| Dominik Osele

The right grinding level: Grind coffee correctly – no matter what type of preparation

In addition to the quality of the bean, the degree of grinding is probably the most important factor in preparing a delicious coffee. In this article, we will briefly explain why this is the case and give you a little help so that you can choose the right degree of grinding for each preparation method.


The coffee grind as a criterion for taste and quality

Coffee preparation is an extraction process. The aromas and ingredients of the coffee must be extracted from the bean and absorbed by the water. In order for the coffee to really release its aromatic ingredients, it must be in contact with the hot water long enough. If the contact time is too short, the coffee becomes watery and takes on a bland taste. But too long a contact time is also not good, as this will release not only the pleasant aromas but also the unwanted bitter substances from the bean. The coffee becomes too strong and bitter.

The degree of grinding determines the surface of the coffee powder that comes into contact with the water. The finer the degree of grinding, the finer the coffee beans are ground. At the same time, the surface of the coffee powder increases. If the surface is large enough, a shorter contact time is sufficient to extract sufficient aromas from the coffee.

So we can conclude: The shorter the contact time of the hot water with the coffee powder in the preparation, the finer the coffee must be ground. This statement can be expanded to include another factor. The higher the water pressure used during preparation, the finer the coffee must be ground. The reason for this is that the powder has less contact time with the water at high pressure. The higher the pressure, the faster the water is forced through the coffee powder and the shorter the contact time.


The assignment of the preparation form to the grinding degree

This means that almost all preparation methods can be assigned to a grinding level relatively easily. However, there are exceptions to the rule, which we will come to later. As a first example, let us take the different preparation methods in the portafilter machine and the French Press . When preparing in the espresso machine, the hot water is pressed through the coffee powder at high pressure in just under 30 seconds. The contact time is very short. The coffee must therefore be ground very finely so that the water can absorb sufficient ingredients in this short time.

In the French Press, on the other hand, the coffee powder is simply stirred in the hot water and then left to stand for four minutes. The contact time is very long and the pressure is practically non-existent. It is therefore sufficient to grind the coffee coarsely. Otherwise the water would absorb too many bitter substances.


Where does the Vietnamese Phin fit in here?

Also in the traditional Vietnamese coffee preparation in Phin the water pressure is very low. The water drips slowly through the sieve with the coffee powder into the cup. With a contact time of around 3 minutes, preparation is a little quicker than with the French Press. The coffee should therefore be ground medium to coarse.

We have put together a small overview of the most important ways of preparing coffee. The grinding level ranges from 1 = very fine to 5 = coarse.

  1. Grinding level: Espresso machine/portafilter machine
  2. Grinding level: Espresso maker/mocha pot, Aeropress
  3. Grinding level: hand filter, coffee machine/filter machine
  4. Grinding level: Phin, Syphon
  5. Grinding level: French Press, Karlovy Vary Pot

The exception to the rule mentioned above is mocha or Turkish coffee. Despite the very long contact time, this is ground particularly finely and often even boiled twice in a row. This makes the coffee particularly strong and bitter. To balance out this particularly intense taste, mocha is usually drunk with a lot of sugar or with other Arabic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom or rose petals. It is also often served with particularly sweet dishes such as pickled dates or baklava.

We hope that we have been able to give you an interesting and useful insight into the topic of grinding. If you would now like to start the experimental comparison and make your coffee in different ways: In our shop we offer you the best beans and much more. Come by!