Fine vs. Coarse Grind Size

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
Godzlittlesoldier

#1: Post by Godzlittlesoldier »

Hello All!

Theoretically, should a better grinder be able to grind finer or coarser given the same method of prep/method of coffee extraction compared to a worse grinder? I don't know if that makes sense. In other words, should a better grinder be able to grind finer (visually and hopefully objectively) than a decent but worse grinder given that everything else is the same (prep). Thank you!

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baldheadracing
Team HB

#2: Post by baldheadracing »

Both. Finer and coarser.

YMMV.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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yakster
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#3: Post by yakster »

Better for what? Some grinders/burrs will be better for fine grinds and some better for coarse grinds.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

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Jake_G
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#4: Post by Jake_G »

I think if I understand the question correctly, it goes something like this:

If I have 2 grinders and I dial them into the same recipe, would I expect the higher quality grinder to be dialed in to a grind that is coarser or finer than a lower quality grinder?

I believe the answer is "yes".

If you are thinking about draw down times for filter coffee (which I know very nearly nothing about), I would expect that a higher quality grinder, with similar burrs might produce fewer fines and require a finer grind than a lower quality grinder. But you may also find that a coarser grind and a faster draw down tastes better with a higher quality grinder. So many variables, nearly impossible to answer.

Likewise, if you were to dial in an espresso shot with two grinders, I might argue that a better aligned grinder would be able to grind Turkish fine prior to the burrs touching and would be set coarser than a lower quality grinder to achieve the same flow rate. What tastes better is what matters and with espresso, preference is king, so it's really hard to say. Generally speaking, a large sweet spot and a reasonable sensitivity to extraction as the grind size is varied are valued and somewhat competing parameters. If the extraction varies a great deal, chances are that your sweet spot is small. If you have a very wide sweet spot, chances are that the extraction doesn't change much, so what you get is what you get.

I would argue that a desired factor from a high quality grinder would be a predictable range of extraction outcomes over a reasonable range of burr spacing. Something that lets you say "if I adjust my grind from here to there, I can expect the flavor of my beverage to shift in this predictable manner", and have that range be wide enough that you're not likely to overshoot your target.

If a grinder does that better than another, I would call the the former a higher performing/higher quality grinder.

Hope this helps!

- Jake
LMWDP #704

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baldheadracing
Team HB

#5: Post by baldheadracing »

I was thinking that if I had two grinders dialed in, then the 'better' grinder is still going to be 'better' whether I moved the 'better' grinder finer or coarser (by a reasonable amount), with the direction pretty much irrelevant.

(I was thinking in terms of a basic immersion method like cupping. Too many other factors in more complex methods for my brain.)
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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bostonbuzz

#6: Post by bostonbuzz »

Interesting question. It's quite academic and useless without a real world application since you would dial in a grinder without saying "this grinder is better so it should be coarser/finer than that one we dialed in".

Comparing EK espresso grinds to a 64mm Mazzer burr is night and day -EK is finer. Which one is "better"? Who is to say.

Two 64mm grinders will only really differ in absolute terms in the alignment off the burrs once you look past the exterior and workflow differences. One out of alignment may have to be chirping to get espresso and have very fine and coarser grinds. In comparison the aligned grinder will be in the middle of those. It's not entirely clear that a hyper aligned grinder is better than a stock grinder (see primas comments in the Ditting lab sweet thread) but nevertheless I align all my grinders.

Maxing the peak of the espresso grind size to make it unimodal is something that can be measured and does result in more clarity and that sort of thing but is less traditional. The EK had its moment and most people spending $X,000 for a grinder are going for something less extreme (coarser) which to them is "better".
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iyayy

#7: Post by iyayy »

i'd say better grinders do give both fine and coarse better.

just to share,
i went from hario ceramic, to timemore c2, and later 1zpresso k.
these are all conical burr hand grinder.

comparing the 3;
hario grinds are very inconsistent. i had trouble dialing in espresso since i get both sour and bitter notes, which goes both direction if you read dialing chart. confusing to dial espresso. the adjustment steps are also big.

the timemore c2 grinds looks a bit better, but not by much.
however taste is significant improvement, and dialing follows the sour > bitter direction. adjistment step is somehwat similar.

1zK has ridiculously even looking particles compare to c2 when grinding to visibly same grind size, and brewing v60 is faster on 1z, and coffee beds are cleaner. it gives more option and range to go finer for higher concentration coffee.
also adjusting 1gram is noticeable on taste with 1z, not much on c2. adjustment step is also much smaller than c2, so i have more range clicks to use for espresso instead of just 1 click in c2.
however 1zk cant go as coarse as c2 because adjustment limit. although i rarely use those coarsest settings on 1zK anyways.

Godzlittlesoldier (original poster)

#8: Post by Godzlittlesoldier (original poster) »

Thanks for the reply! I have been following your Alicorn alignment for my forte with no avail. Thanks so much for posting about the method. I recently switched over to a Lagom p100 and found that it seems to create the same amount of fines as the forte which is why it brings up my question. The taste with the brew burrs is much more translucent which isn't necessarily better or worse, just different. I've noticed that I had to grind coarser with my Lagom than my baratza forte which I thought was curious since I would imagine a better/finer distribution of grinds would equate to a better grinder. Thanks for answering my question.
Jake_G wrote:I think if I understand the question correctly, it goes something like this:

If I have 2 grinders and I dial them into the same recipe, would I expect the higher quality grinder to be dialed in to a grind that is coarser or finer than a lower quality grinder?

I believe the answer is "yes".

If you are thinking about draw down times for filter coffee (which I know very nearly nothing about), I would expect that a higher quality grinder, with similar burrs might produce fewer fines and require a finer grind than a lower quality grinder. But you may also find that a coarser grind and a faster draw down tastes better with a higher quality grinder. So many variables, nearly impossible to answer.

Likewise, if you were to dial in an espresso shot with two grinders, I might argue that a better aligned grinder would be able to grind Turkish fine prior to the burrs touching and would be set coarser than a lower quality grinder to achieve the same flow rate. What tastes better is what matters and with espresso, preference is king, so it's really hard to say. Generally speaking, a large sweet spot and a reasonable sensitivity to extraction as the grind size is varied are valued and somewhat competing parameters. If the extraction varies a great deal, chances are that your sweet spot is small. If you have a very wide sweet spot, chances are that the extraction doesn't change much, so what you get is what you get.

I would argue that a desired factor from a high quality grinder would be a predictable range of extraction outcomes over a reasonable range of burr spacing. Something that lets you say "if I adjust my grind from here to there, I can expect the flavor of my beverage to shift in this predictable manner", and have that range be wide enough that you're not likely to overshoot your target.

If a grinder does that better than another, I would call the the former a higher performing/higher quality grinder.

Hope this helps!

- Jake

Godzlittlesoldier (original poster)

#9: Post by Godzlittlesoldier (original poster) »

I like this response a lot. Thank you. I do notice this with my Lagom p100 v. my Baratza Forte.
baldheadracing wrote:I was thinking that if I had two grinders dialed in, then the 'better' grinder is still going to be 'better' whether I moved the 'better' grinder finer or coarser (by a reasonable amount), with the direction pretty much irrelevant.

(I was thinking in terms of a basic immersion method like cupping. Too many other factors in more complex methods for my brain.)