Different Coffee Grind Types & Brew Methods
The Different Types Of Coffee Grind & Wholebean
There are seven different types of coffee brew methods and respective grind types available for both speciality coffee and independent coffee, all of which can be purchased from our coffee roasters at GUSTATORY. You may also purchase wholebean coffee, which is as the term suggests, is coffee beans in their whole form, pre-ground. We of course want to make sure you know which type you were wanting to purchase, but equally too, knowing about their differences can really help you become your own coffee connoisseur. The different types of grinds available in addition to wholebean are: cafetière, filter, aeropress, stovetop, capsule and espresso.
Wholebean. Grinding Your Own Coffee
Purchasing wholebeans is perfect for those wanting a truly authentic experience with every cup of coffee. In general terms, the finer any ground coffee is, the more surface area there is available for water to brew. In addition to water, coffee beans also react to air contact, meaning all grinding should be undertaken as close to brewing as possible.
Two types of grinder are available for you to use when grinding your own wholebeans: ones with a blade and ones with a burr. The former essentially cuts down every bean into smaller sizes, however this method will lead to inconsistencies in the size of the ground particles. The second method has two cutting discs (burrs) and can be set to ground the coffee beans to a specific or required size, resulting in a consistent particle size throughout. For espresso coffee, GUSTATORY particularly recommends using a burr grinder. You will find that some grinders are dual purpose so can do both espresso and filter so it is worth checking with your grinder's instructions before usage.
It is also worth mentioning that a coffees origin will have an impact on the grind size of the coffee. Coffee grinds can be described as 'very fine', 'fine', 'medium' and 'coarse'; you will certainly be able to see the difference between coarse and very fine. Therefore, to achieve that perfect brew, it is worth experimenting to find which grind sizes suit your palette best.
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The French Press (Cafetière)
Arguably the most common method of converting your ground coffee into a delicious coffee brew, the French Press - or Cafetière - is an inexpensive cylinder with a simple filtering plunger. More precisely known as an 'infusion brewer', the cafetière allows ground coffee particles to infuse with water and in doing so creates a uniform taste. Unbeknown to most, the plunger's metal mesh has holes tactically sized to allow some of the coffee grind to find passage into your cup to give a richer body taste. In simplicity, however, comes issue and often at the bottom of your cafetière you will find sludge; we wouldn't recommend tasting this as it may be unpleasant.
Giving you great coffee without much effort, GUSTATORY recommends using 'very fine' to 'medium' coffee grinds for such a method. To produce your coffee via this method, simply use the ratio of 75g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water, adding both into the cafetière simultaneously. Let the coffee mix with the water for circa five minutes to allow the particles to sink to the bottom and then add the mesh plunger onto the cafetière. Ironically, do not plunger the coffee at this stage, but instead allow the coffee to pour through the mesh into your cup; the plunger is used to keep the sludge at the bottom after your first pour. Now enjoy.
Discover GUSTATORY's curated collection of French Press (cafetière) coffees.
Filter (Pour Over)
As the name suggests, the Pour Over quite literally relates to the process of pouring water over coffee. Brewing by percolation, such a method requires a filter to be positioned between the ground coffee and the water, usually a detachable and reusable component to your coffee kettle. Popular Pour Over devices and their brands include the Hario V60, Kailta Wave 185, Chemex (all products), and others.
Using this method of brewing, the coffee to water ratio is particularly important, as is the speed at which you introduce more water to the coffee. Three variables affect the quality of your coffee: the fineness of the coffee grind, the contact time of water to coffee, and the amount of coffee being used. Firstly, the fineness of the coffee particles affects how the particles move through the water, as well how slowly the water can percolate itself through the coffee mix. The contact time relates to how slowly you add the water; we advise to pouring the water slowly in order to elongate this part of the process. The amount of coffee used will, of course, affect contact time, and having more coffee will increase the time it takes for the water to mix with the coffee.
To produce your coffee via this method, simply use a ratio of 60g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water - we recommend using 'medium' coffee grinds. First, lightly rinse your filter and position this within the brewer that you place on top of your cup. Next, add your coffee into the filter; it is common practice to add a little bit of temperate water to the coffee at this stage to get all the particles wet prior to introducing hot water, leaving this in the kettle until required. Such a practice is called 'bloom' and prevents the coffee from just becoming sludgy with the hot water. Next, slowly pour the hot water directly over the coffee (not the sides of the filter), but not too slow for there to be no gravity working on the percolation. Adding enough water until there is just 1 centimetre worth of space left unused around the rim of the filter, watch and let the water drip through into the cup. After all the water has been used up, remove the filter and enjoy.
A note on the different types of filter, these are available in either cloth, paper or metallic material, and each has a slightly different effect on the final brew. Paper is undoubtedly the most common material and provides the cleanest of brews possible as it is able to strain all the oils and coffee particles. Cloth is the oldest method, with the fabric's holes' sizes allowing oils to pass through to give a fuller-bodied tasting brew. The re-usage of cloth can sometimes be an issue as the entire process depends on how well you pre-cleaned the cloth during preparation time. Lastly metal, these filters are perhaps the most reusable, but also the least authentic.
Discover GUSTATORY's curated collection of filter coffees.
Filter (Electric Machine)
In addition to the above filter method, filter coffee can also be made by electric machine. Whether you simply don't have the time to brew in the morning or if you're looking for a certain consistency with each and every cup, we won't judge you for going electric - all methods have their time and place. Without much complication or hassle, you can have your roasted coffee drink in no time. However, it is worth noting, that in most cases electric filter machines are considered inferior to the methods discussed above. This is simply down to the temperatures required to properly brew coffee and the fact that these electric filter machines are generally considered inadequate in terms of brewing functionality.
To produce your coffee via this method, follow the ratio of 60g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water, much like you would if you were manually filtering your coffee using a pour over; 'medium' grinds are also preferable here. Brewing using this method is very simple and as easy as placing the filter paper inside the machine's holder, adding the recommended coffee amount into the filter and further adding cold water to the machine's water tank, all before closing the machine's lids, switching the button on and watching as the water heats up and begins to filter through the coffee filter into the cup beneath. Afterwards, be sure to discard the filter as these are only one-time usage, and then, of course, enjoy.
Discover GUSTATORY's curated collection of filter coffees.
Perhaps one of the more unusual methods of coffee brewing, the aeropress is widely held to be one of the cleanest brewing methods. Often easily transportable, such a method is also for the keener coffee makers amongst us who wish to achieve quality coffee outside of the home, wherever they may be. The aeropress can essentially be considered a combination of a cafetière and a filter brewer. A main advantage of an aeropress is its ability to produce a vast variety of coffee types, though we’d recommend against trying to make an espresso coffee.
Depending on which coffee type you're intending to make, to produce a short and strong coffee via this method, simply use the ratio of 100g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water, or for a more regular cup of coffee, use 75g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water. In general terms, the coarser the coffee particles, the longer you should take in brewing your coffee. First, add your filter paper to the aeropress filter holder and pass some hot water through prior to adding any coffee to prepare the brewer. Add the coffee grind into the filter and additionally with hot water straight after. Next, stir the mixture together and follow by introducing the pressure-piston into the top of the aeropress' opening without any pressure being applied just yet; this will create a vacuum within the aeropress to prevent any coffee drippage. Leave the coffee and water to mix for one minute before then placing pressure down on the pressure-piston to force the coffee to drip out of the filter chamber and into your coffee cup. Pushing harder will speed up the brew time as well as also extract more from your coffee by way of the additional pressure being applied. Upon completion of one full plunge, we recommend releasing the pressure-piston slightly to recreate a vacuum within to prevent any further coffee drippage. Finally, remove the aeropress, discard all coffee wastage and enjoy.
Discover GUSTATORY's curated collection of aeropress coffees.
The stovetop is one of earliest methods of brewing coffee and it's authenticity really adds to the experience of home coffee brewing. That said, the stovetop isn't known for being the easiest of methods nor the one the provides the most consistency. Perfect for making espresso coffee, the coffee produced by a stovetop is almost always very strong and quite bitter; the latter characteristic is fundamentally due to the extreme heat which you apply to the coffee. One benefit, though, is that due to the coffee to water ratio required, brew time is quite fast.
The stovetop comes in three components: the pot's middle basket (and tube) is used to house the coffee grind, the bottom chamber the hot water, and the top chamber is reserved for your resulting mixture - your consumable coffee. To produce your coffee via this method, simply use the ratio of 200g worth of coffee grind to 1 litre of water. We recommend that you use either 'very fine' or 'fine' coffee grinds. Begin by adding the hot water to the bottom chamber up to the point of the safety valve. Next, add the coffee grind into the middle basket and then screw this component in place on top of the water chamber, ensuring that the gasket is carefully sealed in place. Next, place the stovetop onto your stove and heat on a medium-ish temperature. The hot water from the lower chamber will begin to rise up through the interconnecting tube as the steam begins create pressure; the hotter the temperature you set, the more pressure that is built up and so the quicker the brewing process. Watch as coffee liquid then begins to creep up through the tube and drip down into the previously-empty top chamber. Should you ever hear the stovetop making a struggling sound, this is the time in which you remove the stovetop from the heat; the water has likely all passed through and nothing remains in the bottom chamber. Finally, run the stovetop under a cold tap, ensuring that the cold water passes over the bottom chamber to recondense the steam and reduce the built-up pressure within, then enjoy.
Discover GUSTATORY's curated collection of stovetop coffees.
The capsule brewing method requires a capsule machine and instructions will vary depending on which machine you own. We recommend that you simply refer to the machine-relevant instructions for brewing advice. To produce your coffee via this method, one capsule creates one coffee and the amount of water necessary will depend on the size of the chamber that your machine can hold. The coffee produced should be consistent each time due to the machine having minimal factors that can cause variance. The capsule method can be a good place to start for novice's just starting out their home coffee brewing experience due to the simplicity that the capsule and machine can provide. The main drawback to such a brewing method, however, is the lack of independent roasters that produce their coffee grinds in capsule format.
Discover GUSTATORY's curated collection of capsule coffees.
Finally espresso, such a coffee-type is generally considered the best way to home brew your coffee, and such a characteristic is reflected in how establishments generally charge a premium for espresso rather than filter coffee types. As you may also realise as you read on, it is this very method that is what you see happening within those large machines along high street cafe counters.
As previously mentioned, the fineness of a coffee grind affects the easibility of brewing, however when you use 'very fine' grinds, gravity alone can often not be enough to push the water through the coffee mix, and this is why espresso was invented; the name 'espresso' derives from the improved speed which this method can provide. Espresso machines essentially create extreme pressures within their system to better force water through coffee.
Also associated with such a coffee-type is the term 'crema', the additional layer of dense foam that is produced on the top of any espresso coffee. Such a layer exists due to the espresso's pressures forcing the water to dissolve more carbon dioxide, and upon coming out of the machine into room temperature, becomes this bubbly foam layer. Beyond being aesthetically pleasing on any coffee cup, it actually signifies the freshness of a coffee grind; if the coffee grind wasn't so fresh, there would be less carbon dioxide and therefore this layer wouldn't exist so much. The darkness of the foam layer also reflects the strength of the coffee.
Explaining how to produce your coffee via this method is somewhat difficult, and GUSTATORY highly recommends you go to a barista school and learn your local cafe's tips and tricks. That said, a basic understanding of the espresso process is certainly required. Firstly, ground coffee is added to a handled container that contains a super-fine filter on it's base. With the coffee next compressed down - this is called 'tamping' - into the container, the combination is affixed into place in the espresso machine with the machine's pressure system activated. The machine begins to work as it pumps a specific amount of hot water through the coffee container, dripping out into a cup placed beneath. Based on your skill level, some machines will be easy to understand and use, whilst others will allow you to nicely tailor your coffee brew.
Given all the variables which can come into play with this method, as you will find out at any barista school, there can be many ratios of coffee to water to produce all the different types of coffee. In addition to the aforementioned basic technique, GUSTATORY can offer a few other insights into the espresso method. Firstly, proper tamping requires a completely clean container, free of any oils or grind residue, coming with a certain technique to ensure that the coffee sits flat and fully compressed down. For precise coffee brewing, weighing your coffee is almost always an essential here too. In addition, the way in which you see establishments flush steam through the espresso nozzle isn't just for show, it is to help clean this machine component, as well as to ensure that the machine-to-room temperature gradient can be realised for that all-important crema. GUSTATORY cannot stress enough the importance of correctly understanding the required amount of coffee and water in combination with each other, but upon mastering the skill, you will be able to produce some very delicious coffee.
Due to the fact that espresso is quite different to any of the other methods previously described, it is essential that you purchase coffee beans suitable for espresso brewing; roasters almost always tailor their roasting procedure to create espresso-specific coffee grinds. Have fun experimenting and enjoy your coffee results.
Discover GUSTATORY's curated collection of espresso coffees.
With thanks to Coffeediff, an active development for coffee connoisseurs