How to Grind Coffee Beans
Grinding unpacks all the flavor, aroma, oils, and compounds contained in our well-loved coffee beans.
And as I delved deeper into the craft of coffee drinking, I came across the outstanding advantages of freshly ground coffee beans.
Although there are lots of coffee grinders available in the market, I learned that there are other alternative ways and tools, already found in my kitchen, that are capable of grinding my favorite coffee beans.
Ways to Grind Coffee Beans Mechanically
Grinding coffee beans without a coffee grinder is possible using the right kitchen appliance and tools.
One of the most popular and well-recommended ways is mechanical grinding that utilizes some of the kitchen’s best friends – the blender and food processor. Both tools are equipped with blades that can effectively grind coffee beans into fine- or medium-textured coffee grounds.
But the task certainly comes with challenges and major surprises. So, here’s an in-depth discussion and instruction on how to power through using these popular kitchen appliances.
Use a Blender
The ubiquitous blender serves a purpose other than the typical fruit and protein shakes. Driven by highly capable blades and effective mechanical power, it can be used to produce decent coffee grounds with textures ranging from coarse to moderately fine.
But it’s a lot trickier than that. Blenders were designed to perform well with little amounts of liquid. It helps the solid ingredients move around the blender. Moreover, the liquid prevents the motor and blades from overwork and overheating.
However, exceeding the recommended volume may result in a slurry tragedy. Instead of getting coffee grounds, you may end up with a smoothie-like coffee mix. Beware.
You must also give attention to the consistency of the coffee bean grind. Coffee experts always advise grinding the coffee beans near a perfect consistency so that all the oils, flavor, and aroma will be extracted during brewing. The more the coffee grind is consistent, the smoother and flavorful the coffee drink will be. Fortunately, with the right settings and technique, this is possible to using a blender.
Another important reminder in coffee grinding is to prevent overheating the coffee beans. The mechanical action often generates heat and friction that can elevate the temperature of the coffee beans. This may result in a bitter-tasting and flavor-lacking coffee drink.
Overall, the blender is definitely a great alternative in producing grounds perfect for brewing using French Press and drip coffee.
How to Grind Beans with a Blender
Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can use the blender to grind coffee beans:
- Prepare and obtain the target amount of coffee beans. ¼ cup is the most common recommendation.
- Toss into the blender a fraction (at most ¼ cup) of the total amount of coffee beans. If you are to grind more coffee beans, then it's best to do it in small batches. This is to prevent overheating. Remember that the more coffee beans you use, the longer the running time of the blender is, which will expose the coffee beans to a higher temperature.
- Add a teaspoon of oil or water into the blender. You can skip this step if your coffee beans are oily enough.
- Cover and set your blender into pulsing action mode to prevent heat build-up. If this is not an option, then set it to low or medium. Never set the blender at high speed because it can lead to inconsistency and overheating.
- Grind until target texture and consistency is achieved.
Use a Food Processor
A food processor is a great option too for your coffee grinding activities. Its sharp blades can definitely give espresso-worthy coffee grounds.
This motor-powered kitchen tool can produce medium-fine grounds and coarse grounds. The medium-fine coffee ground is the easiest to achieve using a food processor. While it requires technique to achieve coarse coffee grounds, it would not yield the same consistency as a coffee burr. Even so, the coffee grounds produced using a food processor can still make delicious cups of coffee.
The best brewing methods you can use for these types of coffee grounds are French Press and Drips. Both brewing methods can bring out the flavors and aroma of medium-fine and coarse coffee grounds.
How to Grind Beans with a Food Processor
Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can use a food processor to grind coffee beans:
- Toss into the food processor’s bowl the desired amount of coffee beans.
- Secure the appliance using its lid. Lock tight.
- Set the mode into “pulsing action.” Grind the coffee beans in short bursts to prevent overheating. If this pulsing mode option is absent, try shifting from low-stop-medium-stop cycles in several intervals.
- Frequently check the texture and consistency of the beans. Tilt the processor slightly to keep the chunks of coffee beans from moving into the blade.
- Continue until the desired consistency of the coffee beans is achieved. Never overdo processing because it may turn into powdery form.
Ways to Grind Coffee by Hand
Unlike mechanical grinding, you need to apply grinding power manually through your hands.
Manual grinding results in coffee grounds with fine consistency, although it certainly takes time.
Grinding using manual techniques follows the saying “slowly but surely”. They take a longer time and more effort in grinding. But, manual grinding produces one of the best-tasting coffee grounds in the market.
One of the most common kitchenware in your home is the rolling pin.
Aside from baking, a rolling pin can also be used to grind your favorite coffee beans. This is often used when there are no other grinding options available.
You can obtain coarse coffee grounds perfect for French Press.
But brace yourself because this hand grinding method can be tedious and time-consuming.
How to Grind Beans Using a Rolling Pin
- Place the coffee beans inside a zip-lock plastic bag. Make sure that you remove all the air inside the bag.
- Smash the coffee beans using the rolling pin as if you are using a hammer. Repeat until all coffee beans are crushed.
- Roll the pin over the crushed coffee beans. Apply force and pressure onto the plastic so that the beans are ground perfectly.
- Gather the crushed beans in one are (ex. Middle) and do step 3 again.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 over and over again until the desired texture and consistency of the ground coffee beans are achieved. Be patient.
Mortar and Pestle
The primary purpose of mortar and pestle even before the 20th century is to grind all types of food like spices, meat, and medicinal herbs. This includes coffee beans.
Mortar and pestle work by allowing both hammering and rolling motions in grinding. The flexibility of this technique can produce good consistency, ranging from coarse to ultra-fine coffee grounds.
The grounds are perfect for brewing methods using a French Press and Turkish Press.
How to grind beans using a mortar and pestle:
- Place inside the mortar the coffee beans. Be sure not to exceed more than ¼ of the mortar to obtain maximum control. At the same, you can also prevent coffee beans from flying around.
- Using the pestle, crush the coffee beans by forcefully pushing it down followed by just as strong twisting motion.
- When every bean is crushed, start the rolling motion. Repeat until target texture and consistency is achieved.
Use a Hammer
A hammer or mallet is popularly used in coffee grinding too. It can smash and crush the coffee beans to release their flavors, aroma, and oil.
You can expect medium to coarse-textured coffee grounds from this method. However, never expect to get espresso-textured coffee beans from hammering. At best, you can use the coffee bean grounds in cold brew and drip coffees.
How to grind beans using a hammer:
- Place a handful of coffee beans inside a Ziplock bag.
- Remove all the air and seal the bag tightly.
- Using the mallet/hammer, press down the coffee beans. Remember to crush but never hit the beans. Make sure you do this with force.
- Continue until desired consistency is achieved.
Hand Mincer or Garlic Press
If in a dire emergency, you can also use your hand mincer or garlic press as a grinding substitute.
You can expect to get coarse-textured and moderate consistency from this method. Sometimes, people combine this with other methods like rolling pins to get finer consistency.
The best brewing methods for the coffee grounds are French Press and drips.
How to Grind Beans Using a Hand Mincer or Garlic Press:
- Toss into the mincer a small amount of coffee beans. Never grind big batches because you are more likely to achieve uneven consistency.
- Squeeze the coffee beans using the instrument. Repeat until all the beans inside have passed through.
- Collect the beans and repeat steps 1 and 2 until target consistency is achieved.
Grinding is one of the most important steps in making a delicious cup of coffee. If you ever skip this step, then you'll be missing more than half of the taste, aroma, and compounds in coffee.
Fret no more, because there are plenty of ways you can grind your coffee beans in place of coffee grinders. You can find some in your kitchen; some can be in your toolbox.
So what are you waiting for? Crush and smash your way into one magical cup of coffee.