When it comes to making the perfect coffee, the grind plays a starring role. In fact, many say that a good grinder is the most important piece of equipment there is and sure enough, if you try to get away with a crappy grinder, even the sleekest of espresso machines will let you down. You simply can’t make a top espresso unless you have a good quality grinder, churning out a consistently even grind. A good grinder ensures the ground coffee doesn’t clump together, keeps the beans cool while grinding and helps evenly distribute coffee in the basket. Uneven grinds, on the other hand, cause all sorts of problems.
Read on for our 101:
Choosing a grinder
There are two types of grinder intended for home use: the coffee mill, aka the burr grinder and the more common bladed grinder. The burr grinder grinds the beans using two burrs, or serrated discs. You set the type of grind you want, load the beans into the chamber and start grinding. Ground coffee collects in a second chamber and is ready to be brewed.
A burr grinder produces a nice consistent grind. The more common bladed grinder, however, known for its two-sided single blade that spins and chops the beans at the same time results in a pretty inconsistent grind, can potentially burn your coffee and has no actual grind settings. It is cheaper yes, but if you love your coffee, as everyone in the Netherlands does, it really is a false economy to use one.
Using the correct grind
When making espresso, a very fine, consistent grind is essential. How fine? An easy test is to pinch the grinds between your thumb and forefinger. Where the pressure is greatest, in the centre of the pinch, the coffee should clump a little. If it doesn’t clump at all, it’s too coarse and will make a weak shot. If it clumps excessively, it’s too fine and will produce over extraction.
Bear in mind too that the freshness of the roasted beans and their degree of roast impact how the water is absorbed so these are factors that effect grind as well. Luckily with Jones Brothers’ finest, you always know the beans are as fresh as fresh can be. Remember that making good espresso requires balancing several factors – the grind, tamp, coffee, pressure. It’s far less about making it right, than making everything work together in harmony.
Keeping it clean
Any burr grinder will retain several grams of coffee in the burrs. The larger the grinder, the more grinds it will retain. This isn’t a problem for a coffee shop that grinds new coffee every minute, but can become an issue for a home user as the old grinds stale and negatively impact the flavour. So keep your machine as clean as possible and flush a few grams of beans through the machine if you haven’t used it in a while or if you’re switching coffees. You can clean your burrs easily by running instant rice through the machine.
Good grinder? Check. Good coffee? Check. Good machine? Check. But what if your shots still aren’t great? Chances are good that your distribution might be off. Distribution refers to how evenly distributed the grinds are in the portafilter. If poorly distributed, you’ll end up with a shot that looks good for a few seconds and then suddenly gushes out a light-blonde mess. This means the water isn’t extracting flavour evenly and so the resulting shot tastes wrong. To avoid this, simply try spreading the grinds around evenly, making sure to fill any fissures and pushing grinds all the way to the edge.
So there you go… Jones Brothers’ 101 on the art of grinding. If you remember nothing else, remember that if you don’t have a nice, even grind, you can’t make good espresso. And without a good espresso, you simply don’t do your beautiful beans from Jones Brothers Coffee justice. End of message!
Love what we brew!
The Bean Team