The Best Coffee Grinder & Why You Need It
Why Is A Great Coffee Grinder Important?
A good coffee grinder is an essential part of making a tasty cup. Many people think there is little difference between fresh ground coffee and old grounds out of a can. I’ve yet to meet anyone that can’t be convinced of the benefit of fresh ground coffee after a quick taste test. The change in taste, aroma, and flavor from old ground to fresh ground is simply astounding.
A fresh grind can turn a bad coffee into an acceptable cup. An old grind can turn the best coffee in the world into a bland stale pot of brown water. If you are buying high end or expensive coffee pre-ground, you are likely wasting your money.
Why Is Fresh Ground Coffee So Much Better?
A properly roasted coffee bean is a complex combination of elements. That beautiful coffee aroma comes from the essential oils that are created during the roasting process. Roast too little and the oils are never created. Roast too long and they become burnt. Imagine oil in a frying pan. There is a fine line between the proper oil temperature and blackened burnt oil. It’s the same way with coffee.
Those coffee oils only stay around for so long. Once ground most of the oils that give coffee it’s great flavor are GONE in thirty minutes. Where do they go? Evaporated into the air.
Grinding just before brewing produces the best taste by far. While vacuum sealing directly after grinding can help somewhat, those essential oils still escape. What doesn’t escape during the vacuum sealing process is left on the bag or on the sides of the can rather than in your cup where it belongs.
Why You Need These Coffee Grinders
We looked at hundreds of reviews and picked the three best coffee grinders depending on your budget. If you don’t like to wait, here is the summary:
Best All Around Coffee Grinder:
Best Budget Coffee Grinder:
Best High End Espresso Coffee Grinder:
Which Coffee Grinder Is Best? What Are The Different Types?
These are what most people think of as home grinders. They have a blade that spins and chops up the beans. They are by far the most economical choice, typically costing under $20. A blade grinder is a good way to start if you want to try grinding your own coffee at a low cost. Pros: Low Cost, easy to clean, can be used to also chop herbs or nuts if you decide to upgrade. Cons: Loud, hard to achieve consistent results, blade causes friction which can burn some flavor from the coffee.
Krups Blade Coffee Grinders
Krups manufacturers the most ubiquitous and popular coffee grinder on the market with their line of blade grinders. Most home coffee brewers have encountered a Krups blade grinder at one point or another. They generally cost under $25, but have no adjustment or timer for consistent results. However the price can’t be beat.
Burr Coffe Grinders
The burr grinder is a great choice for home grinding. They range in price from around $50 all the way up to $300 or more for the more fancy models. Burr is not a brand name but rather the technique used for the coffee grinding process. Two metal wheels crush the beans between them as the spin either at different speeds or in different directions depending on the type. Burr grinders still grind at a high speed, which can cause some heating during the grinding process, but typically only when grinding large quantities at once. This usually isn’t a concern for the home grinder. Pros: High quality grind at a reasonable price. Easy to achieve consistent results.
Burr Coffee Grinder Cons:
- can be harder to clean.
Burr grinders are generally considered the best for home coffee grinding. They can range in price from around $40 on the low end to well over $300 at the higher end. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good burr grinder though.
Burr grinders use two different spinning surfaces that crush the beans between them. There are different styles and sizes, some using two similar sized and shaped cylinders, and others which use conical metal grinders of different sizes. The benefit of a burr grinder is that the coffee is crushed with very little friction, which can be a problem with blade grinders. The way the beans are crushed in a burr grinder releases much of the flavor oils inside the coffee, and thus should not be stored after grinding, but rather brewed directly after grinding. Your coffee will taste far better this way.
Burr Coffee Grinder – Automatic or Manual?
Burr grinders come in both manual and automatic versions. There is no huge difference between a manual coffee mill and an electric one, other than the effort involved. Manual versions may require 4-5 minutes of grinding for a a typical full pot size, which can become tiring.
Both typically allow for the space between the grinding surfaces to be adjusted for a finer or coarser grind. The great thing about a burr grinder is the uniform ground size it produces. With other methods, some very fine coffee grinds might be created which can clog even the best coffee maker filter.
The ability to set the grind size for your grinder makes them ideal for the home brewer. From the fine particles required for an espresso grind to the large chunks necessary for a french press, a burr grinder can do it all. Most burr grinders will have trouble producing the very very fine powder required for Turkish coffee, requiring some post processing with a mortar and pestle to achieve the right consistency. There are also specific Turkish mills on the market that are ideally suited for this specialized task.
Materials For Burr Coffee Grinders
The best burr coffee grinders use steel wheels, where the hard surface allows for a slower grinding process, creating less friction and less static to build up in the grounds. Conical burr grinders are typically slower than disk burr grinders, but can cost as much as 50% less. For most home brewers, the amount that must be ground before your grinder starts to heat up won’t typically be a concern.
Krups Burr Grinders
They also manufacture a line of burr coffee grinders which provide great performance at a price typically under $50. The stand alone units are regular cylinder burr grinders rather than the more expensive conical burr grinder.
Conical Burr Grinders:
These are similar to regular burr grinders, but instead of two flat surfaces grinding the beans, they use a cone with an inside and outside element to crush the beans. This allows for a finer degree of grinding over a traditional burr grinder and a much slower rotation with little or no heating of the grounds. Pros: Conical burr grinders are quieter and less likely to clog than regular burr grinders. Cons: higher cost, but prices have dropped dramatically in recent years. Today a good conical burr grinder can be had for under $85. Conical burr grinders are generally considered the absolute best for home grinding. Once priced only for those seeking a high end coffee grinder, the cost have come down significantly in recent years.
How Do Conical Burr Grinders Work?
Conical Burr Grinder consist of two different sized cylinders like the ones pictured here. The substance to be ground, in this case freshly roasted coffee, is spun between the two cylinders which slowly grind it to smaller and smaller bits. The grind size is consistent as larger chunks cannot fall completely through the grinder until the process is complete. The fact that the beans are ground slowly means that there will not be any very small dust like grounds that can clog up your coffee filter during brewing.
Burr grinder surfaces are generally made of a hard metal like steel or aluminum. There are however, many disposable grinders found in supermarket spice isles that have hard plastic or acrylic grinding surfaces to be more cost effective.
The Pros Of A Conical Burr Grinder
They generally are the most adjustable and produce the most consistent sized grounds while not overly heating the coffee during the grinding process. They grind slower than other types of coffee grinders, which do not produce as much friction to heat the coffee beans.
Prices have dropped considerably in the past few years. It used to be difficult to find a good conical burr grinder for less than $150, but there are many models available these days that cost around $75.
While there are other methods of grinding coffee, including roller grinders for industrial size grinding, or traditional mortar and pestles, these three are the dominant methods for the home grinder.
Using a Single Cup Keurig Brewer?
While those single cup Keurig brewers are great in a pinch, the prepackaged K-Cups can’t match a fresh grind in terms of flavor and aroma. However, you can have the best of convenience and speed at the same time. There are reusable K-cup filters that can be filled with fresh ground coffee for that perfect single cup convenience but with fresh ground taste.
Most people find that one reusable K-cup filter is not enough, as it’s frequently dirty from the last cup. A conical burr grinder and two or three K-cup filters are perfect for that single cup lifestyle.
Krups Grind And Brew Coffee Makers
For the ultimate in morning coffee automation, try the Krups Grind and Brew line of coffee makers. They come with a built in conical burr grinder, which can be set the night before to automatically grind and brew your coffee at the time you specify. Just be sure to fill the coffee maker with water, put a new filter in, and stock the hopper with fresh roasted coffee beans ahead of time.