Coffee Grinder Basics

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A cup of coffee early in the morning, or when you’re tired and want to get relieved of the vagaries of the day is a lovely experience.

While this is just a part of the routine for some, there are several others who are always conscious about the quality of the bean, the aroma and the roast, not to mention the blend in their daily espresso. Indeed espresso coffee requires a special grinding of the bean in order to get the best results.

In this article we’ll try to help those individuals who have decided to take a step further and wish to grind their own coffee, or those who wish to know more about the need and importance of a coffee grinder, the types and the right selection process.

What Does a Coffee Grinder do?

A coffee grinder basically is used for grinding coffee beans after they are roasted. Several people buy coffee that is already roasted and ground, but there are others who wish to derive the best from their cup of coffee, and the coffee grinder becomes an important  must-have for them as it plays a large role in influencing the final taste of the brew.

A freshly roasted and ground coffee always tastes better and fresher, and a coffee grinder is one of the best ways to bring out the real aroma and taste of the coffee beans.

The basic function of the coffee grinder is still the same, regardless of the type one chooses – to smash the beans in order to bring out the oil content and the flavor, so that the coffee extraction from the beans is more effective. Ground beans would have their surface area exposed to a larger extent, and hence it’s easier to extract the flavor while brewing.

When should I buy a coffee grinder?

Among those who wish to grind their own coffee and not depend on the store-ground  coffee, some grind their coffee twice a week, others once in two days, but most people wishing to purchase a coffee grinder are those who consider pre-ground coffee to be stale and wasted. A coffee grinder would make the best buy for those who wish to grind their coffee just before brewing it, so as to extract the potential of the bean to the best extent possible.

Types of Coffee Grinders

Based on the process of how these coffee grinders grind the beans, there are two types of coffee grinders – Blade grinders and the Burr grinders.

Blade grinder

Blade Grinders – These grinders usually work on the mechanism of the spinning of blades set in a small grinding chamber which rotate with a high velocity, thus producing the grinding action. This action is performed repeatedly until a pre-determined fineness level of the bean has been achieved.

The rotation speed determines the fineness of the ground coffee here. Blade grinders are usually cheaper and easily available, but the disadvantage occurs in the form of lesser control over the quality of the ground bean – in terms of fineness and consistency.

The pulverizing action of the blades produces a very irregular range of particle size – ranging from coarse and improperly ground material in the center, to the dust formed on the edges of the chamber and on the blades. The irregular particle size could be a great concern if a person brews their coffee in a machine which lacks proper filters for every particle size, resulting in the coffee being full of grains and bean sediments.

However, one can choose to install a paper filter in their brewing machines, so as to filter out the fine particle content in the process itself. Blade coffee grinders are a great option for those who are on a limited budget and still wish to avoid the pre-ground coffee mix, owing to their easy availability in supermarkets and kitchen stores, and the less formidable price tags.

Burr grinder

Burr Grinders – These grinders are equipped with a better quality mechanism and a more evolved procedure that bring out the best of the coffee beans in terms of the flavor, aroma and the consistency. Burr grinder is always a more recommended buy for avid coffee lovers who wish to influence the final taste of the brew, as the procedure involved here guarantees the best grinding consistency and quality.

A burr grinder crushes the coffee beans based on the principle of their passage from between a moving wheel and a stationary surface. The shape and placement of the wheel is what determines the consistency of the ground bean particle size. The grinding process herein aids in removal of the exterior cover of the coffee bean, thereby bringing out the its cell structure and exposing more surface area to the extracting agent like water, which ensures that the extraction of the flavor happens efficiently. The temperature is regulated here, so that the coffee beans are not ‘burnt out’, and the aroma and oils are preserved in their original state.

There are two different types of Burr Grinders – Wheel and Conical. Wheel Burr is based on rotation of the wheel on a flat surface, wherein the high rotational speeds can yet again give rise to inconsistent particles and unwanted noise.

Conical burr is always the ideal pick for coffee lovers and commercial aspects as well, as the grinding process here is very efficient with zero noise or mess, gives consistent particle size and preserves the original flavor to the best extent.

Selection of the right coffee grinder

The selection of the right coffee grinder for a person could be judged in the following ways:

  • Utility – Blade grinders are best for those seeking for better options than the pre-ground coffee, whereas burr grinder is the ideal pick for coffee enthusiasts.
  • Budget – Blade grinders are more pocket friendly, whereas the consistency and quality of ground coffee offered by burr grinders need a person to have deeper pockets.
  • Ease of cleanliness and maintenance – Blade grinders are easier to clean owing to the less sophisticated machinery, and hence a great option for the time-poor. Burr grinders on the contrary are for those who value taste and aroma over the effort required to clean and maintain the equipment.
  • Compatibility – For those who use a machine or French press for brewing their coffee, compatibility of the grinder performance with the brewing machine in terms of particle size and consistency is of paramount importance.

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