Grinding your coffee is the first step to making or breaking your morning brew. Below is a list of brew methods, and how we grind for them. These descriptions and photos are a guide only, and ultimately you should use your palate to make micro adjustments to the grind to perfect your extraction further.
Coarsely ground coffee. Two reasons – Plunger has a longer contact time as the coffee is immersed in the water. If the grind is too fine, it will lead to over extraction. Secondly – the mesh filter in the plunger requires a coarser grind so less of the coffee grounds end up in the cup.
Slightly finer than plunger. Less contact time with the coffee than immersion brew methods like plunger, but still a relatively large volume of water running through the coffee bed. The paper filters also have much finer holes for the coffee to seep through than a metal filter, which means we can use a finer grind.
Next up the scale is Stovetop. Stovetop brews under pressure, so the finer grind will help to build up some resistance as the water travels through the coffee bed. The finer grind also helps to extract coffee quicker, which suits the concentrated extraction style, and the way the water travels through the coffee bed.
If you’re brewing an immersion style Aeropress with the upside-down method – use a similar grind to filter. The paper filter of the aeropress will ensure that no coffee grounds end up in the cup.
If you’re brewing a concentrated Aeropress, use a slightly finer grind than stovetop. The finer grind will allow for faster extraction and a stronger cup, which you can dilute with water or add steamed milk to.
A fine grind. The finer grind allows the coffee to extract quite quickly, which suits the pressurised espresso extraction style. Again, a concentrated extraction with less water flowing through the coffee, in a quick time. Coffee too coarse will not have a chance to extract properly in the time frame, and also will flow through the puck too quickly. Coffee too find will cause over extraction and also potentially flow through the puck too slowly.
The grind size shown is for a low-mid budget domestic espresso machine. If you have a higher-end espresso machine, we suspect you probably have your own grinder to get the most out of your machine. If you’re using this picture as a guide for a starting point, aim to grind slightly finer than the grounds pictured.