Posted on Leave a comment

Going from buying pre-ground to whole bean coffee

You may have been drinking pre-ground for a while. You may have only recently made the leap from instant (if you are drinking instant visit this link for the first step) but are keen to know how to make an even better cup of coffee.

Your next investment should be a grinder. Even if you’re using a cafetiere it will make a bigger difference than you anticipate to your coffee. When you grind beans, you release the oils to the air and even the most air-tight packaging or specialised grinding cannot stop the fact that ground beans have a larger surface area and therefore a larger exposure to the air. Letting the soluble parts of the beans dry up quicker can make your coffee taste flat.

Grinders can be cheap and cheaper grinders are getting better all the time. A blade grinder chops the beans and a burr grinder crushes them. You want the latter as chopping beans can give an inconsistent size which, when exposed to water, will mean different amounts of the soluble parts of the coffee go into the brew to either over-extract (smaller pieces) which could be bitter or an under-extract (larger pieces) because there hasn’t been a sufficient period for all the good stuff to be released into the water yet. Mix those two up and you will get an inconsistent cup that is never quite right.

Since this is an introduction to the subject I’m going to concentrate on two grinders only. Thousands exist but these are two I use, are usually under £30 and readily available.

Hario Mill Skerton hand grinder. This is hand grinder and is used a lot throughout the specialist coffee world. It’s small, has good ergonomics and can do the finest of grinds. Making lots of cups with this grinder will really strengthen your arm muscles as the burrs are quite small but it’s consistent enough and well worth the money. It comes apart and goes back together very easily to clean which you should do once a month.

De’Longhi KG79 Coffee Grinder. An electric grinder that got fame in the specialist coffee world because it’s hackable to produce a finer grind. However, newer models seem to grind fine enough for espresso without even being on the top setting. Plug it in, set your fineness and dose setting (we recommend pre-weighing and adding to the grinder so you never grind too little or too much), press the button and wait. It’s loud but that is the only down side.

If you look for reviews on the above grinders you will find good and bad. Mostly good, some bad but these seem to compare with mid & top of the range grinders with these sub £30 grinders so bear that in mind.

Dialing in. A bit of coffee lingo now that you may see around the place. Dialing in is what specialist coffee drinkers do when they have a new bean and they are finding the right dosage, grind and roast. It’s basically making small adjustments until it’s right. Stick to general guides for now but feel free to experiment if you want – it becomes addictive however so don’t forget to enjoy the odd cup of coffee too.

General guide to brewing, dosage size and grind level

  • French Press 1 litre 60 grams –  Very coarse
  • Drip / Filter 1 litre 60 grams – Coarse
  • Cold Brew 1 cup / 250ml 30 grams – Coarse
  • Espresso 30ml (single shot) 7 grams – Fine
  • Aeropress 200ml 16 grams Coarse – Fine
  • Moka stovetop – Fine
  • Syphon Coarse – Very coarse

The above levels can be adjusted 20% either way depending on your taste.

Any questions we are only a tweet away.


Image by Yara Tucek CC BY 2.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *