How to Grind Coffee Beans – With or Without a Grinder

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The ultimate guide to grinding your own coffee

The aroma of fresh coffee is alluring enough to make almost anyone’s mouth water. Those who normally pass over a cup of joe are enticed instead when catching a roasty whiff of ground coffee beans. As any convert will quickly tell you, there’s no substitute for grinding your own. That’s why we’ll be showing you how to grind coffee beans with or without a grinder.

How to grind coffee beans - with a grinder

A coffee grinder makes things easier, but you still need to know how to get the right-sized grounds for your brew. There’s no better way to reach the perfect grind and be rewarded with the ideal strength and flavor preferred. Let’s take a closer look at grinding coffee beans with a grinder first.

Which coffee grinder works best?

You can find both blade and burr grinders with a range of attachments. Blade grinders literally chop up the coffee beans, generating a lot of heat. The high temperature steals away flavor as the irregular shape of the grounds grant poor extraction and an even taste. Burr grinders are the preferred option and come with either a wheel or conical burr. If you want the best control of fineness out there you will need a conical burr grinder.

Why not take a look at our best coffee grinders for home use.

how long to grind coffee beans

Coffee bean fineness

The grind size of your coffee grounds depends largely on how you plan to brew your coffee. Fineness, or coarseness, affects the flavor. Fine grinds grant a greater degree of extraction and a bitterer taste. No grinder is exactly the same due to each unit’s individual calibration, but here’s the general consistency that you need for every coffee machine and brewing method.

Extra coarse

Cold-brew coffee calls for the largest, coarsest grounds. You’ll end up with coffee grounds similarly sized to coriander or peppercorns.


Coarse grounds resembling granules of rough sand are the top choice for percolator and freshly pressed coffee. There’s no better balance for your french press, vacuum coffee pet, plunger pot, or percolator.


Automatic drip machines need a medium fineness resembling the consistency of regular sand.


Fine grounds are ideal for stovetop espresso coffee makers and drip filter machines with conical filters. Grind until you reach a feel that is similar to sea sand.

Extra fine

Espresso fans will need to grind their coffee beans extra fine. Most pre-ground coffee comes extra-fine, so work your coffee beans until they’re almost the same texture as ground pepper.

Superfine Turkish grind

Turkish coffee takes the finest grind you can get. The traditional unfiltered brewing method Ibik calls for a flour-like powder.

How to choose a coffee roast

Once you’ve determined the right texture, find the appropriate attachment for your grinder and pick out your roast. Light, medium and dark roast coffee beans work with all types of coffee-making methods. There’s no difference in caffeine. It all comes down to which intensity of body and flavor you’re looking for.

Light roast coffee

Lighter roasts have higher acidity and more complex flavors than darker roasts. Lightly roasted coffee beans are dry because oil hasn’t yet risen to the surface. The mellow bodied fullness retains the most characteristics of the bean, keeping its full taste largely intact. 

Medium roast coffee

Medium roast coffee beans bring a well-rounded flavor profile, delivering mild acidity and moderate richness. As sugars caramelize and oils rise to the surface, coffee beans darken. Expect a sweeter taste, with more body and less of the lighter notes.

Dark roast coffee

Most dark roast coffee beans are dark shiny brown and have an oiliness to their surface. Acidity is low, with dark roasts granting rich body and bittersweet flavors. The subtle undertones and fruity highlights are lost, but intense dark strength is gained.

how to grind coffee beans with a blender

How to use a coffee grinder

There are two main types of coffee grinders available. Dosing grinders dispense your coffee at the pull of a handle, preparing the coffee ready-to-use. Non-dosing grinders dispense straight into a container for brewing. Regardless of which you’re using, you’ll always start by filling up the hopper with coffee beans.

Dosing grinders

If you’re using a dosing grinder, all you need to do after turning the unit on and filling the hopper is set the fineness and pull the handle. It’s going to take three or more pulls depending on how much coffee you’re preparing. Make sure you don’t miss the extra coffee that’s spilt over the edges. You’ll probably need an extra pull to push the last through.

Doserless grinders

Doserless grinders grind straight into a container or portafilter, with certain units providing built-in filtration. It’s essential to measure the right amount of coffee for the number of cups you’re making. With this determined, follow these simple steps:

  1. Fill the hopper with a little more coffee than is needed for the volume you’re brewing.
  2. Adjust the fineness/coarseness setting.
  3. Grind the coffee beans, using short, quick pulses instead of an ongoing grind.
  4. Once the desired consistency is reached, brew up a fresh batch of java.

It’s vital to remember just how much heat damages coffee. This is why it is crucial to use short, quick bursts to avoid excess heat from stealing away flavor from your beans. Keep this rule in mind, and your coffee will always come out tasting great.

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    How to use a manual coffee grinder

    Many coffee sommeliers prefer the controlled texture and undamaged grounds produced by a properly operated manual coffee grinder. If this is the first time you’re using your grinder, grind a few beans first to get used to the grind level settings.

    1. Start off by loosening and removing the locking mechanism atop the grinder (this is usually a nut.)
    2. Remove the handle and stopper.
    3. Set the grind level by adjusting the mechanism (also, typically a nut or ring.)
    4. Fill the hopper with your measured quantity of coffee beans.
    5. Hold the body of the grinder tightly and start grinding slowly.
    6. Unscrew the grinding unit and brew up your coffee using the fresh grounds.

    Grinding coffee to the right texture to suit your taste is an art which takes time to practice and perfect. Soon enough, grinding up just the right fineness will become second nature.

    how to grind coffee beans

    How to grind coffee beans without a grinder

    You don’t need an automatic or manual grinder to grind coffee beans. There are several ways to make your own freshly ground at home. Whether you’ve got a food processor or a blender like a Nutribullet or Magimix, you’re good to go with freshly ground in minutes.

    How to grind coffee beans in a blender

    Grinding coffee beans in a blender won’t give you uniform size and consistency, but it works quickly and well.

    1. Fill your blender with a measured quantity of coffee beans appropriate to your serving size.
    2. Select the grind setting if available otherwise use a medium-high pulse to work your coffee to the preferred fineness slowly.
    3. Grind for three seconds at a time. You’ll never need more than six intervals to get the grounds as fine as possible.
    4. Tilt the blender as you grind to make sure that everything is evenly processed.

    How to grind coffee beans in a food processor

    A food processor and blender work equally well for grinding coffee if you don’t have a specialized grinder. The size of the food processor’s receptacle largely determines the least and most coffee you can grind at a time.

    1. Fill your food processor with the right quantity of beans needed for your desired serving size.
    2. Select the pulse setting and grind your beans for three to five seconds at a time. As is the case with a blender, you’ll never need more than six intervals or 30-seconds of pulsing.
    3. Tilt the food processor as you grind to make sure that all the grounds are evenly processed.
    how to grind coffee beans with a blender

    Can you grind coffee beans in a Nutribullet?

    The powerful Nutribullet grinds beans in a jiffy, but remember that it is a blade grinder. This means that your coffee grounds will have uneven shapes and sizes. The heat generated by the metal blade can also sap flavor while leaving your coffee with a slightly burned taste if you’re not careful.

    1. Fill the jug with as many coffee beans as you need for your desired serving.
    2. Select pulse and work your beans for three to five seconds at a time until you reach the right fineness. Again, six intervals are the most you’ll need for super fine pour over or Turkish coffee.
    3. Shake the Nutribullet in between pulses to make sure that all the coffee beans are evenly processed.

    Remember not to grind your coffee using one long press of the button but pulse instead. You can otherwise end up with coffee with a fraction of the flavor and a prevailing bland, bitter overtone.

    Can you grind coffee beans in a Magimix?

    A Magimix works, grinding coffee beans quickly but its blade will give a lower quality grind than a burr grinder. Whenever you’re grinding using a blade grinder, again we remind you to use short intervals. As with most food processors, the only catch to using this unit is that you have to process a fairly large quantity at a time.

    1. Fill your Magimix with at least seven ounces of coffee beans, or a suitable measured quantity.
    2. Pick pulse and grind for three seconds at a time until the desired coarseness is reached.
    3. Work the coffee in from the sides of the Magimix between intervals to make sure it is all evenly processed. You need less than six intervals to reach a super fine grind.
    can you grind coffee with food processor

    How to grind coffee beans without a grinder, blender or food processor

    It’s tough to reach a degree of uniformity and similarity of size and shape when you’re crushing coffee beans with anything other than a grinder. It’s certainly not impossible, though. If you’re in a pinch, and simply have to have your pick-me-up, read on.

    How to grind coffee beans with a mortar and pestle

    A mortar and pestle is a time-tested tool that works wonderfully for crushing just about anything. You’ll get good results, but it all depends on your technique. The trick to great grounds is working patiently, making sure to crush the beans evenly. Never fill your mortar over a quarter full, or it’s too hard to work with. Instead, grind small batches at a time.

    1. Fill the mortar with a measured quantity of coffee beans.
    2. Hold the pestle in your strong hand, pressing down to crush the beans while making a twisting motion as you crush.
    3. Roll the coffee grounds around, displacing beans as is needed to reach a balanced texture and consistency throughout.
    how to grind coffee beans for strong coffee

    How to grind coffee beans with a rolling pin

    Crushing coffee beans with a rolling pin gives a fairly even texture, making it one better methods. It takes a little work, but you can get to a medium-fine grind.

    1. Grab two large sheets of parchment paper.
    2. Fill the center of a page with a measured quantity of coffee grounds suited to your serving size ( two to six tablespoons at a time are recommended.)
    3. Cover the page with an equal-sized piece of paper, before folding over all the edges to create a pocket.
    4. Press down with your rolling pin and crush evenly, checking the fineness after every few passes.

    How to grind coffee beans with a hammer

    Crude and requiring a great amount of grunt work, grinding coffee beans with a hammer isn’t easy, but it’s effective. You’ll get a coarse to medium grind at best.

    1. Get out a ziplock bag or two large sheets of parchment paper.
    2. Fill the bag with a measured quantity of coffee beans suited to your serving size, or place the beans in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper, before folding over the edges and creating a pocket.
    3. Use a hammer to press down forcefully but evenly, never striking but instead crushing the beans. Begin at one side of the bag and slowly work your way across.

    How to grind coffee beans with a large kitchen knife

    You’re certainly not going to get the most exquisite grind, but the flat side of a large kitchen knife works wonders if you’ve got nothing else available. Scatter the beans on a chopping board lined with parchment paper and press down hard on the edge (not the cutting side) of a large knife. As you crush the beans, draw the knife toward you working through the serving until it’s all the same consistency.

    how to grind coffee beans with a knife

    How to grind coffee beans - FAQs

    If you’re still left needing to know something after reading our coffee grinding guide, you won’t after we answer all your frequently asked questions.

    How much coffee do I grind?

    The quantity of grounds needed is relative to how strong you want it to be and how many cups you want to make. There are, however, recommendations that suit most tastes. One standard cup of coffee is generally measured at two tablespoons to six ounces of water.

    How long do you need to grind coffee beans with a grinder?

    It all depends on how you plan to brew up your coffee. We’ve got a complete guide above, otherwise, use these guidelines. Coarse grounds for a french press or percolator take 8 to 10 seconds of grinding in total. Medium grounds for automatic drip coffee run for 10 to 15 seconds. Fine espresso coffee will normally only run for 5 to 10 seconds longer.

    How long do you need to grind coffee beans in a blender or food processor?

    Just like with a grinder, it all depends on how you plan to brew up your joe. Grinding coffee in a blender or food processor takes about the same length of time as in a grinder. Use the same recommendations.

    How to grind coffee beans for an espresso?

    Espresso calls for a fine grind. If you’ve got a burr grinder, then simply select the fine setting and grind your beans. Otherwise, use a blender, food processor or manual method to work your beans until they’re the same consistency as flour. This takes roughly 30 seconds of grinding in a grinder, blender or food processor, but remember to grind in intervals to preserve the flavor.

    How to grind coffee beans for a french press?

    French press coffee needs a coarse grind that’s as even as you can get it. A proper grinder is highly preferred over a blender or food processor in this case. If you do have to use a blade grinder, you’ll need no more than five to ten seconds to get the texture right. Otherwise, set your burr grinder to coarse and you’ll be good to go with perfect grounds in the same amount of time.

    How do you grind coffee for pour-over?

    You’ll need slightly more grounds for pour-over coffee than a machine uses. Grind at least four heaped tablespoons of coffee to a medium-fine coarseness for two cups. 

    Stop when you reach roughly the same texture as kosher/sea salt. Place the coffee in a filter and slowly pour over 20 ounces of boiling water, letting the coffee run and eventually drip through.

    What is the best way to grind coffee beans?

    Burr grinders give the evenest grind, crushing coffee beans into a consistency where they’re all roughly the  same shape and size. There’s no heat thanks to the low speed which leaves all flavors intact. Manual burr grinders are the preferred choice for true coffee connoisseurs, and the best way to grind coffee beans.

    So there you have it!

    Pay fine attention to your technique and the taste produced, for fine adjustments to the way you work your grinder will enhance or diminish your coffee’s flavor profile. 

    Always avoid heat when grinding your beans, grinding slowly with a manual grinder or using intermittent pulses like recommended. Never grind more coffee than you need to serve immediately while keeping these tips in mind, and you’ll be blown away by your coffee time and time again.

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