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Why Is Freshly Ground Coffee Better?

Since I first opened my eyes to the world of coffee beyond Starbucks, I’ve been told that freshly ground coffee is better than pre-ground coffee. I didn’t know why, and I could never get a better answer than a pretentious scoff from the know-it-alls, yet I accepted their unquestionable logic and found that it is true: fresh is better.

However, maybe it’s due to an unresolved issue with authority (12 was a hard year) or maybe it’s my OCD (self diagnosed), but I had to know why: why is freshly ground coffee better? Is it just personal taste? What does Science have to say about it? Am I just trying fit in with all the “experts?”

Tell Me Why!

When it comes to coffee, it is difficult to tell the difference between what is fact and what is opinion. With ground coffee, however, there is strong evidence to back up the claim that fresh is better.

Essentially Science says, like the year-old bag of half-eaten tortilla chips sitting in your pantry, coffee beans will go stale the longer they sit, and grinding your beans early only hastens this unfortunate consequence.

There are three factors that contribute to this tragic degradation: oxidation, moisture, and CO2 depletion. Before we take a look at these three factors, here’s a great video of an experiment using the same coffee grounds over different periods of time.

Oxidation

The complex compounds within your coffee beans are what create your brew’s aroma and flavor. Not all of these compounds are very stable, which means that they can change quickly.

Through oxidation, a process by which compounds interact with air molecules to create different molecules, certain desirable flavor and aroma compounds are released from your coffee beans.

When you grind your beans you kick start this oxidation process, which is a good thing if you brew right away, but not if you wait too long.

Oxidation is what gives your coffee its unique (depending on the roast) flavors and aromas, but oxidation will carry on whether you are brewing or not. By brewing with a fresh grind, and not pre-ground coffee, you are making the most of your coffee’s deliciousness.

Moisture

Here is something you may not know: the oils in coffee beans are water soluble. In case my peculiar brand of sarcasm has no effect on you (I don’t blame you, it’s terrible) that was a joke. Obviously coffee oils are water soluble (laugh now).

Water solubility is a great thing, otherwise the coffee we enjoy wouldn’t taste or smell as good as it does. However, it doesn’t take an entire cup of boiling water to dissolve those precious oils, because even the moisture in the air can dilute your beans.

So unless you live in the Sahara, the simple act of exposing your delicate beans to your home’s AC-moderated atmosphere can sabotage their integrity, and grinding only makes it worse. When you grind your beans, you create more surface area for moisture to dissolve those oils, and therefore hasten the dilution.

CO2 Depletion

Alright, so this point is pretty similar to the previous. CO2 is the main agent that transfers your coffee beans’ oils into your coffee, and when you grind your beans you create more surface area for the CO2 to escape.

Coffee beans are already very porous, so grinding only makes it worse, which is a good thing if you are brewing right away (like you should). If you aren’t careful, improperly storing your beans can cause them to quickly lose most of their CO2, and grinding only makes this harder. If you let your grounds sit for hours or days you are essentially wasting the one mechanism responsible for your coffee’s great flavor.

Other Reasons For Fresh Grounds

Besides those three (awesome) reasons to grind only right before brewing, there are two others to consider as well.

Contamination

Here is a scary thought: all those other odors floating around your kitchen are slowly infecting your ground coffee, especially that onion you just finished cutting. If the thought of onion-flavored coffee frightens you (chills down my spine), then don’t buy pre-ground coffee beans.

And if you think your grounds are safe in the fridge, guess again. Although the cold might neutralize your sense of smell, there are still plenty of odors roving around your refrigerator that you don’t want settling into your grounds.

Grind Size

Brewing great coffee is all about control. You are Lenin, and coffee is your USSR. The more control you have over each aspect of the brew process, the better shot you have of making exceptional coffee. Just don’t be a Stalin.

When you grind your own beans you have greater authority over grind size, which has a significant impact on flavor. Most methods of coffee brewing, like espresso, pour-over, and AeroPress, require different grind sizes, but buying pre-ground coffee limits you to only one.

Choosing to grind your own beans puts another step between you and your beloved coffee, but even if you only brew with one method, having the ability to slightly change your grind size can substantially impact the quality of your coffee. To find yourself a great grinder, click here for my list of 2016’s best hand options.

Unlike the stoic snob behind the counter at the instantly Instagrammable coffee house, Science has opened its mouth and shared some knowledge bombs. Like with most food items, fresh is better, and coffee is no exception.

These flavor packed little stimulants are sensitive and will only relinquish their best if handled properly. Whereas pre-ground coffee has already lost most of its delicate aromas and oils, freshly ground coffee beans are ripe for brewing. So yes, in case you haven’t guessed so yet, you’ll need a great burr coffee grinder to help with this.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and if any of your friends ask you, “Why is freshly ground coffee better?” then send them this article.

www.homegrounds.co

Coffee Grind Chart - I Need Coffee

September 7, 2015 by Chris Arnold

How do I Grind My Coffee? What Equipment do I need? What Grind Level? Sounds like hell for the amateur, and heaven for the Coffee Nerd. Mainly because it means one more quantifiable way of measurement, and one more way to spend cash on yet another gadget.

In terms of equipment, you may have to replace that whirly blade grinder you got from the last divorce. The amount you spend depends on what kind of coffee you are making.

Drip Coffee isn’t too demanding, and $50 or so should get a nice grinder. French Press requires a consistently coarse grind, but shouldn’t cost you more than about $100 or so for something that will work nicely for both French Press and Drip. Now if you are doing Espresso, and want to do it right, you will be looking at something in the $250-$400 range. Most of these grinders will also work nicely for Turkish Coffee or Greek Coffee, the finest grind of all.

We are going to mention 7 grind levels to get you started. Sure, there are probably more levels than that in practice, but this will give you visual cues, so you can feel confident you are close. This article uses high-quality photographs of ground coffee against a U.S. nickel to visually explain these terms. For those outside the United States, the coin below is 21.21 millimeters in diameter and 1.95 millimeters thick.

Extra Coarse Grind

Extra Coarse Coffee Grind used for Cold Brewing methods.

Coarse Grind

Coarse Coffee Grind most commonly used for French Press coffee.

Medium-Coarse Grind

Medium-Coarse Coffee Grind used in specialty devices like the Cafe Solo and Chemex Brewers.

Medium Grind

  • Drip Pots (like Bunn, Newco, Fetco)

Medium Coffee Grind used in Drip brewing methods.

Medium-Fine Grind

Medium-Fine Coffee Grind used for Pourover Cones, Vacuum Pots, and Siphon Brewers.

Fine Grind

Fine Coffee grind used for espresso.

Extra Fine Grind

Extra Fine Coffee Grind used for Turkish coffee.

The AeroPress

Our article The Upside Down AeroPress Tutorial goes into how that brewer can use various grind levels.

Conclusion

The grind levels presented here are just to get you in the ballpark. Definitely, experiment in small increments to get the flavor you want. Espresso will probably be the most crucial, since Espresso is a microcosm of coffee, and it is under pressure, so the smallest change in grind can result in a noticeable outcome in the cup. Happy Grinding!

Resources

Essential Coffee Gear – An Amazon.com list of many of the brewing devices highlighted in this article.

eBay Coffee Grinders – eBay has many coffee grinders for sale, including used and commercial.

Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada) 

Rancilio Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon CANADA)

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2003. In July 2011 it was rewritten and new photos were taken. The original photos by Carl Melville from the 2003 article are listed below.

Coffee Grind Chart by Chris Arnold is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Feel free to add use these photos on your website, provided you attribute by linking back to INeedCoffee or this article.

Chris Arnold

Chris is the co-publisher of Two Bit da Vinci - Cool Projects for the Common Man (and Woman). You can follow Two Bit da Vinci on YouTube and Pinterest.
Latest posts by Chris Arnold (see all)

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A Look at What Happens Inside the Bean

More likely than not, the coffee you drank this morning is some of the most flavorful and delicious coffee ever consumed.

 

Think about that. Imagine eating the best steak in history, or drinking the finest wine ever created.

 

For coffee lovers, this is a reality today. Coffee professionals along the supply chain are devoting more time, attention, and science to the creation of amazing coffee. And lucky for us, the best coffee in history is likely to get better for the foreseeable future.

 

This coffee renaissance is following what can arguably be considered the darkest age of coffee (no dark roasts pun intended). For the better part of a century, coffee was burned, commoditized, and pedaled to consumers with clever marketing and mascots. What is now called the “First Wave” of coffee, this era still influences our coffee culture today more than we’d like to admit. One of its nagging legacies (and in its day, a sign of technical innovation) is pre-ground coffee: vacuum-sealed coffee dust that gets stocked away on the shelves of supermarkets for months on end.

 

Now though, more than half of coffee consumed in the United States is considered “specialty”. We know the value of whole bean coffee, ground fresh before use, and we have plenty of anecdotal and experiential evidence to back this up. But what’s actually happening when you grind your coffee? An impressive string of chemical reactions makes your coffee grinder not just a luxury, but a necessity if you want better coffee.

 

What happens when coffee is roasted?

To understand why coffee grinding is so important to your morning routine, we must first look at the chemical reactions that occur when coffee is roasted.  

 

When coffee beans are introduced to the heat of the roaster, amino acids and sugars combine and begin a profusion of reactions that ultimately create the smell, taste, and color of the coffee. This is called the Maillard Reaction and is found in almost all cooking. The coffee bean itself is primarily composed of pollysaccarides, or sugars, but also contains proteins, lipids, and minerals. The seed’s job is to provide nutrition to the coffee embryo, so that it may one day germinate. These sugars, proteins, lipids, and minerals are the building blocks for the roasting process.

 

The Maillard Reaction is responsible for turning a few dozen compounds inside the coffee bean into hundreds, even thousands of aromatic compounds that make up the unique flavors of coffee. These compounds include the organic acids (citric, acetic, and malic acids to name a few) that give coffee its brightness. Other compounds like aldehydes, furans, and pyrazines give coffees their range of flavors like sweet, earthy, caramel, butterscotch.

 

The Health Benefits of Fresh Ground Coffee

Some compounds formed during roasting do more than just create aroma. Several types of antioxidants and vitamins are created through the roasting process, including vitamins B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), and B5 (Pantothenic acid). B vitamins, while all unique, aid in cell metabolism. Antioxidants formed during roasting include caffeic acid and Melanoidins. 

 

Caffeic acid is created when chlorogenic acids (CGAs) inside the green bean break down under the heat of the roaster. 

 

Melanoidins are primarily responsible for the “brown” color of roasted coffee, but have also been recently discovered to hold powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

 

Once a coffee is roasted, is it immediately under attack by its environment.Heat, moisture, and other aroma can change the flavor of the coffee, but one of the greatest factors in coffee staling is oxygen.

 

Oxidation

Oxygen, for all its life-giving value, is a destructive force in nature. Why did your old bike rust away in the yard? Why did the Statue of Liberty turn green? Why did your fruit go bad after sitting in your lunchbox for 3 days? Oxygen is the root of these misfortunes.

 

When certain materials (particularly certain metals and most organic matter) come into contact with oxygen, it will react in a way that alters its molecular makeup.

 Oxidation is the process of oxygen pulling away electrons from another molecule. These molecules, with an uneven number of electrons, become unstable and begin reacting with other molecules around them. Called free radicals, these volatile compounds are the root cause of browning, aging, rusting, and in the coffee world, staling.

 

The Scientific American provides a great analogy: Think about what happens to an apple once you slice it open. The fruit, previously protected by a waxy skin, quickly turns brown when exposed to the environment. As volatile compounds react with molecules around them, the molecular structure of the apple begins to brown and decay. The same thing happens to coffee, especially after grinding.

 

Impact of Coffee Grinding

After coffee is roasted, you are in a race against time and oxygen. The effects of oxidation are exponentially increased by grinding. According to CoffeeChemisty.com

and the SCAA Brewing Handbook, a coffee bean’s surface area increases by over 10,000 times when ground for espresso.

 

What does this mean for your coffee?

 

1. Loss of CO2

Carbon Dioxide, created during the roasting process and stored inside the bean, slowly emanates from the bean after roasting. This release of CO2 slows the effects of oxidation. After grinding, CO2 will dissipate within minutes.

 

2. Loss of Aroma and Flavor

The coffee’s delicate aroma and flavor compounds are protected by the bean itself. Some of these compounds are encapsulated inside carbohydrates and proteins, and only released when disturbed. Even as whole bean, coffee loses these aromatic compounds to dissipation and oxidation over the course of several weeks. Once ground, these compounds begin to oxidize immediately, and unfortunately, the most fragrant compounds are also the most susceptible.

 

Paul Songer of Black Bear Coffee, who reprinted an SCAA article on his company blog, says that, “The first compounds to be released are the sweet-smelling aldehydes, closely followed by the buttery aromas. Next, the earthy pyrazines take their leave.”

 

As aldehydes continue to oxidize, Songer said, they create a new set of pungent compounds, which then mix with sulfur compounds to create a green pea and ash aroma. Yum.

 

3. Loss of Antioxidants

Research is still being conducted to understand the full health benefits of antioxidants in coffee. However, at least one antioxidant-- the phenol compound, caffeic acid--  is susceptible to oxidation. 

 

Grind Consistency

Almost as important as fresh grinding coffee is the consistency of the grinding. In fact, a series of blind taste tests compared pre-ground coffee to fresh coffee ground with an inconsistent blade grinder, and results were pretty much inconclusive. How can this be?

 

According to research conducted in the 1960’s by the Coffee Brewing Institute, coffee is about 30% soluble by weight. That means about 70% of the bean is insoluble organic matter. Despite 30% of the bean being soluble, you don’t want it all to dissolve into your coffee.

 

The Coffee Brewing Institute created a coffee brewing chart which illustrates the balance between coffee strength and extraction. According to this chart, extracting anything less than 18% of the coffee and more than 24% can yield unwanted flavors. Under-extracted coffee can taste sour and tea-like, while over-extracted coffee turns bitter. The more inconsistent your grind, the more likely you’ll be to under- or over-extract certain coffee grounds.

 

Think about what would happen if you were baking cookies, and instead of spooning out the cookie dough in uniform piles, you made them different sizes. You had very small piles, normal-sized piles, and very large piles all baking on the cookie sheet together. While the normal-sized piles would cook perfectly, the small piles would burn while the large piles would be undercooked.

 

Now imagine that you had to eat a small, burnt cookie along with every normal-size cookie. How would this taste? The same thing happens in your coffee mug if you have an inconsistent grind. The overcooked grounds make the entire mug bitter while the undercooked grounds leave it weak and sour.

Handground Precision Grinder

Better Grind, More Flavor

Click here to shop

 

The solution to your consistency problem is a burr grinder, like handground. Compared to a blade grinder, a burr grinder will produce a much more consistent grind.

 

Keys to Brewing Better Coffee

While there’s very little debate about the merits of coffee grinding, many people are naive to the fact that a good coffee grinder is the key to better coffee. The data above supports this claim and helps us identify some of the key tenants for brewing better coffee:

 

1. Use freshly roasted coffee to capture the best flavor compounds 2. Grind immediately before brewing to keep oxidation at bay 3. Make sure your grind is as consistent as possible to avoid over- and under-extracted grounds

 

One final tenant we could add has nothing to do with the chemistry, but the humanity of coffee: Never forget about the people whose lives depend on the drink you enjoy. Cheers.

handground.com

Greek Coffee Store | Ground Greek Coffee Brands

My Greek coffee store has variable choices for authentic Greek ground coffee.

The online stores with the biggest variety are AMAZON & EBAY.

I checked both of them (US & UK) in order to satisfy people from Europe as well.

After all, it was a request that was hanging there for a lot of time.  

Mostly from people who needed this type of coffee for my email cup reading sessions.

In the long run I gave a lot of emphasis on Price in this research.

The same product most of the times has different prices (!) even in the same store.

So, I investigated each situation separately before picking the best item.

As you understand the following list is NOT a default automatic one from any of the above stores.

I have studied their lists extensively before finalizing mine.

My long experience on Greek coffee making also assisted me a lot to pick up the best available choices.

Above all, this specialty Greek coffee store will open new horizons in your online shopping.

It will show you the heart of the best deals on Greek ground coffee.

  • 35+ unique Greek coffee choices (various brands) that will positively surprise you.

ADVICE: Do you know how to make the perfect Greek coffee?”

If you are not sure then this is the correct time to take a look at my authentic recipe.

Get all the necessary hints and tips in a single webpage.

THE MOST FAMOUS GREEK COFFEE BRANDS

Start your shopping journey by exploring the 3 most selling Greek brands globally.

(1) Loumidis (established since 1920).

Have a look at their website to absorb many interesting facts about the history of coffee in Greece.

Today it operates as a food distributor rather than just coffee manufacturer.

REGULAR SIZES: (MOST COMMON HOME PACKAGES):

MEDIUM SIZES: (FOR NOT REGULAR DRINKERS)

SMALL SIZES: (EXPERIMENTAL TASTING & SELDOM DRINKERS)

(2) Bravo (established since 1923).

Equally important to Loumidis is the Bravo coffee company.

It’s responsible for spreading of ready ground coffee to Greek households. Especially during the difficult times of regional wars.

In its comprehensive website you will taste sweet memories of the past as well as spectacular moments of our times.

Below you can check out the 3 main sizes that are available from AMAZON & EBAY.

(3) Venizelos (established in the early 20th century).

This is a USA based Greek coffee business.

George K. Callas, a Greek US immigrant, started selling small packages of “Venizelos” coffee at New York harbor.

His customers were the newly-arrived Greeks who wanted to work in the New World.

Callas soon established a Greek coffee roasting business that dominated the USA Greek coffee market for several years.

The company started losing its appeal after the massive imports of Greek coffee from the motherland.

Its price though remains a big plus for its loyal clientele.

It operates in AMAZON & EBAY (both US) in 1 lb tins only.

 

Other PAPAGALOS LOUMIDIS brands

Loumidis besides its Traditional classic brand (Green package) also carries a few other types of coffees.

They are also very favorable among the Greek population.

LOUMIDIS DARK (SKOUROS) is the dark roast version of the traditional (medium roast) brand. It comes in medium & small packages.

LOUMIDIS ARCHONTIKOS (SPECIAL, RICH TASTE) is a medium roast variety with different coffee bean blend. Medium & small sizes only.

LOUMIDIS KOUPATOS (LUNGO/Double shot coffee) is a light roast ground coffee. It’s for people who enjoy big cups of coffee but without the extra… caffeine.

This coffee has all the taste of a regular Greek coffee. It is very common in the Greek coffee shops.

It doesn’t have anything to do with the decaf coffees.

In short, it’s just a lighter version for longer sipping enjoyment.

This brand is only available from EBAY. There are no sellers at AMAZON.

Trust the above choices. AMAZON & EBAY are full of sellers who try to promote Greek coffee at unbelievable prices.

Also, some of the so called “offers” are NOT deals at all. They are much more expensive than the single pack’s price!

If you are new to Greek coffee then order small quantities for your first trials.

When you decide what you like the most you can move to a higher quantity.

Small ground Greek coffee manufacturers

Below it’s your chance to discover some rare diamonds of Greek coffee.

Most of the following products of my Greek coffee store are only available to residents in certain areas of Greece.

They recently showed up at the online scene.

These are sellers who want to avoid the tremendous competition of the classic brands at supermarkets’ shelves.

Most of these Greek coffee manufacturers are operating in a neighborhood environment. People of a specific region know them well and of course they support them.

Because of lack of marketing strategies most of these coffees are not in the foreign supermarkets.

In general, the coffees below are for people who would like to get away from mass production products.

At this instant, it’s an excellent opportunity to try a unique brand from a neighborhood producer.

TIP: Above all, check the offered shipping. Most of the times can lead to unwanted price surprise!

NEKTAR Greek Coffee Line

Nektar is a 1980 family business from Argos, Greece.

In 2012 won the 1st Prize at the “The 100 Best” Products of the Year 2012.

The company started showing some of its coffee range at AMAZON & EBAY (both UK).

NOTE: Nektar is one of the few Greek coffee companies that carries ORGANIC coffee.

The medium size packs (around 8 oz) are the preference of the most Greek households. In reality, it’s a good size even for the heavy drinkers!

The coffee stays fresher for the longest possible period of time. 

The large packs are suitable for people who mostly consume this type of coffee as a stable coffee.

I don’t suggest them if you will let it sit there for a long time. Its aroma and flavor will diminish greatly.

Cyprus coffee – Greek ground coffee from a different place

Cypriot coffee is also a part of the Greek coffee store basic items.

The making procedure is the same in both countries but the roasting is a little different.

The taste of Cyprus coffee is something between Greek and Turkish flavor. Since both countries have a strong presence in the island, it’s not surprise at all!

The brands below are the most popular around the world.

Especially in the US, England and Australia which have large Cypriot communities.

Decaffeinated Greek Coffee

A Greek coffee store without “health coffee” sounds a little odd nowadays.

Almost every major Greek coffee company has a version of decaffeinated coffee. Some of them don’t trade it online because of limited production.

It is not something favorable from the Greeks.

Due to health issues, events might lead you to this type of coffee. 

Be careful, when serving decaffeinated coffee.

Traditional Greek coffee drinkers will detect automatically the taste difference!

Below you can see the brands that are available from the online stores.

Flavored Greek Coffee

As a matter of fact Greeks don’t use spices in their coffee.

The only exception is the mastic flavor, in a few areas though.  

Mastic, is very favorable in Greek pastry (mostly). Chios is the island that has mastic trees and exports the product to a lot of countries.

Recently, some companies entered the market suggesting an aromatic coffee with mastic.

While in mainland is not of high demand, abroad it has a respectful clientele.

 

www.turkishstylegroundcoffee.com

What’s Wrong with Buying Pre-Ground Coffee?

Every day we use ground coffee to make our beloved cup of Java. Yet have you ever stopped and wondered why we use ground coffee as opposed to just whole beans? Or why the size of the grind matters? Or why some people look at you with utter disbelief when you tell them that you use pre-ground coffee?

Well, I by nature do a lot of wondering. So, stick around and find out the answers to these questions.

Why we Grind Coffee?

The basic goal of making coffee is to get what’s sealed inside the bean (namely, the delicious flavor components and oils) out of the bean. The original method involved boiling the whole roasted beans in hot water while agitating them. With some patience and lots of time you’d eventually end up with a bitter, high-caffeine, coffee solution.

Luckily for us our coffee forefathers eventually came up with a more efficient method to extract the goodies from the coffee! By grinding the coffee beans you help the water to extract efficiently the solubles that are responsible for the taste and aroma in coffee.

Let me explain the logic behind this.

The Efficient Extraction of Solubles

If you take a whole bean and cut it in half you’ll increase the total surface area of the bean. As a result the extraction efficiency is greatly increased. Why? Because there’s more surface area for the hot water to act upon and from which to extract the flavor components.

Now take these two halves and cut them into halves again. Guess what, you’ve just further increased the overall surface area and thereby helped along the extraction efficiency even more. Eventually you’ll end up with just the right grind size for your preferred brewing method.

The benefit of all this “cutting” is that the extraction efficiency dramatically cuts down on the brewing time. But that’s not the only reason why we grind coffee.

Smaller grind particles make for a more complete extraction

The smaller particle size makes the distance from its center shorter. This allows not only for a more efficient extraction, but also for a more complete extraction of soluble flavors contained within the particle.

Why You Should Not Buy Pre-Ground Coffee

A roasted whole coffee bean is a beautiful, protective package that keeps the coffee oils exactly where we want them, namely, inside the bean. As long as you don’t mess with the beans the flavor components, which are very delicate, volatile and water-soluble substances, will be safe. However, break the protective shell and all bets are off.

So, let’s take a look at four reasons why you, as a self-respecting coffee lover, should not buy pre-ground coffee.

1) Contamination

Coffee oils are very delicate, which makes them an easy victim of contamination. Whatever odors are around ground coffee will taint it in ways that will not contribute to your coffee tasting experience.

2) Oxygen

The cells inside the roasted coffee bean contain approximately 1,000 different volatile aromas and flavors. Once ground the volatile aromas are immediately released and they react with oxygen in the air (oxidation). After 15 minutes ground coffee loses about 60% of its aroma.

3) Moisture

Coffee oils are water-soluble. That’s a good thing or we’d have a very had time trying to get the oils out of the bean. This fact however poses a great problem for ground coffee. When ground coffee is exposed to moisture in the environment it immediately starts to dilute the oils.

4) Carbon Dioxide Depletion

Increased surface area permits for greater carbon dioxide (CO2) gas liberation. During the roasting process a lot of CO2 is created. Since the bean is porous, some of it is lost during the cooling process. Much of it, however, is retained within the cells of the coffee bean. This CO2 plays an important role in that it is the main method for getting the essential coffee oils into the coffee once they are released.

The Problem is that the increased surface area created after grinding permits for greater CO2 gas liberation. In fact within 60 seconds of grinding 80% of this gas is released into the air. Wait too long after grinding the coffee and you’ll trade your Ferrari for a go cart with under-inflated tires.

The Solution: always grind your coffee freshly just before brewing. Follow this rule and you’re one step closer to paradise in a cup.

Always grind your coffee right before brewing! Click To Tweet

Three Factors that Can Influence the Grind

There are some factors that can influence the way roasted coffee beans behave when you grind them. Let’s look at three most important ones here.

1) Roast Level

In general the more light the roast, the more pliable and tenacious the bean. Thus a lightly roasted coffee is going to be more pliable and tenacious than a darker roasted coffee. The reason for this is that the more you roast a coffee, the more moisture is lost during the roasting process, which makes dark roasted beans more brittle.

2) Bean Brittleness

Process Method

The method used to process coffee influences how the beans at the same roast level grind. Coffees processed using the dry process grind differently than coffees using the wet process.

New Crop vs. Past Crop

When the coffee was harvested makes a difference to how it will grind. Usually coffee is available for roasting three to six months after harvest. The goal is to roast the coffee as soon as possible, since green coffee gets woodier and woodier with every month that goes by. As you can imagine this is one of the factors that then affects how the coffee ultimately roasts. Coffee beans from new crop coffees produce less fine dust particles than from past crop coffees.

Altitude

Coffees grown at higher elevation (about 1,800 ft and above) grind differently than coffees grown a low altitude (mostly Robusta). The reason for this is that the higher the altitude, the slower-maturing the beans, and therefor the harder and denser its substance.

Arabica vs. Robusta

The difference in cell structure between Arabica and Robusta beans also makes a difference in the number of particles produced after grinding.

3) Air Quenching vs. Water Quenching

When the beans come out of the roaster they must be cooled down immediately to prevent over roasting. This is called “quenching” in the coffee industry.

Some roasters add water to the air stream that cools the beans to kick off the cooling process. However, “water quenching” (if done improperly and indiscreetly) damages the surface of the roasted beans and can add water lost during the roasting process back into the beans. In contrast, air-quenched coffee is cooled by pulling air through the beans while they are stirred; no water is used during air-cooling.

The take-way here is that the method that is used to cool roasted coffee can affect the beans in ways that can ultimately result in inconsistent grind particles.

Coffee Grind Chart

One of the many benefits of grinding your own coffee is that you’ll be able to accurately “calibrate” the grind depending on your preferred brewing method and type of coffee. Moreover, once you’ve learned what works with you system of brewing you can easily and consistently replicate it. You will no longer be at the mercy of some generic “one size fits all” grind.

Grind Size

Similarity

Extra Coarse Reminds me of really small pebbles.
Coarse Chunky, distinct particles, like coarse sea salt.
Medium More the texture of coarse sand.
Fine Smoother yet. More like sugar or salt when you rub it between your fingers.
Extra Fine Not as fine as flour or powdered sugar, but definitely in that ball park.You can still feel some grit.
Turkish Grind Like flour, very powdery.

Match the Grind Level to Your Brewing Method

You should always match the size of the grind to the particular brewing method you’ll be using.

The amount of time that water and coffee needs to be in contact with each other is directly related to the particle size of the grind. The finer the grind, the more surface area of the bean is exposed to water. The more surface area, the less dwell time is needed. Consequently, if you’re using a brew method that uses a longer dwell time, you’ll need to use a coarser grind.

Following is a chart of brewing methods and their recommended grind level.

Grind Size

Brewing Method

Extra Coarse
Coarse
  • French Press
  • Cupping
  • Percolator
Medium-Coarse
  • Café Solo Brewer
  • Chemex Brewer
Medium
  • Drip Coffee maker with flat bottom filter
Medium-Fine
  • Hario V60 Pourover
  • Vaccuum Pot
  • Siphon Brewer
  • Drip Coffee Maker with Cone Shaped Filter
  • Moka Pot
Medium-Fine
  • Pour Over Cone
  • Vaccuum Pot
  • Siphon Brewer
  • Drip Coffee Maker with Cone Shaped Filter
  • Moka Pot
  • Espresso Machine with Pressurized Porta Filter
Fine
  • Espresso Machine
  • Aeropress
Extra Fine

If you still have difficulty finding the right grind size go to a local roaster or coffee retailer and ask them to grind you up a small sample of coffee for your brewing method of choice. Prepare coffee with it at home, and if you like the result try to match your grind to it.

The Best Way to Measure Coffee

The best way to measure coffee is by its weight and not by its volume.

The problem we’re trying to overcome here is the following. Coffee beans lose water content and swell in size during the roasting process. The darker the roast, the more water content is lost and the more swelling takes place. Hence 40 dark roast coffee beans from brand X are going to weigh less but take up more space than 40 light roast coffee beans from the same brand X.

So, if you weigh your coffee beans before you grind them you’ll overcome two problems. Firstly, your measurement is going to be far more accurate for you’re taking into account the varying bean densities. Secondly, you don’t have to rely on visual approximation, which you would when using a “standard coffee scoop.”

What’s the best way of getting started measuring your coffee? Invest in an accurate digital scale that measures both in grams and ounces. Make sure it has a way to zero out the scale and goes up in 1 gram increments. Start with the standard measure that is appropriate for your favorite brewing technique.Over time you’ll then learn to add to or subtract from the weight of the grind according to your personal taste.

New Rules for Grinding

  1. Grind coffee freshly right before preparation.
  2. Choose the correct grind size.
  3. Only grind what you need now.

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