The answer for the question I asked in the title of this article seems pretty obvious: put your coffee beans into the grinder, press the button or turn the handle and done… In reality it’s a bit more complicated. People who work with coffee professionally could talk about coffee grinding for hours. I will try to keep everything short, give you some advices and present you some facts about coffee grinding.
When you enter a shop, most of the coffees you see offered are ground coffees. From market studies taken in 2013 we can see that 80% of coffee sold in Poland (as I’am from Poland) is ground coffee. In Great Britain, for example, it’s the other way around – 80% of coffee sold is whole bean coffee and only 20% is ground coffee. Whole bean coffee sells are slowly rising in Poland, but a decent amount of time will pass, before Polish people start to appreciate the higher quality that whole bean coffees definitely offer.
Why is it better to grind your coffee yourself? The easiest answer is that grinding by yourself makes it at least 50% better than bought ground coffee. Regardless of how you make your coffee, even if you put it into a cup and pour it with water, grinding it yourself just before pouring is definitely worth it. I guarantee you that middle class coffee, but ground just before brewing, will taste better than high class coffee ground some time ago. That happens because grinding speeds up the coffee airing process. Whole bean coffee, if closed tightly, can keep its aroma, taste and quality (even up to 2 years). Ground coffee, even tightly closed, starts to lose its properties much sooner. So, if you like really good coffee, a coffee grinder (or automatic espresso machine with built-in grinder) is a must!
If you’ve already taken the first step and bought a coffee grinder, the second important step is to choose the right grinding level, so it matches the method of its brewing. General rule is that the longer ground coffee particles are in touch with water, the bigger they should be. Let’s try to imagine it: on the one side we have finely ground coffee for espresso machine (because brewing process is short and takes from 23 to 28 seconds) and on the other side we have coarsely ground coffee for drip coffee maker (or for example Chemex kettle) where brewing process is much longer.
Very finely ground coffee (consistency of flour or powder) – classic Turkish caffee, brewed in cezves.
Finely ground coffee (delicate and nice in touch, finer than sugar) – espresso machine.
Middle ground coffee (przypomina piasek) – moka pots (e.g. Bialetti), manual devices for brewing coffee (e.g. genius AeroPress, that you can read about here).
Coarsely ground coffee (size of a small salt crystal) – drip coffee makers, Chemex kettles, French presses.
Matching the right grinding level with the method of its brewing isn’t compulsory! Experiment and try to find something you would love. Some people prefer using finely ground coffee with Chemex coffee makers. The list above is just a starting point, that should make it easier for you to find your favorite grinding level.
Soon I will pubilsh an article about coffee grinders: manual, electrical, cheap and a bit more expensive. Visit Coffees Guru regularly, sign for my Newsletter or join me on Facebook to get latest updates!