Coffee information from The Coffee Brew.

How to buy the perfect Coffee Grinder.

Just like any other food product coffee beans oxidize when they are exposed to air. Once the beans have been ground they have a much larger relative surface area than the unground bean plus there is no outer layer of protection so they suffer this effect even more. Grinding beans at home produces the least exposure to air and the freshest grounds. What is important for that perfect cup of espresso is to grind only what you immediately need.

 

This is why serious coffee drinkers have a coffee grinder in their home. Grinding beans does take up a bit more of your time but as the connoisseur will tell you – it is well worth the effort (and the price of a good quality grinder).

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

The third model above is a kind of mashing device – more of an ancient-style mortar and pestle. They crush the beans but it is a difficult task and the resultant grounds it produces are an uneven sized granule. I wouldn’t recommend this model where you have other choices of appliances that have superior features.

Blade style grinders don't actually grind at all - they chop. Being electric power supply operated, the whirling blades slice the roasted beans into smaller and smaller pieces until they approach something like a small grain. Unfortunately, you end up with grains that 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 because of the high speed of the blades. Friction warms the grounds and partially dissipates the aroma.

Burr grinders are by far the top model to buy for home use if you want the best from your coffee. The burr grinder has a pair of motor driven plates with pyramid-shaped teeth that grind the beans to an even sized, small, but not too small granule. The better models allow the operator to adjust the size of the grain and the speed of the grinding.

Adjusting the size is important as it allows you to fine tune the grounds to exactly how you want them. Just do a little bit of testing until you find the perfect brew for your taste. Also being able to control the speed keeps the warming effect to a minimum.

There are two types of burr grinders. You will find really serious coffee aficionados prefer the burr grinder. Although noisier to operate, this type of grinder allows the most control – from coarse to fine - of bean grain size and speed. The good conical burr grinders can rotate as slowly as 500rpm.

By contrast other grinders spin at 10,000rpm or higher and with blade speeds of between 20-30,000rpm. These give a fine grind which is especially important for Turkish style brews. Some grinders have a continuous dial while other models have a series of up to 40 settings to adjust the granule size.

Other attributes the home barista will want to look for are solid construction, easy to clean and low noise. A cleaning brush and removable upper burrs is essential as different materials used can affect how much static electricity is produced - this causes the grains to stick to the burrs and container.

A timer switch and auto-shutoff is a nice addition. Being able to see the beans as well as the grounds during the grinding process is useful judging the results in the grinder. Many grinders come in dark plastic, glass or stainless steel. Although these features may seem aesthetically pleasing to the eye (and maybe your kitchen décor as well) it obscures the view.

If you are a coffee addict and don’t mind spending a little extra time and effort to make a gourmet cup of brew then a coffee grinder is definitely for you.

Enjoy!


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The Coffee Brew - Coffee information.