Knowing the difference between coarse and extra fine types of coffee grinds can save you a lot of clean up and help you experience the best of your beans.
You can buy the best espresso machine that money will allow, but the type of grind you use in that machine will make all the difference in how your coffee or espresso tastes. It’s also important to understand what the appropriate grind is for your machine or risk ending up with a mess on your hands. My dad once used an espresso grind in his auto-drip coffee maker. A few minutes later, he had a soaking wet mess all down the sides of the coffee machine and on the counter as the extra fine grind proved too much for the filter.
You can almost guarantee that this won’t happen to you with a little knowledge about the correct grind for your coffee maker or espresso machine. Before you start to think that this is a complicated process, take comfort in knowing that there are only a handful of grind types. They are coarse, medium, fine, extra fine, and Turkish. As you may have guessed, they’re in order from largest to smallest. To get an idea of the finite differences between a few of them, click here to see a photo illustration.
Putting a fine point on things
A coarse grind is the thickest and largest style of coffee grind, as its name suggests. Some people liken it in size to kosher salt. If you’re using a French press, a coarse grind is your best option. Use anything finer than this and you’ll run the risk of drinking grinds with your coffee once you’ve decanted it.
Medium grind coffee is the most common coffee on the market. It’s smaller than a coarse grind and has the texture of sand. Medium grinds are meant to be used in auto drip coffeemakers and can be paired with paper filters or a steel filter. Just be sure and check the manufacturer’s instructions to know which filtering process is best for your machine.
Much like its medium cousin, a fine grind can also be used in an automatic coffeemaker. However, you’ll get the best experience out of a fine grind only if your coffeemaker uses cone filters. Fine grind coffee should saturate for an extended period of time before it makes it to the pot. A fine grind will be smoother than a medium grind, with a texture not unlike sugar.
A little extra for your espresso
If you love espresso, then the grind you should be most familiar with is extra fine. There’s a fine line (no pun intended) between a fine grind and the powdery texture of Turkish coffee. Grind your espresso beans down to a point where they’re not yet powdery and you’ll have the perfect texture. Extra fine grinds feel like a very smooth, fresh sugar. It’s one way you can get the best brew out of your espresso maker.
Finally, a Turkish grind is the smallest, and as I said, powdery grind you’ll come across. You may also hear these grinds referred to as “stone-ground” or pulverized. These grinds work best for stovetop coffeemakers such as the Greek briki and they create a strong, thick coffee that’s not for those who don’t appreciate a bold taste.