Let's talk coffee grinders!

How to grind coffee

 "The best coffee grinder is the one you've got."

While this isn't wrong, if you're used to ordering your morning brew from the drive-thru, the notion of purchasing coffee beans and grinding it yourself is enough to make a Rancor sweat. 

How do you know it's ground properly, what makes a good coffee grinder, and why should you care? In this article we're going to explore coffee grinders, and perhaps even offend some coffee elites in the process.

This is not a deep-dive review of grinders, but instead a get started guide, so... you can get started!

Do you need a coffee grinder?

Do you really need a grinder? 

No. While it's not recommended, you can walk into your favorite grocery store and pick up a bag of ground coffee with no roast date. (Gasp!) Happily brew it in your home coffee maker and get on with the day. 

If you're looking to experience what all the coffee nerds out there boast about, and looking to impress friends and family read on. 

What are the benefits of using a coffee grinder at home, and why should you care?

Become familiar with the rule of 15. It's not science, but a good rule of thumb when picking and brewing your favorite coffee. 

  • Green, un-roasted coffee typically goes stale in about 15 months
  • Roasted coffee hits it's stride within about 15 days
  • Brewing coffee within 15 minutes after you grind your coffee is bliss. 

You're in direct control of the last two variables. 👍 Brewing your coffee within 15 days of roasting and 15mins of grinding will increase your chances to enjoy a delicious cup.

Once your coffee is smashed to bits, it exposes more of the coffee bean's surface to oxidation, and the effects of the environment it's stored in. This gives a higher likelihood the precious oils and CO2 stored within will begin to disperse, dry out, etc... 

Brewing ground coffee immediately after you've ground keeps those flavors and much needed CO2 in your coffee to transfer those flavors while brewing. 

You spend good money on coffee, why not make sure you're enjoying the best part of it!

Encore Grinder

So, what type of coffee grinder should you get?

Depending on your budget, always steer towards a burr grinder, though if you can get your hands on a blade grinder, it's a great first step! 

When I first got into coffee, I went through two blade grinders, before making the leap to the burr grinder - Wes

While a blade grinder will "grind" the coffee, you'll find it'll create an inconsistent grind, which could lead to an inconsistent brew. Don't fret though, with some simple hacks you can get your blade grinder to hang with the coffee elites. :) 

Burr grinders grind your coffee with an entirely different mechanism that will ensure a consistent intentional grind size depending on how you're brewing your coffee. 

For example typically for your common home drip machine, you'll want to be a medium grind, or the size of sea salt. Though if you're moving towards a Chemex you'll like to be a little more coarse. (more on this below)

Coffee Grinder Settings 

Have a Burr grinder already? What settings should you use?

A great start is to check out the manufactures suggestions. Typically your Burr grinder will come with a get started guide that will point you in the right direction. 

Here is a real simple, and fun way to find the best possible grind setting for your brew method. This is a fun experiment to do on a Sunday morning or evening if you're enjoying Sad Cow's Decaf Coffee. ;) 

  1. Measure out a reasonable specific amount to brew amazing coffee, this could be what you normally do every day or break it down further. The main point is it remains the same through the steps below. 
  2. Grind the coffee at the recommended size, or what you think is best, 
  3. Brew the coffee and taste it! Is it bitter with a harsh after-taste? If not, repeat the steps above with a few clicks finer grind. 
  4. If it's edging into bitter and dry, then you've gone too far. Back it off a couple clicks and that's where you'll want to be at. 

Typically you'll find you'll end up grinding your coffee finer than you have before. 

Happy brewing!