Universal Grind Table (by Paul L)

I personally keep a grind table which contains the grind settings I typically use for my coffees. I am not aware of such a tool existing on the web and I think it’s a shame. A grind table would have helped me along the way if I had found one and so I created my own.

Whether you drink espresso or another brewing method, this table should be transferable as it has been re-worked with Dave's help to use a common framework and not be dependent on any make of grinder or roasting set-up. Our intention is that this is a universal table for coffee grinding for the benefit of any Coffeetime visitor.

The table is at the bottom of this article or click on these footnote symbols12

How the table came about

How much coffee does it take you to dial-in a new bean?
Whilst going through the steep coffee learning curve, it is common to use a lot of coffee when dialling in a new bean, those so called "kilo dial-ins". You know the dilemma, the person who takes shot after shot after shot as they struggle to dial their grinder in to a different bean. You see it on forums and cringe as the poor user wastes maybe a kilo of coffee. Since their supply is usually precious (by nature of price and limited quantity) this is really frustrating. It probably leads to a fear of changing grind settings and by definition will slow down their experience and their coffee enjoyment.

I was spared this as I regularly picked up first hand experience (from Dave C) and it showed the marked contrast in having someone knowledgeable around hands-on. I was therefore able to learn about finding a grinder touching-point (see his article on the Wiki) which cut down wastage. I was encouraged to experiment with different coffee beans. Of course, 85kg of greens beans at significant savings over the space of about 15 months also helped (and showed the power of the group when people get together)!

It really should not take much once you have a method…

Now, even though no two grinders will necessarily have the same number of turns or notches (when compared with another grinder of the same make and model), Dave would know roughly where he would start with a bean through experience and mental reference to other beans. This struck a chord with me. Dave is blessed with an exceptional memory and in the space of probably 18 months I don’t think I saw him fail to nail a bean on either the single or double setting (they differ) within 2 shots. This is awesome.

Sadly, having neither the years of coffee experience behind me nor the electric memory, I started to note findings down and it helped. I realised that if I note how a variety of grinds differ I could build up my knowledge.

So, as I worked my way through 2007 roasting my stock of greens in 250g batches I had started to organise my findings and I confess I was surprised it had not been done before.

Why not, why do many coffee folk still use a lot of coffee dialling-in…

Well, it seems embedded in forum folklore:

  • Coffee roasting machines provide different results
  • Individual set-ups can produce different results
  • People roast to different or inconsistent levels
  • People store their beans differently

Is this article a waste of time then?

No. From sharing knowledge in conversations with comments such as "about 1 notch finer (we have the same grinders) than our GC Brazilians" it proved possible to exchange information based on reference points. Further, that it did not really matter if the other person had the same grinder. It helped in estbalishing a general or universal scale but once established should prove consistent for anyone.

Now that’s genuinely useful information. In other words, it means that you can get to know the grind setting of a bean in relative terms to other known beans.

How does the table help

It should help you to quickly became efficient at:

  • having different coffees around and yet grinding accurately within a shot or two
  • becoming confident at moving from one coffee to another
  • mentally registering how a particular coffee would grind
  • being able to match beans when blending (choosing two beans with different grind settings will see one blonde or the other choke)
  • saving money by not wasting coffee!

Anyway, see what you think, whether you find it useful too and if it helps change your habits, gives you more confidence to experiment with beans or just helps you to use your coffee efficiently. Remember that the actual numbers are of no importance to you, just adapt the relative settings to your own scale as you need to.