Few things are more satisfying than spending the time to make a perfect cup of coffee for yourself. This is why many coffee lovers will dedicate time shopping for conscious companies, shade-grown, fresh locally roasted coffee beans packed in the proper bag with a one way valve, sourced down to their small farm and farmer of choice; making sure it’s fair trade, organic, rainforest, and UTZ certified. And that every bean has passed a background check. That last one was a bit drastic, but quality beans are definitely important and fumbling something as simple as the grind level right before you make your cup is heartbreaking.
We all have our preferred method for making coffee that fits our taste as well as our Hario kettle or machine lifestyle – some of the most common ones are the Chemex, siphon, French press, Aeropress, pour-over drip, and espresso machine. Each method has a different optimal steep time and source of pressure that helps the water extract the great flavors we want from our coffee, this dictates the window of grind level you need. The longer the method allows for steeping and less pressure used, the coarser the coffee needs to be. The faster your water pushes through the coffee with a higher pressure, a finer grind is needed. We’ve condensed some grind recommendations from Third Wave coffeehouses to make things a little less complicated. Here are some examples of happy pairings in coffee marriage!
1. French press with Coarse Grind
Going strong since 1929
The coffee is submerged and steeps for 4 minutes in the press until plunged and poured. Four minutes and no pressure calls for our coarsest grind.
2. Chemex with Medium-Coarse Grind
Making enough coffee for you and all your friends since 1940s
A Chemex also needs 4 minutes for the best flavor and extraction. Unlike the French Press, a Chemex is able to use the pressure from gravity to push water through the grounds. Just make sure your pour is even and consistent, Hario kettles really help.
Falling madly since 1908
Pour-Over coffee cups and drip brewers have a different filter from the ones used in a Chemex – they’re not as restrictive so coffee filters through much faster. This is a shorter steep time with the same pressure, so just a slightly finer grind than the Chemex is needed.
4. Siphon with Medium-Fine Grind
Ups and downs since 1839
This whole method depends on pressure – vapor pressure to have water move up the bottom vessel and pressure to have coffee pushed back down. And you have about 2 or 3 minutes of steep time so the grounds should be on the finer side of medium.
5. Espresso machine and Aeropress with Fine Grind
Pushing through since 1884 with vows renewed in 2005
Whether it’s a machine or handheld Aeropress, there’s high pressure blasting heated water through the grounds in a fraction of the time that all the other brewers are steeping.
Happily Ever After
These are the classic formulas that will bring you close to a happy cup of coffee, but making small changes of your own to these grinds will fit your taste buds better than anything we can tell you. Don’t be afraid to test other grinds out – just be sure they won't break your brewing system. Happy brewing!