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Grounded: Know Your Coffee Grind

Read time: 4 mins
Grounded: Know Your Coffee Grind
Christopher C. Dec 31, 2020

Does Fresh Ground Coffee Make a Difference?

Brewing with freshly ground coffee makes the best cup. Why? Oxygen in the air we breathe is what makes coffee stale. That's why we flush all our bags with nitrogen—to push out the oxygen and keep your coffee fresher longer. The outer surface of each individual bean acts like a barrier that slows oxygen from penetrating coffee, just as it keeps carbon dioxide in.

The outer surface of the bean acts as a barrier that both slows oxygen penetration and carbon dioxide (freshness) escape. As soon as coffee is ground, that barrier is broken, and all the particles are exposed to the elements, increasing the speed at which stale happens. Ground coffee gets stale much more quickly, which is why we recommend grinding fresh. And by grinding fresh, we mean within minutes of brewing it.

Let's get right into dialing in the right grind level for different brewing methods.

When You Should Use Coarse Ground Coffee

Coarse Ground Coffee

Coarse-ground coffee is the go-to grind for:

Coarse grind is great for immersion brewing, where the grounds directly mingle with the water right up until the brew is done, at which point they're separated. Since the grind is coarser, reminiscent of sea salt, there are fewer coffee particles contacting the water, so the brew time needs to go a little longer to fully extract the flavor. Coarse grounds are also not typically brewed using paper filters, so you'll get more natural oils in your cup. Brewing coarse grounds will give you all the flavor of the coffee as nature intended but be aware that oils and tasting notes are not the same thing. Oils can affect the taste, so depending on the coffee you're brewing, you may want to choose a different brew method or integrate a paper filter.

When You Should Use Drip Ground Coffee

Medium Ground Coffee

Drip, also called medium, is the grind of:

  • — Standard auto-drip coffeemakers
  • — reusable coffee pods
  • — basic recipes for pour over drippers such as the Hario V60 and Chemex
  • AeroPress (for general recipes)

Drip-ground coffee is used primarily for drip coffee (naturally) and resembles beach sand. Though it's finer than coarse, the brew methods drip grounds are typically used for don't allow for much contact with the water. Paper filters help draw out the brew time, bringing more flavor and clarity to the cup. In the case of auto-drip coffeemakers, it helps to pre-infuse your coffee bed with water, as most machines don't evenly saturate the grounds. Uneven saturation can make for a brew that's bitter yet retains its origin notes. Alternatively, pour over drippers allow you to control the saturation and adjust brew time. Drip-ground coffee is usually available anywhere coffee is sold, but it's always best to grind fresh.

When You Should Use Fine Ground Coffee

Fine Ground Coffee

Fine-ground coffee is used for:

  • — Espresso makers
  • AeroPress (for recipes requiring espresso-like coffee)
  • — moka pot

We've finally reached the last setting on your grinder (unless your grinder can go as fine as the powder required for Turkish coffee). Besides drip grind, fine grind is the only other grind level you might find in grocery stores and is sold both in canisters and vacuum-packed bricks. Because this grind is so fine, it's not very versatile, but it makes the most intense coffee of any grind level. If you've ever taken an espresso shot straight, you'll know what's up. The fine-ground coffee used to make espresso and espresso-like drinks makes coffee that's rich, savory, and often topped with a layer of thick, caramel-colored crema. These methods also brew for the shortest amount of time, using pressurized water to extract flavor.


In between the main three grind levels are two secondary levels: medium-coarse and medium-fine. If you have a grinder with micro and macro adjustments like this one, there can be hundreds of different levels which allow users to make tiny adjustments in order to dial in the flavor profile they're looking for.


Medium Coarse Ground Coffee

Medium-coarse grinds are best for:

  • Chemex (specialty and competition recipes)
  • — Clever Dripper
  • — Tricolate

Resembling kosher salt, medium-coarse grounds are where we start getting into filter brewing and the realm of technique. This is a great grind for those looking to brew cleaner, brighter cups with more control over the final product. A few degrees finer than coarse opens your coffee up, unlocking more floral, fruity notes. The filter keeps the flavors intact by keeping the oils from passing through. Medium-coarse can also be used to decrease the time required for cold brew.


Medium Fine Grind Coffee

Medium-fine grinds are used for:

  • Hario V60 Dripper (specialty and competition recipes)
  • — Kalita Wave 185
  • — Origami
  • — Bee House
  • — Melitta Dripper

Medium-fine grinds has a similar consistency to granulated sugar. Because our grinds are getting finer, where more particles are meeting the water, brew times will be significantly shorter. This means paying more attention to the brew in terms of pour technique and timing. While this can seem a bit more cumbersome, the coffee you can get out of a pour over can be divine, not to mention award-winning. Grinding medium-fine is the turning point where coffee really proves itself an artform. Here, you can dig deep into perfecting your cup by experimenting with different coffee-water ratios, preps, timing, pour styles and frequency, and filters.


And there you have it. The grinds you'll need to brew with the most common kinds of brewers. Coffee is a journey, and no good journey keeps to the same path the whole way. If you have a grinder and the means, go a few grind steps coarser, and then a few finer. You won't truly know the difference until you try. We want you to enjoy the best coffee on Earth, and that's why we do what we do. Once your order arrives on your doorstep, you may think our work is done, but it has only just begun.

We're going to get to your perfect cup of coffee together, and the right grind is the perfect place to start.


  • T

    I too use a keurig style maker. I find that a coarse grind gives me barely any flavor. I use a fine grind for best flavor.

  • MF
    Michael Fitzhugh

    I am using a Keurig with an adapter and a basket so that I don’t have to use pre-packaged pods but can use my own coffee. The recommended grind would seem to be coarse because it’s what is recommended for a French press, and the Keurig would seem closest to that, but is that the case. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

  • FP
    fred perry

    The ’grinds described in the 1/29/20 blog post do not correspond to the grinds that I can buy when purchasing. What grind should I use for paper filter cone type Melitta?

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