When I started to create this guide and the coffee grind size charts you’ll find within it, I wanted it to be the most thorough resource on the interwebs. But I also wanted it to be accessible to beginners.
That’s why I studied all the top charts and articles out there for a week before coming up with the framework you’ll find here. We’re going to cover a lot of different topics that directly tie in to grind size; why it’s important, how to approach it, different grinder types, and more.
To that end, I’ve created a few different coffee grind size charts that match the approaches in this guide.
But to back it up a second: Coffee brewing is a science and an art that requires precise measurements and techniques to produce a perfect cup of coffee.
One of the most important factors in the brewing process is—yep, you guessed it—the grind size of the coffee beans.
Grind size defines the flavor profile, extraction rate, and strength of your coffee. And choosing the right grind size is essential for achieving the desired result. It’s an integral step in the brewing process.
Learning about it will pay dividends for many cups to come!
To that end, buckle up, and let’s start our adventure into coffee grinds and all their fascinating nuances!
Six Factors Determine Your Perfect Coffee Grind Size
Before we dive in, let’s do a recap on the top factors you should consider when picking a grind size.
BTW: In this guide, we’re going to focus our coffee grind size charts on brewing methods and measurements.
1. Bean Type
Coffee beans come in many different varieties, each with its own unique profile. And some varieties’ characteristics are best brought out by specific grind sizes. Factors that contribute to the flavor you can bring out with the correct grind size include:
- 1. Origin and soil composition
- 2. Altitude where beans were grown
- 3. Processing method
2. Roast Level
Roast level is another important factor to consider when choosing the ideal grind size. Lightly roasted beans have a higher acidity and a brighter flavor, so they’re brewed with a finer grind to preserve these characteristics. Dark-roasted beans have a bolder, smoky flavor and are best brewed with a coarser grind to balance out any bitterness.
3. Coffee-to-Water Ratio
We’ll get into this more when discussing extraction, but the coffee-to-water ratio is critical in determining grind size. And it’s often dictated by your chosen brewing method. If you have too much coffee and not enough water, your coffee can become bitter. Too much water and not enough coffee, your coffee will be weak and flavorless.
A consistent grind size is essential for brewing a delicious cup of coffee. Uneven grinds can result in a mixture of over-extracted and under-extracted coffee, leading to a weird and unbalanced cup.
5. Brewing Method
Different brewing methods demand different grind sizes to achieve the right extraction rate. For example, a French press requires a coarser grind, while an espresso machine calls for a fine grind.
6. Accurate Burr Measurements
Measuring grind size is crucial for nailing the coffee-to-water ratio and consistency. And the best way to achieve precise grind size control at home is with a burr grinder. (If you don’t already have a burr grinder, you might want one by the time you’re done reading this.)
To make things easier, I’ve put together a coffee grind size chart that matches brewing methods to popular burr grinders’ settings.
Why Is Grind Size Important? Understanding Its Impact on Taste.
Grind size refers to the size of coffee grounds, ranging from fine to coarse. Fine grounds are small and powdery, while coarse grounds are larger and chunky.
The grind size affects the extraction rate and strength of coffee. And these impact the taste of the coffee. A coarser grind slows down the extraction rate, resulting in a milder flavor. A finer grind will result in a faster extraction rate, creating a stronger flavor.
Pretty simple, right?
When you think of your coffee’s flavor profile, you should think of extraction first. Too fine of a grind can result in over-extracted, ashy, and bitter goop. Coarse grinds can result in a weak under-extracted nightmare for your palate.
Both are disgusting in their own uniquely bad ways. 🙃
Over-extracted coffee is:
- One note (all subtleties condense until they are undetectable)
Under-extracted coffee is:
- Tasteless sometimes (or worse, like dirty water)
Coffee is magical in that it all comes down to personal preference! To that end, it’s important to experiment with different brewing methods and grind sizes to find the right balance for you. But before you can, you need to understand what the primary grind size categories are.
The Seven Different Sizes of Coffee Grinds
Coffee grind sizes come in a fluid gradient, from very coarse and pebbled to what amounts to dust. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve categorized grinds into seven distinguishable sizes.
The grind size determines the surface area of the coffee that will come into contact with water during brewing. And various brewing methods need different grind sizes to extract coffee to the best of their abilities.
For example, an espresso machine can only produce the concentrated drink you know and love because of its fine grind size. The fine grind size makes the pressurized extraction possible.
On the other side of the grind-size spectrum, cold brew requires that you immerse and steep very coarse coffee grounds. The end drink is completely different from espresso.
That’s why it’s most helpful to discuss grind sizes in tandem with brewing methods that are best suited to them. The coarser the grind, the longer the extraction time required by the brew method. It’ll be helpful to keep this in mind as we get to our first coffee grind size chart.
Part art, part science—all magic!
Visually, extra-coarse grinds look like smashed peppercorns or tiny pieces of gravel. You’ll find the coarsest grind takes the longest to extract the coffee. This means it’s perfect for a long-steeping Cold Brew or open-flame-boiled Cowboy Coffee. When done right, you’ll have a rich brew that’s not at all bitter.
- Looks like: Crushed peppercorns
- Best brewing methods: Cowboy Coffee, Cold Brew
A coarse grind looks more like sea salt and is suitable for methods such as the French Press and Percolator. When you make a French Press with a coarse grind, the coffee chunks are too large to slide past the filter.
And because it’s a steeping method, the grind’s surface area slows down extraction enough to bring out the coffee’s flavor without turning it bitter. Think: Robust and smooth.
- Looks like: Sea salt
- Best brewing methods: French Press, Percolator
Medium-coarse ground coffee is my favorite grind and I’ll tell you why:
The surface area is small enough to speed up the brewing process. But the outstanding coarseness creates rich and balanced flavors. The grind looks close to thick, rough sand.
It lends itself to immersion-style brewing types—only with less steep time. Medium-coarse is also perfect for a couple of pour-overs incorporating immersion or pulse pouring.
- Looks like: Rough sand
- Best brewing methods: Siphon Brewers, Kalita Wave Pour Over, Clever Dripper Pour Over, Vietnamese Phin
When I hear medium grind size, I think of the drip coffee maker—the most American of coffee brewing methods. The medium grind itself plays both sides; it can go long or short on extraction time. That is to say, depending on your preference, you can make medium work with several brewing methods.
Just like the Mr. Coffee drip maker in our collective childhood kitchens, it’s a crowdpleaser. The default grind size when in doubt, if you will.
- Looks like: Beach sand
- Best brewing method: Drip Coffee Maker
Also called the pour-over grind, medium-fine allows for a slower and more controlled flow of water through the grinds.
This grind size introduces more surface area for water to extract the coffee’s flavors, aromas, and essential oils.
Not as fine as the espresso grind, it creates a delicious harmony between extraction and flow for most pour-overs.
- Looks like: Granulated sugar
- Best brewing methods: AeroPress (two minutes brew time), Hario V60, Chemex
Fine-ground beans are almost always used to make espresso. They’re also the size you get 9/10 when buying pre-ground coffee at the store.
Espresso machines use high pressure to extract coffee flavor, and a fine grind size is essential for this process. The tiny grinds mean faster extraction and produce an intense and concentrated coffee. But the AeroPress and Moka Pot also jive with fine grinds when used correctly.
- Looks like: Table salt
- Best brewing methods: AeroPress (one minute brew time), Moka Pot, Espresso Machines
It’s rare to use an extra-fine grind because the texture is like fine flour, powdered sugar, or even dust. Extra-fine is almost always used for Turkish coffee alone. In fact, many grinders don’t even provide a setting for it.
The coffee is so pulverized, it sticks to your fingers. When used in the Turkish brewing method, it dissolves in the hot water poured over it.
- Looks like: Powdered sugar
- Best brewing method: Turkish (Cezve/Ibrik)
Coffee Grind Size Chart by Brewing Method
Here’s it all laid out visually.
You can also download a PDF of this coffee grind size chart.
Blade vs Burr Grinders
So now we’ve laid out the general grind sizes, we need to tackle the two primary coffee grinder types out there:
Blade and Burr. Before we jump to our next coffee grind size chart, you need to know the differences between the two.
What are Blade Grinders?
Blade grinders use spinning blades to slice coffee beans into smaller pieces. But burr grinders use two burred plates that crush the beans between them to produce a consistent grind.
Blade grinders are cheaper and more available, but they grind inconsistently. And trust me, that can mess up your extraction. Your grinds will be all over those seven categories we just went through.
Blade grinders leave you with super fine and uber-coarse beans. This creates an odd mix that ranges from sour to bitter coffee. Plus, the blades produce heat which cooks the beans if you grind for a while. Not good.
Pros and Cons of Blade Grinders
- More widely available depending on where you live.
- Less expensive.
- Inconsistent grind because it slices coffee beans.
- Requires more work to achieve consistency.
- More waste.
What are Burr Grinders?
Burr grinders produce a uniform grind that is essential for making high-quality coffee. They have a range of grind settings as well, allowing for greater control over the grind size and texture. Think better extraction, which means more magical coffee!
Not to mention, precision and control lead to fewer wasted coffee beans because they aren’t the right size.
Multiple settings also mean burr grinders are versatile, so you can experiment with brewing methods to your heart’s content. (Maybe except for Turkish coffee. You might need a separate grinder for that.) Burr means you don’t have to sacrifice quality to try a new brewing method.
Lastly, burr grinders are more durable than blade ones, so they’ll generally last longer.
Flat burrs are parallel in the device and spin faster. Conical burrs have a diagonal shape with the center burr resembling a cone, through which the coffee falls.
Both types produce consistent grinds, but conical burrs are quieter than flat ones, which is why I recommend them.
Don’t Discount the Manual Burr Grinder
If you want a burr but the price is a barrier, you can go for a manual burr grinder. They work with a hand crank, so not as convenient. But manual burr grinders work just as well as electrical ones and are much cheaper.
Pros and Cons of Burr Grinders
- Consistent grind because it crushes coffee beans.
- More control and precision with multiple settings.
- Versatility means you can grind for most brewing methods.
- Usually less flimsy and more durable than blade grinders.
- Larger so can use more energy.
The Bottom Line on Blade vs Burr Grinders
Bottom line: You’re trading cash for convenience, time, and quality with a burr grinder. But it’s worth it.
Blade Coffee Grinders: How to Improve Results
So say you’re stuck with a blade grinder. Still better than pre-ground coffee, but not as good as a burr. Are there things you can do to achieve more consistency for better-tasting coffee?
- Pause grinding every few seconds and shake the grinder. This helps with consistency.
- Sieve out the coarsest chunks and re-grind them.
- Press ground coffee into a paper towel. Pour grounds into your brewing method of choice. The finest grounds will stick to the paper towel!
James Hoffman made a great video on this several years back:
Coffee Grind Size Chart: Which Setting to Choose By Popular Burr Grinder and Brewing Method?
If you’re reading this thinking: “I’ve already got a burr, Lauren. What burr grinder number should I grind my coffee beans?” – I’ve got ya!
Burr grinders have an adjustable grind size that allows you to change the grind size to suit your brewing method. It’s essential to adjust the grind size properly to produce the best-tasting coffee. But it’s not always easy to match your burr grinder settings to your chosen brewing method.
I’ve put together a handy dandy coffee grind size chart table in three different formats to help you quickly see which setting to use on your burr grinder (assuming you own any of the ones listed). And I’ve organized by brewing method for added value.
|Baratza Encore¹||Baratza Virtuoso²||Bodum Bistro³||Capresso Infinity⁴||Cuisinart Supreme Grind⁵||Mr. Coffee Burr Grinder⁶|
|AeroPress||12||8 – 11||Any but adjust brew time (finer = shorter)||Fine 1 – Medium 4||Medium-fine||Medium-fine|
|Automatic Drip Brewer||18||13 – 14||Chemex icon – 1||Medium 2||Medium||Medium|
|Chemex||20||20 – 21||Chemex icon + 1||Medium 2||Medium-fine||Medium-fine|
|Clever Dripper||14||14||Drip icon – 2.5||Fine 4 – Medium 1||Medium-coarse||Medium-coarse|
|Cold Brew||37 – 40||40||Try French Press instead||Coarse 1 – 4||Coarse||Coarse (All the way to the left)|
|Espresso Machine||8||2 – 6||Espresso Icon (on left)||Fine 1||Fine||Fine (all the way to the right)|
|French Press||28||30 – 32||French press icon (on right)||Coarse 1||Coarse||Coarse (All the way to the left)|
|Hario V60||15||13 – 14||Drip icon – 2.5||Fine 4 – Medium 1||Medium-fine||Medium-fine|
|Kalita Wave||14||13 – 14||Drip icon – 2.5||Fine 4 – Medium 1||Medium-coarse||Medium-coarse|
|Moka Pot||12||2 – 6||Espresso icon + 1||Fine 2 – Medium 1||Fine||Fine|
|Siphon||13||14||Drip icon – 2||Fine 3 – Medium 1||Medium-coarse||Medium-coarse|
|Turkish||1||1||Doesn’t grind fine enough||Extra Fine 1||Doesn’t grind fine enough||Doesn’t grind fine enough|
|Vietnamese Phin||30 – 40||32 – 38||French press icon (on right)||Coarse 1 – 4||Medium-coarse||Medium-coarse|
And here’s the coffee grind size chart in PDF, in case you’d like to print it out. Use it and compare your output with the seven grind size-types above. Let me know in the comments how closely they match up!
Pre-Ground vs Freshly Ground Coffee
Whew! Ok, with all this talk of burr grinders and grind sizes, you may be wondering: “Lauren, why can’t I just count on the pre-ground stuff in stores? Isn’t it the same? Is fresh ground coffee really worth all this work?”
Well, no, unfortunately, it’s not the same. And yes, it’s worth it!
Pre-ground coffee is convenient and widely available, but it can quickly lose its flavor.
Fresh-ground coffee provides the best flavor that’s truest to the coffee bean nuances. And as we’ve discussed, grinding coffee before each batch you brew requires a grinder, a bit of knowledge, and some effort.
Congrats, you’re now an expert on grind size! I hope our coffee size grind charts helped you find your perfect grind, too.
And as a newly minted grinding expert, you now know that the size and consistency of your grinds are critical in the brewing process.
So, what’s next? Now it’s time to have some fun experimenting with different grind sizes and brewing methods! In your quest to brew the perfect cup of coffee, you may want to save the coffee grind size charts in this guide for easy reference.
And after practicing a bit, you may be wondering what on earth to do with all those leftover coffee grounds. Well, I’ve got another charming article just for you laying out if coffee grounds are good for plants.
What is the Shelf Life of Freshly Ground Coffee?
Does Grind Time Matter?
If using a blade grinder, the longer you grind, the finer the coffee becomes. Refer to our coffee grind size charts above for more detail.
Is It OK to Mix Coffee Grind Types?
How Much Coffee Should I Grind at One Time?
Can I Grind My Coffee In a Blender?