How fine should espresso grind be?


New member
Dec 31, 2007
Please bear with me as I venture into the espresso world for the first time.

I recently received a steam boiler espresso maker as a Christmas gift ( ... id=5390912 if you want to laugh at me). Yes, I know the steam can produce a burnt espresso taste compared to a pump machine, but this was 1) a gift 2) I'm in college, enough said and 3) I used it a few times and I was satisfied enough with the taste.

Now I'm working on a grinder. The two I bought were horrible, so they went back to the store. I'm seriously considering buying a capresso infinity grinder for $90 because I'm getting so frustrated.

My question is two parts:

1. How fine should espresso grind be? I tried googling for pictures, but I didn't get a clear picture. Right now, my grind looks like tiny pebbles. Am I looking for powder?

2. Does the grind for a steam boiler maker differ in fineness from a pump maker?

Also, if you recommend a grinder that is cheaper than $90 and does a great job, please let me know. I've heard of mixed reviews for this ... 5&cat_id=3 Or should I quit my whining and just go with the capresso infinity?


New member
Jul 16, 2004
Hartford and New Haven, CT
It various depending on machine, roasting degree, taste preference, humidity and other variables. But it should not be powder. If you pinch some grounded coffee and they clumped together, and if you lightly toss them back and they no longer clumped you are in the right vicinity.

Don't know if this pic is clearer, but realistically speaking if you want to spend less than $100 the only real choice is the Zassenhaus hand grinder.



New member
Oct 4, 2007
Thanks EPD, you hold a very informative class on espresso grind fineness, complete with larger than life photos and brand name equipment recommendations as usual. :D

ElPugDiablo (the coffee nazi?) for coffeeforums prez!!!


Well-known member
Aug 15, 2005
Central North Carolina
Stay away from the Cuisinart. I had one and returned it fairly fast. It does look good and is built nicely for the price, but the "burrs" are crappy and beat the beans to death. Also it sounds like a 747 taking off.

Steam machines just don't produce great coffee for 2 main reasons. First they have to reach boiling point before the extraction begins and that's WAY TOO hot. Second, they brew with 1-3 bars of pressure at most and it's just not enough. I used one for 7-8 years and thought I was happy until I bought a pump machine.

You won't need a super fine grind for these machines and you won't need to do any tamping either. The grind I used for mine was between a normal drip grind and what I currently use for espresso. Too fine and you won't get a drop.

The Capresso Infinity is a great all-around grinder. I own one and really like it alot. It does have a few downfalls (like all grinders), but all-in-all it's great. The only thing I can really fault it with is grounds retention. The beans drop into the conical burrs and once they exit the grounds fall onto a carousel type wheel and are forced into a chute and down into the bin. There will always be some leftover that must be vacuumed out often. If you buy it for your steam machine now, it will work well for anything else in your future, whether it's press, drip, pump espresso and even Turkish. Mine will grind to a flour-like finess if needed. Later!


New member
Oct 4, 2007
Yikes! I just realized, I posted in the shadow745 room.

I'm just an EPD groupie is all.

Sorry, I'm outta here. :(


New member
Oct 4, 2007
Hi Shadow,

In my observation, you deserve your own room, figuratively speaking.

If anyone has read my prior postings in this forum, they'd see that I've developed
a growing admiration for those of you in this forum who are serious about your craft.

I will pay better attention to my comments as to not step on any toes.

This is not butt kissing, it's respect.