Why Coffee Grind Size Matters: Making Better Coffee at Home

Does size matter? If you’re trying to achieve the perfect cup of coffee the answer is yes!

Many everyday coffee drinkers overlook the importance of grind size when making their coffee. It isn’t something we often times think about but it can make a big difference. How? Allow me to explain and save you some unpleasant cups of morning coffee.

Discovering which size is best for your brewing method is one of the most crucial steps to making coffee at home, as grind size alone can dramatically change the taste of your drink. But what exactly is it about the difference in grind size that contributes to the taste of your final cup?  Essentially, grind size determines the surface area of the coffee that is exposed to hot water during extraction. For example, a very coarse grind size means the water can quickly fall through the spaces of the ground coffee without much contact, whereas when you grind your coffee finely, you are raising the surface area to which this water is exposed. Based on this knowledge, if the contact time is too high or the grind is too fine, it will result in an over-extracted brew which can be bitter. If the grind is too coarse or the contact time is too short, the coffee will turn out weak.

coffee grounds


Okay, enough with the science lesson. So which grind is best for the method you are using at home? A quick look below will tell you all you need to know.

Espresso –  Espresso has a very short contact time with hot water, so it requires an extra fine grind size. A fine grind will feel quite similar to powder. If you are using a stove top espresso maker however, it should be slightly more coarse (on the medium side).  BCJ’s Espresso Roast pulls a deliciously bold shot without being bitter or too acidic!

AeroPress – This single-cup manual coffee maker uses a medium – fine grind. Finer grind takes longer to press, requiring patience (that I usually don’t have in the mornings), but makes a richer brew more quickly. Medium- fine has a similar size and feel to that of sugar.

Pour-over – Because Pour-over brewers come in various sizes and shapes, they require varying grind sizes to control the flow rate of water, however  most pour over methods call for a medium to medium-fine grind. Similar in consistency to sugar.  Blue Collar Joe’s award winning PNG Roast is a perfect pour over option.

Drip Coffee – For drip coffee, the recommended grind size varies between medium-coarse to medium. Similar looking to rough, large-particle sand. Delicious to picture right?

French Press –  This method calls for a coarse grind setting. Because the coffee is steeped in boiling water, the contact time between the water and coffee is much longer, which requires a coarser, chunkier grind similar to sea-salt.

Although the above is a pretty good guide to creating the ideal cup, grind size can change and vary depending on preference. It can take some experimenting before you find the size that is perfect for your personal brewing method. The key idea to remember while discovering your preference is, if your grounds are too coarse your coffee will be under extracted, weak and flavorless. If your grounds are too fine, your coffee will be over extracted, bitter and overpowering. Next time you seem to be doing everything right but are still getting the same average/unpleasant coffee, think about your grind size. And with this map, I wish you a wonderful journey of coffee discovery!

Blog post contributed by: Kimia A – @caffeinekim

Caffeinekim is a coffee shop reviewer, coffee connoisseur, and fashion lover on a mission to find the best cafes and coffees.  She finds coffee perfect for connecting with people, charging up for the day, and she is always gathering more knowledge for her blogs!

girl with coffee cup