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Grinding coffee beans

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Jon Peterson

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Grinding coffee beans

by Jon Peterson » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:44 pm

I use an old Krups coffee maker and have done so for 20+ years. I also use an old Krups coffee grinder also for 20+ years. The grinder has no settings, no dials or anything; just a small (1/3 cup?) bean holder, a cover, a spinning blade and an on/off switch. I use Starbucks French Roast beans.

Most of the time the coffee I make is weak tasting and that's a disappointing way to start the day. Once in a while, however it is absolutely perfect, full bodied smooth and balanced. I cannot figure out what I do when it's perfect since by the time I realize it's perfect, I have forgotten what, if anything, I did differently. Since the grinder and the coffee maker and even the water are and have always been the same, I have tried to vary the grind - from coarse to very fine and vary the ratio of coffee to water. Still, I have no idea what's going on.

I guess I'm not really posting a question, just feeling better through sharing but comments would be welcomed. (I also realise this is "first world problem" and not a big one at that.)
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Joy Lindholm

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Re: Grinding coffee beans

by Joy Lindholm » Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:59 pm

Jon Peterson wrote:I have tried to vary the grind - from coarse to very fine and vary the ratio of coffee to water.


Looks like this is your problem. The size of the grind is important. Too large and the water will pass through too quickly, leaving you with weak, anemic, coffee; too small and the water can backup and overflow, or you will have coffee that is too strong. (There are also slightly different grinds depending on whether it is a cone or flat bottom filter type.) The proportions sound like your main issue, though. General recommendation is 2 Tbs. of ground coffee for each 6 oz of water you use. So you will have to do the math, depending on the size of your coffee pot.
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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: Grinding coffee beans

by Mike Filigenzi » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:24 pm

Lack of consistency in the grind is a drawback of the spinning blade grinders. I don't think you can avoid getting a range of particle sizes from pretty coarse to extremely fine. Since it sounds as though you really like a good cup of coffee in the morning, it might be worth it for you to get a decent burr grinder. We use a Breville that has served us well for the past several years.

Of course, real coffee geeks will tell you that you must either use the Melitta system or invest in a Technivorm Moccamaster, get a very precise grinder, weigh the beans out rather than scoop them out, etc. etc.
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Howie Hart

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Re: Grinding coffee beans

by Howie Hart » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:51 pm

I'm not familiar with Krups coffee makers, but a quick search showed me they are automatic drip coffee makers. That's what I use, but not a Krups. I agree with what Joy said. I use a Cuisinart burr grinder for my daily coffee, but I have a small blade grinder also. When I use it I count the seconds grinding. 10 seconds is good for my drip maker, but I go 14 seconds when I use my espresso maker. A second thing to consider is the water temperature. If you use cold tap water, it will take longer than if you use warm water, thus exposing the coffee to the water for a longer period of time. Finally, there's the coffee itself. Once the coffee has been roasted, the beans have a shelf life - a few months at most. Un-roasted, green coffee beans keep almost indefinitely. I buy coffee from a nearby roaster, where I know they are freshly roasted. Over the holidays, I was gifted a pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain beans, which are supposed to be very good. They were in a typical coffee bag, but that was packaged in a small burlap sack, that had a tag with a date stamp that said "Use before April 2013". When I removed the burlap, the inner bag was not sealed properly. I put some of the beans in my grinder and made a pot that tasted like 8 O'Clock that had been on the shelf for a long time - very stale. I put the rest of the beans through my coffee roaster (sometimes I buy green beans) and re-roasted them, making them just a bit darker and the coffee was great. Anyway, I don't know where you buy your Starbucks beans, but this could be a problem if they don't turn over their inventory.
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Mark Lipton

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Re: Grinding coffee beans

by Mark Lipton » Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:11 pm

What the others have said, Jon. Blade grinders give a highly variable size of grounds so it's tough to get reproducible results. I use burr grinders, which give a much more uniform result (and the electric one at work allows you to vary grind). You also should match your grind size to your brewing method: coarsest for French press, less coarse for flat-bottom drip, less coarse yet for cone filter and finest for espresso. The idea is to match grind coarseness to the length of time they'll spend in contact with water. Make sure that you're also using the right ratio of grounds to water (2 T grounds to 6 oz water, or a 1:6 v:v ratio).

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Mike Filigenzi

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Re: Grinding coffee beans

by Mike Filigenzi » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:10 pm

Howie Hart wrote:Over the holidays, I was gifted a pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain beans, which are supposed to be very good. They were in a typical coffee bag, but that was packaged in a small burlap sack, that had a tag with a date stamp that said "Use before April 2013". When I removed the burlap, the inner bag was not sealed properly. I put some of the beans in my grinder and made a pot that tasted like 8 O'Clock that had been on the shelf for a long time - very stale. I put the rest of the beans through my coffee roaster (sometimes I buy green beans) and re-roasted them, making them just a bit darker and the coffee was great. Anyway, I don't know where you buy your Starbucks beans, but this could be a problem if they don't turn over their inventory.


Wow- that must have been a disappointment. Back when I first started drinking coffee, a friend and I used to go to a local place to get Blue Mountain. We could only afford 1/4 of a pound at a time (and this was back when it was cheaper and more available than it is now). We'd take it back and brew it carefully, and I remember it as being wonderful stuff. Giving it a little extra roast is something I never would have thought of, though - that was a great idea! Glad it helped.
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Carl Eppig

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Re: Grinding coffee beans

by Carl Eppig » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:04 pm

I don't have any problem with a blade grinder. For a liter of coffee I grind 1/3 cup of beans for 27 seconds. Come out perfectly every time.
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Re: Grinding coffee beans

by Jenise » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:30 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:Lack of consistency in the grind is a drawback of the spinning blade grinders. I don't think you can avoid getting a range of particle sizes from pretty coarse to extremely fine. Since it sounds as though you really like a good cup of coffee in the morning, it might be worth it for you to get a decent burr grinder. We use a Breville that has served us well for the past several years.

Of course, real coffee geeks will tell you that you must either use the Melitta system or invest in a Technivorm Moccamaster, get a very precise grinder, weigh the beans out rather than scoop them out, etc. etc.


We bought a burr grinder a few years ago, then made competing cups to see if the burr-ground coffee really tasted measurably different from the old blade grinder's. The competing cups were made with identical single-serving Bodum French Press mugs, so the processes were identical. BIG DIFFERENCE. Would never go back.
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Jon Peterson

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Re: Grinding coffee beans

by Jon Peterson » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:44 am

Thanks all - a burr grinder has now appeared in my near future - as soon as we get this next snowstorm out of the way, that is.
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