//Hitting the grind

Hitting the grind

A simple tip to make coffee taste a lot better


Time for an analogy: fuel is to car as what is to college student?

An example of a burr grinder, one that you would most likely find in a cafe. By Erick Fredendall

The answer is caffeine, most prevalently found in the most coveted drink in the world: coffee.

And with more students flocking to the various coffee shops downtown and elsewhere, interest in specialty coffee is more prevalent than ever.

But with the fast paced lifestyle most students lead, many substitute quality for convenience by visiting Starbucks, McDonalds, or Tim Hortons and paying per cup for their java fixes. Seemingly a cheap and easy habit to adopt, paying per cup is deceitfully expensive.

Unbelievable? Buying one small black coffee at Tim Hortons every morning would leave you $580.35 less in your pocket at the end of the year.

To the relief of the cash strapped student, fairly inexpensive ways to improve the overall quality of the morning cup o’ joe exist.

But the most essential step to a great coffee is grinding beans right before the brewing process.

A little known fact in the coffee industry is that the majority of the coffee consumed is what experts in the specialty coffee industry would consider “stale.”

During the grinding process, volatile flavors and aromas are released from the bean. These nutrients dissipate quickly, and you will notice that two coffees from the same bean can taste very different depending on whether beans were ground right before brewing or were pre-ground.

Coffee grinders can range anywhere between roughly $30-200. In the lower price range are the propeller grinders: small, cylindrical, capsules that contain a singular blade and grind small servings at a time.

Propellers are a great choice for students due to their modest financial requirement and their fast preparation. The tradeoff is that the grinds produced are not uniform in size, which affects the extraction process.

Further up the price range are burr mills. These grinders use burrs that rotate slower than the propeller grinders, which reducing heat friction and lessening the risk of losing flavor to dissipation.

Additionally, burr grinders produce a uniform grind and often come with adjustable settings to increase or decrease the fineness.

A general rule of thumb for grind size is the finer the grind, the more extraction occurs. On the fine side of the grind spectrum are drinks like Turkish coffee and espresso, while coarse grinds work best for drinks such as French press coffee and percolators. The average coffee makers, also known as auto-drips, are best when the grounds are milled at a medium setting.

Taking control of the grinding process is one of the most effective ways to improve the quality and caffeine content of the morning cup of coffee. As an added perk, the smell is glorious.

Happy grinding, friends.


Erick Fredendall is the Editor-in-Chief of the ESG. Contact Erick at ejfredendall@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @mrfredendall.