Kitchen & Cooking

Are you making your coffee wrong?

A new study says yes.

Coffee Pot Credit: Getty Images

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Measure, pour, press 'Start,' repeat. You think you have your daily cup of joe down to a science—but do you?

According to a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Oregon, the average person is making their coffee—or in this case, their espresso—wrong. Researchers believe that generally we're using too fine of a grind (and too many coffee beans), which not only wastes beans but also leads to a less flavorful brew.

However, is the study really that accurate—or worth changing up your morning java routine for? Our kitchen and cooking writer (and self-proclaimed coffee savant), Valerie Li, says likely not.

"The study only looks at the mathematics aspect of coffee making but ignores the fact that all coffee comes from different regions with different climates," she explains. "Therefore the acidity, taste, and other elements all vary between types of coffee." A.k.a. the correct coarseness of your grinds isn't a one-size-fits-all answer.

Below are Valerie's top tips for choosing the right coffee grind size based on how you brew your coffee, along with how much coffee you should actually use per cup of water.

What's the best coffee grind size for each brewing method?

Coffee Grinds1
Credit: Getty Images

Choose your grind wisely.

Fine vs. coarse: Which should your grinds be? It depends, as Valerie says each brewing method requires a different grind size. "For French press, pour over, and cold brew, it's better to use coarse grind than fine grind," she suggests, explaining, "This is because these brewing methods require water to be in contact with the grind longer, which may produce unpleasant, overly bitter flavor if the grind is too fine."

On the other hand, if you're using a drip coffee maker, Valerie recommends using a medium to fine grind size "as the hot water won't interact with the coffee grounds for too long." And for espresso machines, she says a super-fine grind is a must due to of the pressure-pump mechanism.

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All that being said, however, Valerie also adds that it's important to adjust your grind size based on your specific coffee. "Ultimately, you'll need to ask about the origin of the beans, type of roast, and best practice in terms of grind size and methods. Normally, coffee shops/bean sellers are happy to provide you with that information!" she notes.

Should you use a burr or blade coffee grinder?

Fresh grinds are key to a better brew. And for that, you'll need a coffee grinder. While blade grinders produce incredibly fine grinds, Valerie—and most coffee experts—generally recommends a burr grinder.

"An even grind promotes even extraction, which results in a smoother, cleaner-tasting cup of coffee," Valerie says. "A conical burr grinder, like the Baratza Encore, pulverizes the roasted beans between two serrated moving steel plates, a handful of beans at a time. This mechanism allows a more consistent, even grind."

What's the best coffee-to-water ratio?

Coffee Grinds
Credit: Getty Images

Yes, measurements matter.

For a more flavorful cup of coffee, dumping a few haphazard scoops of grinds into your coffee maker just isn't going to cut it. "If you want to improve the taste of your coffee, you may consider getting a scale to measure the coffee grounds," Valerie recommends, saying, "Ideally, for every six fluid ounces of water, you'll need 10 grams of coffee grounds."

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