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How to Grind Coffee for Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee is one of the many coffee drinks preferred by many for its smooth, full-bodied taste. It is also an excellent option for people who suffer from gastric reflux as the brewing process creates a low acidic profile and provides more antioxidants than hot brewed coffee.

Generally, cold brews require a coarser grind than typical brewing methods and take longer to prepare. If you’re not sure how to do it, I’ll give you simple tips on how to grind coffee for cold brew.

But first, let’s be clear about…

What Is Cold Brewed Coffee?

ground coffee soaked in cold water home brew coffee

Let’s begin by understanding what cold brewing is. Cold brew coffee is a beverage that is sometimes confused with iced coffee because it is served cold. However, cold brew is different in that it is prepared using cold water, while iced coffee is a hot brewed coffee served cold with ice.

The style of cold brewing that we have here in the U.S. resembles the Kyoto-style cold coffee that the Japanese have been drinking since the 1600s. Generally, you make the coffee by steeping grounds in cold water for several hours, sometimes up to 24 hours.

It takes cold water more time to extract coffee than hot water. This brew produces a flavorful and less acidic coffee that is highly concentrated and served over ice or milk.

While it takes less time to prepare iced coffee, it does not produce the smooth and rich taste you get with cold-brewed coffee. These features have made cold brews a favorite among coffee lovers over the last decade.

Also, new brewing styles such as Nitro cold brew, a regular cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen, have helped popularise the drink further.

How Does Ground Size Affect Cold Brewing?

Grind size is measured on a scale of 1-10 and is split further into three categories: fine, medium, and coarse.

metal electric grinder with ground size coffee powder

Settings one through three on your electric grinder will produce a finely grounded coffee with an excellent consistency for espresso-based coffees, such as cappuccinos and mocha coffee, which have short brewing periods.

Fine grind is also suitable for brewing with a Moka Pot and making Turkish coffee with an Ibrik Cezve Pot as the brewing for both is 8 minutes. On the flip side, the fine grind provides a broader surface contact with water, and using it for cold brewing will result in an over-extracted and bitter brew.

Medium grind at the 4-6 level is the size you’ll commonly find when you buy pre-ground coffee as it is suitable to use with automatic drip coffee machines most people have at home. You can also use it with pour-over brewers, such as Chemex and Hario V60, and infusion coffee makers, like the Aeropress.

However, the best grind size for cold brewing is Coarse at the 7-9 levels. The coffee grounds are noticeably large, which allows you to brew for long periods without over extracting the coffee. It is also great for making big batches of coffee using brewers such as the French Press and percolator kettle.

The final number 10 setting is too coarse for making cold brews, and you may end up with a weak, under-extracted cold brew.

Best Coffee Grinders for Cold Brew

Getting the right grind size is essential to achieving a great-tasting cold-brewed coffee. There are various ways you can grind your coffee beans, including manual and electric grinders.

I highly recommend burr grinders because they produce consistently sized grounds or blade grinders such as blending machines. Other electric options include blade grinders and blending machines.

manual coffee grinder with roasted beans

Manual grinders operate on arm power using a hand crank to rotate the burrs that grind the beans. Burr mills are simple to use and cost less than electric models. They also are portable, so you can take them on your travel and camping trips, durable, and easy to clean.

On the other hand, electric grinders, such as the KRUPS Precision Grinder, are faster and more convenient when grinding beans for multiple cups of java. Additionally, they feature better adjustments for grind size and more range to work with, unlike manual grinders.

Also, there are more parameters to consider when buying an electrical grinder than you would with a hand crank, such as the capacity of the container, size of the motor, and the grinding burr (conical or flat).

Flat burr grinders are typically more expensive and of better quality, as they produce a consistent grind size. Conical burrs are more available as they are less costly to buy and maintain. However, the grounds are often inconsistent in size, which affects the cold brew. 

Similarly, blade grinders and blending machines are cheap to buy and readily available. But, they chop up the beans unevenly, which results in uneven grounds. Therefore, I don’t recommend them.

If you find grinding your coffee beans a challenge, you could opt for pre-ground coffee. The downside is that you will not get fresh coffee, and it will affect the overall aroma and flavor of the brew.

How to Grind Coffee for Cold Brew

The first step to grinding coffee beans for cold brewing is to measure out the roasted beans. Only grind what you intend to consume right away so that you enjoy a fresh brew every time.

Generally, two tablespoons or 28 grams per cup are the recommended amounts, and you can add or reduce to your preference.

electric coffee grinder with roasted beans

Electric grinders typically feature several grind settings, some with 24 levels. If it is your first time grinding, you may need to adjust the settings multiple times until you achieve the required size.

On the other hand, most manual grinders have one setting, and you will have to keep working the hand crank until you achieve the grind size you need. A typical blending machine can make the grinding process quicker, but you will get a more evenly ground coffee with a manual hand grinder than a blender. Read our guide on how long it takes to grind coffee beans.

After grinding, making your cold brew is a simple process. Mix your grounds with cold water in a jar and allow it to steep for 12 to 24 hours in the fridge, then filter out the coffee and serve.

Takeaway

Cold-brewed coffee is a sweet and refreshing beverage prepared by steeping cold water with coffee grounds over several hours. Cold water typically takes more time to extract flavors from the coffee, so knowing how to grind coffee for cold brew is essential to achieving great taste.

The best grind size for cold brewing is coarse, which is the consistency of sand. Fine or medium ground coffee is unsuitable as it enables faster extraction, and steeping it in water will result in over-extracted and bitter coffee.

Extra coarse grind size may not enable proper extraction, and your cold brew will be under-extracted with a dilute taste. Additionally, choosing a burr grinding machine matters as it ensures an even grind size, which gives you a balanced brew.

Avatar for Krista Haws

Known among her friends as 'the caffeine fiend', Krista loves all things coffee. From an extremely short, strong espresso to a 3 day cold brew, Krista loves them all.

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