In several occasions I have written about the importance of buying whole beans and grinding them at home. In fact this is the number one thing I recommend to everyone who likes coffee, regardless of their taste, or preference in coffee. There is no point of comparison between a freshly ground coffee and a pre-ground coffee.
But today is not about why to grind your coffee or why to buy a grinder, I have mentioned that enough already, today is about knowing what is the best coffee grinder to buy. While having or not a grinder is not subject to preference, which one to buy, might be, so I want to offer you some guidelines to know the main characteristics and what to look for when choosing your best grinder.
TYPES OF GRINDERS
There are two main types of grinders, blade grinders, and burr grinders.
Blade grinders have a small chamber with a set of blades in it that look like a propeller or the blades of a blender, you put a cap on it and push de button for them to star spinning and cutting the beans. You would grind for more time if you want to go finer and less time if you want a coarser grind.
The downside of blade grinders is that it is much more difficult getting a consistent grind size, specially if you are looking for a coarser grind. It will have too many fine particles on it, so specially if you like french press or any other method that uses a coarse grind it won’t be so good. In general coffee enthusiasts will talk you out of blade grinders because burr grinder are much better.
The up side is that they are the low cost option so if you really don’t want to spend much on a grinder, then by al means have a blade grinder than no grinder at all. Even poorly ground coffee will be better than pre ground coffee.
If what you are looking for is the best coffee grinder
r you should start looking at burr grinders, here prices and options vary A LOT!! you can find one from $80 to $600 or even more. But the good news is that in any price range you can find a decent burr grinder, or at least one that performs a lot better than a blade grinder.
In essence a burr grinder is a grinder that has two concentric rotating surfaces with a space in between through which the beans go through. The gap in between them determine the particle size and can usually be adjusted to the user’s preference. There is some debate about which are better, but for practical purposes two grinders within the same price range will behave very similar regardless of the type of burr.
Some of the aspects you might want to look for when buying a burr grinder are the following.
- The size of the burr: If it is bigger it will tend to heat less, when burrs heat up they might affect the coffee’s flavor, so the bigger the burr the better. But I must say that this is only a problem if you grind big batches of coffee at once, for example if you do espresso grind for the whole family at the same time. If you grind individual portions, or for two people, this will never be a problem.
- The RPM of the burr: The slower the burr the more consistent the grind will be. And if it is faster it will tend to have more fine grounds. There is also a downside, if it is slower the coffee will take longer to grind, and there is a small risk of overheating. But again this isn’t an issue for individual portions.
- The adjustment settings: If you are someone that likes to prepare coffee in different ways and experiment around you will like a grinder that has different grind settings. Most of them have the whole range from extra fine to coarse, and the amount of setting will determine the difference gap between each of them. Some have a wider range than others as well. I must say, almost no home grinders will give you an extra fine particle for Turkish coffee, only professional grinders designed for that purpose and some very specific manual grinders.
- The material of the burr: Burrs can be made of steel or ceramic, steel lasts longer and ceramic prevents heat, I would only recommend ceramic for professional use which is where there is risk of overheating.
- Manual or Electric: A manual grinder will be way less pricey but it can become a hard task to grind your coffee manually every day. But the option is there.
In the end there are a lot of options out there and you can choose any of them as long as it suits your needs. Perhaps you only do one method and a very simple grinder with little adjustment will do just fine. Or perhaps you are into experimenting and precision, and want something more advanced.
But in the end… and I cannot repeat this enough, you are taking a big leap towards good coffee just by buying whole beans and grinding them yourself. And please if you have any questions about a specific grinder please let me know and I’ll be happy to help.