Which Coffee Grinder Should You Buy?

    Best Commercial Coffee Grinders

    If you truly want to make great espresso, then you need to find a good quality espresso coffee grinder.

    Use only beans that were roasted within the past ten days to get the freshest flavour. Beware of beans that are too new, though. Beans that have been roasted only within the past day or two are full of carbon dioxide. It will get released into your cup of coffee, causing it to turn foamy or frothy.

    Grinding the beans immediately prior to brewing the coffee provides a much more flavourful and fresh taste.

    Freshly ground coffee keeps the aroma of the bean and tastes better because the grounds haven't had time to oxidize due to exposure to air. Most coffee you buy at the grocery store is already ground. The coffee has already started to go stale and it will continue to oxidize the more it is exposed to air. The advantage to buying whole coffee beans is that the freshness is sealed inside the shell of the beans waiting to be released by coffee grinders.

    Two Coffee Grinder Categories

    Coffee grinders can be divided into two basic categories. There are blade grinders and there are burr grinders.

    Burr vs Blade Grind

    Blade Grinders

    Blade grinders are very similar to a rotary lawn mower where there are blades on the bottom that whirl and cut the grass. In the case of blade grinders, they have a blade that rotates at very high speeds to cut and chop the coffee bean.

    Blade grinders - which are cheaper and more common - don’t work as well for espresso coffee. They slice the beans into uneven particles, which can throw off the extraction process, as well as resulting in uneven coffee grounds not creating a uniform consistency. They also do not produce a fine coffee ground. Because of this, a blade grinder can't be used to grind coffee beans for espresso. Blade grinders also tend to produce more heat so there could be more of a tendency to leave the beans with a bit of a burn flavour.

    Blade Coffee Grinder

    Blade coffee grinders typically have no settings to assure the consistent outcome of the grinding process, so supervision of the grinding process is key. Even if you're paying close attention, it can be hard to determine if the coffee has been ground appropriately either by the length of time it took to grind or by how it looks.

    On the whole, blade grinders work well in some common drip coffee makers,

    Burr Grinders

    Burr grinders are the usual choice for commercial grinders. A burr grinder will do a much better job of preparing the beans for espressos.

    Burr grinders consist of two burrs, one is stationary and the second one turns to apply pressure against it, with the coffee beans in between. Make sure you get one with metal, not plastic burrs. Burr grinders pulverise the beans into a consistent size. Specific settings can be set to specific grinds, depending upon the requirement of the barista, from coarse to very fine.

    This type of coffee grinder can be broken down even further between a conical burr grinder and a flat wheel burr grinder.

    Coffee Grinder Burrs

    Conical Burr Grinder

    Conical Burr

    A conical grinder can usually select an output from fine to coarse. The consensus among most coffee lovers is that if you can afford a burr grinder, and especially the conical style, you will produce a finer ground bean and a much better tasting coffee in the long run.

    The number one trait that a conical type of burr grinder offers is the ability to produce the same grind every time no matter how often the grinder is used. This is because the conical burr grinders have settings that determine what type of grind is produced. If a coarse grind is needed the setting for coarse is used and the coffee will consistently be coarse.
    These grinders will not clog and can be used to grind oily or flavoured beans.
    Burr grinders are more difficult to clean than the blade type. You will need a small brush to clean out a burr grinder. For great tasting coffee, be prepared for the longer and harder cleaning processes for a burr grinder.

    Flat Wheel Burr Grinder

    Flat Wheel Burrs

    The flat wheel burr grinder spins faster and can be noisier than the conical style. Flat wheel burr grinders produce a coarse grind in the coffee bean. The fineness of the grind depends upon where the grinding wheel is set.

    Unlike a blade grinder, a burr grinder could be left on all day and it wouldn't affect the good end result of the grind.

    4 Basic Coffee Grinds

    There are essentially four basic coffee grinds: fine, medium and coarse.

    1. Coarse: Coarse ground coffee works best in percolators.
    2. Medium: Medium ground coffee much like the consistency of sand, is the suggested drip coffee makers or a French Press.
    3. Fine: A very fine grind much the consistency of sugar, is used. If using a blade grinder, you should shake the grinder between bursts to achieve a uniform grind. Fine coffee would be used in pots or automatic drip machines with a conical filter.
    4. Extra Fine could be described as just slightly coarser than table salt. Fine coffee would be used for espresso makers.

    Never use your coffee grinder for anything other than coffee 

    Many people use their coffee grinder to chop up spices or herbs, or even to chop medicine for children or pets. It is extremely difficult to remove every foreign particle in the grinder, so save yourself some trouble and keep the coffee to itself. Use a food processor to chop other things such as herbs or spices. This way, the flavours will not be able to intermingle, and your coffee will remain pure.