Why Using Coarsely Ground Coffee for Cold Brew is Important

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Cold brew coffee, a beverage that has won the hearts of coffee enthusiasts in recent years, boasts a distinct smooth and sweet taste. Differing significantly from its hot brewed counterpart, cold brew is characterized by its reduced acidity, achieved through a unique preparation method.

A quintessential element in crafting the perfect cold brew is the granularity of the coffee grind. Coarse grinds have emerged as the top choice, and here’s an insight into why.

Cold Brew Coffee With Cream
Cold Brew Coffee with Cream | Photo by Demi DeHerrera on Unsplash

Coarsely Ground Coffee vs. Finely Ground Coffee

When it comes to cold brew preparation, one might wonder why the grind size matters. The essence lies in the extraction process.

Coarsely Ground Coffee for Cold Brew

Characterized by larger particles, coarsely ground coffee offers limited surface area for the water to permeate. Such physical dynamics result in a decelerated extraction process, ensuring that the coffee flavors are optimally leeched over the recommended 12-24 hour steeping period without drifting into the over-extraction zone, which is notorious for its bitter aftertaste 1.

Finely Ground Coffee

In stark contrast, finely ground coffee, due to its diminutive particle size, boasts a considerably greater surface area. Consequently, this grind size facilitates rapid extraction. In the context of cold brew, which requires extended steeping, this grind can easily lead to over-extraction, manifesting as a potently bitter, acidic, and rather jarring flavor profile 2.

If one still prefers using a fine grind, it necessitates slashing the steeping time by a significant 25-50%, bringing it down to a range of 6-16 hours. Nonetheless, this adjustment doesn’t guarantee a flawlessly balanced flavor.

Here’s an image showing the proper grind size for cold brew:

Coarsely Ground Coffee For Cold Brew

Benefits of Using Coarse Grind for Cold Brew

The unanimous preference for coarse grinds in cold brew preparation is attributed to a slew of reasons:

  1. Optimized Flavor Extraction: It assures a methodical flavor extraction, keeping over-extraction at bay.
  2. Taste Profile: The resulting brew is notably sweeter, smoother, and boasts a reduced acidity, making for a delightful drinking experience.
  3. Ease of Filtration: Given the chunkier size of coarse grinds, filtering out the sediment becomes a breeze, eliminating the risk of an unpleasant gritty texture in the final brew.
  4. Consistent Extraction: Coarse grinds ensure that the water seeps through uniformly, preventing pockets of under or over-extraction.

Drawbacks of Using Fine Grind for Cold Brew

Opting for finely ground coffee in cold brew preparation isn’t devoid of consequences:

  1. Over-Extraction Woes: The foremost issue is the over-extraction, which renders the coffee overly bitter and acidic.
  2. Unappealing Texture & Appearance: The brew can exhibit an astringent mouthfeel accompanied by a murky appearance.
  3. Filtration Challenges: Fine grinds pose a challenge in filtration, often clogging the filters. This can lead to an unwanted gritty residue in the final pour.
  4. Inconsistent Extraction: As the water percolates, it doesn’t do so uniformly, resulting in an inconsistent flavor profile.


Using coarsely ground coffee for cold brew is important because it allows for a slower extraction process. This slower extraction results in a smoother and less acidic flavor profile.

The larger coffee particles also prevent over-extraction, ensuring that the final brew is not bitter or unpleasant. Additionally, the coarser grind allows for better filtration, reducing the chance of sediment or grounds ending up in the final cup.

Overall, using coarsely ground coffee is crucial for achieving the optimal taste and texture in a cold brew coffee.

A winning cold brew coffee hinges heavily on the grind size. Coarse coffee grinds, with their optimal extraction rate over a 12-24 hour period, deliver a brew that’s delightfully sweet and smooth.

On the other hand, finely ground coffee, though usable with a reduced steeping time, often leads to over-extraction, complicating filtration, and producing an inconsistent taste. Thus, for those seeking to perfect their cold brew, a coarse grind remains the gold standard.


  1. https://kickinghorsecoffee.com/how-make-cold-brew-coffee
  2. https://homegrounds.co/coffee-grind-chart
Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
Kelsey brings over 20 years of hands-on experience in the coffee industry, having honed his craft as a professional barista in both Seattle and Santa Barbara. He is an accredited member of The Coffee Association of America and holds an active membership in The Baristas Guild. Beyond his practical experience, Kelsey is deeply committed to the academic study of coffee history and its cultural impact. Outside of his professional pursuits, he enjoys quality time with his family and shares his extensive knowledge of coffee through insightful articles on this blog.