The Last Coffee Grind Size Chart You’ll Ever Need
Most home coffee brewing fanatics fail at brewing great coffee before they even begin. They invest in the best coffee grinder they can find and find they still brew average tasting coffee. The worst part: they don’t know why, and It drives them crazy!
With just one small tweak you can fix this. Keep reading to avoid making this common mistake and make great tasting coffee.
Perfect grounds equals great coffee
The backbone of great coffee = the perfect coffee grounds (1). Don’t underestimate the importance of grinding:
The coffee grinder is a supremely important link in the chain that extends from the coffee cherry to an exquisite espresso!
Your grounds are your most valuable and overlooked tool, until today. I’m going to share with you where you have been going wrong, and everything else there is to know about grinding coffee. By the time you have finished reading this post, you’ll be brewing the best coffee of your life.
First we’re going to take a quick look at the different grind sizes, when you should use each, and with which settings you can achieve them with your coffee grinder. Needless to say, you must find the best coffee grinder to suit your needs.
The Relationship Between Coffee Grounds, and Over/Under Extracted Coffee
Do not skip this section.
What you’re about to read is critical knowledge for brewing coffee. Having the best coffee maker and the best coffee beans in the world won’t mean anything if you don’t understand extraction. It’s time you understood coffee extraction, and in doing so, you’ll be able to avoid under and over-extraction.
Both are bad news for your coffee and bad news for you. Avoiding this is actually the whole reason we use different grind sizes for different coffee makers.
Your goal in choosing a grind size: extract the perfect amount of flavour from your coffee. Too little and you’ve under-extracted it, too much and you’ve over extracted it.
- Your grounds are too coarse = Under extraction. This is when you have not extracted enough flavour out of your ground coffee
- Your grounds are too fine = Over extracted. This is when you have extracted too much flavour out of your coffee – and it becomes overpowering and unpleasant
What does poorly extracted coffee taste like?
You’ve probably tasted bad coffee before. Most of the time, bad coffee is the result of extraction:
- Hollow – A lack any notable coffee bean flavours
For a really in-depth journey of how over or under extracted coffee will taste, The Barista Hustle has a great guide on extraction worth checking out (2).
….So you’ve made a coffee, and to your disgust it tastes like it’s been poorly extracted. You don’t want it to happen again, wasting more precious coffee, but you have no idea where you went wrong.
We’ve got you! You need to tweak either the brew time, your water temperature or your grind size, based on how it tastes:
|FLAVOUR||BREW TIME||WATER TEMP||GRIND|
Blade vs Burr Grinders
Before you read any further: if you’ve been using a blade grinder for your coffee beans, you’ve been making the most common coffee grinding mistake that exists. Do NOT grind your coffee beans with a blade grinder. Doing so is WORSE than buying pre-ground coffee.
Yes, worse. Why?
First of all, the key to brewing a great cup of coffee is consistency, and if your little grinds are not all the same size, some will be over extracted, some will be under extracted, and the result will be, well… shit coffee.
Shake your blade grinder around all you want, you’re never going to get them 100% consistent…but if you’re stuck somewhere with nothing but a blade grinder, there is something you can do…but be prepared to work for it. James Hoffman nailed it with this video:
Aside from a clear lack of consistency, blade coffee grinders have another pitfall: they can only work by spinning extremely fast, which causes heat and friction. This heat and friction, as you guessed, is bad news. This means your coffee is already heating up so it won’t taste as fresh and the end result will be overcooked.
Now, compare all that nonsense to a burr grinder, which use uniform pressure and rotation to essentially ‘crush’ beans into a perfect consistency. They can achieve this at low speeds, meaning no added heat, and maintain a precise and consistent uniform grind.
To sum it up
- Choose a conical burr grinder, not a blade grinder (both hand or electric grinders are fine, as long as they grind with burrs)
- Blade grinders suck at achieving uniform grounds. Uniform grounds make even coffee extraction easy.
- If you’re stuck with a Blade grinder, there are a few hacks you can use to make the grounds better
Brewing for espresso? It’s even more critical that your grinds are uniform/consistent.
If you use something like a blade grinder, here’s what is likely to happen, and don’t say we didn’t warn you:
popular coffee grind sizes, and what they are used for
The following seven grind sizes are all you’ll need to brew great cups of joe with a range of different coffee brewing methods.
You can not just choose one grind size and use it for anything; some grinds are best suited for certain coffee makers.
Yes, you’ll notice some coffee brewing methods falls under more than one grind size category, this is because you can control the outcome of your brew with your grind size + brewing time for certain brewing methods.
|GRIND SIZE||BREWING METHOD|
|Extra coarse||Cold Brew Coffee, Cowboy Coffee|
|Coarse||French Press, Percolator, Coffee Cupping|
|Medium-coarse||Chemex coffee maker, Clever Dripper, Cafe Solo Brewer|
|Medium||Cone-shaped Pour-over Brewers,|
Flat Bottom Drip Coffee Machines, Siphon Coffee, Aeropress (with 3+ minute brew time)
|Medium-fine||Cone-shaped Pour-over Brewers, Aeropress (with 2-3 minute brew time)|
|Fine||Espresso, Moka Pot (Stovetop Espresso Maker),|
Aeropress (with 1 minute brew time)
|Extra Fine||Turkish coffee|
Lets take a look at the major grind sizes from very coarse to very fine.
1. Extra Coarse Grind (cold brew grind)
As large as you can go on most popular conical burr grinders – similar to ground peppercorns.
Suits these brew methods:
- Cold brew coffee brewing (e.g. using your Filtron or Toddy Brewer)
- Cowboy coffee
2. Coarse Grind (french press grind)
If you brew with a French Press, you should know your coarse grind. It should look similar to sea salt.
Suits these brew methods:
3. Medium-Coarse Grind
Not quite medium but not quite coarse – similar looking to coarse/rough sand.
Suits these brew methods:
- Clever Dripper
- Cafe solo brewer
4. Medium Grind
The happy medium of grind sizes; a great starting point for testing your grounds. Similar to the consistency of regular sand.
Suits these brew methods:
- Flat bottomed drip coffee makers
- Cone-shaped pour-over coffee makers
- The Aeropress (With 3+ minute brew time)
- Siphon brewers
5. Medium-Fine Grind (pour over grind)
If you love your pour over coffee like us, you will need a medium fine coffee grind size. It’s finer than sand, but not as fine as an espresso grind.
Suits these brew methods:
- Cone-shaped pour-over brewers (e.g. Hario v60, Kalita wave, etc)
- The Aeropress (with a 2-3 minute brew time)
6. Fine Grind (espresso grind)
The most common grind size you’ll come across. When you buy pre-ground coffee, it’s usually a fine grind size (unless otherwise stated). In terms of consistency, it’s a little finer than table salt.
Suits these brew methods:
- Espresso Brewing (with or without a machine)
- The Aeropress (with a 1-2 minute brew time)
- Stovetop espresso
7. Extra Fine (Turkish Coffee Grind)
You’ll rarely use an extra fine grind and you need a Turkish coffee grinder to achieve a fine and consistent grind like this. It’s similar to flour or powder in texture.
Suits these brew methods:
- Ibrik (Turkish coffee)
The Coffee Grind Chart: Comparing Each Grind’s Size
Don’t trust your eyeballs (not yet, anyway).
They won’t be great at judging a medium fine coffee grind from a medium coffee grind. So we created a simple yet effective coffee grind chart to help you differentiate one grind size from another.
Print it off and use it right now to find out which grind you’re dealing with. Simply enter your email below so we know where to send it:
Popular burr grinder settings you can use
Well, look at that. We’ve gone ahead and made your life easier by putting together a coffee grind chart of our setting recommendations. Remember: due to calibration, no two coffee grinders are exactly the same. (3)
“The perfect grinder does not exist. However, there are many fantastic machines on the market offering a wide range of capabilities.”
Compare your results with the grind images above.
|BREW TYPE|| Baratza|
|Mr Coffee Burr Grinder|
|Aeropress||#5 – 20||#5 – 20||Fine #1 – Medium #4||#3 – 15||Anywhere from espresso to drip||#1 – 13|
|Bee House||#14||#13||Fine #4 – Medium #1||#4 – 6||Drip icon – 2.5||#3|
|Chemex||#21||#20||Medium #2- Coarse #1||#8 – 10||Chemex icon + 1||#5 – 10|
|Clever Dripper||#14||#14||Fine #4 – Medium #1||#4 – 6||Drip icon – 2.5||#3|
|Cold Brew||#22 – 40||#22 – 40||Coarse #1 – #4||#18||Not ideal for cold brew, but you can try the french press||Not ideal for cold brew, but you can try the french press|
|Cone filter drip machines||#15||#15 – 30||Medium #1 – Coarse #1||#10 – 15||Chemex icon + 1||#8 – 10|
|Espresso||#5||#5||#5 – 7||#1||Espresso Icon (far left)||#1 – for better results, adjust your grinder|
|Flat filter drip machines||#20 – 25||#20 – 25||Medium #2||#10 – 13||Chemex icon – 1||#10 – 12|
|French Press||#30||#30||Coarse #1||#16||French press icon (far right)||#18|
|Hario V60||#14||#13||Fine #4 – Medium #1||#4 – 6||Drip icon – 2.5||#3|
|Kalita Wave||#14||#13||Fine #4 – Medium #1||#4 – 6||Drip icon – 2.5||#3|
|Moka Pot||#12||#12||Fine #2 – Medium #1||#2 – 5||Espresso icon + 1||#2 – 4|
|Siphon||#13||#13||Fine #3 – Medium #1||#4 – 10||Drip icon – 2||#5|
|Soft Brew||#15 – 30||#15 – 30||Medium #1 – Coarse #1||#12 – 16||Drip icon – 1||#4 – 6|
|Turkish Brew||#1||#1||Extra Fine #1||Not ideal for Turkish coffee||Not ideal for Turkish||Not ideal for Turkish coffee|
|Vietnamese Phin||#30 – 40||#30 – 40||Coarse #1 – #4||#17||French press icon (far right)||#18|
|Walkure||#20 – 30||#20 – 30||Coarse #1 – #4||#17||Drip icon + 2.5||#12 – 14|
|Woodneck||#14||#14||Fine #4 – medium #1||#4 – 6||Drip icon + 2.5||#3|
Yep – you’re a coffee grinding expert now. When you pay attention to the little things – the little things being your grounds of coffee in this case – you reap the rewards of great darn coffee. You have the knowledge, now all that’s left is to choose your grinder, a bag of quality coffee, and you’ll literally taste the improvement instantly!
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Need to know what size grind is right for your coffee maker, fast? We’ve answered the most common grinder-FAQs below.
Coarse or medium. Why both?
Use a coarse grind for the regular french press brewing method. Do not make the common mistake of going medium fine, unless you like over-steeped (bitter) coffee and a silt-y taste in your mouth.
It’s amazing how easy it is to use the wrong grind size for your press pot, and that’s why so many people do. Once you start using the right grind however, your french press will receive a new lease of life, and you’ll never go back. The french press grind size litmus test: you’ll have a hard time plunging if your grinds are too fine, and plunging will happen to fast if your grinds are too coarse.
There’s more to brewing a good french press coffee than simply throwing in coffee grounds + water and plunging. The little things make a big difference. Learn how to brew French press coffee the right way here. You can use a medium grind if you don’t stir and plunge; let the grinds fall to the bottom of the coffee maker.
Use a fine grind when brewing with an espresso machine, and nothing else. For this brewing method, you’ll get immediate and very obvious feedback on whether you have chosen the right grind size via your taste buds. If you don’t get it right, you’ll brew something that tastes like dirt.
We use a fine grind because espresso machines use pressure (measured in ‘bars’) to brew; meaning hot water is forced through your grounds. Too fine, and it won’t get through, too coarse, and it will gush through. The not-so-obvious truth is that the ‘fine’ setting on one grinder may not be exactly the same as ‘fine’ on another, so your grind setting may vary.
Start with a medium-fine grind, and adjust it based on your preferences. For example, if your brew turns out sour (under extracted), use a finer grind next time, and/or increase your brew time slightly. If your brew ends up bitter (over extracted), use a coarser grind next time and/or decrease your brew time.
Hario V60: Medium-fine
Kalita Wave: Medium-fine
Kone filter: Medium-fine
Bee house: Medium-fine
Clever dripper: Medium to coarse (the coarser you go, the shorter your brew time)
Woodneck: Fine to medium
Melitta ready set joe: Medium-fine
Use a medium-coarse grind (leaning more towards the coarse side), similar to the consistency of sea salt. The Chemex coffee maker is beautiful, yet unforgiving. The good news is that you get to maintain lots of control over your brew. The bad news is that this brewing method is hard to get right if you don’t know what to do with this control.
Using the right grind size for the Chemex, is critical. Oh, and make sure you wet and rinse that filter beforehand.
There is no ideal Aeropress grind size. The beauty of the Aeropress, is that you can alter the final brew by playing around with the grind size and brew time (among other things). Here’s a guide for grind sizes and your Aeropress. Remember to experiment, and record your results:
Brew for a minute (or less) using a fine grind
Brew for 3 minutes + with a medium grind
Brew for 3-4 minutes with a coarse grind
Brew for 4-5 minutes with a coarse grind
Make sure your cold brew batch tastes pleasant by using an extra coarse grind. An ice-cool cold brew coffee is refreshing and full of strange yet pleasant flavours. Unless you use the wrong grind size, that is. Make this mistake and it’s surprisingly full of shitty flavours. Pretty painful considering you just invested 16-30 hours into it.
Here’s the thing that most people miss: you can use a finer or coarser grind if you alter the steep time. In general: the longer you steep, the coarser your grind. But never go finer than medium.
If you want to make kickass cold brew, as in, on the same level as Stumptown-level-cold brew-kickass, here’s our advice: experiment. Note down your grind size and your steep time, while leaving everything else the same.
How does it taste? Now do it again, but increase the steep time. How does it taste now? Record your findings.
We suggest you pick a travel-friendly grinder – a small, handheld, portable grinder. Since you’ll need a camping friendly coffee maker to go with your portable grinder, we suggest you take a look at this guide on how to make coffee while camping.
Finer ground coffee doesn’t automatically equal a stronger taste, but it could make it more bitter which is a strong and prominent flavour. Stick to our handy coffee grind chart above and you can’t go wrong. An appropriate brew ratio is also recommended. Here’s our coffee to water ratio calculator.
If you don’t have a grinder to hand then you can use a blender to grind your coffee beans. This will use a blade to create an uneven array of coffee grounds from fine to coarse… if that’s the case then you’re better off with pre-ground coffee.
For maximum flavour and a fresh taste, you do need to grind your coffee beans each day. The good part? This takes no time at all and is worth every second, so there’s really no excuse.
- Bicknell, B. (2018, September 25). Grinding at home. Retrieved from https://fivesenses.com.au/blogs/news/grinding-at-home/
- DIY Extraction Tasting. (2017, January 30). Retrieved from https://www.baristahustle.com/blog/diy-extraction-tasting/
- Rossi, R. N. (2017, December 15). A Brewer’s Guide to Choosing a Good Coffee Grinder. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/a-brewers-guide-to-choosing-a-good-coffee-grinder/
- Herz, G. (2013, December 10). Cold Bruer: Experiments With Grind Size. Retrieved from https://www.bruer.co/ca/blogs/news/12222337-cold-bruer-experiments-with-grind-size