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Choosing a Coffee Grinder


Rule #1: Don’t go cheap on the grinder. Choosing a grinder is an important step to creating the perfect cup of coffee. Using a quality grinder to freshly grind the coffee to the ideal grind sizes is necessary to good extraction. Picking the correct grind size will also have an impact on the flavor of your coffee. Determining it is reliant on which coffee brewing method you will be using. The finer the grind size, the faster the extraction. Usually the shorter the coffee brewing process, the finer the coffee grind should be. If your coffee tastes weak it is probably due to a coarse grind, which causes under extraction, while a bitter taste might be due to a too fine grind which caused over extraction.


Generally an Espresso Machine will need an extra fine grind, a Drip Coffee Maker a medium-fine grind, while a French Press will take a coarse grind. Grinding is essential right before the brewing, since a lot of the coffee oxidizes as soon as the beans are ground.

There are two basic styles of coffee grinders – Burr and Blade grinders.

Blade Grinders: Mostly inexpensive (as low as $30), blade grinders chop the coffee with sharp metal blades. Simple to use, all you need to do is press the power button. As the blades spin, the coffee beans are ground. The grind size will depend on the length of grind, meaning the longer the duration of the grind, the finer the grinds will be. However the grind will be uneven with some pieces larger than others, which makes for a very inconsistent coffee. Also since heat is generated by the rapidly spinning blades your coffee may get a burnt taste. Furthermore, blade grinders create a lot of dust which can clog filters during brewing and increases the chance of bitter coffee. A blade grinder won’t be able to grind your coffee fine enough for an espresso or Turkish coffee.

Burr Grinders: Burr grinders spin one burr against another (sort of like two metal plates), crushing the coffee between them. The closer you move the burrs together, the finer the grind will be. Burr grinders tend to make much more consistent particle pieces. There are two kinds of Burr Grinders: Conical Burr Grinders and Flat Burr Grinders.

    Ceramic Burr
    Vario Ceramic Burr

      Flat Burr Grinders(or Wheel Burr Grinder) are the less expensive of the two. Although consistent, the wheels rotate very fast and are therefore usually noisy and messier.

      Conical Burr Grinders are quieter because the burrs spin slower thus creating less friction and heat allowing the natural flavors to be preserved. It is also less messy with little dust, because of the slower speed and therefore less likely to clog.

Dosing Grinders: Dosing grinders have a six sectioned container in which the coffee grinds drop into.  Each equal sized section holds up to 6-7 grams of coffee - enough for a single shot.  When a lever is pulled the the container rotates, meeting the front of the grinder and then it dispenses the dose of coffee directly into a portafilter or container.  Non-dosing Grinders have different options.  They grind directly into a portafilter or container or both.  The container that the coffee is dispensed into is usually removable.  Some containers have a little door to scoop the coffee out of.

Stepped Adjustment Grinder:  Burr grinders allow users to adjust the fineness of the grind.  Stepped Adjustement Grinders have settings labeled on the grinder to help you easily set your adjustments.  Self Holding and Lever Release are the two choices in Stepped setting grinders.  With Self Holding type grinders, users turn a knob or the hopper until an audible click is heard locking the grind setting into place.  Each click is a level of fineness.  Lever Release grinders have a lever which is pressed down while turning the hopper to the desired grind setting.  When the lever is released the hopper is locked into place at the grind setting you chose.  Unlike the Stepped Adjustment Grinders which have preset adjustments, Stepless Adjustment grinders give you limitless options with minute adjustments, which makes it great for fine tuning the settings.  Some marks on the grinder will help you along but there are no reference points for fine to coarse settings.

So for your basic coffee you can give the blade grinder a shot (pun intended). But for those that enjoy a good tasting coffee with a wonderful aroma, the burr grinders, specifically the durable conical grinders are worth investing in. Remember the better the grind, the better your coffee.  You will be pleased with the results and will have one more thing worth getting up for in the morning!