Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Adjusting the Grind

I apologize for this post being late. School started on Monday, and the beginning of this semester is proving to be more chaotic than most. You will understand more later. 

To start off, I thought I might explain the title of this new series: "Adjusting the Grind". This is common Barista lingo for changing how course or fine a grind might be on the coffee grinder. It is most often used to refer to adjusting the grind of an espresso grinder.

My boss explained it to me like this. Imagine courser coffee grounds are pebbles and finer coffee grounds are pieces of sand. If you pour water through, which will the water move faster though? The pebbles. In other words, courser grounds allow the water to "move faster" through the coffee; whereas, finer grounds allow the water to "move slower" through the coffee.

Different brew methods call for different grinder settings as well. For example, a French Press, or Press Pot, requires a course setting because the brew time is longer (about 4 minutes), and the coffee grounds sit in the hot water instead of passing through. However, espresso requires a very fine setting because the brew time is so short (about 25 to 30 seconds). 

Because espresso is so fine, it also requires adjustments throughout the day. Any minute change like the weather, time of day, or the espresso machine can affect the espresso's taste. A good Barista recognizes this and adjusts the grinder accordingly.

If you are interested in learning more about adjusting the espresso grinder, this video does a great job explaining the process a Barista goes through:

I chose "Adjusting the Grind" for the title of this coffee series because it is my hope to adjust the way the average person views coffee. The industry is changing, and as a Barista, it is my duty to try to bridge the communication gap between the bar. Coffee education is important to me, and I hope to share my little knowledge with you piece by piece.

So next time you are in a local coffee shop, you can impress your Barista by asking, "How is the espresso doing today?" or "Have you had to adjust the grind, today?"
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