If you brew your own coffee every morning then you know how important the details can be when taking steps to create the perfect cup, but one step that many people don’t give enough attention to is how they grind their coffee beans. Of course many people do their own grinding, but how many pay attention to exactly how? It can be an art in and of itself.

Timing
Coffee beans should be freshly ground immediately before brewing, so you should grind just one pot at a time. Oxidation begins immediately and flavors will degrade noticeably in just a few hours — if you’re looking for perfect coffee, no grinding should be done the night before.

Method
There are two main types of coffee grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders. Blade grinders are the most common and the least expensive, and although they can grind coarse and medium sizes nicely, they can also have inconsistent results and are noisy (especially first thing in the morning). Also, when using a blade grinder it’s important to grind in small bursts of a few seconds at a time to prevent heat from building up and burning the grounds.

Freshly brewed espresso running into the cups

Burr grinders, on the other hand, are more expensive and have more settings to learn, but always yield precision results and can be adjusted to fit any brewing method (especially those requiring fine and super fine grounds).

Size
The size of grind you use when brewing coffee is based on two things: the brewing method and personal taste. Coffee grounds can be broken into these sizes:
Coarse Chunky, distinct particles, like potting soil.
Medium Less chunky, like rough sand.
Fine Like fine sand, sugar, or salt.
Super Fine Like gritty flour or powdered sugar.
Turkish Grind Very powdery and smooth, like flour or powdered sugar.

Fitting the grind size to the brewing method is all about how much of the coffee’s surface area is exposed to the water and for how long: desirable flavors come out first in brewing, while bitterness and other undesirables come out later (if the coffee is brewed too long). Coarse grinds are best suited to French press style coffee makers because they let the water and coffee steep together for several minutes. Medium or fine sizes work best for drip coffee machines, and fine or super fine are best for making espresso because the water is pushed through the grinds fairly quickly.

What advice do you have for someone looking to make a better pot of coffee? Share below in comments.