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I know that there is no "ideal" grind for making espresso (or rather, like most things, it depends on the machine and the tastes of the drinker), but I am looking for guidelines as to how different grinding levels effects the end product, so I know what to look/taste for.

In particular, is there any clear indication that the grind is too fine?


I use a Capresso conical burr grinder and a Delonghi EC155 pump espresso machine, and usually either Metropolis or Intelligentsia espresso beans (my local brands), in case this level of detail helps!

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from aromocoffee.co.uk

Grinding coffee for espresso is probably the most difficult to get right. The coffee grind needs to be fine enough to increase the pressure required to push the water through the filter and create a good crema. But if the grind is too fine, the ground coffee can block the coffee filter. Generally, espresso coffee grind resembles a mixture of powdered sugar and fine beach sand. Since each espresso machine is a bit different, you may have to experiment to get the coffee grind just right (Allmann Bros Coffee).

Brewing espresso is particularly susceptible to problems relating to an inconsistent grind. I am not familiar with that burr mill specifically, however burrs are generally recommended for espresso grinds as they tend to provide consistency. Bear in mind that the grind can either be too coarse and the water will run through without much extraction due to the pressure and space between the grinds, or it can be too fine and allow for a backup of water and espresso water and grinds all over your counter.

NOTE: The pressure with which you pack/tamp the puck (the grinds when pressed in the brewing basket form a puck) will also play an important role in the extraction process and the crema formation. You can get a feel for how hard to tamp the puck by getting a scale and pressing down until you hit about 30 pounds of pressure; you want to pack the puck at that pressure of tamp.

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Thanks for the answer. I'll break out the scale and check my pressure. I've worked down to the second-finest grinder setting, and there hasn't been any sort of malfunction yet, so maybe I'll see how fine the finest setting is once I get a chance to do a thorough cleaning. Might I ask how you decided on your grind (assuming you have)? –  B R Apr 3 '12 at 5:50
    
@BR It was due in large part to trial and error as gauged by quality of Crema (indicates sufficient resistance) and not plugging up (not too finely ground). However, it is situational per the machine. I have used a cheapo Mr. Coffee, a mid-range pump machine, and a few other home units. It has generally been useful to follow the description above (sorry citation wasn't there yesterday), though the Mr Coffee needed to be a bit more coarse (low PSI), and the mid-range was better off more fine (higher PSI). –  mfg Apr 3 '12 at 16:03
    
Thanks again, @mfg! –  B R Apr 3 '12 at 16:18

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