Coffee Grinders

This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s excerpt on coffee brewing equipment:

What is a coffee grinder and aren’t they all the same?

No!  I’m sorry, I got so caught up in answering the second question I forgot to answer the first.  Let me start over.

A coffee grinder grinds whole beans into the powdery substance we all know and love.  You may have seen the Eight O’Clock or Van Hauten’s grinders in your local supermarket.  Home versions are very similar with one important difference – the home versions help make MUCH better coffee!  Coffee starts to spoil as soon as it comes in contact with the air.  Once it is ground, so much more coffee surface area is exposed to the air, which causes the coffee to spoil that much quicker.  At Manhattan Roasts we get the best tasting coffee by grinding our coffee immediately before brewing.  I would argue a decent grinder is the best piece of equipment you can have for making high quality coffee.

As for differences in grinders, there are two basic types: blade grinders and burr grinders.  Blade grinders are much like food processors in that they use a blade to chop the bean into tiny pieces.  They are cheap and easy to use.  Unfortunately the grind is entirely uneven and difficult to control.  This means you will have a hard time creating the right grind for the type of coffee you want without making it too weak or too bitter.

Burr grinders on the other hand use a burr to actually grind the coffee into even particle sizes.  These grinders usually have 10-20 different coarseness settings, which allow you to get a perfect grind every time.  They are a little more expensive than blade grinders, but you can get a decent quality burr grinder starting around $50.  If there is anything you could buy to get better (and perhaps even cheaper coffee), we suggest one of these.  Later in this series we will look at the economics of roasting & brewing your own coffee, including one metric that even considers buying one of these machines.

As always, feel free to direct any questions to the comments section or!

1 comment to Coffee Grinders

  • I agree… a burr grinder definitely produces the most consistent grounds. I use one of the old-style “barista” grinders for my daily fix at home.

    Still, nothing compares to the ambiance of the moment at a local bistro or coffee shop.



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