When we talk about the substance left over after the brewing process, should we refer to it as coffee grinds or coffee grounds.

I am unsure which to use or which is the correct terminology.

If they are both correct, should we choose one?

3 Answers 3


Disclaimer: I am British

Here's how I see it: You grind beans. While you grind the beans, you can adjust the grind. That is to say the grind is the process of grinding.

The grounds are what you get after grinding. I would never call the product of grinding grinds, but then again see disclaimer.

grind - (v.) To smash up beans. Past-tense: ground.

grind - (n.) The process of grinding. Adjusting how one grinds can be expressed as "[modifying] the grind". Also can refer to the coarsness as appropriate for a certain method of extraction, e.g. "an Espresso grind".

grounds - (n.) The result of grinding. Ground coffee.

  • 1
    Good summary; also correct for the US usage. Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 15:37
  • I think you meant this, but to clarify your first paragraph after disclaimer: "the grind" can in the same sense refer to the coarseness (i.e., size) of the resulting bits, generated as a result of grinding the beans, as you suggest in the grind(n.) section.
    – hoc_age
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 16:26
  • Nobody uses this correctly, but for less ambiguity, I'd refer to the coarseness or finesse of the grind as the grain. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 19:55


  • ground coffee is coffee grounds;
    • prior to brewing, they are fresh grounds;
    • after brewing, they are spent grounds;
  • the level of fineness of grinding is the grind.

Referring to ground coffee as coffee grinds is considered incorrect, and proscribed in careful usage, though it is common, and has been used by noted authors such as James Baldwin.

Historically, “grounds” refers to dregs, sediment in a beverage (as in Turkish coffee), and has done so since the 1300s, so “coffee grounds” traditionally refers specifically to spent coffee, but today is also used for fresh ground coffee. Referring to fineness as “grind” is much more recent, and dates to the 1920s. Referring to ground coffee as “coffee grinds” dates at least to the 1960s.


  • grinds / grounds”, Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage
  • Coffee talk ”, Grammarphobia, Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman
  • grinds”, Wiktionary

I've seen people refer to grinds as what comes out of the grinder, and grounds as the spent grinds you're left with after brewing. This isn't correct, and should be corrected, just make sure you look out for cases where the person meant to imply spent grounds and fresh grounds respectively.

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