You can usually grind coffee where you buy it. However, it will stay fresher in whole bean form. It is best to grind the coffee right before you brew it.
If you have a blade grinder it’s best to shake the grinder while grinding, and tilt it. The idea here is to get as close to a uniform grind as possible. This is possible to approximate but impossible to actually pull off since blade grinders slice the beans and inevitably will leave you with grounds that are inconsistent, mixed with coarse and fine.
The better grinder is a burr grinder. This allows for a more consistent grind. But how fine should you grind? You will want a slightly coarse medium grind for french press, a medium fine for pouring fresh drip, a fine for auto drip (if you use a filter) and very fine for espresso.
The best way to find if you are getting a proper extraction is to weigh the coffee before, then afterwards dry out the grounds and weigh them again. In a proper extraction, the grounds should weigh 19% less. If its weight loss is more than 19% then it was over extracted and needs a coarser grind; if its weight loss is less than 19% then it was under extracted and needs a finer grind. If you use 2.5 oz of coffee per pot, (.156 pound) then after brewing and drying the grounds they should weigh 2.025 oz (.126 pound), any more and the coffee is over extracted and your grind is too fine, any less and your coffee under extracted and your grind is too coarse. The same can be done for espresso. A Standard Coffee measure is about .33 oz (.02 pound) after drying it should be .27 oz (.016 pound)
If you don’t have a scale that is that accurate you can time your espresso shot. If it takes less than 20 seconds it is likely under extracted and too coarse. If it is over 30 seconds it is over extracted and too fine.
Braun 4540 Cuisinart DBM-8
My experience with grinders has been that the Cuisinart is good for auto-drip but not able to grind fine enough for espresso and turkish/greek coffee. Braun has a burr grinder (model 4045) that can grind fine enough for espresso.
I will add grinders to this list as I test them.
Mahogany Bear – Spectacled Bear Columbian
Visual beans were uniform with slightest tearing of oil, but not overly so. The aroma upon grinding was good with a hint of earthy tang. In a white porcelain cup the colour was brown with a slight hint of amber.
Auto drip: The coffee started with Citrus tones with some tang. The body was medium. Adding half & half suppresses some of the body but not dramatically so.
Espresso shot had very pleasant earthy tones with a slight bittersweet after taste with good creme and a better body than auto drip.
Press Pot: The color upon the water pouring was a good brown purple. The crust broke with a nice looking foam. A slurp brought a good aroma. The body was on the slightly heavy side of medium (better body than most columbians). Sugar and half & half brought out some of the natural sweetness that seems to be a bit shy, and emphasizes the cocoa tones with just a hint of tang. The body held up to the half&half. The predominate aftertaste is of the earthy tang that the aroma of the grinding promised.
Ancient Grounds – Seattle – 1220 First Ave, Seattle WA 9810
Ancient Grounds is a Combination Oriental Art Gallery (with a touch of North West Tribal art) and Coffee Bar (with a fine selection of beer too). It’s just a few doors south of the Seattle Art Museum.
One walks in to see tapestries, kimonos, partitions and all sorts of oriental art. In the center stands the espresso machine.
When proprietor Roland Crawford first opened more than a decade ago he put out a sign saying “Best Espresso in Seattle?” with a question mark. At that time there were two others who could claim better. Both of those establishments have since lost their leases. Now the question mark is missing.
Roland has deliberately sought to bring extreme excellence into his espresso shot pulling. So many places I have gone to pull shots that I would call an Americano (weak with no body and no creme) To watch Roland pull a shot is to watch a man balance the elements of a good espresso (bean freshness, fineness of grind, tamping tightness, water quantity, water temperature). He does not rest on the reputation of his last pull. One can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he works the various components to pull his next shot so that it is as good or better than his last shot. His beans come from Lighthouse.
On my last visit there the shot he pulled was Earthy with citrusy almost peppery shades. Slurping the shot on the pallet brought a sweet/bitter aftertaste with just a hint of cocoa tones.
Is it the best espresso in Seattle? I don’t know. I haven’t yet had all the espresso in Seattle. What I must say is it is certainly one of the most conscientiously pulled shots in Seattle.
Roland is a social media non believer, so if you read this blog and go there, tell him that you read about his place in my blog.