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Are You Struggling with Bitter or Sour Coffee? A Complete Guide to Coffee Grind Size.

Are you tired of inconsistent coffee flavours? Wondering why your brew sometimes tastes bitter or sour? The secret lies in the grind size of your coffee beans. As a coffee lover, understanding the impact of coffee grind size is crucial to elevate your coffee ritual to new heights. Join us on this educational journey as we explore why coffee grind size matters and how it affects your brewing methods.

Why Does Coffee Grind Size Matter?

The grind size of coffee directly influences the extraction process, determining how quickly water flows through the coffee, extracting compounds from the coffee grounds - ultimately affecting the flavour profile of your brew. Coarser grounds, with their reduced surface area, enable water to flow freely through the cracks, leading to a longer brewing time, as the water takes its time to extract flavours gently.

On the other hand, finer grounds have more surface area, which slows down water flow and leads to a quicker extraction. This can result in a more intense and robust flavour in a shorter brewing time.

Selecting the right grind size for your preferred coffee brewing method is crucial to achieving the desired flavour and aroma in your coffee. Experimenting with different grind sizes can be a delightful journey of discovering the nuances and complexities of coffee, allowing you to tailor each brew to your personal taste preferences and enhancing your overall coffee brewing experience.

The Different Coffee Grind Sizes

Grind size is a crucial element in coffee brewing that significantly impacts the final taste and aroma of your cup. To cater to various brewing methods and preferences, coffee grinds are categorised into different levels of coarseness, ranging from extra coarse to extra fine.

A simple guide to coffee grind size chart - featuring coffee grounds from very fine to very coarse

Extra Coarse:

Witch Coffee Red Label single-serve coffee bags in cold brew form with a Witch Coffee coffee bag tag

Extra coarse coffee grinds are the largest particles you'll find in coffee grinding. These grounds resemble chunks of sea salt or peppercorns. This grind size is best suited for cold brews and very long steeping methods.

Due to their size, water flows through extra coarse grinds with minimal resistance. The large particles ensure a slow extraction, resulting in a smooth and less acidic brew, perfect for those who enjoy a mellow coffee experience. The result is a smooth, low-acid brew with a milder flavour profile.


French press with espresso inside, next to a jug of milk

Coarse coffee grounds are similar in size to coarse sea salt. They are larger than the average coffee bean, making them ideal for brewing methods like the French press, where the coffee grounds are steeped in hot water and then filtered to produce a bold and full-bodied cup. The coarseness of these grounds allows for a more extended brewing time, enabling the water to extract the flavours in a slow and delicate manner, yielding a full-bodied and aromatic cup of coffee. The larger particles promote a moderate extraction, producing a bold and robust cup with a distinct mouthfeel and pronounced flavours.


Gooseneck kettle pouring water over Witch Coffee specialty coffee grounds

With a consistency similar to kosher salt, this grind is excellent for drip coffee makers and pour-over methods. It strikes a balance between extraction speed and flavour, resulting in a well-rounded cup with pleasant acidity. This grind size produces a well-rounded brew that captures both the subtle notes and richness of the coffee beans.


Home barista brewing with Aeropress

Medium grind coffee resembles granulated sugar in size and is a versatile option suitable for various brewing methods, including drip machines, pour-over, Aeropress and Chemex. The extraction time with medium grounds is moderate, delivering a balanced cup with a pleasant mix of flavours, acidity, and body.

In a medium-grind brew, you can expect the coffee's unique characteristics to shine through. The nuanced flavours of the beans are accentuated without being overpowered, offering a pleasant and satisfying drinking experience. Furthermore, medium-grind coffee exhibits a desirable body that adds to its overall appeal. The brew is neither too thin nor too heavy, striking a pleasing balance that caters to a wide range of palates.


Moka pot next to a cup of freshly-brewed Witch Coffee Black Label using coffee bags

Medium-fine is a popular grind size choice for specific brewing methods like Moka pots. With its unique characteristics, this grind size unlocks a world of possibilities, providing coffee lovers with an intense and concentrated flavour profile that sets it apart from other grind sizes.

When using medium-fine grounds, the smaller particles allow for a faster extraction process. As hot water comes into contact with the coffee, it quickly permeates through the smaller grounds, extracting a higher concentration of coffee solids. This results in a bold, robust, and flavour-packed brew that caters to those who prefer a strong and distinctive cup of coffee.


High quality espresso machine brewing coffee using premium coffee beans

Espresso machines are designed to work optimally with fine coffee grounds. The fine particles provide the necessary surface area for efficient and rapid extraction of flavour compounds, oils, and aromatic elements from the coffee.

With a fine grind, the hot water passes through the coffee bed more slowly and evenly, ensuring a balanced extraction and producing that rich and concentrated shot of espresso. The result is a creamy and flavourful beverage with a thick layer of crema on top, which is a hallmark of a well-made espresso.

Extra Fine:

Extra fine coffee grind finds its perfect match in the traditional Turkish coffee method. With a powder-like consistency, this grind allows for swift and thorough extraction of the coffee's rich oils and aromatic compounds. Brewed without filters, it creates a full-bodied, robust cup that highlights the true character of the coffee beans. The short brew time prevents over-extraction, ensuring an intense and flavourful experience. Turkish coffee enthusiasts appreciate the customizable sweetness, as sugar readily dissolves in this extra fine grind, resulting in an authentic and delightful cup that has stood the test of time.

What is the Grind Size of Coffee Beans in Coffee Bags?

For coffee bags, a medium grind size is typically the most suitable option. This coffee grind size strikes a balance between coarseness and fineness, making it versatile enough for different brewing methods. Coffee bags, also known as coffee sachets or coffee pods, are designed for convenience and ease of use, making them popular choices for single-serve coffee preparation.

The medium grind ensures that the coffee grounds are neither too coarse, which could result in under-extraction and weak flavour, nor too fine, which might lead to over-extraction and a bitter taste. Instead, the medium grind allows for a balanced extraction, producing a well-rounded and flavourful cup of coffee.

The medium grind is commonly used in various coffee bag systems, including disposable drip bags, coffee pouches, and some coffee pod machines. It allows hot water to interact effectively with the coffee grounds inside the bag, delivering a satisfying and consistent brew with minimal effort.

Witch Coffee Black Label single-serve coffee bag in an iced latte

Fine-Tuning Grind Sizes: Precision Within Each Category

Coffee enthusiasts can elevate their brewing experience by going beyond standard grind size categories and delving into the realm of fine-tuning the grind sizes of coffee beans. By making incremental adjustments, a new level of precision and accuracy emerges, allowing for unparalleled control over the extraction process.

With unrivaled precision, at Witch Coffee, we grind our coffee beans from different regions to specific sizes, thoughtfully tailored to their unique attributes and how they react when blended using our barista-crafted recipes. For the specialty coffee bags within each label, we utilise at least four distinct grind sizes, strategically blended to achieve the signature tasting notes of our Black, Red, Blue, and Gold Label coffee blends. This meticulous customisation guarantees the optimal extraction of flavours, aromas, and distinctive qualities inherent in each individual bean. Embracing this level of attention to detail allows us to unlock the full potential of our beans, delivering an exceptional coffee experience that we are truly proud to share with our valued customers.

What Happens When You Use the Wrong Coffee Grind Size?

1. Over Extraction

When you use a fine grind in a longer brewing process, such as a French press or cold brew, over-extraction occurs. The smaller coffee particles allow for a rapid extraction of flavours, resulting in a bitter and harsh-tasting brew. The extended steeping time in these methods exacerbates the issue, as the coffee is in contact with water for too long, extracting excessive bitter compounds and leading to an unpleasant cup.

2. Under Extraction

Conversely, using a coarse grind in a fast brewing method, like espresso or Aeropress, leads to under-extraction. The larger coffee particles do not have enough time to fully release their flavours, resulting in a weak and sour-tasting brew. The short contact time with water hinders the coffee from reaching its full potential, leaving you with a subpar and unsatisfying cup.

How Do You Deal with Over-Extracted Coffee?

1. Dilute with Hot Water: Pour some hot water into your over-extracted coffee to dilute it. This will help reduce the bitterness and balance the flavours.

2. Add Milk or Cream: Adding a splash of milk or cream can help mellow out the strong and bitter taste of over-extracted coffee, creating a smoother and creamier cup. Sugar can also help counterbalance the bitterness.

3. Ice it: Over-extracted coffee can be more tolerable when iced. Pour it over ice and add milk or sweetener if desired to create a refreshing cold coffee drink.

4. Adjust Grind Size: If your coffee is over-extracted and tastes bitter, using a coarser grind can help. A coarser grind reduces the surface area of the coffee, slowing down extraction and reducing the extraction of bitter compounds. Experiment with slightly coarser grind sizes to find the right balance and achieve a smoother and more balanced cup of coffee.

5. Brew with Less Time: When brewing your next cup, shorten the brewing time to prevent over-extraction. This will help you avoid the same issue in the future.

6. Check Water Temperature: Ensure your water temperature is appropriate for the brewing method you are using. Using water that is too hot can lead to over-extraction.

How Do You Deal with Under-Extracted Coffee?

1. Rebrew with Longer Contact Time: One of the easiest ways to salvage under-extracted coffee is to simply rebrew it with extra time. Letting it steep for a little longer can help enhance the extraction process. This allows the coffee to extract more fully, bringing out the best flavours and reducing the sourness.

2. Pre-infuse the Coffee: Pre-infusion involves saturating the coffee grounds with a small amount of water and letting them bloom before starting the main brewing process. This can enhance extraction and improve the overall taste.

3. Adjust Coffee-to-Water Ratio: Increasing the amount of coffee or reducing the amount of water can help achieve a better brew ratio for a stronger extraction and improve the coffee's flavour.

4. Adjust Grind Size: Using a finer grind can increase the surface area of the coffee, promoting better extraction. Experiment with slightly finer grind sizes to achieve a balanced cup.


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