Is it worth sifting coffee?

Today I will analyze a coffee sifter or coffee sieve, a very interesting instrument for coffee fanatics like me.

My sifter is made by kruve and has a bamboo lid and three levels where the coffee will be distributed. The first two levels are where we will be able to interchange the metal meshes to sift the coffee grind in different sizes.

The grind sizes are indicated by microns; in my model, there are five interchangeable meshes.

How is coffee sifted?

The operation is very simple, and I will show you the steps to follow for its correct use:

  • Decide on the extraction method you will use, for example, the Hario V60.
  • Choose the grind size you need for the method used; for example, a grind between 300 and 800 microns.
  • Place the smaller sifting tray at the bottom (300 microns) and the larger sifting tray at the top (800 microns).
  • Place the ground coffee on the first tray (800 microns).
Add the ground coffee in the upper level
Add the ground coffee to the upper level
  • Cover the sifter.
Cover the sifter once you add the ground coffee
Cover the sifter once you add the ground coffee
  • Start shaking it and patting it on the sides.
Shake the sifter from side to side
Shake the sifter from side to side

After a few minutes, you will see large pieces of coffee on the 800-micron tray when you lift the lid. These pieces are larger than 800 microns and therefore did not pass to the lower level. You can pass these pieces back through the grinder.

We will find the grind we were looking for on the second mesh since it is lower than 800 microns but higher than 300; that is why it was kept on this tray.

On the lower part of the sieve, we will see the coffee sediments produced by the grinder. Depending on the grinder you use, you will find more or less sediment. Likewise, the more you shake, the more sediments you will find. These sediments are no longer useful for this preparation and must be discarded.

The 3 levels of the sifter
The 3 levels of the sifter

Advantages of using a coffee sifter

The first thing to say is that this device fulfills its function to perfection; that is to say, by sifting the coffee, we obtain a much more uniform extraction, and this is what we are always looking for in espresso, as in all other filtered methods.

If we start with a very even coffee bed, the water passes uniformly through all the coffee, and thus the extraction is equal in all parts of the beans. This allows us to grind much finer than the setting we normally use in our grinder.

By not having coffee sediments in the paper filter, we do not get clogged, and for coffees with light roasts, being able to grind very fine is ideal for helping the extraction.

We neither get the bitter taste of over-extraction from all the fine particles extracted so quickly nor the sour taste of the larger pieces that are not extracted.

Disadvantages of using a coffee sifter

  • Sifting coffee involves extra work since you must invest several minutes and effort in the process.
  • A lot of coffee is wasted, and it does not make sense to do so when it is of high quality.

We have already seen how we can regrind the larger pieces so as not to discard this part, but it includes one more job. You must pass it through the grinder several times and sift it a few more times.

As for the small sediments, it is a bit more complex to reuse them because they are too fine.

With a good grinder, you don’t need to sift the coffee

Remember that the lower the grinder quality, the more sediment and large pieces you will obtain. This way, with cheap grinders (especially those with blades), you will have to sift for a longer period and waste more coffee.

In my day-to-day life, I use a good but basic domestic grinder. When I use high-quality commercial grinders, the amount of coffee I discard is so small that it is not worth using the sifter to get a more uniform grind.

In short, it is better to save the money for the sifter and invest it in a better grinder, so you won’t have to do any extra work. But if you do not have a good grinder, this small device will be very useful, especially when you want to try a very special coffee.

Precautions when using a sifter

For example, for a manual pour-over method with a paper filter, when you use a sifter, you cannot grind with the same thickness as you do without it. This is because when we sift, we remove all the tiny bits that usually saturate the paper filters, and when pouring, the water would pass through too quickly.

So, as a general rule, when we sift, we should grind finer than normal. The degree of grinding will be adjusted little by little as you prepare coffee.

Difference between sifted and unsifted coffee

When you prepare coffee using a sifter, the beverage is felt with much more clarity, where the flavors of the tasting notes are much more accentuated. When you do not use the sifter, the bitterness of the sediments is felt more, without making it a bad coffee.

Conclusion

I would not use it daily to consume coffee, and I am not saying this so much because of the time it takes to sift the coffee, but because of the waste we have of coffee. I would not feel comfortable always discarding a portion of the coffee I grind:

  • On the one hand, it’s not sensible in this time we live in continually rising prices.
  • On the other hand, I feel it is disrespectful to the farmers who invest so much hard work to obtain coffee.

If you are unsatisfied with your grinder, save a little to buy a better grinder instead of a sifter. In the long run, with so much wasted coffee, it will cost you the same.

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