Picking a Coffee Grinder

Picking the perfect coffee grinder can be a tricky endeavor. Mainly, because of the time needed to get the perfect grind, what type of blades are used in the grinder and what type of coffee bean is going to be grind. Those said let's take a quick look at the all-important coffee bean.

When thinking about grinding a coffee bean, the grinder will have to account for the fact that coffee beans oxidize when exposed to air. And when the beans are ground they produce a much larger relative surface area for oxidation. Especially, since the ground now don't have any covering and can suffer even more of this effect. As a result of this oxidation, time and place need to be accounted for in order to produce the best ground. With that in mind the best place to grind beans would be at home. Mainly because more care for the product would be taken in a home setting, more so than in a corporate setting.

Now back to time. Grinding can and is a very time consuming and messy action and in order to cut down on time and to make this process as enjoyable as possible choose to invest in the effort to reap the reward. Choose to pick the best grinder that you can afford. Like I said earlier, this could be a messy and time-consuming endeavor. Don't take it lightly.

Grinders fall into three broad categories - burr, blade and crusher.

The crusher is some kind of mashing device, often an ancient-style mortar and pestle. These types of devices crush the beans in a very difficult procedure. The result is a very uneven sized granule, which is not recommended.

On the other hand, the blade grinders, don't actually grind at all, they chop. A whirling blade slices the beans into smaller and smaller sections until they approach something like a small grain. Once again, this is not recommended. The grains are invariably too large and of inconsistent size. As a consequence the surface areas of the granules vary, releasing varying amounts of flavor oils when brewed. Another effect of slicing is often the production of excess heat, as a result of the high speed of the blades. That friction warms the grounds and partially dissipates the aroma.


The Burr grinder is the best choice of all. The burr grinders have a pair of motor driven plates with pyramid-shaped teeth that grind the beans to a consistent, small-but-not-too-small granule. The even better models allow adjusting the size of the grain and the speed of the grinding. This is very important if controlling the desired brew is important. As well as, adjusting the speeds keeps the warming effect in check.

Even burr grinders fall into two classes - the conical burr grinder is preferred by real coffee aficionados. Though noisier, they allow the most control of grain size and speed.

Good conical burr grinders can rotate as slowly as 500rpm. By contrast other burr grinders spin at 10,000rpm or higher, blades between 20-30,000rpm. That allows very fine control and little heat. The fine grind is especially important for Turkish-style brews. Some grinders have a continuous dial, others have a series of up to 40 steps to adjust the granule size.

Beyond those broad attributes, the home barista (professional maker of coffee drinks) will want to look for solid construction, ease of cleaning and low noise in their machines. A cleaning brush and removable upper burrs is essential. Different materials used can also affect how much static electricity is produced - that causes the grains to stick to the burrs and container.

A timer switch and auto-shutoff is a nice addition and being able to see the beans as well as the grounds is helpful for judging the results in the grinder. Dark plastic or glass may be aesthetically appealing but it obscures the view. Grounds can change color slightly depending on the fineness. Be sure to read reviews and be prepared to spend a little more and you'll be rewarded with the freshest, most flavorful cup of coffee you have ever tasted.

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About The Author, Kenneth Elliott