Quick Recipes and Easy

Coffee – Grinding Coffee Beans

It is vital to use the right grind of coffee for you preferred brewing method. It is generally believed that the shorter the brewing time the finer the grind must be. For example Espresso brews in just 30 seconds or less so requires a very fine grind and plunger -pot coffee (also called French Press Pots) requires a very course grind as in this method of brewing the coffee grounds are steeped in water (like tea leaves) for a full 6 to 10 minutes.

Most people have propeller-blade grinders. These are not really ideal as they produce an uneven grind and if whirred too long they heat the beans releasing aromatic substances that should go into your cup and not into the air.

What is required is cool, precise tearing apart of the beans and this is best achieved in a Burr Mill, which has two notched blades whose position can be set for the desired fineness of grinds. The down side to a Burr Mill is the fact that they are noisy and slow but you can grind as much or small as you require and get a reliably consistent result. The grinding times can be found in the manufacturers instructions along with instructions for cleaning the machine. Cleaning a Burr Mill can be a complicated process and it is much simpler to have the grinder cleaned professionally at an appliance repair shop.

Owning a Burr Mill is not essential and you can use one of the professional grinders commonly found in supermarkets or convenience stores. The secret with these is to assume that the grind will be one or two settings courser than is promised by the small pictures on the dial and always run a few fresh beans through before beginning to get rid of stale flavors.

If using a propeller blade grinder, grind the beans slightly courser than you reckon you’ll need and then grind in 10-second bursts. Never whirr the beans for more than 30 seconds, as this will overheat them terribly. Propeller blade grinders are rarely large enough to grind more than 4 scoops at a time effectively so bear that in mind when grinding. Whilst the machine is grinding, gently lift it off the counter and shake it.

After each use, unplug the grinder and wipe out the grinding chamber with a damp paper towel or sponge. The plastic top should be washed in hot water.

Here are some approximate times for grinding with the propeller blade grinder: 10 seconds for the plunger pot, 13 seconds for the flat bottomed paper filters (which generally fit into American drip brewers) or wedge shaped gold filters and 16 seconds for wedge shaped paper filters. For a plunger pot the grounds should resemble coarse ground cornmeal and for a drip brew the grounds should resemble granulated sugar.

Today, many stores that sell coffee beans also offer a means of grinding them. So if you do not have a grinder you can still delight in the aromatic flavors of freshly ground coffee.

Michael Russell
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