The Much Maligned Blade Coffee Grinder!

All the pros and cons of the blade coffee grinder

The blade grinder is an implement which gets a pretty rough time from the coffee gurus, rightly or wrongly? Well you must decide for yourself.

What is fact, is that it clearly does NOT do as good a job as the burr grinders. It is up to you and I to decide what kind of quality we require and at what cost.

An example of a blade grinder

The Blade Coffee Grinder

Blade grinders are probably found more commonly than the burr grinders, simply because they are the least expensive type of grinder.

It consists of a cylindrical grinding chamber which has a sharp metal blade that spins at a very high and consistent speed. The fineness of the grind is determined by how long the machine is allowed to continue running. The blade coffee grinder works on the same principle as a kitchen blender, chopping the beans into pieces which get progressively smaller and smaller.

These grinders have an advantage in their low purchase price.

They also have some disadvantages.

First disadvantage:

The inconsistency of the grind. Coffee beans are ground in order that the flavor is more easily extracted by the hot water. In general terms, the various brew processes use different methods of extracting these precious oils. The coarser the grind, the longer brew time is required. Now if the grind is not uniform, you end up with some particles extracting too much and some possibly too little of the oils.

This uneveness tends to produce a bit of "coffee dust" as well as the more even grind. This is a potential problem for some methods such as espresso, where the fine dust could clog the filters and even damage them. Because of this, blade grinders tend to be used more commonly with drip or filter coffee makers, where the paper filter prevents the smaller dusty bits from passing through.

Second disadvantage:

With the high speed of the cutting blades, there tends to be a bit of heat transferance, which has the effect of starting an early release of the aromatic oils. So why is this a problem, we are going to heat the coffee anyway? Well that is true, but then I would prefer that flavor and aroma to end up in my cup, rather than escape during the grinding! Some say that the heat build up also burns the coffee.

But we should not let all the "negative talk" about this type of coffee grinder put us off. After all they are used quite successfully by many!

If you are looking to break into the area of home grinding, I would not frown upon the blade grinder just because of all the "guru" talk. Most gurus will concede that anyone but a professional is not likely to taste much difference, if any.

One sees this expression all over, but it bears repeating here; "It may not the best choice of coffee grinder, but it's still much better than using stale ground coffee."

To prove the point, look at what is said about just one of the new breed of blade grinders, the Bodum Antigua Electric Coffee Grinder.

Bodum Antigua Grinder

"Preventing coffee from losing its characteristic taste and aroma is the essential element in grinding coffee. Bodum has spent considerable time on research and cooperated with some of the world's most knowledgeable coffee specialists to create the Antigua. Using a very sharp hand forged blade, such as you find in professional grinders at your coffee supplier, the coffee is cut rather than crushed. And by providing the Antigua with special Bodum developed gearing so as not to overheat the beans, we have made the true professional grinder coffee connoisseurs have been looking for. Measuring 8 by 10.5 inches, the Bodum design department has scaled this professional grinder down to the smallest possible size to fit in your kitchen. Although big enough for 1 pound of coffee beans! The grinder can be adjusted from a coarse French press setting to a fine Italian espresso setting. Bodum's Antigua takes all kinds of roasts, from the very dark oily espressos to the lighter and dryer roasts of filter coffee. The Antigua is also equipped with a timer-switch allowing you to grind any amount of coffee up to 8 cups at a time."

...Or... have a look at the KitchenAid BCG100OB Blade Coffee Grinder

KitchenAid BCG100OB Blade Coffee Grinder

"Stainless steel blade easily grinds beans. Machine turns on when you push down on clear polycarbonate cover & off again when it's released. As a protective feature, the grinder only operates when the top is in place, so fingers are never exposed to moving blades! Designed for frequent use. Easy to clean--both its bowl and top cover are dishwasher safe. Brushed stainless steel bowl with etched measure markings. Clear pulse top cover. Dual interlock system. Pulse control. Heavy duty motor. Round power cord."

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