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Extraction
ex·trac·tion
noun
the action of taking out something, especially using effort or force.
ex·tract
verb
remove or take out, especially by effort or force.

The art of coffee extraction is the process of dissolving natural compounds, or solubles, from the grind. The moment coffee and water touch, extraction begins immediately. Solubles extracted from coffee include acids, carbohydrates, and caffeine. The degree of extraction depends on quantity of coffee, grind, brew time, and water temperature.

With roasting, consistency is key. Brewing coffee shouldn't be any different. There are many variables to have a perfect cup of coffee. One very important variable: the grind.

One of the most important pieces of coffee gear is your grinder: choose wisely.

There are two different kinds of grinders: blade and burr. Blade grinders have blades that spin—similar to a blender—extremely fast and "chop" the bean to an uneven grind. Due to blade speed, friction is created; friction equals heat; heat transfers to the bean. No bueno.

Burr grinders allow the bean to be "crushed" using pressure which allows a more uniform and even grind. Muy bueno. Flat burr grinders are usually rings aligned horizontally. Conical grinders have a burr sitting inside a surrounding ring. The aligned surfaces of the burrs have "teeth" which grind the bean when passed through. Be forewarned: not all burr grinders are created equal.

Burr grinders allow you to adjust the grind size accordingly to the brewer type. Yes, each brewer uses a different type of grind size. An immersion style brewer like the Press uses a coarse grind whereas an espresso portafilter uses a fine grind. Turkish coffee uses even finer coffee.

A micron, also know as micrometer, is a metric unit of measurement—a measurement of colloidal particle size—for length equal to a 0.001 millimeter, one millionth of a meter [1/1,000,000], or about a 0.000039 inch. The symbol used: µm.

To give you an idea of how small a micron is:
sea salt spray = 1/2µm
talcum powder = 20µm
mustard seed = 1000µm

“He [Jesus] said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."”
— Matthew 17:20

Typically, you hear the usual saying that your brewer of choice needs a [fine][medium][coarse] grind. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty; what is this coffee grind that needs more explanation and how does it apply to the taste of the final product yield?

When brewing, you need to have the proper water temperature, time, and grind for perfect extraction and yield. If your grind is too fine, your coffee will be over extracted and it may come out bitter, lacking, or a better word: hollow. If too coarse, your coffee may be under extracted and the coffee can taste acidic or sour. With the ability to fine tune your grind by gradually changing the burrs by minute amounts, the extraction can change drastically.

An easy way to remember this:
SOUR: increase brew time, decrease water temp, grind coffee finer
BITTER: decrease brew time, increase water temp, grind coffee coarser
NOTE: the lighter the roast can cause your extraction times to differ, typically longer, than a darker roast; when using a lighter roast—for better extraction—grind a little finer and lower your water:bean ratio (if using a 16:1, try a 15:1 or 14:1). brewers do overlap which allow minute adjustments on grind.

200-400µm 500-700µm 800-1000µm 1100-1300µm 1400-1600µm
FINE FINE/MEDIUM MEDIUM MEDIUM/COARSE COARSE

turkish

espresso

aeropress

stovetop

cupping

espresso

aeropress

stovetop

pour over

syphon

drip

cupping

press

aeropress

pour over

beehouse

chemex

syphon

cold brew

drip

cupping

press

pour over

beehouse

chemex

syphon

cold brew

drip

press

cold brew

 

 

Below are some images for micron sizing. Using a Japanese 5 Yen coin, about the size of an American Nickel, for size/grind comparison.


ESPRESSO: 300µm



TABLE SALT: 500µm



HIMALAYAN PINK SALT: 600µm



KOSHER SALT: 1200µm



COARSE GROUND BLACK PEPPER: 1600µm

Trust the process; enjoy the journey. Stay Humble. Abide.