Choosing your grind style is a personal choice. There are few rules of thumb when it comes to choosing your grind style, but even those are not set in stone.
The main rule of thumb is to choose a grinder that matches the brew method you use. For example, if you only have a coffee maker, then you do not need to invest in an expensive and heavy burr grinder. A pre-ground coffee store brand will work just as well!
Aside from that, the other grinder settings you have do not really matter unless you plan on using them all. Grinders can range from having enough space for one coffee bean to being able to hold many beans at once, to having different settings for how fine or coarse the ground coffee is.
Grind Coarsely for Drip Coffee Makers
If you own a drip coffee maker, you will need to grind coffee slightly coarser than for a pour over or espresso machine. Drip coffee makers typically hold more water, so the coffee has more time to filter through.
Because of this, if the coffee is ground too finely, it can take too long to pass through the pot and come out the other end as a cup of coffee. This is a waste of pricey beans!
Coarsely ground coffee allows for adequate saturation of the water as it filters through. The water can then trickle down at a reasonable speed, making for a larger cup of coffee.
Make sure to check your drip maker’s instructions on how strong the brew should be, and calibrate your grind accordingly.
Grind Medium-Fine for Vacuum Brewers
A vacuum brewer is also called a coffee plunger. This device has a pot for water, a mesh filter, and a lid. You add the ground coffee to the filter, then add hot water.
The coffee is slowly brewed as the water is filtered through the grounds. The trick is getting the right grind size!
Too coarse and the coffee will not be filtered properly. Too fine and the coffee will take too long to brew, or may overflow out of the top of the plunger.
A medium-fine grind is recommended for most coffees. Primesacoffee explains how they test their grind size by dropping a handful of grinds into a glass of water. It should form little balls that do not completely flatten when pushed together. If it is too coarse, it will flatten out and spill over the edge of the glass!
Keep in mind that your vacuum brewer may be different sizes, so these tips are general guidelines.
Grind Fine for Espresso Machines
Espresso machines require the fine grinds. This makes sense, as you want the coffee to be pressed very tightly. Otherwise, you would end up with a lot of empty space in your cup!
Since the coffee has to be very finely ground, it is best to just go ahead and buy espresso coffee beans. Regular ground coffee will not have the same consistency as espresso grounds, so do not try that!
Many places that sell espresso beans also sell a grinder that is designed for their product. If you cannot find one, there are generic ones that will work just as well. Just make sure it has a sharp blade to cut the beans down so they fit into the portafilter basket.
Testing the grind level is easy! Just pull out some of your leftover coffee and try to grind it as fine as your new grinder.
Check the Instructions for Your Coffee Maker
First things first, make sure you know how to grind coffee for your specific coffee maker. If you are lucky, there will be a setting for this in the menu settings.
Most coffee makers require you to grind your coffee beans into fairly even grounds. Too thick of grounds will result in no water getting through the coffee, and too thin will cause too much water get through, making it weak.
Some have settings for how coarse or fine you want your grounds to be, and some require just a medium grind. Check your user guide to see which one your machine needs!
Once you have figured out what setting your machine needs, then it is time to grind some coffee!
If you do not have a grinder at home, there are many inexpensive ones that you can purchase at stores like Target or Walmart. Just make sure it is not electric as those cannot handle the strength of coffee beans.
Use Fresh Beans
Even if you do not have a grinder attached to your machine, you can still use fresh beans. Most places that sell coffee offer whole beans instead of pre-ground.
There are some places that offer pre-grounded beans, but those are usually older batches of beans that are not as flavorful. If you are stuck with those, make sure they are not too old as that would affect the flavor as well.
The best way to use whole beans is to grind them just before you brew your coffee. This ensures that you get all the flavorful oils out of the bean and into your cup!
If you do not want to grind them yourself, there are other ways to get fresh ground coffee into your machine. You can buy pre-filled capsules for some machines, like Keurig machines. You could also just use regular coffee grounds, but then you would have to wash out your machine after each use to get rid of the leftover flavor.
Store Coffee in The Fridge
Some coffee aficionados recommend storing coffee in the fridge. If you are very careful, you can even grind coffee in the fridge.
Because coffee absorbs flavors easily, it is best to store it in an airtight container or bag. This way, it will not pick up flavors from other foods in the fridge.
The reason people suggest storing coffee in the fridge is because it keeps it more fresh. When coffee is left out at room temperature, it loses some of its flavor and aroma as time goes on.
By having a small amount stored in the fridge, you are preventing that loss and keeping your coffee fresher for longer.
Use a Coffee-Saver Bottle
If you are a frequent coffee drinker, then having a coffee grinder at home is a great way to save some money. You can buy pre-ground coffee, but it is much more expensive than the beans itself.
The problem is that freshly ground coffee goes stale very quickly. Unless you are making a large batch of coffee at once, it is hard to use it all before it goes stale.
To help with this issue, you can use a coffee saver bottle. This is just a tall plastic bottle with a lid. When you grind your coffee, put in in the bottle and then add fresh water to the top. The water will not tamper with the flavor or smell of the ground coffee inside!
This way you can also keep different flavors separate so that you do not get strange flavors mixed together.
Use a Pod Coffee Maker
If you absolutely cannot live without coffee, and you have a lot of time on your hands, then the next best option is to use a pod coffee maker.
These machines require you to use pre-filled coffee pods instead of ground coffee. The problem with pods is that they are very expensive and difficult to find in stores.
You can either buy them online or get creative and make your own using coffee grounds, a filter, and an adhesive to hold it all together.
Once you have your pod coffee maker, you just have to rinse out the pod holder every so often and replace the water reservoir. Easy peasy!
The downside to this method is that you are not investing time in grinding your own coffee, so you may end up with subpar brew. Grinding your own also helps prevent wasted grounds due to uneven grinding.