Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Grinders For The Best Coffee And The Best Espresso Makers

By Ron Frey

For coffee and espresso drinkers alike there are several choices when selecting a grinder. Some grinders may be suitable for drip coffee only while other, more expensive grinders are great for drip, French press and even for the best espresso makers. Today we will create a basic understanding of these grinders and their applications so that consumers of these coffee grinders can make the best possible selection. The coffee makers today are classified two different ways. One way is the mode of operation, and that is either manual or electrical. The second way to classify them is by the type of grinding mechanisms used and they are burr or blade.

The first mode of operation is really straight forward and self-explanatory. The manual grinders operate by means of turning a hand crank on top of the mechanism which rotates the burrs against a plate thus grinding the coffee beans. There is some human energy required as some of the finer grinds can take up to 250 turns of the crank and as long as 2 minutes for 14-20 grams of coffee. The better quality grinders produce a very good grind and are capable of the entire range from the extra fine Turkish grind all the way to the extra coarse French Press.

The second mode of operation is equally simple. Electric grinders are powered by small electric motors and use no personal assistance or effort. As stated earlier electric grinders utilize two different types of grinding mechanisms which are the burr and the blade. These grinders are available in a wide selection and price range.

When it comes to the grinding mechanisms the blade type is really suited for drip (percolated) coffee only. The coarseness of the coffee is determined by the amount of time spent with the blade turning in the container of beans. The time required for a certain grind is somewhat guess-work and can lead to inconsistent results. The contact between the blade and the coffee beans is also random just by the nature of the operation and this will lead to some very fine grinds mixed with some very coarse grinds. Because of the irregularities the blade grinder is fine for drip coffees and the French Press but not for finer grinds for espresso's and certainly not for a Turkish.

The burr grinding mechanism on the other hand is the machine that has a very consistent grind. This mechanism consists of a rotating burr wheel either flat or conical and a stationary wheel. Because the coffee beans all have to go through the same size space between the rotating burrs and a stationary plate they are all ground very consistent in size and even shape. The burr grinder is also less likely to transfer excess heat to the coffee because it runs at a slower speed than the blade grinder.

Keep in mind that all burr grinders do not do all things. There are some on the market that are fairly inexpensive and are not suited for the finer grinds. Some may not have as many adjusting increments as you would like. Having said that it your choice really depends on your criteria and how much is in your budget. Without a doubt, for the true coffee aficionado or espresso maker the burr type grinder whether it be a high quality manual or electric is the way to go. If your favorite coffee is either a drip or French Press than you can find either a blade or burr grinder to meet your needs.

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