I will be the first to admit that my first grinder was a Krups blade grinder. O.K. It’s out in the open and I’ve said it. I bought a blade grinder. Looking back, I realize now what I bought was really a spice grinder and not a coffee grinder. And I got it because I was new to the coffee world and did not know the difference between a blade and a burr grinder. But I also got it because it was cheap. It cost around $20 to $25 and at the time I thought that was a lot of money.

So how do you go about finding the right coffee grinder?

You might have seen my recent article on Specialty Colorado Coffee Freshness Tips . Reading it over, you know that when exposed to air, coffee beans will oxidize. And once you grind them up, the fresh, unused, coffee suffers this more so because they have a larger surface than the beans and lack the beans’ protective skin.

Having your own grinder at home will allow you to stop the level of exposure and produce the freshest grind.  Most importantly, grinding can be done when you need it. And you can grind in small batches that is just enough for your morning or evening cup of brew. Everything has a price, though.  Picking the best grinder can make the messy and long process of grinding much more rewarding.


   
There are three main types of grinders – blade, crusher and burr.  The crusher is the ancient way of using a pestle and mortar to mash the beans.  This process is difficult and gives an uneven grind because it just crushes them. I mention it because if you do any backpacking or getting out in the wild without electricity, it is an alternative, but it is not highly recommended. I would just grind up what you need in advance and place it into a really good Zip Lock® bag and go for it. When backpacking, I tend not to be looking for the best cup of coffee.  I am looking for any cup of coffee.

Blade grinders chop.  The blade whirls, slicing the beans into small grounds. This was good for me as a younger woman who did not know the difference but it was still not the best because the coffee grains are not the same size and not all the oils are released, varying the flavor and dissipating a lot of the flavor. 

A burr grinder, however, uses motorized plates with teeth that are pyramid in shape, allowing for the perfect grind. Better burrs allow for varied coffee grain sizes because the speed can be adjusted accordingly.

The burr allows for the perfect brew. Speed control keeps the heating of the beans low. The big advantage of a burr coffee grinder is that it reduces the beans to a uniform grind. This makes for a better cup of coffee, avoids clogging problems, and gives you the flexibility to grind beans to the coarseness or fineness that best suits the kind of coffee or espresso maker you are using.

For instance, when using a French Press, you want to have a very coarse grind. When using a drip coffee system you’ll set your grinder to give you a coarse grind.

Burrs have two categories. Professionals prefer the conical. It is noisy however. Good ones can go up to 500 rpm. Top quality ones go up to speeds of ten thousand rpm, with their blades spinning at about twenty to thirty thousand rpm.  This allows for fine grinds for Turkish coffee, for example. Some come with a dial for continuous speed adjustments. Others have buttons for some varied 40 different speed adjustments.

Beyond that you should look for ones that are solid in construction, easy to clean and preferably less noisy. They should also include a brush for cleaning and easy to remove upper type burrs (blades). Beware of construction materials that cause static electricity. This can let the grounds stick to the blades and the container.

Other useful features include a timer and an auto-switchoff.  It also helps to be able watch the beans as the grinding takes place. Without this you cannot decide if the grind is ready.  So, try to find one that doesn’t use glass or darkish plastic as this hinders your view. You should be able to judge the grind by its color, but if you cannot see them then this is a problem.

Finally, do your research and read all the reviews you can find about each grinder that interests you before you buy it.  When you find the right one, you will be pleased with the fresh and flavorsome cup of coffee you produce.

Remember that the more features your burr grinder has, the more it will cost. You might check out a few of the ones I have selected above to see if one might fit your budget and offer the features you are looking for.

If you have any questions, leave me a comment. I will answer you back. I hope you are enjoying a nice brew of coffee. Java Girl