“If during their ef orts cof ee tasters find something in the taste that resists being said, that perhaps even resists being organized into their discourse, that is where they focus their at ention.”
The same is true with a particle of coffee. A whole bean of coffee has much smaller surface area-to-volume ratio than a ground-up bean. Thus, getting to the middle of an individual unit is easier with ground coffee. Now, exchange water for the fork in our example and the importance of grinding becomes apparent. In short, the smaller the particle size, the higher the number of solutes that will be extracted from the matrix.
If the main goal of brewing coffee is to achieve a high-quality cup, then any person brewing should strive for a uniform extraction of solutes from the grounds. To do this, each coffee unit should have the same surface area to volume ratio, that is, they should be the same size. If they aren’t, the bigger pieces will release fewer solutes than the smaller pieces. The pieces should be the same shape, too. Pieces of various shapes will interact with the water molecules differently, causing each unit to release inconsistent amounts of solutes during extraction.
Determining the correct grind size for brewing is not simple. The grind size interacts with other variables we’re exploring here and, ultimately, all the parameters must be balanced to create the desired beverage. All other things being equal, the grind size does play its own role in the taste of the final beverage. In general, finer grinds can produce less acidity (though some will suggest increased sourness), more bitterness, and more body than coarser grinds.
For the best brew possible, your grounds should be as uniformly sized and shaped as possible. It will mean more consistency in how each piece interacts with the water molecules.
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