Have you ever sipped your morning coffee and had a little too sour or too bitter aftertaste? Pretty disappointing, right? Chances are this is the result of a bad grind. Indeed, grind will determine the appearance of your cup, its smoothness as well as its aromas. So here's a few of tips and tricks to help you master this unloved variable.
1. THE FRESHER, THE BETTER!
The oils retained in the coffee bean are better preserved and your cup is definitely tastier when it's freshly ground. In an ideal world, try to grind it within 15 minutes before you brew for the best results.
The extraction itself and its interpretation are subject to arduous argument... That being said, without extraction, there is no coffee. So here is our rather simple - and quite questionable - definition of the term:
Extraction is the result of all what water, by maceration and pressure systems, can extract from the coffee (the bean, the "raw material").
The size of the grind is the key to extraction, and by experimenting with slight variations you can control the taste of your coffee. A coarser grind contains heavier particles which will allow water to move between them faster. The combination of a lower surface area and shorter brewing time means less extraction will take place. On the other hand, a finer grind contains particles which come closer to each other. This means that the water takes longer to pass through the grinds and that there's more surface area, which leads to more extraction.
3. THE BREWING METHOD
Do you know the size of grind you need for your favorite brewing method and recipe? Each method has an ideal grinding profile. A French press, for example, is usually associated with a coarse grind. Most Pourovers (one exception being Chemex) are suitable for medium fine grinds. The grind for your espresso should be fine, even extra-fine. Others, like the AeroPress, can accommodate a wide variety of grind sizes. The biggest advantage of this brewing method is its versatility. Brew it just one way and you'll get more body and richness - brew it in a different way and you can expect more sweetness in your brew, something more like a Pourover.
4. TEST, TEST, TEST!
Is your coffee too sour? Your grind size is too coarse. Too bitter? Your grind is too fine! It should be understood that a too fine grind will slow down the extraction time and will result in over-extraction of the coffee, leaving the result bitter and chalky. On the other hand, grinding too coarse will allow water to filter the coffee too quickly which will make a coffee with a lack of depth.
Your preferences will always determine the ideal coffee recipe for you. The same will be true of the coffee you brew: depending on the origin, variety, processing method, roast profile, etc., you may want to highlight different characteristics. Dark roasts, for example, are more soluble, so you can use a slightly coarser grind. Experiment away, and find what suits you best!
5. ABOUT ESPRESSO
You have to get your head around your espresso machine and allow it to optimize its performance by using a grind that is adapted to it. Each machine has its own character, specifications and capabilities. To properly judge the extraction of your espresso, a few parameters must be monitored: the extraction time (from the moment you activate the extraction until the time it stops completely) is certainly the most important indicator. For example, a single espresso shot (8-10 grams of ground coffee) should be extracted between 20 and 25 seconds for a volume ratio of 30 ml (approximately 1 ounce of espresso, ratio 1: 1) in a cup. For a double espresso shot (18-20 grams of ground coffee), the brewing time should be around 25 and 30 seconds for a volume ratio of 36-40ml (approximately 2 ounces of espresso, ratio 1: 1.1). By controlling these factors, you will be sure to extract the maximum of the aromas contained in your coffee.
TAKE A LOOK AT OUR BREW GUIDE TO SHOW OFF YOUR NEW SKILLS!
Cover picture : Shown Morin Photographe