Buying Guide to Coffee Grinders
8 Things to Know Before You Buy
You've recently become quite the coffee connoisseur, opting to brew a fair trade roast at home rather than hitting up your local java joint. But those in the coffee know will swear that if you really want to retain the freshness and flavor of your favorite beans, you need to grind them at home.
As you peruse the wide array of coffee grinders on the market (and there are quite a few) keep these must know facts in mind.
Fact #1: Electrical vs. Manual
Love all things old fashioned? Want to work for your morning caffeine fix? Then invest in a manual coffee grinder. These machines grind the beans via a handle you turn yourself. How quaint is that?
If easy-breezy is more your speed, try an electrical grinder. It plugs into the wall and grinds beans with a push of a button -- no elbow grease needed.
Fact #2: Blade vs. Burr
Blade grinders operate much like a blender: a blade chops up the beans and the longer you grind, the finer your coffee grounds will turn out. The downside to blade grinders is that they don't grind consistently -- leaving you with grounds that may vary in size.
A burr grinder grinds the beans between two metal plates -- one plate moves via a motor, while the other plate is fixed in place. The distance between the plates determines the coarseness of the grounds. Because of this, burr grinders are known for giving a more consistent grind.
Fact #3: Flat vs. Conical
There are two styles of burr grinders: flat and conical. The names refer to how the metal plates lay on top of one another. Flat grinders have two equally sized plates that lay flat. A conical grinder's plates are different sizes and the inside plate is cone shaped. As a result of its shape, a conical grinder works at a slower speed so there is less friction and heat, which preserves the flavor and aroma of your beans.
Fact #4: Grinding Levels
A coffee lover who's only looking to make their daily pot of drip probably isn't going to need a grinder with many levels beyond fine, medium and coarse. But those looking to make a variety of coffee concoctions in various machines (French press, Turkish coffee) will want to look for a grinder that caters to your coffee whims. Some more advanced machines have up to 25 options.
Fact # 5: Bean to Cup Measurement
If you want to take the guess work out of grinding, choose a machine that automatically calibrates the right amount of beans you'll need for the number of cups you're brewing.
If you're shopping for a grinder for the office, or have a large family who all enjoy a morning caffeine fix, you'll also want a grinder that has a coffee container (the container the grounds fall into) that can hold more than a few cups' worth at a time.
Fact #6: Bean Hopper
Consumers looking to save space may want to consider a grinder with an attached bean hopper. This is an airtight container on top of the grinder that stores your beans. Most hoppers usually hold between eight and nine ounces of beans at a time.
Fact #7: Removable Pieces
Coffee grinders get messy fast. Grinders that have removable pieces are much easier to clean than those that don't.
Fact #8: Grind and Brew
If you're also in the market for a new coffee maker or espresso machine, you may want to consider one that brews and grinds. It'll save some precious counter space (one less appliance) and keep all of the mess contained in one area.
Bonus Fact! Extras.
A lot of coffee grinders come with little extras that make the grinding experience easier, such as: a safety system that automatically shuts off the grinder if the lid or coffee container is out of place; a digital display; a coffee container with marked measurements, and self-contained cord storage.