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Best Coffee Grinders

Coffee Geek Lab / Best Coffee Grinders
Yurii Brown

Certified Barista

April 29, 2021

If you brew your coffee at home, you can go two ways: either by purchasing a pre-ground coffee blend or grind your coffee at home.

And I strongly recommend that you choose the second method because freshly ground coffee can make an immense difference in flavor.

However, for grinding your beans at home, you need a reliable grinder, and this is exactly what I’m here for!

Continue reading this article, and you’ll find out the main difference between grinder types and how to choose the one for your preferred brewing method!

Why Grind Coffee at Home

So, what’s wrong with pre-ground coffee?

Everything.

I mean, it depends on how long it has been lying on a shelf. But overall, pre-ground coffee is considered a lesser quality than freshly ground coffee. And there are multiple reasons for that:

  • Coffee produces oils once it has been ground. And those oils are extremely sensitive to the external factors, especially odors. This means pre-ground coffee absorbs unwanted flavors while lying on a shelf, which can ruin your beverage flavor completely.
  • Coffee is susceptible to oxygen. Once it is ground and in contact with oxygen, it starts revealing its rich flavors and aromas. In only under 20 minutes after being ground, coffee loses more than 50% of its aroma. And this means you get a less flavorful beverage with every new brew if you buy pre-ground beans.
  • Coffee loses Carbon Dioxide after being ground. And because Carbon Dioxide works to retain rich coffee oils and deliver them to your mug, the more you wait after grinding, the less precious oils your beverage has.
  • Coffee oils are susceptible to moisture. So, once the beans are ground, if they contact with a somewhat humid environment, they start losing the precious oils.

So, it’s clear now that grinding your beans right before brewing is the only way to get a rich beverage with all its chemical compounds and flavors preserved.

Along with that, grinding coffee at home allows you to make the best grind for your brewing method. 

That’s because the grind size impacts the filtration speed and the final taste in your cup. Typically, manual and third-wave brewing methods, such as pour-over, the French press, Aeropress, and others, require a coarser grind, whereas automatic brewers and espresso machines work best on medium and fine grind. 

And if you have already noticed, the most common grind size for the pre-ground beans at the store is medium.

So, getting a grinder with adjustable settings gives you plenty of room to experiment with different roasts and blends and come up with your own signature brew.

But how do you apply this knowledge to your daily brew?

Now, you have a couple of options here. If your budget allows for it (and you want to take your coffee brewing routine to the new level), you can buy a coffee machine that has a built-in grinder. Or, if you are saving your budget for something else, you can try grinding your coffee beans using the utensils you already have. But the best option is the simplest one: buy a coffee grinder.

Also read: Best Coffee Grinder for French Press

Burr Grinders vs. Blade Grinders

When shopping for a coffee grinder, you will come across two types: burr and blade ones. 

Blade grinders are oftentimes used for spices too, so you’ve probably seen them before. They have a blade in the middle that looks like a propeller. Such grinders chop the beans rather than actually crush and grind them.

Burr grinders are a bit more complex. They have two revolving parts (the burrs). The coffee beans go in between those two parts, few beans at a time. They are crushed there, and the level of coarseness depends on the distance between the burrs.

But which type of grinder is better?

Well, it actually depends on your personal preferences.

You see, they have both pros and cons. And it’s up to you to decide which of them will satisfy you.

GrinderProsCons
Blade
  • Usually inexpensive;
  • Powerful and works fast;
  • Widely available;
  • Easy to use;
  • Typically compact and portable.
  • Doesn’t always allow for even texture;
  • Produces heat when working, which can affect the coffee flavor;
  • Tricky to clean.
Burr
  • Allows users to set the desired coarseness;
  • Typically, offers smooth, even texture;
  • Easy to clean (usually has detachable parts);
  • Doesn’t produce heat when working.
  • Tends to be more expensive;
  • Might be harder to come by;
  • Doesn’t always guarantee an even grind. 

Automatic Grinders vs. Manual Grinders

Here you can probably tell the difference yourself. But still, let me clear this out: Manual grinders require you to apply your physical energy to grind the beans, while automatic devices do everything on their own. To help you understand which type is better for you personally, let me share a few points. You might want to buy a manual grinder if you:
  • don’t mind spending some extra time when preparing your beverage;
  • want something small and portable;
  • don’t want to spend much money;
  • don’t mind the manual work (or need a simple arm workout every morning);
  • prefer brewing methods that involve a coarse grind (because to get a very fine grind with a manual device, you will need quite a lot of time and effort).
Now, automatic coffee grinders are more suitable for people who:
  • don’t mind spending more money;
  • want something easy and effortless to use;
  • appreciate quick setup and operation;
  • have enough kitchen space (some models are bulky);
  • want to try different brewing methods, including the ones that require a fine grind.

FAQ

What’s the main advantage of grinding coffee at home?

The main advantage of freshly ground coffee is the complexity of flavor. You will preserve most components and oils and get the cup with a more pronounced body.

What is the best grind size for a cold brew?

Cold brew is a long-time brewing method, and the coffee can steep for up to 48 hours. That’s why it’s important to get a coarse grind size. Fine grinds can over-extract and give you a bitter and unpleasant cup, so be sure to go towards a coarser grind.

Are burr grinders better than blade grinders?

In most cases, yes. They don’t produce coffee dust and don’t warm up as quickly as blades, which results in less oxidation and burning. Also, burrs produce a more consistent grind, which, in turn, produces a more balanced and consistent flavor.

Can I use a blender or food processor to grind my beans?

No. Even though the grinding mechanism of these appliances is similar to that in a blade grinder, it actually cannot grind the coffee beans properly or may not even catch them at all. That’s why, if you only have a blender, it’s better to purchase a pre-ground blend.

What grind size is the best for brewing coffee?

It depends on your preferred brewing method. For example, Turkish coffee needs a really fine grind, whereas the French press or cold brew requires a coarse grind size. Most brewing methods work well on medium or medium-fine grind sizes, but be sure to experiment with different grinds to see which works best for you.

Conclusion

So, let’s briefly recap the main components of a good coffee grinder: look for a conical or flat burr grinder, opt for different grind settings, and a powerful motor. Also, it’s better to choose ceramic gear instead of metal, as it’s less prone to overheating and infusing the grind with foreign flavors.

Finally, you can choose a grinder with a storage container and grind the batch for 2-3 days, or a large number of cups.

Yurii Brown

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