If you love coffee and drink it regularly, you probably want to invest in a high quality coffee grinder. Grinders are the kind of equipment where you pop in the beans and push the blades.
The spinning action produces comforting sounds and voila – you get ground coffee.
Every coffee aficionado will tell you that the single most important piece of equipment in the coffee making chain is the grinder. This simply means you have to buy your coffee grinder first. Most people think about the end product – the perfect cup of coffee and assume that coffee beans are the most important investment.
Of course, coffee beans determine the taste, aroma and quality of your beverage, but even the best beans won’t get you anywhere if you don’t use the perfect grinder. That’s right. If you don’t invest in high quality coffee grinders, you’ll get poorly ground beans which can only ruin your cup of coffee.
Simply put, a good cup of coffee deserves the perfect grind. Moreover, if you’re committed to brewing the highest quality coffee, you need to give your favorite coffee beans the respect and treatment they deserve.
When it comes to brewing the best cup of coffee, switching to fresh ground is one of the best decisions you can make. Freshly ground coffee preserves the freshest flavors and your beverage will be as fresh as it can be.
Let’s excuse coffee science for a moment and just look at why grinding coffee can be overwhelming. Coffee as you can guess is packed with aromatic compounds that are volatile. If you use pre-ground coffee, its flavors would degrade rapidly over time.
One of the chief problems with pre-ground coffee is oxidation. When exposed to air, the flavored compounds and oils in coffee naturally evaporate and the coffee goes rancid. The result is then bitter coffee with faded aroma.
Remember that oxidation happens gradually over time even if you use whole beans. However, if you buy pre-ground coffee, all that extra surface area means the aromatic coffee compounds are exposed to light, air and heat and the resulting flavor is certainly not what you desire. Unfortunately your bag of pre-ground coffee might turn stale even if you keep it packed tightly.
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Here’s some good news. Having your own coffee grinder (also called a coffee mill) means you can capture the rich flavors and aroma of your coffee grinds each time you brew.
With so many different products to choose from, it can also be a little confusing to find a coffee grinder, which is most suitable to your needs. So the question is … where do you start?
Grinding coffee is an art, but it is a little violent. You pull out coffee beans from their comfy packaging bag or can and toss them into the grinder. The equipment is turned on and you can hear the sound of the motor and blades spinning violently. When you turn off the switch, your coffee beans will come out as small particles or coffee ground.
Needless to say, the final result of your coffee will depend on the quality of your ground, i.e. how smooth or coarse your particles are. Interestingly, coffee beans pick up much heat from the grinder. Generally the more you grind the coffee beans, the ‘hotter’ will be the resulting ground.
Now that we are talking about the size of coffee particles, you have to remember that the size of the ground is directly related to the type of coffee equipment you choose. Different types of coffee brewing equipment are designed to extract coffee aroma and taste in different ways.
Before you buy a coffee grinder, you need to figure out what kind of coffee you want to make. Moreover, there are some incredible options here. Every coffee grinder or equipment has its own pros and cons and you would want to get this figured out before getting started.
Perhaps the most important question is whether you want strong coffee or milder drink. The following table will help you understand the type of grind you need to do to get the best out of your coffee machine.
Rich, bold and thick
Light and acidic
Medium to Medium Fine
Coarse grinds should feel like kosher salt when rubbed between the fingers. Similarly medium grind will feel like table salt. Fine grinds are extremely powdery when rubbed between the fingers.
There are various types of grinders ranging from the simple blade coffee grinders to the more advanced burr grinders. Generally you can use any type of coffee grinder for drip, but making specialty beverages like Espresso and even Turkish coffee requires that you choose coffee grinders capable of producing extremely fine coffee grinds.
Well, there are three main types of coffee grinders.
These affordable coffee grinders use a simple grinding mechanism – sharp rotating blades rub together while coffee beans passed between them and are crushed during the process.
The best burr grinders are powered by a strong electric motor and use different kinds of blades. Some models have serrated discs that rotate and rub against each other. This rotating and crushing action grinds the coffee beans more consistently.
The simplest and perhaps the most affordable coffee grinders have a handle on the device, which needs to be rotated manually to grind the coffee beans.
Specialty coffee drinkers’ love burr coffee grinders, but let’s have a deeper understanding of each category to make the selection process easier.
Blade grinders perhaps are the cheapest and most commonly available variety of coffee grinders. The grinding bowl has powerful blades that rotate at a very high speed. Coffee grounds are turned into a fine powder within a matter of seconds and the ease of use makes blade coffee grinders especially appealing to beginner coffee makers.
Unfortunately blade grinders have a number of significant disadvantages. The high-speed rotating blades create a lot of friction, which increases the temperature of the grinding bowl. As you can guess, coffee beans contain volatile compound s which degrade (oxidize) when temperatures go up.
You can limit degradation and oxidation by somewhat grinding coffee in short bursts but it still equals to an unnecessary amount of degradation in the flavor and aroma of your coffee.
It is also seen that blade grinders never give uniform grinds. And what’s worse is that you cannot separate fine coffee and coffee chunks. If you want to control grind coarseness, burr coffee grinders are a better choice.
Perhaps the best thing about burr coffee grinders is that they are superior in every aspect. But the question is “what exactly is a burr grinder?”
As stated earlier, these machines resemble electronic mills and use ‘burrs’ to crush and grind coffee beans. Without diving into the technical details, there are three major differences between a blade coffee grinder and burr coffee grinders that you need to know.
Possibly the biggest difference between the two common type of coffee grinders is that a burr machine has a separate storage space for coffee beans, called a hopper. You can toss your favorite coffee beans into the airtight funnel shape container before proceeding with the grinding session. In case of blade grinders, you’ll have to place the coffee beans in the same bowl they will be ground in.
A burr grinder transports ground coffee beans through an internal opening, which are then collected into a small plastic or glass container. In case of more specialized models, like the Espresso burr grinder, this glass or plastic container is replaced by a portafilter holder.
The grinding mechanism of burr coffee grinders can be changed to accommodate different coarseness and particle sizes. Remember the closer the burrs are the finer grind you will get.
While the basic mechanism of different burr coffee grinders are identical, there are three major distinctions that affect the overall performance of your coffee grinder.
Stainless steel burrs are ideal for coarse grinds and are typically cheaper. Burrs made of ceramic on the other hand are less likely to become dull quickly and have better longevity. Ceramic burrs are also more precise and are better suited for finer grinds.
You can find small burr grinders with burrs as small as 40mm.
Large burrs (as large as 75mm) operate at much lower speeds than small burrs and are designed to handle large volume production.
Conical burr coffee grinders are the most superior but they are also larger and generally more expensive. Conical burrs are an excellent choice if you want a consistent and even grind. Flat burr grinders are relatively cheaper, but they can be messy and noisy. They are also seen to be less consistent than their conical cousin.
Despite modernization and technological advancements, some coffee lovers still end to use manual coffee grinders. Results show that a manual coffee grinder produces the most reliable and consistent grind. In fact there are manual coffee grinders that produce better grinds than the priciest high-end burr coffee grinders.
While the ergonomics for manual coffee grinders varies greatly, they still operate on the same principles. There are several different types of manual grinders.
The manual burr coffee bean grinder possibly is the simplest design. Interestingly, this design has the best grip and it is also the most ergonomic. If you have a closer look at the manual burr grinder, you would find that it is made from plastic or glass. Hario coffee grinders are the best examples in this category. In fact they are one of the best modern ‘manual’ coffee grinders you can find in the market.
Hario Skerton has an hourglass figure. If you have a closer look, the middle of the grinder attaches to the container and there’s sufficient space to toss in coffee beans comfortably. You can grind about 60g of coffee beans at a time conveniently and this amount can be increased to a maximum of 75g.
To adjust the grind level in case of Hario Skerton, all you have to do is unscrew the top bolt and detach the handle. You can then adjust the steps to get the perfect level of grind you desire. Because Skerton has a fairly large container to hold the coffee beans, grinding is pretty simple.
That’s right. Anyone can handle the coffee grinding task comfortably with this Hario coffee grinder and thanks to the rubber grip provided for stability, grinding about 60g of coffee would take anywhere around 3 to 4 minutes.
Generally Hario coffee grinders, Hario Skerton in particular are good for those who want to brew large amounts of coffee. As for traveling with Hario Skerton, make sure you store the glass container in a small mason jar, which can be conveniently found at any grocery shop.
Manual coffee grinders can also be differentiated by their use of antique designs. If you spot a manual coffee grinder that uses the antique design element from the 19th or even the 20th century, you can call it an antique manual coffee grinder.
Hario has produced some amazing antique inspired manual coffee grinder replicas as well. Perhaps the best-known example is Hario Coffee Grinder “Roman.”
Hario Coffee Grinder “Roman” as the name suggests closely resembles the manual coffee grinding devices used in the Roman times. If you want to enjoy a perfect cup of coffee synonymous with any coffee house environment, it is time you get hands on this particular Hario coffee grinder.
The body design used in the “Roman” like other Hario models is quite sturdy. You will find sturdy ceramic burrs, which give you the ability to grind the coffee beans according to your personal preference.
The external body design in Roman is a mixture of traditional materials – iron and wood. The combination of these exceptional materials ensures great durability and more importantly, grinding comfort. The model also includes a grind box – a specialized area that allows you to take the freshly crushed coffee beans out of the grinder and begin the coffee brewing process.
Turkish manual coffee grinders are quite interesting, but they also are the rarest kind. The grinding equipment is placed inside a brass (metallic cylinder) case and the body is decorated with exquisite ornaments.
Those of you who are quite fond of Turkish coffee brewing can use Turkish coffee grinders to crush your coffee beans into a fine powder.
Manual coffee grinders are excellent coffee grinders. In fact they are ideal options for coffee aficionados who want to grind coffee precisely without spending loads of money on high quality burr coffee grinders.
Hario Skerton discussed earlier is a fun coffee grinder to have in your collection. Needless to say, manual coffee grinders are a must have item for all coffee lovers who want to fully involved in every aspect of the coffee brewing process.
Now that we have discussed the different types of coffee grinders, let us now see how you should grind coffee beans. As you can guess, brewing the perfect grind is the first step to getting the right kind of coffee you want to make.
Of course most manual, burr and even electric coffee bean grinders come with obvious grinding instructions, but it’s always good to have a look at the beneficial techniques that can improve your cup of coffee.
Ideally, you should invest in the right kind of coffee grinder first to get the best results. As stated earlier, blade coffee grinders are not the best choice if you want to enjoy the most flavorful cup of coffee. Yes, blade coffee grinders are affordable, but you can find other varieties that outperform the blade coffee grinder models at the same or even lower prices.
If you are a pro at coffee making, you can think about investing in an electric burr grinder or even a manual version. Remember, burr coffee grinders give the best results and they can make a huge amount of difference in your coffee’s taste and flavor.
Ideally one ounce of coffee beans is good enough for brewing a small cup (almost 6 ounce) of coffee.
To begin the grinding process, place your favorite coffee beans in the container and pulse the grinder’s switch in short bursts. Shake the container lightly to evenly disperse the coffee (this will result in more even grind).
You can grind coffee in 3 to 4 ‘short bursts’ so that the final product is as fine as sand particles. This should be the case if you are grinding coffee for a basket filter. To grind the coffee beans for a cone filter, you should be looking at a powder that’s slightly finer than table sugar.
Once done, open the container lid and tap the grinder to pour the contents into a coffee filter and begin the brewing process. To replicate results, use a similar amount of beans every time. This gives you a chance to achieve similar coarseness and consistency.
Burr coffee grinders come in different shapes and sizes, but the grinding process is largely the same. Furthermore some burr coffee grinders come with additional settings – Espresso, French press which does help achieve the ideal coarseness level.
To prepare your grind, toss the coffee beans into the hopper and turn on the machine. Grind for the required time and then turn off the switch. Before removing the hopper, tap the container firmly on the sides to dislodge coffee particles that might be trapped.
Transfer the freshly crushed coffee beans to your coffee maker and start brewing your ideal cup of your much-loved drink.
As stated earlier, manual coffee grinders can give you the most consistent grind regardless of the brewing method you choose. Yes, it takes a little bit of effort, but the grind level you achieve with the help of manual grinders is good enough to compete with the most advanced electric coffee grinders.
To grind coffee beans in a manual grinder, adjust the burrs using the small nut provided. Toss in the coffee beans, but make sure you don’t overfill the container. Remember, if there are too many coffee beans in the blender, the grinder burr or blades will only be able to crush the bottom layer.
Place the manual coffee grinder on a flat surface (kitchen counters are best) and use your hand to rotate the handle. Once all the beans have been crushed, the tap the container and transfer the powder to your coffee maker to start the brewing process.
If you have a bag of coffee beans lying around, you would be tempted to grind them in your blender. Well, kitchen blenders also use sharp rotating blades to dice the contents you toss in the container, but these blades are not designed to crush hard coffee beans.
The bottom line is that if you cannot live without a freshly brewed cup of coffee, investing in a coffee grinder might be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Here’s hoping that the tips and ideas mentioned above help you choose the right kind of coffee grinder in your case. And we think that we didn’t disappoint you.