The coffee grind is one of the most important but often overlooked steps in the espresso-making process. Not grinding enough or over-grinding can make or break the rich and bold taste that espresso is known for.
While buying pre-ground coffee for your espresso might seem easier, the quality of the end product can never match that of freshly ground coffee beans. That’s why it is so important to understand what’s the proper coffee grind for espresso.
What Is an Espresso Machine?
Espresso is a shot of very concentrated coffee with a very full flavour that’s characterised by the “crema” at the top of the shot, which is a rust-coloured froth that adds to the flavour. Espresso machines are essentially coffee makers used for brewing espresso. While it is entirely possible to make espresso cold brew coffee or even French press espresso coffee, the results aren’t comparable to using an espresso machine with hot water for the right amount of brew time.
Steps in Grinding Coffee Beans for Espresso:
Step 1: Check the Coffee Beans
You should first check the coffee beans to ensure that they are a dark roast since that’s what’s needed for your espresso coffee. If you use a darker roast, you will enjoy smooth finishes and an acidic taste in your espresso. Lighter roasts typically don’t have the same taste and instead taste sour if you grind them as espresso coffee.
Step 2: Set the Burr Grinder
You should also set your burr grinder to the proper setting. The vast majority of burr grinders have a setting specifically for espresso grinds. To learn the settings, you should consider referring to the user manual.
Step 3: Get the Coffee Beans
You should then measure out your coffee beans and place them in the hopper. Use a small number of beans initially if you are a beginner. It is generally advisable to use a quarter cup if it’s your first time and no more than 1 full cup.
Step 4: Check the Grind Setting
You might have bumped the hopper and changed the setting accidentally, which may result in a coarser grind that you obviously don’t want. Check and ensure that it’s correct to end up with the right grind sizes for your espresso.
Step 5: Turn the Burr Grinder On
Turn the burr grinder on and let it run its cycle. You will get the ground coffee in the container at the bottom.
Step 6: Scoop and Start Brewing Coffee
You are now ready to brew your coffee. Scoop out the desired quantity for your espresso and brew the coffee. If there are any leftover grounds, seal them in a dark, airtight container and store them in a dark place. Use them either the next day or as soon as possible to ensure maximum freshness.
How to Pick the Right Coffee Grinder for You
To make the best espresso, you need to have a very fine and consistent grind so that you can extract the full-bodied flavour from the beans. It is also important to have greater control of the grind settings as there are numerous factors that need to be tweaked depending on the beans being used.
Here are the most important considerations when buying a coffee grinder for espresso:
Electric Vs. Manual
You should first decide whether you want a manual or electric grinder. If you want something to do the grinding for you, an electric burr grinder is the best option. If you want a more affordable option, however, and don’t mind a bit of work, then a manual grinder is right for you.
Burr Vs. Blade
Burr grinders are the best option for making espresso as mentioned before. So, if you are looking for a grinder specifically for espresso, ensure that it’s a burr grinder. Still, a blade grinder can still crush your beans and is usually cheaper.
To get the perfect espresso shot, you must first have a fine and consistent grind and to achieve that, the grinder must allow you to tweak various settings, which is why it is important to consider the features that your grinder has. Hand grinders can only allow you to adjust the grind size but not much else. On the other hand, most electric grinders will allow you to adjust the grind size along with other important settings. Useful controllable settings to look for include:
- Grind Size
- Shot Size
- Shot Quantity
- Grind Time
To get the perfect extraction, you must be able to adjust the grind settings. The main choice that you will have when you shop for a coffee grinder for espresso will be the number of grind settings/increments that it has. The more grind settings, the greater your control over how fine the extracted coffee is. You should also ensure that the grinder is able to produce fine grounds to brew espresso. This is usually hard to tell, but you can find out by reading the manufacturer's description.
The budget is also an important consideration when buying espresso grinders. You can find some amazing yet cheap coffee grinders out there, but if you want something with all the bells and whistles you should be prepared to pay a bit extra for premium coffee grinders.
Coffee grinders are an essential piece of equipment for espresso aficionados. Unfortunately, finding the right grinder can be difficult as there are so many different types available. Fortunately, this guide will help you choose the best coffee grinder for espresso.
Get Your Own Espresso Machine from the Artisan Barista!
Now that you know what an espresso machine is, what features to look for when buying a coffee grinder for espresso, and how to grind coffee for your espresso, it is now time to start shopping around for the right one.
At The Artisan Barista, our focus is on bringing you the best in coffee tools and gear including espresso machines. So, get your own espresso machine from us today with your desired features and fits your budget and you will be sure to enjoy years of delicious, fresh coffee.