If you're a coffee enthusiast, you know the process for brewing your cup matters. There's a vast difference between instant coffee, preground coffee, coffee pods, and fresh-ground beans. In the coffee industry, there is a saying, “great coffee is the sum of its parts.” To drink the best cup of coffee possible, you must follow the three Fs - freshly roasted, freshly ground, and freshly brewed. And as a rule, the fresher the grind, the exponentially better the coffee.
Thankfully, you don't have to go to the coffee shop to get the best cup. Instead, you can buy freshly roasted coffee and do your grinding at home. But then the question becomes, what are the best coffee grinders? Fortunately, we've compiled this buying guide to help you make an informed decision. Here's everything you need to know about coffee grinders.
Why get a coffee grinder?
Buying a coffee grinder is an intentional choice that illustrates how you care about the flavor profile of your favorite coffee. Grinding your coffee adds extra steps to your morning routine, but the process is more about the value, not the convenience. Yes, it's easier to use pre-ground coffee or use pods, but you are missing out on the full potential of coffee quality.
Overall, buying freshly roasted coffee and owning a coffee grinder gives you complete control over your coffee beverage quality. You can pick the best beans, such as Lintong Sumatra coffee or other single-origin specialty coffee, and extract the optimal flavor by grinding them yourself. Unfortunately, once coffee beans are ground, they start to oxidize and rapidly degrade in quality. While vacuum sealing can help prevent this breakdown, it can only go so far.
Additionally, you can mix different beans to create your blends. Since coffee grinders ensure consistent grounds, combining other coffee beans is easier. So, if you like the idea of being a coffee chemist and sampling your brews, a coffee grinder is a must.
Types of Coffee Grinders
There are three primary types of coffee grinders: burr, blade, and manual. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, so you have to weigh the pros and cons before making a final decision. Let's break down each grinder type and how it works.
Of the three types of coffee grinders reviewed here, hands down, the burr coffee grinder is the number one choice. A burr coffee grinder delivers the highest quality quickly, and the Baratza Encore is the best burr grinder for the price on the market today. Instead of using blades, this machine crushes the beans with a spiral metal burr. Since the space between the edges stays constant, your coffee grounds will be consistent in size. Having an even coffee grind size is especially important for extracting the most flavor from, say, a Huila Colombian coffee or other specialty coffee.
Another distinct advantage of burr grinders is setting your precise grind level. So, you can choose between coarse or fine coffee grounds, depending on your brew method or water to coffee ratio. Also, since the burr doesn't cut the beans, it lasts longer and doesn't require resharpening. Finally, if you like making large batches of coffee grounds, burr grinders are the preferred option.
However, if you look at the price as an investment in high-quality coffee, it's easier to manage. You can find two types of burr grinders - conical and flat. Both models deliver the same consistency and adjustability. While flat burrs are typically found in high-volume cafes, conical burrs are more common in home settings. The Baratza Encore, the Baratza Sette 270, and the Baratza Sette 270Wi all have conical burr sets and can grind coarse for cold brew or fine enough for espresso.
- Ideal for small or large batches
- Delivers consistent coffee grounds
- Used for all brew methods from Cold Brew and French Press to Espresso
- Adjust the grind setting to your preference
- Fast and efficient
- More expensive than a blade or manual grinders
When talking about price, blade grinders are at the least expensive. These machines resemble blenders or food processors, except they have a stronger motor to grind coffee beans. The blades chop the beans thoroughly, but the results are not always consistent. Variable coffee grind sizes result in an over-extracted cup with an unnecessarily bitter taste. Also, you may have to tap the sides of the grinder to ensure that all the beans get chopped.
Blade grinders are relatively quiet and take up little counter space. So, it's pretty easy to incorporate a blade grinder into your morning routine. Plus, if you don't have much counter space, you can store your grinder easily.
Another point to consider about blade grinders is that they can dull over time. So, once you start noticing larger chunks in your coffee grounds, it's time to sharpen or replace the blades.
- Better than buying preground coffee
- Quieter than other grinder models
- It takes up less space
- More affordable than other models
- It doesn't grind consistently
- Need to resharpen blades regularly
- Over-extracted and bitter flavors
- It does not bring out the full potential of the coffee
If you like getting a workout in the morning, you might want to buy a manual coffee grinder. They require some good old-fashioned elbow grease and require up to five minutes to grind enough for one cup of coffee. However, you can bring a manual grinder on your next camping trip because it doesn't require electricity.
Realistically, manual grinders are best for brewing methods that don't require fine coffee grounds like espresso. So, if you're using a French press or a batch of cold brew, this method works well but takes a lot more time and effort. That said, some high-end manual grinders allow you to adjust the size and shape of the coffee grounds, giving you more versatility and reliability.
- Doesn't require electricity
- Great for camping
- Some models allow you to adjust the grind level
- Low maintenance because of fewer moving parts
- Relatively quiet operation
- Extremely slow
- Requires quite a lot of effort
What type of coffee grinder should I get?
Now that you know the benefits and downsides of each type of coffee grinder, you have to figure out which option works best for your needs. Also, consider that you can buy multiple grinders for different situations. For example, maybe you have a manual grinder for traveling and a burr grinder for everyday home use.
Let's break down some important factors to consider before making a final decision:
- Convenience - Burr grinders are generally the fastest, but blade grinders are a close second.
- Consistency - Burr grinders and manual grinders will deliver consistent results every time.
- Price - Manual and blade grinders are the most affordable. So, if you're on a tight budget, you might have to sacrifice quality and consistency.
Overall, burr grinders are best for high-quality coffee grounds, blade grinders are best for the price, and manual grinders are best if you are traveling or in a place without electricity.
What else should I know about coffee grinders?
Just because you buy a high-quality coffee grinder doesn't mean you'll get the best cup every time. There's a bit of science and art involved in the brewing process, so you might have to engage in some trial and error. Here are some tips and tricks to get the most out of your machine:
- Keep Your Grinder Clean - Yes, it's a hassle to clean the device every day, but oils can break down the metal components if you don't. Also, leftover coffee grounds can clog the machine and overload the electric motor. We recommend a quick cleaning daily and a deep cleaning once a month, depending on how often you use your grinder.
- Match the Grind Size to Your Brewing Method - Fine coffee grounds are best for espresso, while coarse grounds are ideal for cold brew coffee. The more you understand the size your coffee grounds need to be for different coffees, the better the results. In this case, doing your homework can yield some impressive beverages.
- Adapt to Your Grinder - Coffee grinders can develop habits over time. For example, you may have to leave the machine running longer than what the manufacturer recommends. You should take the time to learn the ins and outs of your appliance. Over time, you'll determine the best methods to get the right grind size every time.
- Never Leave Your Grinder Wet - When cleaning your device, be sure to avoid any moisture on the metal. Grinders can rust relatively easily, and you don't want to throw your investment away because of a few drops of water. Never put your grinder away before it's fully dry.
- Use High-Quality Beans - If you're going through the trouble of grinding your coffee, why use subpar beans? Instead, buy from high-quality roasters and start drinking the really good stuff.
Where to Buy Coffee Grinders
Fortunately, it's never been easier to buy coffee grinders. Once you've determined the best grinder for your needs, you can compare different models and make your final purchase in one of a couple of different ways:
- Department Stores - Places like Target have a decent selection of coffee grinders on display. However, seeing these machines in person is often better so you can get a sense of how they look and feel. This option is best if you want to avoid the potential hassle of returning an item to an online retailer.
- Online Retailers - Amazon is the most well-known, but keep in mind that many knock-off brands are out there. So, it's hard to know whether you're getting a genuine machine or not. So, instead, it might be better to buy from a supplier directly. For instance, here at Peach Coffee Roasters, we are an authorized Baratza reseller and offer a wide variety of Baratza coffee grinders to suit your needs.
Grinding your coffee is a rewarding experience, and you'll notice an immediate difference in the quality of your brew, whether it’s an award-winning, single-origin Yirgacheffe Ethiopia coffee or a simple house blend.
Now that you're armed with this information, freshly roasted and freshly brewed coffee is waiting for you with help from Peach Coffee Roasters! Contact us today at (770) 360-9071 or visit us in person at our Johns Creek or West Atlanta Midtown locations. Stay Peachy!