How To Grind Coffee For Drip Brewing; The Barista Way

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Like everybody else, the first question that popped in my head when I began using my first drip coffee maker was “What should be the coffee grind size that I should use in the machine?” 

After years of practice, I think I have the answer.

Key Takeaways:

How to grind coffee for a drip coffee maker?

The drip coffee brewing method calls for a medium to medium-fine coffee grind size. For a coffee maker with a flat-bottom filter basket, use a medium grind, which is similar to the texture of sand. For a cone-shaped filter basket, use a medium-fine grind size that is as fine as table salt.

How To Grind Coffee For Drip Coffee Brewing

To understand why a medium to medium-fine grind setting (depending upon the filter basket of your coffee maker) is probably the best bet for making great-tasting drip coffee, it’s important to understand how the grind affects your coffee flavor. Read on to find out more.

How Fine Should You Grind Coffee For Drip Brewing?

Coffee gets its flavor and aroma during a process called extraction when the hot water passes through the ground-up beans. If this happens too quickly, the coffee will be weak, if it happens too slowly, it will be bitter. The speed of this is decided by how fine the grind of the coffee is.

For drip coffee machines you want a medium to medium-fine grind depending on the type of filter basket your coffee maker uses. 

For flat bottom filters and gold or plastic permanent filters, use a medium grind, which is similar in size to regular sand. 

For cone-shaped filters, use a medium-fine grind, which is the same size as table salt.

What’s great is that if you find that your coffee machine is producing coffee that is too sour or too bitter, you can always go up or down to a finer or coarser medium grind to adjust to your taste or the operation of your specific machine.

Can you use fine ground or espresso grind coffee in a drip coffee maker?

Drip coffee machines are not designed to brew for too long or too short an amount of time. Using fine ground coffee means the flavor will be extracted faster, requiring a shorter brew time, resulting in over-extracted coffee. Moreover, finer grounds will likely clog your drip coffee maker filter.

The whole purpose of grinding our coffee beans is to increase the surface area coming into contact with water. 

No matter your brew method, coffee-making involves extracting flavor (and caffeine) from coffee grounds. The finer you grind your coffee beans, the more you increase the exposed surface area of the grounds, resulting in faster extraction. That’s why coffee for espresso machines is ground fine since the water from an espresso maker passes very quickly at high pressure through the grounds. 

Drip coffee on the other hand is made with medium to medium-fine grounds which allows average brewing time to extract the optimal amount of flavor.

How To Grind Coffee For Drip Coffee Brewing

Grinder Settings For Drip Brewing

Below is a table with grinder settings for the popular burr grinders that I assume most people will have in their kitchens. I apologize in advance if you don’t find your grinder on this list. I have listed a few decent burr grinders later in this article. So don’t forget to check it out.

GrindersGrind Setting
Baratza Encore17 – 23
Baratza Virtuoso17 – 23
Baratza Vario4 – 6
Capresso Infinity7 – 9
Cuisinart Supreme Grind8 – 10
Bodum Bistro6 – 8
OXO Brew Burr Grinder6 – 8
Hario V6019 – 25
KRUPS Burr Grinder7 – 10

Does a finer grind make stronger coffee?

The strength of a coffee, when the brew is steeped correctly, is determined by the quality of coffee beans. The type of bean, its acidity, the region it came from, and the level of roast on the bean are the factors that contribute to the strength of a coffee beverage.

Although, when it comes to extracting caffeine from your coffee beans. In that case, the more finely ground your beans are, the more caffeine they will release into the water. In the sense of caffeination, a finer grind does result in stronger coffee, while a coarser grind will brew a weaker cup.

Types Of Grinders For Drip Coffee Brewing

Great coffee starts with a great grinder. Having a quality coffee grinder can make all the difference in the brewing process for drip coffee or any other coffee beverages. A high-performing coffee grinder will ensure precision and consistency with every grind, while a low-quality coffee grinder will lead to slower grinding times, uneven grinds, and subpar brewing overall.

There are 3 types of grinders that you can use for grinding coffee for drip brewing.

  • Manual Grinders
  • Burr Grinders
  • Blade Grinders

Manual Grinders

For those with little space or money, manual grinders have clear benefits. They’re both smaller and less expensive than automatic models. 

Manual grinders are also quieter than automatic ones because they don’t grind beans as rapidly.

Moreover, manual grinders don’t need electricity. This may not be a significant feature if you’re making coffee at home in your kitchen, but for people who like to camp and travel, not needing electricity is a major perk.

Burr Grinders

Burr grinders, are very consistent, grind at lower sound levels, and can handle most coffee whether oily, old, or whatnot.

The burrs are typically made of ceramic or stainless steel, leaving barely any heat to be produced during the grinding process ensuring that the coffee beans stay at the highest level of quality.

Burr grinders allow you to move the burrs closer or further apart allowing you to choose the exact size of the grind for the brewing method that you are going to use.

All in all, burr grinders are what professional baristas, coffee enthusiasts, and anyone looking to experience new flavors in their coffee opts for.

Blade Grinders

Blade grinders chop up coffee beans into smaller particles as opposed to grinding them. They do this via propeller-shaped stainless-steel blades revolving at very high speed.

You control the fineness of the coffee grind by how long you let the blades chop up the beans.

Although they are inexpensive and small, they do have their fair share of drawbacks.

The trouble with blade grinders is that they produce grinds that are inconsistent in shape and size. This results in an inconsistent brew quality.

Moreover, it’s easy to burn the coffee with a blade grinder due to the friction caused by the blades rotating at a very high speed. 

The longer you grind the beans without pausing, the more heat is created by the blades. This could give your coffee a burned and more bitter flavor.

So, the blade grinders are not an ideal choice for grinding your coffee beans if you are looking for a consistent, evenly-extracted coffee.

How To Grind Coffee Beans Without A Grinder

In case if your grinder breaks down or you find yourself somewhere that doesn’t have one, There are still a number of ways you can grind your coffee beans.

Use a Food Processor

Measure your coffee beans and transfer them to the food processor. Grind the beans using five-second pulses for 10 to 20 seconds. Check the consistency of the grind, and continue processing the beans in short spurts until you have the consistency you want.

Use a Blender

Place your coffee beans into a blender and make sure only to grind in short, quick bursts rather than running the blender continuously. Because the blades move at high speeds and can heat the beans, this risks overheating the natural oils, which can deliver a harsh and bitter-tasting cup of coffee.

Use an Immersion Blender

Place the beans into a tall and narrow container. Insert the blender into the container and cover the top with your hand to prevent the beans from flying out. Blend the beans for 20 to 30 seconds. Check the grind and continue processing in 10-second spurts until you achieve the right grind.

Use a Rolling Pin

Place your coffee beans into the plastic bag or between two sheets of parchment paper, and fold the edges of the parchment paper over to seal them.

Lay the bag flat on the counter, and using the pin like a hammer, press down to crush your beans.

Once crushed, roll the pin over the beans while pressing down hard enough to crush the bean fragments. Repeat the process as much as necessary to achieve the desired type of coffee grounds.

Use Mortar and Pestle 

Using a mortar and pestle can create finer grounds for drip coffee or Chemex coffee as well as coarser grounds used in french press coffee. It all depends on how long and how firmly you grind your beans. Be sure to grind your beans in small amounts to achieve a more consistent blend.

Use a Hammer

Place the beans between two pieces of parchment paper, or into a sealed freezer bag. Lay the bag on a towel on a flat surface and spread the beans out so they’re in an even layer. Use moderate and consistent strokes to bring the hammer down on the beans to crush them. Keep hammering until you have a coarse to medium consistency.

How To Make Drip Coffee In A Coffee Maker

Making coffee with an automatic drip coffee maker is one of the easiest ways to brew a pot of coffee.

What You’ll Need:

Coffee: Medium grind size

Coffee to water ratio: 2 tablespoons of coffee to every 6 ounces of water

  1. Place a coffee filter in the filter basket. All auto-drip coffee makers have a filter basket that is usually right under the brew head
  2. Add the desired amount of coffee grounds into the filter.
  3. Add cold, filtered water to the reservoir.
  4. Press the start button to begin the brew cycle.
  5. When the cycle is finished, enjoy your perfectly brewed cup of coffee.
Written by:
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Amit Gupta

Hi, my name is Amit Gupta, and I am the owner and contributor at Cafeish. My obsession with coffee started when I received my first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, my love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets I own – has grown considerably.

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