how to grind espresso beans

How To Grind Espresso Beans

January 26, 2021

How To Grind Espresso Beans

In this post, we’ll review some of the key points on how to grind espresso beans for a delicious coffee.

The complex flavors and aroma of espresso are inviting and thrilling. Brewing a wonderful espresso requires attention to detail – the finest detail.

Espresso requires a consistent and fine grind for your coffee.

It requires some care and attention to detail, but once you know the basics, the process seems simpler.

A general recommendation for brewing the best espresso is to grind the beans right before using them. Knowing how to grind espresso beans will open the path to a more flavorful and satisfying brew.

Grinding coffee beans might feel like an extra step when pre-ground coffee is available for espresso. But freshly ground coffee holds the key to delivering a superior brew.

The grind will decide the flavor of espresso – for better or for worse. So if you’re looking to brew that café-quality cuppa at home, pay special attention to the grind.

Here are a few things that you should know…

Choose Your Coffee Beans Wisely

A great-tasting espresso starts with high-quality coffee. Prefer freshly roasted coffee beans. Most roasters put the “roasted on” date on the packaging.

This date gives you a good guide to the quality of your whole roasted coffee beans.

Most baristas suggest that using coffee beans 7-21 days from their roast date is best for espresso.

Buying the best espresso beans means the beans are freshly roasted and capable of withstanding the high-pressure brewing required for espresso.

Choose The Coffee Roasts For Your Espresso

It’s worth keeping in mind that ‘espresso roasts’ are not specific roasts. Simply put, they are recommendations from roasters on coffee beans for espresso.

Another misconception is that only dark roasts are fit for espresso. Light and medium roasts are also suited for brewing espresso.

Medium roasts deliver a flavorful and impressive cuppa with an enticing aroma. When brewing single-origin or gourmet beans, medium roast is preferred for espresso as it maintains and highlights the delicate taste notes of the coffee beans.

Dark roasts are most popular for espresso. They usually carry the notes of dark chocolate and caramelized sugar and deliver the strong espresso taste we’re so familiar with. They’re also preferable in cases where you want to use the espresso to make other beverages like lattes and cappuccinos.

How to Grind Espresso Beans – Key Points

The quality of the coffee beans is the first consideration for your espresso the next is the quality, and particle size, of the ground coffee.

You need to grind your whole coffee beans into a suitable size for your brewing method. We’ll cover the key points here but you can also have a look at our ultimate guide to coffee bean grinding for more details.

Usually, a fine grind is required for espresso. The classification of fine, medium, or coarse coffee grind can vary and the size of the grind does matter.

Consequently, you need to use some quality coffee grinding machines to get a consistently correct grind.

Burr vs Blade Grinders

burr and blade grinders

Burr grinders are the best choice for grinding coffee beans. They deliver a consistent grind size and maintain the integrity of the bean.

A burr grinder utilizes cutting discs called burrs. The distance between these two discs determines the grind size. When the burrs are placed close, they deliver a fine grind.

It isn’t often mentioned, but grinding whole coffee beans is messy! The ground coffee gets everywhere and it is the devil to clean. Burr grinders are particularly susceptible to jamming. Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to fix a jammed burr grinder.

Blade grinders are widely available and are common household appliances. They can grind the coffee beans, but don’t deliver the same consistency and integrity as burr grinders. Grinding with a blade grinder will result in fine ground coffee mixed with coarser grinds and even large cut pieces of coffee beans (called boulders).

Additionally, the grinder blades get hot and can burn or singe the coffee grounds.

Automatic vs Manual Burr Grinders

Manual grinders are usually cheaper, which makes them a good value-for-money purchase. However, they are very likely to struggle with consistency when working on the fine grind espresso demands. Not to mention that they also take quite a bit of effort and can be taxing on your wrist and arm muscles.

Quality automatic grinders are usually easy to work with and they’re more adept at delivering the fine grind and consistency for espresso.

Getting a consistent and fine grind isn’t as easy as it sounds. Cheaper automatic grinders are likely to struggle with consistency. It’s always a better idea to invest in a good quality grinder.

Grind Consistency And Why It Matters

Brewing an espresso involves pushing water through coffee grounds at a minimum of 9 bars of pressure. Many connoisseurs believe that 15 bar pressure is better. Moving at such high pressure, the water will pass through the grinds rather quickly. A typical espresso shot is ready in seconds.

Given the low contact time, the fine grinds and their resulting larger surface area result in better extraction. The fast-moving water comes in quick contact with the grinds. Thanks to the pressure and temperature, the extraction is handled rather quickly.

An inconsistent grind will result in unequal extraction at various points of the brewing process. This will affect the overall taste of the brew and make it sour (under-extracted) or bitter (over-extracted).

Pointers For Grinding Espresso Beans

Check beans for stones: It seems weird that we still have to do this, but stones can make their way into coffee bags. Rare as it is, even the best-known brands aren’t immune to this problem. Spending a few seconds checking for stones can save your expensive grinder.

Grind in pulses: If your grinder allows it, use pulses to grind rather than going to the batch in one go. Pulsing delivers a better grind consistency. Additionally, pulse grind gives burrs time to cool down, further affecting grind quality.

Be careful with oily beans: Dark roast oily coffee beans can clog grinders. Pay special attention when using them and when necessary, intervene. Be more careful if you’re using superautomatic espresso machines. Grinders in these machines seem to be especially susceptible to oily beans.

Check grind settings before starting: It’s a quick step, but always check if the grinder is at the right setting before you start. Grinder settings may have moved or knocked while setting things up. A quick check can save you a lot of trouble.

Finally, don’t hesitate in experimenting with the grind size. Yes, we need finely ground coffee beans, but there’s always room and a possibility for fine-tuning. Experiment with it until you find a grind size that works best for you. It’s also an excellent way to control the overall taste and brew quality of your espresso.

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