Do I really need to use a different coarseness of ground coffee for my drip brewer and espresso machine?

by Mike Curtis
(Kamloops, BC)


QUESTION:

I make coffee with a drip brewer, and occasionally make espresso with my espresso machine. I know I should use medium ground coffee for the drip brewer, and fine ground coffee for the espresso machine.

But does it matter that much?

I ask because I don’t drink a lot of espresso, and don’t like the idea of buying a while bag of fine ground coffee just for that.

Does it really matter that much, or can I buy just one grade of ground coffee for both machines?


ANSWER:

Mike, hi

Yes, it matters a great deal!

Usually, there is a bit of wiggle room when making coffee, and often only the hard-core coffee geeks get too wound up about a degree or two of water temperature, for example.

But in your case, the answer is pretty definite.

Each coffee making process, including making espresso, demands a particular fineness or coarseness of grind.

If you just buy finely ground coffee, it will work well in your espresso machine, but not in your drip brewer. In fact, the filter in your drip brewer will likely get clogged up, the basket will overflow, and you’ll get a big mess spilled all over your kitchen counter.

If you buy just medium ground coffee, your drip brewer will work fine, but your espresso will be hopelessly under-extracted, and will taste weak and disappointing.

As another example, if you use anything other than coarse ground coffee with a French press, you’ll find coffee grinds in your coffee after it is poured.

If you want to avoid buying two different grinds of coffee, simply buy whole beans and get yourself a decent coffee grinder. That way you can grind just the right amount of coffee, with the right degree of fineness or coarseness, each time you brew.

Further reading:

All you need to know about coffee grinders - VIDEO

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