Should Espresso Be Ground Fine or Coarse?

espresso ground near maker

A good espresso relies on the water’s purity and temperature, coffee quality, and the grind. If your coffee grind is too coarse, there won’t be enough flavor; If it’s too fine, the coffee will taste acidic and overwhelming. Finding the perfect grind can be difficult, but we have all the information you need to make the perfect espresso.

Espresso should be ground fine because it’s much stronger than a normal cup of coffee. A fine grind increases the surface area hit by the hot water, which creates a richer, bolder shot that yields more caffeine. A burr grinder will create an even grind without bean chunks that could weaken the cup.

In this post, we’ll cover how you can get the perfect grind for a shot of espresso, why the grind size and quality matter, and what happens when you find the coffee beans too fine. Enjoy!

Is an Espresso Grind Fine?

An espresso grind is fine to release more flavor, caffeine, and consistency. Set your grinder to grind the coffee beans to .08mm, achieving a small enough surface for a long, reliable pour. You’ll also enjoy a less acidic or watery espresso shot by following this method since the grind won’t drip too quickly.

Here are the four reasons a coffee grind should be fine for espresso:

  1. A fine grind increases the area the hot water can touch and drip through. Masterclass explains a coffee’s fine grind will let more water heat the beans, which releases the carbon gases and makes it much more enjoyable to drink. Furthermore, it stops the water from pooling in one area. 
  2. The dense nature of a fine coffee grind means the water pulls more flavor and takes longer to pour. The longer the water sits in the ground coffee beans, the more flavor you’ll receive. A fine grind lets you achieve a slow, even drip to make the ultimate shot of espresso every time.
  3. Fine coffee grinds prevent chunks from making their way into your coffee cup or espresso shot. Nobody wants to chew their coffee! Grinding it down to the previously mentioned 0.8mm size is perfect for removing chunks of coffee beans without tarnishing the flavor of the espresso shots.
  4. You’ll get more caffeine out of finely-ground coffee beans. Coffee beans are loaded with caffeine, but the best way to extract it is to grind it fine enough for the water to heat the grind. If you get a bunch of watery espresso shots, they won’t have nearly as much caffeine as one high-quality coffee.

As you can see, espresso beans need to be ground down to fine particles for plenty of reasons. Without a smooth, even grind, you’ll end up with a lackluster, gross cup or shot; But what happens if you grind it too finely? Is it possible to ruin an espresso shot by over-grinding the beans? Find out below.

Can an Espresso Grind Be Too Fine?

An espresso shot can be too fine, resulting in a powerfully overwhelming and unenjoyable shot of espresso. Fortunately, many modern grinders have settings to prevent your coffee from being too fine or coarse. Changing the setting on a coffee grinder can be the difference between a perfect espresso or an underwhelming cup of watery coffee.

The three primary components of an espresso shot include:

  1. NCAUSA states the water should be 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for espresso shots.
  2. A fine grind of 0.8 mm is recommended.
  3. High-quality coffee beans make high-quality espresso; Don’t skimp on the beans!

How Does Grind Size Affect Espresso?

Grind size affects espresso because ultra-fine grinds are too bitter and sour, whereas coarse grinds are watery and gross. They lack flavor or have too much of it, both of which can ruin a shot of espresso. Using a burr grinder (mechanical or manual) will yield much better results than a traditional bladed coffee grinder.

Below, we’ll cover the in-depth details of grind size and flavor.

  • If the grind is too fine, it’ll taste bitter, burnt, and sour. While we often favor long-lasting pour-overs for espresso shots and rich pots of coffee, an ultra-fine grind will settle the water for too long and burn the beans. It’ll also pull out too much acidity, leading to a gag-inducing bitterness.
  • If the grind is too coarse, it’ll taste weak, lack caffeine, and waste the coffee beans. According to Home Grounds, not grinding the coffee beans enough will result in a ‘hollow’ shot of espresso that lacks the hidden, beloved notes. For example, a fruit-based coffee will taste bland, and a chocolate-based coffee will lack flavor.
  • Using a burr grinder ensures the most even grind because it doesn’t slice the beans; It crushes and mixes them. The Cuisinart Burr Mill is an excellent example of a fine-grinding burr machine that evenly grinds the coffee beans. It has 18 labeled positions to create the exact grind you’re trying to achieve.
  • Always use the appropriate grind size for the coffee strength you’re looking for. Espresso should have a fine grind, but a regular cup of coffee can be coarse, depending on the machine you use. For example, french presses need a coarse grind, whereas pour-over coffee makers call for a fine grind. Espresso shots should always be fine.

The grind size is one of the most important parts of making a good cup of coffee or espresso. Much like tea leaves, achieving the perfect size will ensure you get the most flavor and health benefits in each sip. As long as you use the proper grinder with the right size, you won’t have to worry about watery or acidic drinks any more!

Conclusion

Now that you know how to grind your coffee beans to the perfect size, you can make the best cup or shot of espresso. Remember, the coffee’s quality and the water’s temperature are equally important. Optimizing all three factors will lead to an incredible cup of espresso that you won’t find at chain cafes!

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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