Updated: Apr 20, 2020
This post was supposed to follow on the heels of our March 9th post on grinding your own coffee. Then the world changed. Please bear with us as we get back on track...
Last month we leveled with you about buying pre-ground coffee. We also told you that, to brew the best coffee at home, it's best to grind your own at home. And THEN we told you expressly, in no uncertain terms, should you EVER use an at-home blade grinder to grind your coffee.
We hear you. "For the love of beans, would you just tell us what we need to know?"
Yes. Yes we will. Here is Jared's detailed explanation:
Burr Grinder Basics
The most important characteristic of a good-quality at-home coffee grinder is it's grinding mechanism:
Blade grinder = bad.
Burr grinder = good.
A burr grinder grinds coffee beans between two pieces of metal or ceramic with sharpened ridges. Do you have a pepper grinder at home? Perhaps a salt grinder too? Of course you do, we're civilized people after all. Those are burr grinders. They give consistently sized grinds and are usually adjustable. A coffee burr grinder works the same way but with more precision and larger capacity.
Consistent grind size is critical to a really good cup of coffee. It's all about extraction. You want to extract just the right amount of soluble compounds into your coffee water and you want to extract the same amount from each particle. Larger grinds take more time to extract and smaller grinds take less. Too small for your brewing method and you can extract too much, leading to bitter, unpleasant flavors. Too large for your method leads to a weak, under extracted brew. You need consistent grind size.
A blade grinder simply cuts whatever size particle hits the blade. Large pieces get cut in half and small pieces get cut in half, so the end result is some pieces are too small and some are too large. You can end up with the worst of both scenarios in your cup. Blade-ground brewed coffee can be both over-extracted and under-extracted in the same brew. Nobody wants that. Burr grinder for the win!
In addition, burr grinders are not one-size-fits-all. For example, our commercial grinder can churn out three pounds of ground coffee in 90 seconds. That might be just a little excessive for, well, most people. To help you navigate through the sea of options, we've selected our top five grinders based on quality, efficiency, cost, and consistency of grind. Each of these, in our opinion, represents the best value in its price range.
1. Chefman Electric Burr Mill
This is a good starting point if you're on a tighter budget, new to grinding your own or stepping up from a blade grinder. It's not perfect, but it will seriously step up your coffee quality.
2. JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
This will give you even more consistent grind size but with the caveat that you're doing more of the work yourself as this is a manual grinder. It's a little more work, but some people really grow to appreciate this little coffee ritual. It's also good in a power failure.
3. Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical Burr Grinder
This Capresso model has been a long-standing favorite of specialty coffee fans for good reason. It will give you consistently ground for years and, at under a hundred dollars, is still relatively affordable.
4. OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
This model will give you a nice consistent grind size, with hopper that will grind 12 ounces of coffee with one fill. It comes in at just a few dollars more than the Capresso. I have this one at home and have used it daily for nearly a year with no complaints.
5. Breville BCG820BSSXL
This Breville is a nice step up from the other models. I have owned this one as well and it gives a little more consistent grind than the previous models, it also looks nice enough to leave on the counter. It has nice electronics, tons of grind settings and overall just more bells and whistles than the rest.
So there you have it. If you really want to up your at-home coffee brewing game, a burr grinder is the way to go. If you have any questions about grinders or anything else, don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. We'll never recommend anything we haven't thoroughly researched and tried, but you should know that if you make a purchase via one of these links, we will receive a small commission.