An ultimate guide to the grind sizes and the proper care

Why Grind Size Matters?

Grind size effects 3 factors in coffee: contact time, extraction time, and flow rate.

The more surface area on the coffee bean, or how fine it is, the more exposure it has to water. And that water exposure decides everything.

The more surfaces that interact with water the less time it needs to be there (contact time). The more surface area to interact with water means the less time is needed for the water to extract components (extraction time).

Finally, grind size determines how fast, or slow, the coffee can physically move through the grounds (flow rate).

Types of Grind Sizes

Extra-Fine Ground

Extra fine coffee grind should look like baby powder. To make extra-fine at home, use a burr grinder set all the way to the finest setting, or use a Turkish coffee bean mill.

Blade coffee grinders are not a good option because it isn’t equipped to grind the beans this fine. Another option is to head to your overlooked grocery store coffee aisle grinder. Set it to “extra fine,” “super fine,” or “Turkish” and let it do the work for you. Turkish coffee or Ristretto uses extra-fine coffee.

Fine Ground

Fine ground coffee looks like regular table salt from your salt shaker. Drinks that use this type are espresso and stove-top Moka Pots.

Use a per grinder per its instructions, or if you only have a blade grinder available, add 2 tablespoons of coffee beans per cup, and pulse the grinder for about 15 to 20 seconds until the grinds just start clumping together.

Espresso is a drink where you really need your grind right, because a good shot is dependent on extraction time and density and the right grind will help with that.

Medium-Fine Ground

Medium-fine ground coffee looks like powdery Caribbean beach sand. Cone shaped filters, either from automatic coffee makers or manual pour-overs utilize this type. There is a deeper layer of coffee grounds in a cone shaped filter than there is in a flat shaped filter.

This means that the water has more contact time with the grounds which means cone filters make a slightly stronger cup of coffee. Vacuum pots and siphon brewers also work well with this grind type.

Medium Ground

Medium-Coarse coffee looks like regular sand— not the powdery Caribbean kind, but the more northern course variety. Automatic coffee makers with flat filters, some manual pour-overs, and Aeropress devices use this type of grind.

Medium grounds are your basic coffee grind texture which most people visualize when thinking of coffee grounds. This is a good starting point to test your grinding skills. Get to a medium grind, and then adjust from there to see how the texture changes from fine to course.

If you only have access to a blade grinder, pulse the coffee beans for about 10 to 15 seconds to get basic medium ground coffee.

Medium-Coarse Ground

Medium-Coarse coffee looks like kosher salt. You can actually start to see little bean flecks in the course grind types. Chemex and Cafe Solo devices recommend this grind size because the manufacturers believe it to allow the best extraction and flow rate for their products.

If the coffee is ground too fine the water won’t filter fast enough. If it’s ground too coarse, it will filter too fast and won’t pull the oils and good coffee components to give the best results.

Coarse Ground

Coarse ground coffee is getting rockier, with sharp edges, and bigger bean particles present. Coarse ground coffee should look like sea salt or coarse salt. The French Press is the most common device to use this size.

Your burr coffee grinder won’t be working very long to achieve this consistency, just a few seconds. If you only have access to a blade grinder, pulse the coffee beans for only 5 to 10 seconds to achieve the coarse ground coffee size.

Extra-Coarse Ground

On the opposite spectrum from Turkish or extra-fine grounds, extra-course is the chunkiest ground size. The coffee beans are spending just a few seconds in the grinder to break up the beans to an extra-course chunky size.

Coffee types that use extra-course grounds are cold brews and cold presses in which grounds spend an extended amount of contact time with the water. For comparison, the water contact time for espresso is about 30 seconds. Cold brews can be up to 12 hours or more.