Decoding the Mystery: What Do the Numbers Mean on a Coffee Grinder?

Decoding the Mystery: What Do the Numbers Mean on a Coffee Grinder?

If you are a coffee lover like me, you probably understand the importance of having a good quality coffee grinder. A coffee grinder plays a vital role in the coffee brewing process, as it helps in achieving the perfect grind size for your preferred brewing method. However, if you have ever looked closely at a coffee grinder, you might have noticed a series of numbers on the dial or the settings. These numbers can often be confusing and leave you wondering what they actually mean. In this article, I will decode the mystery behind those numbers and explain what they indicate.

The Grind Size Spectrum

The numbers on a coffee grinder are related to the grind size spectrum. Grind size refers to the coarseness or fineness of the coffee particles. Different brewing methods require different grind sizes to extract the optimal flavors from the coffee beans. The grind size spectrum ranges from extra coarse to extra fine, with various levels of coarseness or fineness in between.

Coarse Grind

The coarse grind is typically used for brewing methods like French press, cold brew, and percolators. It consists of larger coffee particles that are similar to breadcrumbs. The coarse grind allows for a longer extraction time, resulting in a stronger and full-bodied cup of coffee.

When you see a higher number on the coffee grinder’s dial or settings, it usually indicates a coarser grind size. For example, if the dial goes up to 10, a higher number like 8 or 9 would indicate a coarse grind suitable for French press brewing.

Medium Grind

The medium grind is the most versatile grind size and is commonly used in brewing methods like drip coffee makers, pour-over, and AeroPress. It has smaller particles compared to a coarse grind but is still relatively chunky. The medium grind allows for a balanced extraction, producing a well-rounded and flavorful cup of coffee.

On the dial or settings of a coffee grinder, the numbers in the middle range usually represent a medium grind size. For instance, if the dial goes from 1 to 10, the numbers 4 or 5 would indicate a medium grind suitable for drip coffee makers.

Fine Grind

The fine grind is used for espresso machines and Moka pots. It consists of much smaller particles, similar to sand or table salt. The fine grind allows for a quick extraction, resulting in a concentrated and rich espresso shot.

A coffee grinder with lower numbers on the dial or settings generally signifies a finer grind size. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10, a lower number like 1 or 2 would indicate a fine grind suitable for espresso brewing.

Extra Fine Grind

The extra fine grind is an extremely fine grind size that is finer than table salt. It is primarily used for brewing methods like Turkish coffee, where the coffee grounds are boiled directly with water. The extra fine grind allows for rapid extraction and produces a potent and strong cup of coffee.

If your coffee grinder has numbers that go below 1 or has additional markings specifically for Turkish coffee, it indicates an extra fine grind setting.

The Importance of Grind Size

Understanding the significance of grind size is essential for achieving the best possible cup of coffee. Different grind sizes offer varying surface areas for extraction. Finer grinds have a larger surface area, leading to a faster extraction, while coarser grinds have a smaller surface area and slower extraction.

Using the right grind size for your brewing method is crucial because it determines the extraction rate. If the grind size is too coarse, the water will pass through the coffee too quickly, resulting in a weak and under-extracted cup. On the other hand, if the grind size is too fine, the water will struggle to pass through, leading to over-extraction and a bitter taste.

Experimenting with Grind Sizes

While the numbers on a coffee grinder provide a general guideline, it’s important to understand that every grinder is different. Different brands and models might have slightly different interpretations of the numbers. Therefore, it is always a good idea to experiment with grind sizes to find the perfect setting that suits your taste preferences.

Start with the recommended grind size for your brewing method, and then make small adjustments to find your preferred flavor profile. If your coffee tastes weak, try a finer grind; if it tastes bitter, try a coarser grind. Keep adjusting until you achieve the desired balance of flavors in your cup of coffee.

Cleaning and Maintenance

To ensure the accuracy and consistency of the grind size, it is crucial to regularly clean and maintain your coffee grinder. Coffee beans contain oils that can build up inside the grinder over time, affecting the performance and grind quality. It is recommended to clean your grinder thoroughly at least once a month.

Cleaning your grinder is relatively easy. Start by unplugging the machine and disassembling it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a brush or a soft cloth to remove any coffee grounds and residue from the burrs and the grinding chamber. Some grinders are also dishwasher safe, allowing for effortless cleaning.


Decoding the mystery behind the numbers on a coffee grinder is an essential step in brewing a great cup of coffee. The numbers indicate the grind size spectrum, ranging from coarse to fine and extra fine. Understanding the appropriate grind size for your preferred brewing method is crucial for achieving the best flavors. With regular experimentation, cleaning, and maintenance, you can fine-tune your grind size and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee tailored to your taste. So, grab your coffee grinder, start experimenting, and elevate your coffee brewing experience to a whole new level!

Leave a Comment