Grinds or Grounds?
October 7, 2011 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Coffee grounds or coffee grinds?

Is there regional variation on whether used ground coffee is referred to as "grounds" or "grinds"?

I noticed a sign at work referring to coffee grinds and thought it was most likely a mistake, but then I realized that a southern friend refers to coffee grinds, too. My family, which is from the mid-west and north mid-Atlantic, says coffee grounds.
posted by OmieWise to Writing & Language (49 answers total)
 
always heard them called "grounds". Northern midwest USA.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:39 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Upper Midwest (Wisconsin) -- grounds.
posted by rtimmel at 11:40 AM on October 7, 2011


I'm from Kansas/Oklahoma and now live in California. I've always heard it as "grounds."
posted by katillathehun at 11:41 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I were to hear "coffee grinds", I would expect it to be in reference to levels of fineness, e.g., an espresso grind vs. a drip grind. If someone were talking about what's left in the filter, I'd expect to hear "coffee grounds." (I grew up in the northeast US; have lately been in the Bay Area; haven't spent all that much time anywhere else.)
posted by Zed at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Always heard it as "grounds" in Central Virginia and Middle Tennessee.
posted by ghharr at 11:46 AM on October 7, 2011


"Grounds".

Hence the joke, "Honey, your coffee is grounds for divorce!".
posted by mazola at 11:46 AM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


mid-Atlantic (DC) and Mountain West (CO), always "grounds".
posted by peachfuzz at 11:48 AM on October 7, 2011


I've heard "grinds," though can't say where, sorry; it's likely it was in Georgia.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 11:49 AM on October 7, 2011


"Grinds" is a mistake.

One I often make, for some reason.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:50 AM on October 7, 2011


I think it's a mistake to say "grinds" in this context. It's "grounds" because it is past tense: you grind the coffee and you have coffee grounds. I'm in Australia but I don't think this has anything to do with regional variation. Mistakes are made everywhere. Also, what Zed said.
posted by peacay at 11:51 AM on October 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


New Englander: I say "grounds."

A "grind" to me is a setting on the grinder that controls the fineness of the ground coffee, i.e. "course grind." But the coffee itself is always ground, i.e. course ground coffee.
posted by radioaction at 11:51 AM on October 7, 2011


I used to work in cafes in Madison, Wisconsin, where we constantly dealt with coffee grounds, and that's what I always heard them called.

I've never heard of "coffee grinds" till I saw your post.

But Google shows that the term is used. Note, however, that not all of those 300,000 results are examples, since some of the results are punny headlines like "Coffee Grinds Down Risk Of Depression In Women."
posted by John Cohen at 11:55 AM on October 7, 2011


The brewer grinds coffee, resulting in grounds. and re: above - it's coarse, of course
posted by obscurator at 11:56 AM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


SC native, currently in GA. Grounds.
posted by pointystick at 12:01 PM on October 7, 2011


Grounds; I was raised in Oregon by people from Hawaii and Wisconsin/Minnesota.
posted by Vibrissa at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2011


Grounds, parents from Nebraska and Minnesota, but I was a military brat and lived all over. It was always grounds. Grinds are how fine the coffee is ground.
posted by Kimberly at 12:08 PM on October 7, 2011


Grounds are what gets spit out "grinds" are the different levels of fineness you grind your coffee ("fine grind, espresso grind" etc).

(SF Bay Area)
posted by bitdamaged at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2011


It's grounds in the UK, I would say.
posted by Chairboy at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2011


I understood that grounds are used grinds.

(Ontario)
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:13 PM on October 7, 2011


It's grounds to me (Minnesota).

Of course it's grounds. The coffee has already been ground at that point, right?
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:14 PM on October 7, 2011


Grounds. I don't think it inherently makes any more sense than grinds, but it's absolutely the word I would use.
posted by mskyle at 12:19 PM on October 7, 2011


Currently coffee grounds gets about 58,000 hits on Google Books while coffee grinds gets about 2,000.
posted by XMLicious at 12:25 PM on October 7, 2011


Grinds is also a noun, but it is used in a different context. There are fine grinds, medium grinds, and coarse grinds, so a coffee might come packaged in three different grinds. So you can even subtract those correct uses from the 2000 hits.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:30 PM on October 7, 2011


Grounds. There's no serious argument about this.
posted by Decani at 12:36 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grounds (Ann Arbor area, Michigan, USA)

I think "grinds" is an incorrect term, albeit one that's frequently used (like "irregardless" or "I ain't done nothing").
posted by Vorteks at 12:37 PM on October 7, 2011


Chicagoan and professional Master Roaster, here. It's grounds.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 12:53 PM on October 7, 2011


Googling "coffee grinds" -"coffee grounds" shows 550,000 hits, and judging by the first page at least a sizable minority really do mean the same thing as "coffee grounds". (Apparently they're supposed to be good for reducing cellulite.) Since that usage isn't vanishingly rare, it's probably dialect variation rather than an error.
posted by The Tensor at 12:57 PM on October 7, 2011


I'm in northern California and have heard both, though grounds is more common.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:59 PM on October 7, 2011


Grounds. There's no serious argument about this.

Agreed. There are people who say "grinds," but they're wrong in precisely the same way as people who say "nuke-you-lar" or talk about the fall "foyl-edge." (Or say "saddle up" to the bar instead of "sidle up," except that one's been used wrong for so long that it's become right...)
posted by dersins at 1:11 PM on October 7, 2011


This Mississippian/Georgian has never heard of them there "grinds."
posted by solotoro at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2011


Grounds. I'm in India, FWIW.
posted by Tamanna at 1:49 PM on October 7, 2011


I've heard "coffee grinds" before, which made me wince. I was in Georgia. To be fair, the same person who said this also used the phrase "make groceries" when referring to going to the supermarket, which I found all sorts of weird on a level that "coffee grinds" doesn't come close to matching.

For me, its "coffee grounds" FTW.
posted by chosemerveilleux at 1:57 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Grounds. There's no serious argument about this.

Well, to be fair, were this a regionalism, you might not know that somewhere else they do things differently.

Grinds also sounds strange to me, however, one of the people I know who says grinds is from Georgia, so there's some weak anecdotal evidence in this thread that it might be a regionalism.

Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 2:08 PM on October 7, 2011


Grinds are used coffee grounds, i.e. that stuff that falls out of a ripped garbage sack along with fish entrails and cat poop.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:05 PM on October 7, 2011


Making groceries is a New Orleans thing, chosemerveilleux. I want to say that's how you'd say it if you translated it from French, maybe? We say a lot of strange things here in NOLA, but I don't think I've ever heard coffee "grinds."
posted by artychoke at 3:09 PM on October 7, 2011


Im from Georgia. I do not say grinds. I have never heard grinds. I have lived in the state my entire life.
posted by strixus at 3:15 PM on October 7, 2011


I've definitely heard "grinds" back home in Louisiana, though there's a coffee shop in New Orleans with the punny name Neutral Grounds*. Which implies that people in Louisiana also say "grounds".

I always assumed that "grinds" becomes "grounds" because of some weird southern vowel thing and not due to some specific semantic meaning of the word.

*"neutral ground" is the local term for a median.
posted by Sara C. at 4:36 PM on October 7, 2011


I think that in the two word context of "coffee grounds" I say just that, grounds.
But I feel like I was raised in a house where you might be asked to "throw the grinds in the trash", excluding "coffee".
posted by aloiv2 at 4:58 PM on October 7, 2011


> "Grinds" is a mistake.

> Grounds. There's no serious argument about this.

> There are people who say "grinds," but they're wrong in precisely the same way as people who say "nuke-you-lar" or talk about the fall "foyl-edge."

Either is acceptable. The only other Canadian who posted above implied the same thing, albeit for different contexts (i.e., used versus unused). As far as I can tell, though, context makes no difference--at least not in the part(s) of Canada where they seem to be used interchangeably.

Conclusion: this is most likely a perfectly acceptable dialectical/regional difference, just like "neighbour", "centre", and "get off your prescriptivist high horse".
posted by matlock expressway at 5:29 PM on October 7, 2011


I've heard both in Canada. I'm from rural Southern Ontario and say "grounds," but "grinds" doesn't sound wrong to me.
posted by 256 at 6:02 PM on October 7, 2011


Never ever heard "grinds" in all my travels. I think this belongs with "foilage" and "nucular" as mentioned above. (i.e. JUST PLAIN WRONG)
posted by Aquaman at 6:44 PM on October 7, 2011


I think "Grinds" is just a Southerner spelling it as it's often prounounced. But it's still spelled wrong, because the word "grounds" can be pronounced sort of like "grinds."

In other words, it's sort of like how "pen" is pronounced "pin" in a Deep South accent. It's still the word "pen" that is meant, but if you weren't a naturally good speller, you might write "pin" anyway.

I'm drawing on my Texan ancestry here, and also my sister-in-law's years managing a CC's Community Coffee in New Orleans.
posted by Miko at 7:03 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Feeling a little less confident now that it's not a regionalism or ethnicism. I just looked it up and found this thread, where regardless of the fact that it's "grounds" in all the comments, a few people still respond with "grinds" in their comments, and they're otherwise perfectly spelled.
posted by Miko at 7:25 PM on October 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It occurs here on Wikipedia
posted by Miko at 7:26 PM on October 7, 2011


I'm Canadian and both sound right to me, although my town has a coffee shop with 'grounds' in the name.
posted by whalebreath at 9:22 PM on October 7, 2011


Used or unused, I would call ground coffee grounds, and would only understand grinds to be referring to different sizes (e.g. espresso, drip, or french press grinds of coffee produce grounds of different sizes). CO -> CA -> WA.
posted by JiBB at 1:41 AM on October 8, 2011


You grind coffee to turn it into grounds.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:57 AM on October 8, 2011


I'm from North Dakota, where I've heard both. I definitely say "grounds" though.

I've also lived in western New York, Pennsylvania, and California, all of which are "grounds" areas.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 6:32 AM on October 8, 2011


Canadian, heard both terms and grounds is by far the more commonly used and correct term. Usage of grinds doesn't make you sound mildly stupid like nuc-you-lar, expresso, and expecially do though.
posted by stp123 at 7:47 AM on October 8, 2011


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