We are right in the middle of 2020 which has been a strange year, to say the least. One thing is for sure, spending more time at home has made us re-evaluate our home coffee-brewing ability. A major hurdle in the process of homebrewing is the ability to grind coffee on demand. Buying coffee pre-ground increases the surface area exposed to air which dramatically increases the speed at which coffee oxidizes or “goes stale”. So, in this blog, we will give you an overview of grinder types, their pros, cons, and list our recommendations for home coffee grinding.
Why are grinders important?
Grinders play a large role in achieving the best outcome for your cup of coffee. The goal when brewing coffee with any method is even extraction. Having an inconsistent grind-size while brewing will result in uneven extraction meaning some coffee grounds will “brew” more or less than others. This results in poor and inconsistent flavor. Quality grinders help create a consistent grind size, resulting in the best possible outcome in your cup!
Types of Grinders:
In the world of coffee, there are basically two types of coffee grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders, and we have opinions about both:
Blade Grinders: Blade grinders are probably the most common home grinders in kitchens these days. They are small and affordable. Blade grinders operate like a blender with a propeller-like blade that chops the surrounding coffee beans into pieces. Outside of their small size and low price tag, blade grinders are often considered inadequate because of their extreme inconsistency. Coffee grounds made from a blade grinder can range from small and powder-like to large and more recognizable coffee chunks. If a blade grinder is all you have available to you, we recommend pulsing or shaking the grinder slightly to keep the coffee from settling below the blades which will improve its consistency slightly.
Burr Grinders: Burr grinders are often bigger and more expensive with prices ranging from $60 to $500 for prosumer models and $1000 to $3000 for commercial models like those found in specialty coffee shops. Price can be associated with grind quality but, it also reflects power and stamina. For example, a homebrewer may grind 40g of coffee per day whereas a coffee shop may grind 30 lbs. with one grinder alone. Inside the world of burr grinders, there are two options: conical burrs and flat burrs. Conical burrs are more common in prosumer coffee grinders because of their efficient and simple design. Flat burrs create very consistent average grind size but are more expensive to manufacture and produce more heat during the grinding process.
How to Choose…
Let’s evaluate your coffee-grinder needs. We recommend avoiding blade grinders, especially if you are spending money on nice single-origin coffees from craft roasters. If you are looking to transition from preground to whole bean coffee, you can find a burr grinder on amazon for $60. If you want to rock a consistent home pour-over set up, the $140 Baratza Encore is a favorite for baristas at home. If you are grinding for espresso and have the cash, we recommend looking into the Baratza Sette line. Coffee on the go? Hario makes a nice hand-powered burr grinder that takes time but works well for van life or camping.
Upgrading a home coffee set up with a new grinder is an exciting step that will increase the quality of your coffee no matter what kind of aficionado you are. You will have to experiment with grind size, but the versatility will offer you a whole new range of options in your coffee journey!