Coffee Grinds 101: How Grain Coarseness Affects Flavor

Does your significant other wonder why you grind the coffee for what seems like an eternity in the wee hours of the morning? Now you can answer, “Flavor, baby, flavor.” Yes, grinding organic coffee beans down to a fine powder does significantly affect its flavor, but powder vs. crystals ultimately comes down to taste preference and brewing duration.

The Big 3: Contact, Flow, Extraction

When it comes to choosing a grind size, consider these 3 factors: contact time, flow rate, and extraction rate. The fact is you’ll get an increased extraction rate with a larger surface area, which requires a finer grind. And the higher the extraction rate, the less contact time you’ll need. Finer grinds reduce flow rate, increasing the contact time.

So in other words, a finer grain is better in an electric coffee pot, whereas as crystals are ideal for steeping.

As coffee head and tech writer Taylor Martin explains in

“Knowing this, if you have a brew method with a short contact time, the grind should be finer. In an immersion brewer, which steeps coffee grounds in water for several minutes, the contact time is much higher and, thus, requires a more coarse grind than most other brew methods.

If the contact time is too high or the grind is too fine, it will result in an over-extracted brew which can be bitter. If the grind is too coarse or the contact time is too short, the coffee will turn out weak.”

Coffee Styles and Grain Density

And the type of grind you want also differs according to the type of coffee you are making. Turkish coffee requires extra fine grains. Pour over brews call for a medium to medium-fine grind. French press ideally uses a more coarse setting.

So to get the best flavor for your private label blend, grind according to the type of coffee and the duration of your brewing method. Coffee not only powers the daily grind, but actually requires its own special grind to achieve absolute perfection. Happy brewing!