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Coffee Grinding Guide

New to coffee? There is a lot of terminology in the coffee world. It can be quite daunting for someone who is just starting to learn to appreciate coffee and is first introduced to this global beverage.

One of the first terms you will undoubtedly come across is ground coffee, but what is ground coffee?

What is ground coffee?

In a nutshell, ground coffee is what brewed coffee is made of. This means that it is the most common form of coffee available in shops (other than the beans themselves).

To understand this, we will start from the beginning:

All coffees come from the coffee tree (genus Coffea). The cherries of the tree are harvested and processed to access the tiny seeds called green coffee beans they contain. These green coffee beans are then roasted before they are ready for consumption and are called whole coffee beans.

However, whole coffee beans are ground into smaller particles before brewing to extract as much flavor as possible.

This can be accomplished using a variety of tools such as electric coffee grinders, blenders, mortars and pestles or food processors. After grinding in one of these devices, whole coffee beans are referred to as 'ground coffee'.

coffee grind sizes

The more you process the coffee, the finer the coffee particles will be. Common ground coffee grades include:

coarse ground coffee

Chunky coffee particles the size of kosher salt.

medium ground coffee

Sandy particles that are the size of coarse sand.

fine ground coffee

Smooth enough to touch particles the same size as table salt or sugar granules.

Pretty well ground coffee

Extremely find particles smaller than table salt or sugar granules.

Turkish coffee

A fine flour-like powder.

It's important to keep in mind the brewing technique you choose when preparing ground coffee, as some brewing techniques and coffee equipment will require coarser or finer coffee particles. Generally:

Reciprocating pots and French presses require Coarse Ground Coffee

Percolators require Coarse Ground Coffee

Vacuum coffee pots require Coarse Ground Coffee

Flat borrow filter drip coffee makers require Medium Ground Coffee

Borrowed cone filter drip coffee makers (like the Hario V60 Coffee Dripper) require a Fine Ground Coffee

Espresso mocha pots (like the Bialetti Cooktop) require Fine Ground Coffee

Espresso machines require Extra Fine Ground Coffee

Ibrikler requires Turkish Coffee (high quality coffee)

If you don't have a grinder, you can buy prepackaged ground coffee. You can even browse our selection of ground coffees or choose a bean subscription (including a decaf subscription if that's your preference).

The main advantages of buying coffee this way are that you avoid the hassle of grinding yourself and know that it has been ground to the specific coarseness you want.

How long does ground coffee stay fresh?

Coffee begins to oxidize fairly quickly after roasting. Oxidation occurs when oxygen molecules come into contact with the compounds in coffee and change their structure.

This affects the acids, flavors and oils in the coffee, significantly changing the taste and smell of the coffee.

When coffee is ground, it oxidizes even faster because there is more surface area exposed to oxygen. Also, the finer the coffee is ground, the faster it oxidizes.

In other words, the superfine grind for your espresso machine oxidizes much faster than the coarse grind for your French press.

Medium or coarse ground coffee time

Medium or coarse ground coffee stays at peak freshness for a day or two. If kept in a vacuum-sealed container to protect it from oxygen, it can take up to 7-10 days for coffee's flavors and aromas to begin to diminish significantly. The good news is that this type of coffee will still be enjoyable in the weeks that follow, but it may not taste as fresh.

Fine ground coffee time

Finely ground coffee only stays fresh for a few hours, and this is why many coffee lovers believe that finely ground coffee to be used for espresso should be brewed within a few minutes due to its rapid oxidation.

If you're making espresso at home, it's usually best to grind whole beans and use your instant coffee.

Duration of whole coffee beans

Whole coffee beans can retain their peak freshness for one week in a paper bag or 3 to 4 weeks if stored in a vacuum container. That's why dedicated coffee drinkers keep their coffee in beans and grind it when they need it.

How Long Does Ground Coffee Take?

Although the aroma of ground coffee begins to fade very quickly, it can remain drinkable for several years. Ground coffee really doesn't spoil unless it's contaminated with water or any other liquid!

A few months old coffee may taste pretty bland, but it won't endanger your health.

How to Store Ground Coffee:Storage Tips

Properly storing ground coffee will help prolong its freshness and make your brew more enjoyable. Quite simply, the best way to properly store ground coffee is to do your best to keep it away from air, moisture, heat, and light.

coffee storage

The best place to store your coffee will be in an airtight container inside a cool, dark cupboard. You should also store your ground coffee in as small a container as possible so that the amount of air that comes into contact with the coffee is limited and the oxidation process slows down.

If you have a vacuum-sealed storage container, that's even better!

Freezing Coffee Beans

Never refrigerate or freeze your ground coffee as this can add moisture to your coffee and ruin it. If you have purchased ground coffee, do not store it in the package it came in as it will not be airtight.


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