When size matters -AKA grinding

Every barista wants to brew the perfect cup: balanced, with sweet notes and a pleasant aftertaste. A cup that is gonna make our customer smile and want more. Right? But we all know that there are several factors playing a huge role in how our coffee is affected during extraction. First of all beans: dealing with high quality coffee beans is the base in order to obtain a good cup. If we have in our hands bean that have not been accurately treated and selected it’s a waste of time trying to extract something good. Quality is the first conditio to have in mind. Roasting: coffee is exactly like food. If we have a quality bean and we burn it, the result will be bitter and ashy. If we “undercook” it with a light roast it will be highly sour and acidic. In specialty coffee, roaster tend to go between light-medium roasting level. Time: the longer the contact with water, the more we extract. Temperature: like time, the hotter the more we extract. But wit high temperature we also tend to extract bitterness and “overcook” our poor bean.

Choosing the right grinding size is not impossible but is something to pay great attention. And it’s not so immediate as we tend to think, one size doesn’t fit all brewing methods. Right grinding size is like having all the right ingredients for a recipe. Let’s see how it works in easy words: when we have sand water tends to be trapped and to flow very slowly, when we have stones water flows quick and easily.

In general we can say that french press uses a coarse grinding size, v60 a medium, medium-coarse for chemex and the finest one is for ibrik, it should be like powdered sugar. We cannot give an exact number for all the methods for various reasons: coffee you’re using, grinder you are using, maintenance of the grinder and cleaning routine.

Sometimes, especially with hand grinders (like everyone when I started I spent days trying to understand how that round plug should be turned in order to fix the grinding size on my hand grinder, sad story) is difficult to set the correct size so be sure to write down the size you are using, brew ration (proportion of water/coffee), time of extraction and how your coffee tastes. Be sure to find the recipe that fits the coffee you are using and the brew method applied. Consistency is the key.

Mastering the art of grinding could be difficult and frustrating at the begin but try to adjust every time this aspect and when you understand how it works and how you can play with this aspect and brew different coffees it will become a trick!

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