A freshly brewed espresso makes a fantastic base for many coffee drinks, from your morning latte to fancy cappuccinos and macchiatos.
Learning how to grind coffee beans for espresso is easy, but first, you need to have a quality coffee grinder.
You can choose between an electric or a manual coffee mill, but it must feature fine grind settings.
Yes, you read that right. You need fine coffee for espresso brewing.
How fine? Keep going to find out.
We’ll also give you tips for the perfect ground espresso coffee
The Best Coffee Grind Size for Espresso
Brewing espresso requires a fine grind.
In general, you must grind down the coffee beans to particle sizes of about 1/32 of an inch or smaller.
It’s about the size of finely ground table salt.
This size allows the hot water to come through the beans, extracting as much flavor as it can.
As a result, you get an espresso shot that is very concentrated, rich, dark, and oozing in fresh coffee flavor.
Why Does Grind Size Matter a Lot?
Whether you're making espresso, French press, or any other coffee drink, the grind size is the most important element for brewing a perfect cup.
A too-large coffee grind can lead to under-extracting the coffee.
That means your brew won't capture the beans' full flavor.
Under-extracted espresso tastes sour, acidic, and salty.
Now, if you get an extremely fine grind, you may over-extract your coffee when you brew it.
This results in an espresso that is bitter and lacks any notable bean flavor.
How To Grind Coffee Beans for Espresso
Now that you know the perfect grind size for this brewing method, it’s time to learn how to grind coffee beans for espresso.
Here are the expert-recommended steps:
1. Have the Right Coffee Grinder
First of all, you need a coffee grinder.
The type of coffee grinder you use is essential to achieving the perfect espresso grind and getting the full flavor out of your beans.
If you don't have a coffee grinder yet and you're planning to buy one, we suggest you get a burr grinder.
Blade grinders work like food processors, randomly chopping the beans into uneven pieces.
That said, it won't be easy to achieve a consistently fine grind for your espresso.
You may end up getting large chunks or coarse grounds.
Additionally, the blades can heat up, which can affect the flavor of your coffee.
However, it's fine if you plan to use a food processor or blender to grind beans for espresso.
You may just need to repeat the grinding process several times until you achieve a uniform particle size.
Meanwhile, a burr grinder crushes beans in uniform sizes.
Many burr grinders also feature different grind settings.
For example, if you want your espresso grind to be extra fine, you can set it accordingly.
By the way, burr grinders come in two types. There's the flat burr and a conical burr grinder.
A conical burr grinder is usually more expensive, but it gives you the best control over your coffee grind.
Plus, it doesn't produce much static, so it doesn't tend to clog as flat burrs do.
If you are an espresso lover, investing in a good-quality burr grinder will be worth it.
If you have your burr grinder ready, proceed to the next steps to grind beans for espresso.
2. Choose the Right Beans for Espresso
Before crushing beans for espresso, see if you have the right beans first.
You want either a medium-dark or dark roast as they are more soluble and extract more quickly.
What's more, they give your espresso a great consistency and flavor.
3. Measure Your Beans
You can grind as many beans at once, but remember that ground coffee won't stay as fresh and flavorful for more than a day or two.
It's advisable to have the appropriate measuring devices such as a measuring spoon and cup or a weighing scale.
Typically, one tablespoon of beans is enough, but it depends on the variety of beans and how fine the coffee will be once ground.
You need about six to eight grams of beans per one to 1.5 fluid ounce for a single shot of espresso.
You need 15 grams of beans per two fluid ounces for a double shot.
4. Prep Your Grinder
Make sure it’s clean and dry. Pour the beans into the hopper and lock it in place.
Different grinders have different locking mechanisms.
The hopper must be securely attached to the grinder to prevent the beans from flying out once you start grinding.
5. Set Your Grinder
Next, set your grinder to a fine setting. Most burr grinders will have a setting for espresso grinds.
Always refer to the user manual for the correct setting.
Some grinders can have up to 90 grind settings. Experiment with different settings to achieve the level of fineness for your coffee.
Also, note that a setting that works for one type of bean may not work for another.
If you use different types of beans, you might want to write down what setting works for each of them.
6. Grind the Beans
Turn on your grinder to start the cycle.
Sophisticated models usually have an auto-shutoff which means they turn off right after the cycle.
Furthermore, some burr grinders come with portafilters, which are perfect for espresso brewing.
7. Test the Grounds
Before you scoop and brew, test the coffee grounds for evenness.
Get a pinch of grounds coffee and rub it in your fingers.
If the coffee doesn't clump together and falls into separate pieces, it needs more grinding.
Finely ground coffee clumps together on your finger.
How To Brew Your Espresso
At this point, you're ready to brew your coffee.
Scoop the desired amount for your espresso machine.
If you have leftover coffee grounds, place them in an airtight container and store them in a cool, dark place.
Use it the next day or as soon as possible to ensure freshness.
Opened bag of beans should also be stored properly so as not to lose their freshness and flavor.
Here are some tips for brewing the perfect espresso:
- Check your dose on a scale before distributing and tamping. This ensures you'll have a correct extraction because your dose won't be too much or too little.
- Distribute the coffee before tamping, as failing to do this will result in some parts of the basket having more coffee and some parts less.
- Tamp evenly and consistently to remove any air pockets in the coffee and ensure that the grounds are completely leveled.
- Rinse the group head of your espresso machine to remove any old coffee from it.
- Insert the portafilter and start brewing immediately.
You will most likely have a tasty and satisfying cup of espresso if you follow these tips.
Successfully Preparing a Tasty Cup of Espresso at Home
Learning how to grind coffee beans for espresso is fun and easy.
Using a burr grinder to achieve a consistently fine grind is best.
Remember that espresso coffee calls for a fine grind.
Always test the grounds before brewing. If it clumps together, you’ve achieved the perfect grind size and consistency.
You don't need to be a barista to enjoy a delightful cup of Joe at home.
As long as you grind your beans correctly and brew it the right way, you will have a tasty espresso each time.
Make sure to discard the puck, clean the basket, and rinse the group head, so it's easier and faster to make another shot of espresso the next time.