The Grind Guide

The Grind Guide

Start with the grind. That’s what I’ve learned the past few months as I read and learn about making (and improving) a great cup of coffee. The foundation to an exceptional cup of coffee lies with how and when you grind the beans. 

Grind fresh. Grinding your beans fresh serves several purposes. First, it allows you to grind based on your preferred brewing method. Grind size matters. Understanding which grind size corresponds to your brewing method will maximize the taste and aroma of your coffee. If your coffee tastes bitter or sour it could be a result of over-extraction or under-extraction, which is directly related to the grind. 

Most importantly, when you grind fresh, you get to enjoy fresh coffee longer. Whenever the beans are exposed to oxygen they begin to oxidize, or in other words, the coffee beans begin to breakdown and deteriorate when they are exposed to oxygen. Ground beans have more surface area vulnerable to oxidation. Store your beans tightly sealed in the coffee bag or in an airtight container. 

Grind consistency is essential. The two methods for grinding are blade and burr. The difference is chopped (blade) as opposed to ground (burr) beans. Typically a blade grinder will run at a lower cost than a burr grinder. 

When I began making coffee using whole beans, I started out with a simple blade grinder. This method chops the beans with metal blades. There was little control in both size and consistancy of the grind. The lack of control not only made it difficult to grind for specific brewing methods, it affected the extraction, taste, and aroma of the coffee. Inconsistent grinding lead to inconstant brewing. 

As I read and learned more about grinding, investing in a good burr grinder was recommended more often than any other piece of coffee equipment—even a brewing system! 

I started with a hand burr grinder and now have an conical burr grinder. The difference between a blade grinder and conical burr grinder changed how I was able to brew coffee. With the burr grinder I am able to grind fresh and achieve a consistent brew every time. 

Grind fresh, grind consistently, and try new brewing methods. I’ve learned more about grinding coffee as a result of learning new methods. Check out the starting suggestions below. Have fun with it and experiment with your daily grind by trying new finer or courser grind with each new brewing methods. And as always, contact Gillespie for more suggestions to your specific brewing technique.


Kathy Strauch is a graphic designer, writer, bookworm, printmaker, and coffee lover from Michigan. She is also contributor with Christ Hold Fast, Higher Things, and The Gospel Economist.

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