Need a coffee grinder? Don't know if you need one?

Good reasons for having your own grinder at home. Discover the coffee grinder Basics

A grinder was the last thing I thought about when my passion for gourmet coffee developed. I did not know any better! If I had, it would have been just about the first on my list....

....Why? Well because part of getting the very best flavor out of the wonderful high quality fresh roasted coffee you have just acquired, is to ensure that it stays as fresh as possible as long as possible. This can be achieved by only grinding when you need to, and only enough for your immediate use. Ensuring that the beans are ground in the correct way for the type of coffee machine you intend using to brew, is also an important aspect of grinding.

Grinding your own beans does not take long, yet the difference it makes will delight you. A brief look at coffee grinders through the ages lets us know how spoilt for choice we are today.

The Evolution of the Coffee Grinder

  • Hammer: If we go back many centuries, a flat rock or a hammer had to suffice. It was a relatively simple matter to break the bean up into small pieces to allow a brew to take place, if somewhat less than scientific in approach.
  • Roll Grinder: People started to realize that a more consistent grind could be attained by utilizing what they already were using for their grains. This method is still used in Turkey where they produce a finely powdered grind for brewing the so-called "Turkish" coffee.
  • Pestle and Mortar:This principle had been used for medicines and herbs and became a reasonably acceptable coffee grinder. I use a lovely stone one (given to me by my son and daughter-in-law) in the kitchen, but for my herbs, not coffee. Oops! Another of my passions exposed.
  • Mechanical Grinder: Less effort required than the pestle and mortar made this a popular method. The added advantage was that it would produce a more consistent grind. These were simply functional, not like their cousins.....
  • Spice Grinder: Similar principle to the mechanical grinder, these were used because most homes already had one. Some of these coffee grinders became quite beautifully decorated and a centerpiece in the home. It is also possible that this is how the concept of mixing spices with coffee originated.
  • Wall Mounted Grinder: Man always finds new and better ways of doing things, so it wasn't long before he realized that the wall would hold the grinder still, better than he could. He also found that he could control the grind by making the coffee grinder adjustable.
  • Electric Coffee Grinder: Even the humble coffee grinders did not escape the advent of electricity. The rising demand for coffee also saw larger commercial grinders replacing the more delicate and beautiful antique coffee grinders.
  • Manual Coffee Grinder: Today we find that there are some wonderful manual grinders around and some of the more discerning coffee lovers even prefer them.

Roll Grinder Pestle and Mortar Early mechanical grinder Spice grinder Early wall mounted grinder

Ornate electric grinder

Good looking manual coffee grinder

Are we not fortunate to be living in times when so much more has been discovered about what contributes toward a really great cup of coffee? In this regard, there are some fundamentals which should be understood, as they are core to producing the type of coffee you would appreciate in your haven.

  • a.) The flavor of the ground coffee is affected by the heat generated while grinding.
  • b.) The brewing process is affected by the consistency of the grind.
  • c.) The most flavor is extracted when the grind is finest. This is simply because there is a greater proportion of the bean exposed to the water.
  • d.) There is greater water resistance when the grind is finer, and therefore more pressure required for water to pass through.
  • e.) The degree of grind needs to be suited to the type of brewer to be used.
  • f.) The flavor of the bean changes most quickly after it has been ground.

A good quality coffee grinder is an essential piece of equipment in a coffee lover’s kitchen. Grinding the beans when needed for brewing produces an enticing aroma and ensures the fresh flavor you deserve. Grinders do not have to be expensive, but they do need to be good. Some coffee makers or espresso machines even have them built in, the so-called "grind and brew coffee maker."

Set your Coffee Grinder for the coffee machine

How fine or how coarse should you grind the beans? There is a direct correlation between the type of brewing equipment you will use and the type of grind required. Different coffee brewing machines are designed to extract flavor and aroma from the coffee in different ways, and this determines the size of the grind required. Here are some guidelines to achieving maximum enjoyment, whatever brewing method you employ.

Very Coarse Grind - Chunky pieces of coffee – used for methods involving steeping of the grinds in hot water. This would include the Percolater, "cowboy" style coffee as well as the Vacuum pot.
Coarse Grind - A little finer, but still chunky – Still steeping methods such as French Press or Plunge type coffee makers. (You can also get away with a medium grind for these methods.)
Medium Grind - A bit gritty – Methods involving the hot water passing through the grinds and out to the pot, such as drip or filter coffee makers. Especially the flat bottomed filter compartment.
Fine Grind - about as fine as table salt – Drip coffee makers with the conical filters. Moka espresso pots as well as some espresso machines, those which have crema enhancing devices.
Very Fine Grind - Ground to a fine powder – Commercial espresso machines and Turkish coffee.

So Now What?

Well now we need to look at the different types of coffee grinders, and the different ways they operate to produce our desired result.

Coffee grinders can be divided into two basic groups - blade grinders and burr grinders. You need to determine how you are going to use your grinder, and that in turn will determine what type you should get and what other functionalities it should have.

Burr coffee grinders are generally considered to be the more effective, as well as giving the more consistent grind. So lets just cut to the chase and get ourselves one.....

.....well you may want to consider price? In general terms the blade grinders will be a bit easier on the pocket.

What about coffee grinders with a "doser"? or if you have no need, then the "doserless" grinder is perfect. Know more about the pro's and con's here!

Manual coffee grinder

These amazing little wonders are indeed a pleasure if you are prepared for the bit of effort required. They are so beautiful, I just love looking at them. Personally I want to get myself one just to see it on display in my kitchen - I would also use it though ;-)

Continue to burr coffee grinders

Continue to blade coffee grinders

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