting too bitter.
Kalita Wave – Medium Fine Grind
The Kalita Wave uses a standard pour over brewing method, but with a flat bottom that helps speed up and even out extraction. When done properly, the method gives you a smooth, rounded cup of coffee.
The Kalita Wave calls for a medium fine grind, although you may need to tinker with this a bit to get the desired results. The Kalita Wave drains better than most cone shaped pour over filters, so you can use a finer grind without too much risk of bitter, over extracted coffee.
Siphon – Medium Grind
Siphon brewing can take a while to perfect, and you may have to experiment with different grind sizes. That said, we recommend starting with a medium fine grind (somewhere between an espresso grind and pour over grind).
A medium fine ground allows all of the aromatics and oils of the beans to come to life, while preventing over extraction.
Regular Drip Coffee – Medium Grind
The type of grind you’ll need for drip coffee will depend on the type of drip pot that you have. If it’s a flat bottom, stick to a medium grind to avoid over extraction. With cone shaped drip pots, you can still use a medium grind, although you might want to move to a medium fine grind.
For a comparison between Drip Coffee and French Press Coffee check out my post
Espresso – Fine Grind
With an espresso, you’re trying to build up as much pressure as possible. This helps extract flavor in caffeine in a short period. To do this, you’ll need a fine grind.
If you notice that your espresso is coming out watery, use a finer grind. For more information on espresso you can read my post here.
Turkish Coffee – Extra Fine Grind
Turkish coffee is all about extracting as much aroma and flavor as possible. To do this, you’ll need an extra fine grind, with the consistency of flour.
Just make sure you are using Arabica beans. If you use Robusta beans, the coffee may be over extracted and far too caffeinated. If you want to learn how to brew Turkish coffee read my post with step by step directions.
Why You Should Use A Burr Grinder
No matter the grind size that you’re aiming for, you’ll get better results if you use a burr grinder. Unlike blade grinders, which create particles of various sizes, burr grinders ensure that you get a consistent size. For more information read my post comparing a burr grinder vs a blade grinder
Find The Right Coffee Grind
Every coffee brewing method will take some practice, and there’s no strict rule dictating what type of grind is best for each method. However, some grinds are better suited to certain brewing methods.
The right grind size will help you make an aromatic, flavorful cup that highlights the best characteristics of the coffee. It won’t be sour or too bitter, so you can focus on the flavor of your coffee.