Good, Bad, or Just Fine?

by Mark Vecchiarelli //
For quite a while now, the specialty coffee community has been discussing and debating the topic of "fines" and often, many of the same questions arise: "What constitutes a fine? Are fines good or bad? Do they improve the flavour or ruin it?" As you might expect, the next logical question the KRUVE team receives is, "If fines are good, why would I need the KRUVE Sifter?" Hopefully, this article will help answer some of these questions and provide some helpful insight where needed.

Defining Fines

To many, fines are simply small coffee particles, usually comparable in size to dust. However, we need to get more specific than that to quantify things in a meaningful way. There is a growing faction of professional baristas that consider grinds smaller than 100 microns (0.1mm) in diameter as fine. On the other hand, the Specialty Coffee Association, responsible for most of our de-facto brewing standards, places a "Fine Grind" at 380 microns. See chart below:

Grind Chart

But wait, is a "Fine Grind" the same as a fine? Not necessarily. Nevertheless, it's easy to see how this can get messy quite quickly and despite some notable attempts to define fines (there's a fun phrase), it appears the verdict is still out, at least in terms of what the community's operational definition is. Now, it may just be the case that what is considered fine is relative. This is why you may have seen French Press recipes where grinds as large as 600 microns are considered fine.

Sufficiently confused? I don't blame you, but I have a solution. Let's forget the term fines for a moment and focus on defining particles at any size. Let's use something universal and objective. How about a micron? After all, a micron is a micron anywhere in the world. It is universal and objective and, as a brewer, you need a common language to communicate grind size. That's where the KRUVE Sifter comes in. But first, some history... 

Some History

Back in February 2015, one of the world’s most well-known baristas, Matt Perger, posted a blog entitled, The Most Important Thing About Brewing Coffee. No doubt a bold title. However, if you have followed Matt Perger, then you would be safe to assume that it is not your average click-bait piece, but rather, advice based on real-world experience. In the blog, Perger highlights the importance of using a “consistent” grind size when brewing. In fact, in 2012, long before that article was posted, Perger became renowned for sifting his coffee grinds to remove fines; a strategy that helped him secure first place at the World Brewers Cup that year. As time went on, his name became mostly synonymous with consistency and accuracy. Then, things changed and Perger wrote an article in 2016 entitled, A Wide Thought Distribution About Grinding, where he seemingly reversed his position on fines entirely, “For as long as fines have had a name, it seems like people thought they were evil...I’m now fairly certain that’s untrue, and I can’t help but think the complete opposite is more likely.”

So, are fines good or bad?

GrindsThe last thing I want to do is provide a non-answer, but truthfully, fines can be good or bad depending on your taste preference. However, I can confirm that grind uniformity (at any size) will ensure a more even extraction and this often translates to a smoother flavour. Conversely, an uneven grind will result in an uneven extraction and often provide a more bitter/burnt flavour. Now, you may like some bitter notes in your brew, but it may be difficult to control just how bitter your brew becomes using your grinder alone. So, I would argue that what is really important is ensuring you have a tool whereby you can easily ‘turn up’ or ‘turn down’ those flavour notes. This is where the KRUVE Sifter can help...


"...the KRUVE Sifter doesn’t so much dictate that you remove the fines
as it provides you with the ability to remove them;" 

Does the KRUVE Sifter just remove fines altogether?

No matter what grinder you use, you are not going to have true control over your grind size and your yield will inevitably include fines; that’s just the nature of grinding. However, with the KRUVE Sifter, you have an objective measurement tool. One that offers 105 possible grind size combinations. And thanks to it's two tiers, it can also filter out any unwanted larger particles, i.e. boulders (more on this in upcoming blogs).

Ultimately, the KRUVE Sifter accommodates your taste preference. All 105 grind combinations can include fines if you so desire. This is because the KRUVE Sifter doesn’t so much dictate that you remove the fines as it provides you with the ability to remove them; something that was previously very difficult and tedious to achieve. Now, with the KRUVE Sifter, you have total control over your grind so you can accurately and precisely measure your grind and keep or remove the fines, regardless of how you may define them.


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