Brewing coffee is all about heat, pressure, time, and the magical workings of gravity. The grind of your coffee beans will ultimately determine the surface tension involved in this delicate process, therefore affecting pressure's role in your brew. The main goal of brewing coffee is to extract the most flavor from your grounds as possible, which makes coffee bean grinding important when selecting the appropriate method. In other words, the size of the grind can really make or break a cup's taste if not adjusted accordingly.
Here are some important tips to help you achieve the perfect grind at home.
The Daily Coffee Grind
Add grinding beans to your morning routine because fresh is always best. Why? When coffee beans are broken down, their surface area increases, allowing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to be released quicker into water or the atmosphere.
If you grind your beans the night before or even a few minutes prior to brewing, you're allowing much of their wonderful aroma and complex notes to disperse. So instead of a delicious cup of coffee, you'll likely be left with a more dull, flat-tasting brew.
Match your grind to your brewing method
Think of coffee bean grinding and your preferred brewing method as an electrical plug and its corresponding outlet – they have to be compatible in order to work together. The granulometry of your coffee grounds and the brewing method you choose will not create your desired result if not matched accordingly. Here's why:
Different brewing methods expose coffee grounds to variables like heat, water, and pressure for different lengths of time. When your coffee beans are finely ground, you increase their surface area, which allows hot water to extract more flavor in the brewing process. Coarsely ground coffee beans provide less surface area and require exposure to heat and water for a longer time to create a flavorful extraction.
Common examples of this theory are espresso and French press coffee. Espresso grounds should be very fine, therefore increasing surface area and tension when exposed to high heat, pressure, and water for a short period. The final result is a creamy, rich, and concentrated extraction. If you’re wondering how to grind coffee for French press, you’ll ultimately need coarser ground to begin with. Coarse grounds are exposed to water, heat, and lower amounts of pressure for more extended periods in your French Press to extract optimal amounts of flavor. Anyone can see that a cup of French press coffee is very different from a double shot of espresso, but it also goes beyond their respective brewing methods. Their flavor profiles are distinctly unique due to the conditions they were brewed in, beginning with their ground density.
So what does this mean for the home coffee maker? Whichever method you're using, try a finer grind next time if your coffee feels a little weak. If your coffee is a tad too strong or even bitter, try adjusting your coffee grinder for a slightly coarser density.
How to grind coffee by bean type
Besides impacting flavor, the coffee roast you use at home should also help determine the density of your grind. Coffee beans undergo drastic change during the roasting process, creating varying density levels before being ground. For example, darker roasts are exposed to heat for longer periods, causing them to expand in size and become brittle due to lower water contents. Lighter roasts typically have higher density because of higher water contents and less expansion.
Because of these varying factors between roasts, adjusting your coffee grinder accordingly is important to achieve maximum surface area and the best possible extraction. Darker roasts can be ground more coarsely, while lighter roasts can be ground more finely.
Choose the best coffee grinder
There are two main types of coffee grinders available – the burr grinder and the blade grinder.
A burr grinder creates a more even grind by crushing coffee beans between two abrasive surfaces. With a blade grinder, beans are smashed together, resulting in a mix of bigger and finely ground pieces. An uneven grind can lead to over-extracted or under-extracted coffee.
When it comes to getting the correct grind, a difference of a few hundred millimeters can make a big difference in the taste of the coffee. That's why it's recommended to use a good-quality burr grinder for espresso to ensure a very fine (but not too fine) density.
Luckily, each De'Longhi Bean to Cup coffee machine comes equipped with a built-in burr grinder as standard. We don't like to compromise when making our morning cup at home.
We hope these tips help you experiment with your coffee grind and brewing methods at home, or at least until you find the ideal combination catered to your taste.