I'm not sure what the Men in Black interns were doing wrong to make the coffee taste like dirt, but grinding it the same morning probably wasn't the mistake!
Some of the most common questions we get are about grind. A lot of people don't realize how much difference it can make.
No one wants their coffee to taste stale, weak or bitter, so it's important to make sure of three things:
1. Fresh Grind.
2. Correct Grind.
3. Consistent Grind.
The first step is to make sure to use your coffee within two weeks of its roast date. Once it passes that two week mark, it's going to start tasting stale. If you're buying pre-ground, shelf life is going to be a lot shorter. For ideal results, coffee should be ground immediately before it's brewed. Another tip for freshness is to make sure you're keeping your grinder clean. Old grounds stuck in the machine can make your whole cup taste stale.
It's important to make sure that you're using the right grind for your brewing method. Those so called "universal grinds" that some companies offer are not truly going to work for every brewing method. Examples of the right grinds for some popular methods: French press should be coarse, drip should be medium, and espresso should be quite fine. Start by checking the manual for your grinder to see recommended settings, then continue to fine tune if necessary. Most high-quality grinders have precision settings you can adjust. The bottom line is, if you try to make espresso with a coarse grind, you'll get weak espresso, if you make drip with a super-fine grind, it will be bitter, and so on.
I was going to snap some pictures of different grinds to include, but I found this article from ineedcoffee.com that has great photos.
Consistency is especially important for methods that include pushing water through the grounds with pressure, such as espresso. There's no way to get a completely consistent grind if you're using a blade grinder, we always recommend using a burr grinder instead. Using a blade grinder is kind of like a food processor: you have to keep grinding until the beans are as fine as you want. You end up with grinds that aren't uniform. Burr grinders, on the other hand, can be set to the grind you want from the start, and will grind evenly and precisely.
If you're in the market for an excellent conical burr grinder, we love our Baratza grinders and sell their Preciso and Encore models on our online store.
Questions about grinding or grinders? Leave a comment below!
-Jessamyn at Voyage Coffee Roasters