What is the Best Grind Size for Espresso?

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Johny Morrisson


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♡ Written by Humans for Humans

Apart from the type of coffee beans and the brewing technique, the grind size of the coffee beans plays a crucial role in determining the quality of the espresso shot. 

Generally, the best grind size for espresso is fine. A fine grind allows for a larger surface area of the coffee particles, which allows for a more efficient extraction of flavor and aroma compounds from the coffee. In addition, a finer grind can be more effective at creating the pressure that is necessary for brewing espresso.

In this article, I will discuss the best grind size for espresso and its impact on the taste of the coffee.

First, how Fine Is Espresso Grind?

When discussing espresso grind, it’s important to note that it is finer than regular coffee grind, being the second finest grind size after the Turkish coffee grind.

In terms of size, the Espresso coffee grounds should be around 0.2 to 0.3 mm.

To give you a little perspective the grind size for Drip and Pour Over coffee is Medium (0.5 – 0.7mm) and for the French Press and Cold Brew is Coarse (0.9 – 1.1mm).

A little history about espresso; people discovered that to brew faster they needed a finer grind size, but this presented a problem since water cannot easily pass through fine coffee grounds.

So in the early history of coffee machines different methods are suggested to pass the water through fine coffee grounds at higher pressure.

Traditionally in Espresso machines 9 bars of Pressure are maintained with pumps or manual levers.

However, this high-pressure brewing can cause channeling, and the finer you go, the more likely water will find easier pathways resulting in Espresso Channeling.

fine vs coarse grounds

Here’s a Detailed guide on Grind sizes for different brewing methods

What should espresso grind look like?

Espresso grind should look like fine sand with a consistency that is similar to powdered sugar. The size of the grind particles should be uniform to ensure even extraction.

Grind size for Espresso

The perfect espresso grind should not be too powdery or too chunky. As James Hoffmann, a world-renowned coffee expert, says, “The perfect espresso grind is like table salt, not too fine, not too coarse.”

How to Dial in Grind Size for Espresso

There are five rules of thumb you must keep in mind while Dialing in the Espresso grind size.

  • Start from the medium-fine grind settings and tweak from there to achieve the perfect taste
  • Make it as fine as you can till you suspect Chanelling is taking place.
  • The Grind size also depends on the roast of coffee beans – Go extra fine while using light roasted beans and go for medium fine settings while using dark roasted beans.
  • Purging is essential – You have to waste some coffee grounds when you change the grind settings to achieve consistent size. And that’s frustrating because some grinders need a lot of purging resulting in wasted coffee. But it’s a necessary evil to achieve the perfect taste.
  • Only change one variable at a time – Don’t change the final yield, water temperature, or any other variable while playing with the grind size.

What setting should a grinder be on for espresso?

Here are some of the popular coffee grinder settings for espresso.

Coffee GrinderGrind Settings
Bratza Encore4 – 9
OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder1 – 3
Eureka Mignon Burr Grinderfine
Cuisinart Professional Burr Mill2 – 4
Krups Burr Grinder2 – 4
Capresso infinity Burr Grinder2 – 4
Hario Skerton Pro Manual Grinder4 clicks

How Does Grind Size Affect the Taste of Espresso?

As someone who enjoys a good espresso, I can attest to the fact that the grind size of coffee beans matters a lot in determining its taste.

When using a fine grind size, I notice that my shot has a stronger and more robust flavor, but I also need to be careful not to over-extract it, as this can lead to bitterness in the shot.

On the other hand, when I shift the grind size towards a little coarser side, I get a weaker shot with less body, but there’s less risk of over-extraction and bitterness.

Ultimately, finding the right balance between grind size and extraction time is key to creating a delicious and balanced shot of espresso.

The perfect grind size will produce a shot with balanced acidity, sweetness, and bitterness. As Brian Jones, a coffee expert, puts it, “The right grind size is a compromise between the sweetness of under-extraction and the bitterness of over-extraction.”

Blade vs Burr Grinder | What’s Best for Espresso?

When it comes to grinding coffee beans for espresso, the type of grinder you use is crucial.

Blade grinders chop the beans unevenly, resulting in inconsistent grind size and flavor. Burr grinders, on the other hand, crush the beans between two burrs, resulting in a consistent grind size and flavor.

According to experts, burr grinders are the best choice for grinding coffee beans for espresso. As Scott Rao, a coffee expert, says, “A burr grinder is essential for producing a consistent grind size, which is crucial for espresso.”

Never use a Blade grinder for grinding beans for Espresso, It’s better to buy pre-ground coffee instead.

Grind the coffee beans

What are the best coffee beans for Espresso?

Apart from the grind size and the brewing technique, the type of coffee beans used for making espresso also plays a significant role in determining the quality of the shot.

Arabica and Robusta are the two main types of coffee beans used for making espresso. Arabica beans are known for their delicate flavor profile and acidity, while Robusta beans are known for their bold and bitter flavor.

According to experts, the best coffee beans for espresso are a blend of both Arabica and Robusta beans. The ratio of the blend depends on personal preference, but most espresso blends have a higher percentage of Arabica beans.

The Dark Roast coffee beans from Lavazza are my personal favorite for espresso.

Here’s a list of the best coffee beans for Espresso

Final Thoughts on Espresso Grind Size

As a coffee lover, I understand the importance of a perfect espresso shot. From my personal experience, I can say that grind size is a critical factor that affects the quality of the shot.

Making the perfect espresso shot requires attention to detail and precision. It’s essential to use the right equipment and techniques to ensure a consistent and balanced flavor.

All in all, understanding the importance of grind size in espresso brewing is crucial for preparing a rich and flavorful shot. Experimenting with different grind sizes, and coffee beans can help you find the perfect combination that suits your taste.

So, don’t be afraid to try new things and enjoy the process of making the perfect espresso shot!

FAQs

Does grind size affect crema?

Yes, grind size affects crema. If the grind size is too fine, the coffee may become over-extracted, resulting in too foamy Espresso. If the grind size is too coarse, the coffee may become under-extracted, resulting in weak and thin crema.

How do you know if espresso is too fine?

If the espresso shot pours too slowly, it may be too fine. If the shot pours too quickly, it may be too coarse. The ideal espresso shot should pour in 25-30 seconds and have a volume of around 1-1.25 ounces.

Is finer grind more bitter?

In general, a finer grind of coffee can result in a more bitter taste as it leads to the over-extraction of flavors from coffee grounds.
However, if the brewing time is reduced to compensate for the increased surface area, the finer grind may not necessarily result in a more bitter taste.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About, bringing passion and expertise to the world of coffee.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.