What Kind of Coffee Grind Do I Need?

Ground decaf coffee comes in such a broad range of different forms, the labels display a hot barrow-load of information from decaf method to body, roast and origin. You’re willing to believe the coffee ‘does exactly what it says on the packet’, if only you could work out exactly what it does say on the packet. As well as body and roast, one of the most important bits of information is how fine or coarse the grind is. 

How does grind affect my coffee?

Grind is a measurement of how ground the coffee is. That wasn’t a surprise, was it? What might be new information is how much grind affects the taste of the coffee you drink. As well as the coffee you absolutely refuse to drink because it came out with notes of battery acid, warning claxons and flashing lights. If you’ve had one of those cups of decaf recently, you’ve either just come out of Costabucks, or you have got your brew all wrong and that may have something to do with putting the wrong grind in your coffee-making equipment.

Different coffee-making machines and makers make coffee in different ways and at different speeds. To work its magic, your chosen weapon of decaffeination needs a specific size and grade of ground coffee. 

Espresso fine grind

Espresso machines, for example, extract all of that yummy super quick – in usually less than 30 seconds. The same goes for pods and capsules. The hot water is in contact with the coffee for such a short time, it needs to extract flavour quickly. A fine grind presents more surface area than a coarse grind and the high-pressure water squeezes more of the flavour out. Using a coarse ground in an espresso machine will lead to a sour cup of under-extracted decaf.

French press coarse grind

French press, by comparison has minutes to work its magic as you steep the grounds for much longer. Brewing fine grounds in a cafetière for minutes on end will over-extract flavour and lead to a bitter brew.

Between the two extremes, you’ll find that medium ground works best with auto-drip filter machines or pour-over coffee makers, like those that come with a jug or carafe.

Match your machine with grind

It is very important to match the decaf grind you buy with the coffee-making gear you already have. If you suffer from disappointing cups of home-brewed decaf, it could be something as simple as buying the right coffee for your machine.

We try to make this as straightforward as possible at I Love Decaf. Our coffees come in different grinds for different methods of coffee-making. Rather than tell you on the bag the grind is medium-fine, we state what kind of machine the grind is suitable for. Sometimes, to save label space, we use a letter instead.

B Beans (not ground at all)

These are unground beans – perfect if you own a bean-to-cup coffee machine or you grind your own beans separately (perhaps you have a Moka pot and a French press and want to control the grind for optimum results in each piece of equipment). 

C Cafetiere/French Press

A cafetiere or French press is a tall jug with a plunger that holds back the grounds from your brewed coffee. You fill it with very hot (not boiling) water and let it steep. When the brew is done you push the plunger slowly down to compress all the grounds out of suspension behind a metal screen.

E Espresso

Espresso machines in the barista-style have become more popular over time, but espresso was originally brewed in Moka pots – stove-top percolators in which you boil water under pressure forcing steam and water through coffee grinds. When the grinds are saturated, the pressure forces brewed coffee up a funnel through a filter to the top chamber. When you hear the characteristic gurgling your coffee is ready. Whatever kind of espresso making equipment you have, this grind is the optimum for brewing your coffee.

P Pods/Capsules

Some modern coffee machines use a sealed pod system to make your coffee. The idea is you throw away each pod after you have used it once and the environmental cost gets picked up in a third world country steadily filling up with aluminium and plastic capsules. Not good enough. Fortunately, you can get refillable pods and systems for most of the proprietary coffee makers. We sell one of these on ilovedecaf, but others are available elsewhere.

F Filter/Aeropress

The simplest method of making coffee is to drip feed or pour very hot water over ground coffee which sits in a cone of filter paper held over a large jug. There are many variations of this technique from pour-over to the new Aeropress machine which can even make espresso-like coffee on the go.

Does Coffee Have More Caffeine Than Tea?

We’ve all heard the old chestnut that tea contains more caffeine than coffee, but is it true or false? The answer is that it is both true and false at the same time. We should explain.

Before it is brewed, a tea leaf typically contains about 2-3 times as much caffeine as a coffee bean. Once you compare the average caffeine content of a cup of tea and a cup of coffee, however, coffee wins hands down with approximately twice the amount of caffeine than black tea. 

What about different kinds of tea and coffee, eh, eh?

Keep your knickers on, tiger. Perhaps you should be cutting down on caffeine. Not all coffee is created equal. Fine ground coffee as you might use in a high-pressure espresso machine will yield five times more caffeine per ml than coarse ground coffee from a French press. But, unless you double-shot your way through the day, your caffeine intake from a 30ml espresso will be less than a full mug of French press brew.

Tea gauge

There are differences, also, in tea brews – from the cup of tea that your partner drinks, where, ideally, a tea bag is wafted over the cup in a less-than-vigorous fashion, to Yorkshire builders’ tea that looks as though it has been drained from the engine of a rusty Transit van.

The secret of soap opera tea

Whenever there’s a soap opera crisis brewing, the aftermath will always feature a pot of tea. There’s a lot of truth in the observation that a nice, hot cup of tea will put the world to rights. Tea contains its own stimulant, L-theanine, said to help ease stress and anxiety as well as reduce insomnia. Sipping on a fresh cuppa really can be relaxing.  A study even found that people who experienced higher blood pressure discovered L-theanine helped reduce the increase in blood pressure. And because L-theanine stimulates without raising cortisol, the body’s natural stress hormone, the way that coffee does, tea can even help you sleep more soundly. The welcome surprise is that tea’s L-theanine is not removed by decaffeination. Decaf can still be used to dramatic effect after your pub landlord has gone postal with a baseball bat, the hospital has exploded, or there has been a murder or similar feature-length episode of festive trauma and ill-will.

Apart from L-theanine, your decaf cuppa also contains plenty of antioxidants which may well lower the risk of diabetes and strokes, as well as combat free radicals and slow the wear and tear on your DNA. Any tea is a healthy choice because of its antioxidants, but herbal teas that are naturally uncaffeinated are the best choice of all. As far as drinks are concerned, only tea made from the leaves of the tea plant camelia sinensis contain L-theanine, but a cup of chamomile is a great aid for restful sleep, well known, as it is, for its relaxing effects. 

To find out more about I Love Decaf’s teas and herbal teas, look around our online shop.