Grinding Your Own Coffee

Many coffee drinkers say that grinding your own coffee is the only way to experience the full flavour of the coffee beans. Below we have included an overview to grinding coffee at home, along with the different types of coffee grinders. But before that, there's one important question we often get asked:

What is the best coffee for a Cafetiere?

When it comes to grinding coffee for a cafetiere, the important difference compared to say, a coffee percolator, is that the filter on a cafetiere is nt as fine as the paper filters on a coffee machine. So, what does this mean for grinding your own cafetiere coffee? Essentially you will need to make the grind a little coarser, so that the coffee won't pass through the filter and give you a cup of muddy coffee. So, fairly coarse is good.

But what does fairly coarse mean? Well, many coffee grinders have different settings, so you can determine how fine (or not) your ground coffee will be. More basic coffee grinders (such as the chopping type) don't offer this luxury, which leaves you with a couple of options: trial and error, and finally coming up with an average grinding time; or grinding then checking, leaving it down to your own experience whether the coffee looks right or not.

Which Coffee Grinder for Cafetiere Coffee?

Since cafetieres require a coarser ground coffee, there's no need to go out and spend hundreds on the fanciest industrial grinder. Sure a conical burr grinder is best, and failing that, a standard burr grinder. But for many cafetiere coffee lovers, a basic 20 chopping type coffee grinder does the job perfectly.

Some Coffee Grinding Basics

You start out with a whole coffee bean. It's technically possible to brew coffee from whole beans, but, first, the result would be extremely weak and, second, it would take a very long time. Before you brew a pot of coffee, the whole coffee bean has to be ground into tiny enough pieces so that there will be sufficient surface area exposed to allow hot water to extract the oils and flavours of the bean.

Both the fineness and uniformity of the ground coffee are important factors in the strength and taste of the brewed coffee. A coffee bean ground too fine will result in too much exposed surface area and coffee with a harsh bitter taste. A coffee bean not ground enough will result in a weak tasting coffee. A uniform size to the ground particles allows each spoonful of ground coffee to be like every other spoonful from the same grind.

Because coffee beans keep well even when roasted and because coffee once ground rapidly loses flavour, many people grind their own coffee beans immediately prior to the brewing of the coffee. One factor to remember is that any heat generated in the grinding process due to friction lessens the quality of the coffee. Also, each way to brew coffee relies on its own special type of grind. There are four ways to grind coffee: pound, roll, chop or burr-grind.

Pounding Method

Pounding is a manual process where a mortar and pestle is used to produce a powdery fine grind that is best for Turkish and Arabic coffee.

Rolling Method

Rolling a coffee bean is done with a roller grinder that pushes coffee beans through a pair of corrugated rollers. Any size of grind can be made, very little friction is created and the resulting grind is the most uniform of any type of grinder. However, a roller grinder is large, expensive and intended mainly for industrial and commercial production of coffee. Fine Turkish and espresso grinds are produced by roller-grinders that are water-cooled.

Chopping Method

Chopping coffee beans into a grind is done with an appliance much like a blender, but intended for chopping coffee and spices. The blades spin at 20,000-30,000 RPM, a high speed that will unfortunately heat the grind due to friction. Though longer-lasting and cheaper than burr-grinders, a coffee chopper produces a non-uniform grind that is best suited for drip brewing. A coffee chopper should not be used for grinds intended for French presses and espresso machines.

Krupps coffee grinder

Burr Grind Method

The burr-grinder has two rough disk-shaped or conical wheels that turn against each other. Coffee beans dropped in between the wheels are torn apart. Burr-grinders can be found in both manual and electrical models. The grind produced is very uniform. The grain size is determined by how far apart the conical wheels are set. Settings for that separation distance allow the burr-grinder to produce grounds suitable for percolator, drip, espresso and French press coffee makers. However, most burr-grinders are not capable of producing the excessively fine grind needed for Turkish coffee, though some specially-made Turkish hand burr-grinders are designed to produce that grind.

Burr coffee grinder

Conical Burr Grinders

A conical burr-grinder rotates quietly at less than 500 RPM, much more slowly than other grinders, and imparts very little heat due to friction - any heating of the grind prior to brewing removes oils necessary for brewing. A conical burr-grinder is less likely to clog than a disk burr-grinder.

Kitchen Aid conical burr coffee grinder

A burr-grinder with disk-shaped wheels rotates faster and does warm the grind a bit more. The compensating factor is that these grinders are cheaper and work well enough for the small amounts of coffee to be ground for home coffee brewing.

So, if you're planning to open your own coffee house, a water-cooled roller grinder is the way to go. For the home, however, a chopping grinder can make a perfect coffee grind for cafetiere use, or better still, a burr-grinder with conical wheels will let your create the grind of coffee you need for a perfect pot of coffee.

Stockists - Where to buy a cafetiere in UK

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