Coffee beans and coffee grounds, when exposed to air, begin to oxidize. Grounds will suffer more since there is more surface area to oxidize, while the beans have a protective layer that helps keep in the flavor. And this is why home coffee grinders should be in every coffee lovers arsenal of kitchen equipment.
A coffee grinder allows you to control the level of exposure and grind only how much is needed and when it is needed. This allows you to have the most flavorful cup of coffee possible.
But all coffee grinders are not created equal. Some can make the grinding process very messy, while other can produce uneven grinds. It is up to you to figure out what you want for the price you are willing to pay.
There are 3 main types of coffee grinders: crushers, blades, and burr. Although, nowadays, you really will only find blade and burr grinders.
Crusher Coffee Grinder
A crusher type coffee grinder is similar to a pestle and mortar. It actually mashes the beans. This makes the grind very uneven and is not a recommended type of grinder for coffee any more. It also releases much of the oils in the bean, which loses a lot of the flavor.
This type of grinder is not recommended, nor is it marketed for coffee grinding anymore.
Blade Coffee Grinder
The blades rotate and chop up the coffee bean.
A blade type coffee grinder is the most common type of grinder you will find in homes. The blade whirls around and chops the coffee bean. While the grind is more even than the crusher method, it is still not very even and still allows quite a bit of oils to be released. While better than pre-ground coffee, for the best tasting cup of coffee, the burr grinder is best.
Burr Coffee Grinder
Burr blades for exceptional grinding
The burr coffee grinder is the best type to look for. It utilizes motorized plates with pyramid shaped teeth. This particular setup allows for the perfect grind for coffee. A really good (i.e. expensive) burr grinder even allows for varied ground size based on the speed of the plates. The speed control of the burr grinders also keeps the heat low while grinding, which just helps keep in even more flavor. The burr grinder, essentially, allows for the perfect cup of coffee.
Since we are looking for the best tasting coffee we can get at home, we will focus on the burr coffee grinder. While a little more expensive than a blade grinder, the difference in taste will make up for it.
Electric vs Manual Burr Grinders
While electric burr coffee grinders are generally the norm in households, manual burr coffee grinders have a nice appeal to them as well. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it simply becomes a matter of personal preference.
Manual burr coffee grinders look nice, and since coffee is something we have everyday, we do not want to be constantly taking out and putting away our grinders. Manual grinders also don’t have any problems with the motor, since the motor is you! You don’t need to worry about heating the coffee grounds while grinding :), but it does take a little bit of work from you. If you are only grinding enough for a couple of cups of coffee a day, then a manual burr coffee grinder might just be perfect for you.
Electric burr grinders are definitely more typical in today’s homes. You will definitely get your grounds quicker with an electric grinder. Many electric grinders also have timers on them, so once you find your setting and grind time that you like, you can achieve a much more consistent grind, time after time.
Top 5 Manual Burr Grinders
Top 5 Electric Burr Grinders
Top 5 Budget Burr Grinders
Home vs. Professional Burr Grinders
There are two categories of burr grinders, professional and home. A professional burr grinder is conical and extremely noisy. While a good grinder operates at 500 rpm, a really high quality grinder will operate at 10,000 rpm. This allows for very fine grinds, the kind you want for Turkish coffee or espresso. Some home burr grinder have a dial for speed adjustments, while other have buttons that allow for 20 to 40 different speed adjustments.
However, a professional grade burr grinder will also be 10-20 times more expensive than a home grinder.
Regardless of what grade of grinder you get, look for ones that are solid and easy to clean. Typically, at home, you also want one that is not too noisy. If looking at a burr grinder, make sure it has removable upper burr blades. Be careful of plastic materials on the grinder, as static electricity can cause the grounds to stick to the blades and container.
Some other things to look for are a timer, which can help you in achieving the same grind each time. Another useful feature is a clear lid – don’t get one that has a smoky or dark tint as this will hinder your view of the grinding.