Coffee grinders make the difference between a good and great cup of coffee. With fresh coffee beans, good chemical free water and the right brew temperature, but the wrong coffee grind size, the result will be a weak or overly strong taste with possible bitterness.
Grinding coffee beans just before brewing is akin to an upscale restaurant offering fresh cracked peppercorn on their fare. There is a noticeable difference in smell and taste of fresh peppercorn because the enjoyable pepper aroma is released once it is ground. It takes a little extra effort, but the fresh flavor enhancement makes the meal more enjoyable.
Fresh ground beans do the same thing for coffee. Once the beans are ground release of the aromatic compounds begins. It takes about 15-20 minutes to dissipate, so if grinding occurs just prior to brewing, the majority of aromatic compounds are captured in the cup enhancing the taste and adding enjoyment.
The good thing is that a quality grinder is an economical one time investment.
There are two basic types of coffee grinders (blade and burr) with variations.
All blade grinders are basically the same. The blades chop at the beans adding heat. The particles are inconsistent in size. A finer grind is achieved by leaving the grinder running a little longer.
Some models come with set-points so that if the quantity is entered along with the type of grind desired, the unit will shut off on its own at a given time.
Blade grinders are minimally acceptable for medium to coarse uses. They achieve an acceptable grind for drip, pourover and press brewing, but not for espresso or turkish.
Vacuum brewing is usually a medium/fine grind so it is questionable as to using a blade grinder for consistent brewing quality.
Blade type coffee grinders are made by many of the coffee brewer manufacturers.
Good start- Bodum, Krups, Cuisinart, Capresso, etc.
Price range: $15-$120.
Burr coffee grinders come as electric or manual models. The consistency comes from a moving blade set at a defined distance from a stationary blade so the beans are ground to a certain size before passing to the collection chamber. The blades are either conical or flat.
When evaluating an electric burr grinder, look for a strong durable motor. The flat burrs run at a higher RPM and, therefore are louder and add more heat.
Conical and flat burrs are either metal or ceramic. Conical blades generally are good through the smallest of the coarse settings. Flat burrs can take care of all grinds.
For specific amounts, there are upper end models with a doser.
the doser is not the only reason the higher end models cost so much, it is just one of the upgrades. Burr material, motor quality, ability to grind into a portafilter as well as other options make a difference.
$80 range- Capresso, Bodum and Baratza.
Starting at $250- Baratza, Gaggia, Ascaso, Nuova Simonelli and Rancilio Silvia
w/o doser- $60-$250
Manual coffee grinders (or mills) have been used for years with antique "style" models on the market today. The hand crank and blades are made of metal and the box is usually wood with a collection drawer made of metal or at least lined with metal or other non-porous material.
Grinding is a two-handed operation since the box has to be held in place...like making homemade ice cream, but on a smaller scale... and a lot less time required. Heat is no issue because of the low RPM of hand cranking, but it can be a little cumbersome for a fine grind.
Decent hand coffee mills are not necessarily cheap. They can run between $50-$100. Hand mills work well between espresso grind to the smaller side of the coarse setting.
For a turkish grind, it is best to use a turkish grinder ($75-$100 range).
Starting at $40- Kyocera and Hario Skerton
~$60 range- Camano
$75 and up- Zassenhaus
Note: Many companies have grinders in a wide price range. The general price ranges given are in the areas of perceived market strength.
An important point is that fresh roasted coffee is always better if ground just before brewing, no matter which type of grinder is used. Some have a greater range of grinds than others.
Choose a blade grinder for:
A good electric burr grinder works well for:
A manual burr coffee grinder is a good choice for:
A turkish grinder is the choice for:
Generally, decent conical burr grinders will have between 10-40 steps between coarse to fine grinding. They do very well in the medium grind range, but are questionable in consistency with coarse and don't even try the fine-to-powder range.
The price goes up as the tolerances tighten on each end and more steps are available in each range of grind (400 steps and higher). I would trust only the higher end models with a very fine range and only the highest end for the "turkish" grind.
For home use grinding one cup at a time, the manual turkish grinder is still the way to go.
Flat burrs are only found in the upper end home and commercial grinders. Dosers are also found in the more expensive models as well.
When it comes to grinders, there are a number of companies with many options. Do your homework and pick the one that you feel comfortable with for your particular brew style. If you like to play with a multiplicity of steps in the medium... or coarse or fine range for that matter... pay a little more and play.
|Espresso (dial-in)||Very Fine|
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