Checking grind conventions for brewed coffee

November 12, 2011

Today’s brewed coffee experiment – does the grind convention (coarse vs fine) hold or is this something people do because it is what they do?   I really like James Hoffman’s blog and I find it especially interesting when this world champion barista challenges well known conventions.  


In one blog post he suggested that for his taste a finer grind than people usually use is good for French press and that it is hard to over extract in a French press.  


I decided to check and see if the same was true for my clever type dripper.  I ground one pot following convention and made a very tasty batch of brewed coffee using Santa Rita El Salvador roast a friend had given (and roasted) for me.


I also did everything exactly the same, but ground the coffee half way between my conventional grind and an espresso grind.  Both times I let the coffee steep for 3 minutes and had the water slightly below the boil.


My wife and I both agreed that in this case the winner was easy.  It was the conventional grind.  The fine grind was slightly overextracted to my taste and it was acrid according to my wife.  There was no question that the coarser grind had a sweetness to it that was lacking in the fine grind.


I also let them cool and tried them again at room temperature.  At this time it was even more pronounced that the winner was the coarser grind.  The sweetness versus overextraction was even more pronounced.  


I may try this again with a finer grind and a lower temperature or a finer grind and a shorter steep time, but at least with everything else held the same I will not be going for an especially fine grind again any time soon and I do not expect the temperature or steep time to be sufficient to change my mind!

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