How Fine Should You Grind Espresso? (Detailed Report)

Espresso is a dark, rich, concentrated coffee shot distinguished by the creamy top layer known as the crema. This little shot of deliciousness does not happen by chance; for starters, the beans must be ground to the appropriate size for the hot water to extract all of the fantastic coffee flavors and aromas.

The best ground beans for espresso are 0.88 mm or 1.32 of an inch in size; this is a fine grind. While the precise size may vary slightly with different coffee beans and even different espresso machines, it is critical to practice until you get the grind size just right.

Begin with a medium to fine setting and fine-tune the grinder based on the quality of the resulting espresso. This article will go into greater detail about achieving the proper espresso grind. This article will also look at how the size of the grind affects the flavor of your espresso.

What Is the Best Grind Size for Espresso?

Choosing the proper grind size for espresso is critical because it significantly impacts the taste and quality of your shot.

Unfortunately, grinding whole coffee beans yourself can be difficult. Still, when done correctly, it’s far superior to using pre-ground coffee beans, which lack the quality and freshness that beans ground yourself provide.

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You could buy the best beans and a top-of-the-line coffee maker, but if you don’t understand extraction, you’re unlikely to get a good espresso.

It’s critical to get the right size for your grind to avoid over-and under-extraction. Unfortunately, many coffee enthusiasts overlook this stage of the process.

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The high temperatures and pressure required to brew a rich, dark, concentrated espresso necessitate the use of the proper grind size, as using the incorrect one will result in a ruined cup of espresso.

Extra fine coffee allows hot water to bring out the best flavors and aromas in your java in a matter of seconds.

If your coffee grounds are too coarse, the resulting shot will be under-extracted, which means that the hot water did not extract all of the wonderful coffee flavors from your beans.

Under-extracted coffee is typically sour, acidic, or salty in flavor.

Using too fine of a grind will result in the shot being over-extracted, which will result in a bitter and unpleasant tasting shot.

A bitter taste and a lack of distinct coffee bean flavors are common characteristics of over-extracted coffee. In both cases, it is a waste of high-quality beans that have been wasted.

You can’t rely on your eyes to determine the proper grind size for espresso, at least not at first. Furthermore, distinguishing a medium coffee grind from a medium-fine coffee grind can be difficult.

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Instead, print out a grind size chart to help you distinguish one grind size from another. The chart will show you an image of the grind size, which you can compare to the other images.

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It will also provide you with exact measurements.

Paying attention to the small details, such as your coffee grounds, pays off. When you know what grind size you want, you can select a suitable grinder.

A conical burr grinder is the best tool to use rather than a blade grinder. Burr grinders produce consistent, uniform grinds, whereas blade grinders do not.

Another issue with blade grinders is that their blades generate heat and friction, which heats the coffee beans and produces stale coffee – not what you want in your brew!

When brewing coffee, it is critical that your grinds are consistent and uniform. This is especially true for espresso since this concentrated shot can be extremely merciless when it comes to flavor variations.

What Is the Best Way to Size an Espresso Grind?

Before you pull the trigger on your shot, your coffee should go through a process known as ‘dialing in.’ Following bean selection, grind size is an important factor in producing the best extraction possible.

However, grind size isn’t something you can just set and forget. We’ll consider sizing your grinds to fit a standard non-pressurized filter basket.

Espresso extractions should take between 20 and 30 seconds from the first drip. The goal is to make a 60ml/2oz double espresso in 20 to 30 seconds from the first drip from your portafilter spout.

To get there, adjust the grind size for a series of shots until you achieve the desired extraction time. When you use the right grind size, you’ll get a richer crema and full-bodied flavors.

If your shot is coming out too quickly, fine-tune the grind; if it’s coming out too slowly, coarse-tune the grind.

The process may appear simple, but using the same variables each time ensures a consistent brew. These variables are as follows:

  • Making use of the same coffee
  • The precise amount of coffee (weighted if possible)
  • Having a well-distributed grind in the filter basket
  • Even tamping or leveling.
  • For each extraction, use the same brew temperature.
  • Grinds come in a variety of styles. A fine grind is typically required for espresso. Your main concern, however, is flavor. 
  • Finally, you want to achieve a balanced extraction, which occurs when all of the coffee’s tasting notes emerge to produce a sweet, crisply acidic, well-rounded coffee.

You should expect to drink a lot of coffee because dialing in requires a lot of trial and error. It usually takes five to six shots to get it right and understand how to size adjustment affects extraction timing.

As you get more comfortable with your grinder, you’ll find yourself taking fewer shots to dial it in.

When adjusting the grind size, don’t forget to wash out the grinder by running it to flush any leftover particles from previous grind settings. Otherwise, you’ll get a variety of grind sizes in subsequent shots.

Concentrate on keeping the other variables constant so that you only have to consider the grind size change for extraction timing. Controlling those variables will necessitate the use of a few essential tools.

1. A grinding machine

A stepless model gives you more control over the size of your grind. These grinders distribute fluffy grinds uniformly while simultaneously weighing and grinding your beans.

If your grinder does not weigh automatically, you can weigh your grinds with an external espresso scale.

2. Tamper

Tamp your coffee to ensure it is level, as uneven tamping can cause your brew water to channel through the coffee puck, affecting your results. Try to apply the same amount of pressure to each tamp.

3. Mist spray

Grinder static occurs due to low ambient humidity, most commonly when heaters are turned on during the winter.

Wetting the beans before grinding is a simple solution to grinder static. You can do this with a spray mist or stirring the beans with a damp finger before grinding.

Any changes, such as new coffee beans, dose weight, or bean age, necessitate some grind setting adjustments.

How to Make a Great Espresso Shot

Make a double shot of coffee and weigh it out and fill your portafilter with it; this will result in a mound of coffee that needs to be distributed evenly.

This is critical because there should be no large gaps in the structure that allow water to enter and exit.

It is possible to even out the coffee by hand before placing it on a level surface and tamping it down to ensure that it is distributed evenly.

(To ensure consistent brewing, apply the same amount of pressure to each tamping.)

To flush out the group head, run the machine without the portafilter. The portafilter should then be locked into the machine.

Next, start your shot by placing a clear glass under the spout to see the layering and consistency of the espresso.

Time your shot with a stopwatch; it should take 20 and 30 seconds. A good espresso shot should have a swirled or speckled mix of light blond and caramel brown tones.

Everything should be visually appealing; your espresso should have the ideal viscous liquid volume with a caramel-colored crema, and you should always be able to taste it.

You must train your palate by tasting different foods and making adjustments as necessary. After each use, clean and dry the portafilter to prevent coffee from accumulating inside.

While honing your skills and refining your methods, you may want to look into online tutorials and dive deeper into the world of espresso theory and science.

Last Thoughts

Making espresso requires a fine grind setting, ranging from medium to ultra-fine depending on the type of coffee and equipment used.

That being said, you must ensure that the consistency is slightly finer than salt. The particle size of the coffee is set at 0.8 mm, or 1/32 inch.

However, it would be beneficial to experiment with your machine and coffee blend to find the perfect espresso for you.

The process itself takes a lot of practice, but it’s well worth it to get a balanced shot every time that’s neither over-or under-extracted.

Remember to keep an eye on the extraction timing; this will determine whether or not you have the ideal grind size.

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