How fine to grind coffee? – The ONLY Coffee Grind Size Guide You’ll Need

Are you finding it perplexing to choose the proper coffee grind size? We’re here to help you! 

Generally, how fine to grind the coffee beans depends on the brewing method selected and the bean’s roast level. In this guide, you will learn how coffee grind sizes influence the coffee flavor and be able to choose the proper size for your preferred brewing method. 

How does Grind Size Influence Coffee Flavor?

First, you need to understand an essential aspect of coffee brewing: the extraction level. 

The extraction level directly decides the flavor of your coffee. Under-extracted coffee tastes sour, acidic, and salty, and conversely, over-extracted coffee draws so much bitterness from the beans, covering the coffee’s inherent aromas.

That is why the bulk of the effort we put into brewing coffee is to strike a delicate balance that steers clear of under and over-extraction. Achieving this equilibrium is pivotal and hinges on selecting the appropriate grind size.  

The grind size you choose influences the extraction process and determines the flavor profile of your coffee. As a general rule, finer grinds equals a more extensive coffee extraction. Two factors contribute to this outcome. 

First, fine-ground coffee can increase extraction because it has a greater surface area to contact with water. It can also clog down filters in some brewing methods, such as drip and pour-over, slowing the water flow rate, increasing water-to-coffee contact time, and enhancing extraction. 

The opposite applies to coarse-ground coffee. 

Simply remember that opting for a coarser grind may lead to coffee being under-extracted while choosing a finer grind makes it easier to end up with an over-extracted brew.

The Perfect Grind Sizes for Different Brews

There are five commonly used grind sizes. These are extra-coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and extra-fine grind. But medium-fine and medium-coarse grinds also exist and for excellent reasons. Note: More than one kind of grind size suits your brewing method. 

Grind SizeSimilar to Perfect for
Extra Coarse GrindGround PeppercornsCold Brew
Coarse GrindSea SaltFrench Press
Medium-coarse grindCoarse/Rough SandDrip machine; percolator
Medium GrindBeach SandPour-Over; Siphon
Medium-fine grindFiner than SandPour-Over; Siphon
Fine GrindFine table saltEspresso; Moka Pot
Extra Fine GrindFlour/Powdered SugarTurkish Coffee

A general principle is: The longer the brewing time, the coarser you grind the beans.

Extra coarse Grind: Cold Brew  (12-24 hrs. brew time)

When dealing with brewing methods prone to over-extraction, like Cold Brew, which demands a lengthy steeping period of roughly 12-24 hours, it’s recommended to opt for a coarser grind. This specific grind size prevents your brew from becoming gritty in texture.

If you want a more in-depth guide, check out our article on “How to make cold brew.”

Coarse Grind: Cold Brew; French Press; Aeropress (4 min. brew time)

For the same reason, grind the beans coarse to avoid over-extraction, and you do it more on the steeping method. Like French Press, you steep the grounds in hot water for about 4 minutes.

Want to try making French press coffee at home? Check out our article “How to make French Press coffee.”

Medium-Coarse Grind: Drip machine; Pour-Over Coffee; Percolator

A medium-coarse grind size is more suitable for any percolation method. You want to grind a bit finer than coarse to extract the full flavor with a shorter brewing time. Two good examples are drip coffee machines and pour-over.

Medium Grind: Drip machine; Pour-Over; Siphon/Vacuum Pot; Aeropress

Medium grind size is usually suitable for the extraction by water passing through the coffee bed with a distinct brewing time, such as a pour-over. 

Medium-Fine Grind: Pour-Over; Siphon/Vacuum Pot

For a more flavorful percolated coffee, grind your beans slightly finer than medium, but be cautious as it may extract bitterness based on bean type and technique.

Check out our article “How to Make Pour Over Coffee.”

Fine Grind: Espresso (1-2 min. brew time); Moka Pot; Aeropress 

Grind the beans finely for espresso and Moka Pot because you want to allow water to extract all the flavor from the beans quickly and with a limited water supply. 

Curious about espresso? Read “What is espresso” or “30+ Types of Espresso Drinks

Extra Fine Grind: Turkish Coffee

The extra fine ground coffee is a characteristic of Turkish Coffee. Here, you don’t have to worry about the bitterness due to the over-extraction as they add sugar when brewing coffee and commonly serve it with sweets.

Coffee Grind Size vs. Roast Level

Coffee grind size unquestionably has a special relationship with the roast level. As a guide, we often grind light-roasted coffee a little finer and dark-roasted coffee coarser. There are two factors behind this: solubility and density. 

Dark-roasted coffee is roasted for a longer period, which results in more moisture evaporation. This gives the beans heightened solubility and a naturally more bitter taste. That is why using a coarser grind with dark roasted beans is advisable to prevent over-extraction. 

The long roasting period of dark roasted beans also accounts for its lower density, which is quite an important factor in brewing. 

Let’s say you’re steeping ground beans like you do for a French Press. With the lower density of dark roast, we use a coarser grind to enable coffee particles to sink to the bottom of the glass instead of using a finer grind, which will let them afloat and form a crusty top covering. 

Light-roasted coffee, on the other hand, undergoes a briefer roasting period, retaining most of its moisture. This contributes to its reduced solubility.  That is why we grind a little finer with a lighter roast to increase the surface area connecting with water for better extraction. 

The Best Grinder for Coffee Beans: Burr Grinder

The quality of grinders plays a crucial role in your coffee brewing. Don’t grind your coffee beans with a standard blade grinder. Instead, invest in a Burr grinder.  The biggest reason is the assurance of uniformity of every bit of ground coffee.

Blade grinders also produce heat and friction while grinding due to high-speed spinning. this means you are somewhat “roasting” the beans in your grinder, which can alter the final taste. The good thing about burr grinders is they produce negligible heat in this process. 

Photo of author


Mesphird Yang

I have been brewing and drinking coffee for almost 6 years now. At first, I was just dazzled by how baristas look and that's why I started learning. In the long run, I became obsessed with its charm. I have tried many coffee brewing methods, with different kinds of beans in various roast levels. If I could have more than 4 cups of coffee a day, I definitely would!

Leave a Comment