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Nothing beats a lovely big mug of steaming hot coffee in the morning and there’s no easier way to achieve this than with a drip machine. Drip machines allow you to simply add the coffee, top it up with water, and you’re rewarded with delicious coffee in no time at all.
The only issue is, it’s not unusual to find that the coffee isn’t as delicious as it really should be. If you’ve ever taken a sip of your morning java only to find it tastes thin, weak, or bitter then you may have been wondering what causes this delicious beverage to turn sour so quickly?
Well, the key reason your coffee isn’t as delicious as it should be is likely due to the grind size. If your coffee isn’t ground up correctly it can drastically affect the taste of your cup of joe.
The best grind size for drip coffee is a medium grind, that’s around the consistency of sea salt or sand. The coffee particles should be 0.75 mm and all roughly the same size.
As important as it is to get the grind just right, there are loads of other things to consider when you set out to brew a mug of java, so here’s everything you need to know about drip coffee and how to get yours tasting better than any barista could make!
What Is Drip Coffee?
Drip coffee, filter coffee, and regular coffee are all phrases that describe a particular coffee brewing process. This type of coffee is brewed automatically using a drip coffee maker. All you need to do is add water, a filter, and some ground coffee and press start. The machine heats the water and pumps it up to saturate the fresh coffee. This allows the coffee to brew in the basket before it drips down into a carafe ready for serving.
Drip coffee is so simple to make and easily brews large batches of coffee without any hard work. Some models have programmable timers built-in so you can set them up the night before and wake up to the perfect cup of coffee, brewed and ready to enjoy.
Although these machines are one of the easiest ways to brew coffee, if you don’t use the right grind size then the coffee flavor will suffer.
Why Does Coffee Grind Size Matter?
The brew method you use to make your morning cup of joe is a personal choice. There are so many brew methods available and they all vary in how long the coffee ground contact the hot water (or cold water in the case of cold brew). The general rule is, the longer the coffee sits in contact with the water, a coarser grind is needed. For very quick brew methods like an espresso machine, you need a finer grind.
A finer grind means a larger surface area and whilst this releases flavors quickly it can also lead to bitter tastes in your coffee if used incorrectly.
What Is the Best Grind Size for Drip Coffee?
Whether you choose pre-ground coffee or if you’re looking for the right grind setting on your coffee grinder, you still need to use coffee that’s ground correctly. If it’s a too fine grind size then the coffee will clog the filter and this slows the extraction. You end up with an over-extracted, bitter cup of coffee that’s miserable to drink.
On the other hand, if you use a very coarse grind then your brew time will be very quick. The coffee will be thin, weak, and under-extraction will add towards a sour or sharp flavor.
The best grind size for drip coffee is typically a medium grind size. This is a smooth, sandy texture. The exact grind also depends on the kind of coffee you use as different kinds of coffee brew differently. If you notice that your coffee tastes off at all then the first thing to do is adjust the grind size. If the coffee tastes sour and thin then opt for a medium-fine grind next time. If it’s slow to brew and bitter to taste then try a medium-coarse grind next time.
Why Choose Whole Beans?
It’s always a good idea to use whole coffee beans for any brew method. The whole coffee beans lock in all those delicious flavors and aromas and these start to disappear as soon as the coffee is ground up. For the best quality coffee only grind up the exact amount of beans you need each time and you’ll be blown away by the difference in taste.
Burr Grinder vs Blade Grinder
Once you’ve bought your whole bean coffee the next thing you will need is a coffee grinder. Unfortunately, not all grinders are created equal. You want a machine that can achieve an even particle size as it grinds the coffee otherwise you end up with a mix of under or over-extracted coffee grounds.
Blade coffee grinders are cheap to buy but they randomly chop the coffee using a rotating blade so you end up with all sizes from extra coarse grind to extra fine grind mixed together. The blades also heat up as they work so they can end up burning the coffee so it will taste bitter before you even start brewing.
The best options are conical burr grinders and these are always favored by baristas. The burrs can be set to various distances to give different grind settings. They always stay cool and ensure an even coffee consistency. These models are a bit more expensive but they are worth it for the quality of coffee you get with every grind.
The Perfect Ratio
Once you have your coffee beans and grinder ready to go, the next question is how much coffee should I use? The exact amount depends on your coffee machine and how many cups of coffee you need to brew but there is a recommended ratio of coffee to water that can help you out.
I always recommend starting with a 1:15 coffee to water ratio. This means you will use 1g of coffee for every 15g of water (or 15ml). If you’re looking to make 600ml of coffee then you will need to grind up 40g of coffee.
This ratio is another guide that you can easily adjust to suit your taste preferences. If you find the coffee too strong then opt for a 1:17 or 1:20 ratio next time. If you like it strong enough to keep you buzzing all day then try a 1:12 ratio.
Paper Filter vs Reusable Filter
A really good tip when trying to brew the best coffee using your drip machine is to make sure you use a paper filter. The reusable ones are guilty of letting the water flow too quickly so give you a thin and bitter cup of coffee.
Some people don’t like paper filters as they can end up leaving a papery taste to your java but you can easily avoid this by soaking them gently with hot water before you use them.
Glass or Thermal Carafe?
Drip coffee machines typically come in one of two options. You can get a glass carafe on a warming plate or a thermal jug to store your fresh brewed coffee. There are pros and cons to each option.
The glass carafe gives a lovely clean tasting mug of java and keeps the coffee piping hot without any effort. The issue with these models is if the plate isn’t well designed then it can heat up too much and burn the coffee. They are usually only good to keep the coffee hot for a short period of time.
A thermal carafe, especially when you fix the lid in place, will keep the coffee hot for hours without the risk of burning it. This is good if you like to brew a large pot of coffee and enjoy several cups throughout the day. The downside is that they need to be pre-heated otherwise they cool the coffee down initially as it brews.
What About Pour-Over?
Pour-over coffee using a device like a Chemex, Hario V60, or Kalita Wave is how you take good coffee and make it great. A pour-over set-up works the same as drip coffee except without the automated siphon and water heating.
You get to control the water temperature, bloom stage, coffee saturation, and timings of every step in the brewing process.
Pour-over devices come in two forms, cone-shaped options, and flat bottom drippers like the Rave Clever Dripper. The cone-shaped options allow you to control all the steps of your brewing coffee. The dripper style ones allow you to add all the water in one go and small holes in the base control the water flow.
When it comes to pour-over coffee you should use a medium grind setting on your coffee grinder. It’s very similar to drip coffee so you can take exactly the same approach to get that perfect grind setting.
Best Grind Size for Other Brew Methods – Coffee Grind Size Chart
Turkish Coffee – Ultra Fine Grind, powdered sugar consistency
Espresso Machine – Espresso Grind is fine but not as fine as Turkish coffee, table salt consistency
Moka Pot (Stovetop Espresso Maker) and The Aeropress – Both brew methods take medium-fine grind like granulated sugar
Drip Coffee and Pour-Over – Medium Grind, sea salt or sand
French Press Coffee and Percolator – Both these brew methods take coarse grounds
Cold Brew Coffee – Very coarse grind, as coarse as the grinder can go
Drip coffee is an easy and very satisfying way to enjoy rich and tasty coffee but there are a few tricks to this brew method. You do need to get the grind size just right otherwise your coffee will taste less than perfect.
Make sure you use a medium grind next time you brew a batch of drip coffee and you’ll be very satisfied with the results. Best of luck with your coffee brewing journey!
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