Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How to Choose a Coffee Grinder


You’ve just brewed a cup of coffee, and the amazing aroma is filling the air. But it’s not enough. It’s time to take things a step further. It’s time to grind your own coffee.

Chances are, if you’re reading a blog like this, you may be a long-time coffee roaster. Or maybe you’re just looking to get into the hobby. In either case, you’ll need a coffee grinder, and we’re here to help.

A good coffee grinder is important for a good coffee experience, second only to the coffee itself. Using poorly ground coffee will muddle even the best beans. Using the perfect grind will highlight flavor nuances and allow you to properly experience the coffee.

Why do You Need a Coffee Grinder

There are a few key benefits to owning a coffee grinder:

  • It allows you to buy a larger variety of beans.
  • It grants flexibility with timing.
  • It gives you greater control over ground consistency.

Grinding your own coffee means that you don’t have to look for coffee grounds. Instead, you have the option of buying any of the beans you find.

Grinding your own beans also gives you more flexibility around the timing of brewing. Whole beans will stay fresh much longer than coffee grounds.

Finally, grinding your own coffee gives you more flexibility for how you end up brewing the grounds. Different brewing methods work better with different coffee grind size. Grinding the beans yourself lets you adjust the size based on your preferred brewing method.

What to Look for in a Good Coffee Grinder

There are a lot of factors involved in choosing the right coffee grinder. Really, there isn’t a “right” coffee grinder, only the right one for you. Different brew preferences or even aesthetic or size preferences will affect which grinder works best for you.

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Burr v. Blade Grinders

There are two types of grinders: burr and blade. Blade grinders use spinning blades in a similar way to a blender. While these are often quick, they have a glaring issue: they aren’t consistent.

It’s incredibly difficult to get uniform coffee grounds from a blade grinder. If you only have a blade grinder, you can reduce this effect by grinding in short bursts and shaking the grinder. After shaking, you can grind again.

In addition to an inconsistent grind, the blades spin very quickly, causing friction and heat. This means that your coffee is being both over and under-extracted, causing it to lose flavor.

Burr grinders, on the other hand, crush the beans between two moving surfaces. These surfaces are the burrs that give the grinder its name. The distance between the burrs determines the grind size. Thus, burr grinders produce a consistent grind size.

Furthermore, the grind time is the same no matter the size you’re looking for. Burr grinders also tend to have more grind settings. This allows for more customization.

In comparison to one another, burr grinders do a considerably better job of preparing coffee grounds. For this reason, we will primarily focus on these grinders moving forward.

Burr Size

Burr grinders come in many different sizes to accommodate different quantities of beans. This size is indicated by the length of the diameter of the outer burr in millimeters. Generally, larger burrs are considered to have better performance. But it’s best to get the size that fits in your kitchen.

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Burr Shape

There are two types of burr grinder: flat and conical. Flat grinders are generally the cheaper of the two. They consist of two opposing wheels. The distance between these wheels determines the grind size, giving them a lot of flexibility.

Generally, flat grinders are the most consistent. They are known for developing the more bitter flavors of the coffee beans.

Conical burr grinders tend to be the cheaper of the two. They make use of two conical shaped burrs. An inner burr spins, grinding the beans against a stationary outer burr.

As the coffee beans fall through a funnel, the burrs get progressively finer and closer, causing the beans to exit fully ground from the bottom. However, conical grinders can cause more variety in grind size. They are known for developing the sweeter flavors in the coffee beans.

Motor Size

Before discussing motor size, it’s important to note that conical and flat burr grinders function differently. Due to their shape, conical burrs require significantly less torque. As a result, you will see lower power motors for these grinders.

Something else to note is that high speed grinders will heat up the beans. The burrs of a flat grinder spin pretty quickly, causing these grinders to be hotter, louder, and messier than their counterpart. In contrast, conical grinder move slower, generating less heat, noise, and mess.

Features

There are a few key differences between some of the grinders you’ll look at that are worth noting. First, there are manual and electric. Manual grinders are portable, but electric are convenient. It may also be worth considering one or the other depending on the grind you’re looking for.

Second, burrs can be made of stainless steel or ceramic. Steels burrs are durable and generally cheaper. Ceramic burrs will retain their edge longer and produce less heat during grinding. But they are more likely to break.

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Beyond those two factors, it’s important to make sure the grinder does what you want it to do. If you’re looking to make a pour over, you want a grinder that will make medium or medium-fine grinds.

If it’s in the morning and you’re trying not to wake anyone up, you may want it to be manual. Or if you need it quickly, you may want it to be electric. The choice is yours.

How to Take Care of Your Coffee Grinder

Some grinders have higher retention than others. This means that the flavor of one coffee will mix into the next. High retention grinders need to be cleaned more often.

Frequency of cleaning is also determined by how often the grinder is used. Generally, the recommendation is to clean grinders every couple of weeks. If you use your grinder every day, you should clean it more often.

There are a couple of steps to clean a coffee grinder. First, you need to disassemble it. Parts like the hopper—which holds the beans—can be removed and cleaned with soap and water.

The burrs can also be removed, but you should avoid using water to clean these. Instead, use a soft brush to remove any dust or oils. After that, all you need to do is reassemble.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a grinder. Hopefully, this guide made it a little bit easier. Now that you can grind your coffee fresh, there’s a whole new world of coffee to experience. Enjoy!





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