Guide to Coffee Grinders
HOW GRINDERS AFFECT COFFEE
Grinding coffee is a violent thing. The coffee is taken from its nice friendly home in its bag or can and put into a bean hopper, which by itself is not a bad place. But then the grinder is turned on and you immediately hear the sound of the motor and the burrs spinning wildly as the coffee starts to be ground into small particles. This is where the action takes place and is the start of your coffee experience.
The final result of your espresso/coffee will depend upon how evenly your coffee is ground and it’s final temperature after grinding. Yes that’s right, as the coffee is ground it will pick up heat and the more heat your coffee picks up the more adversely it will affect your final product. If you are only grinding enough for a double shot the coffee will not pick up much heat from any grinder. The more coffee you grind the hotter the coffee gets due to the grinding burrs and surrounding parts getting hotter.
Another possible byproduct of grinding coffee may be the dreaded static charge that can cause the ground coffee to literally jump out of the ground coffee container. You would have to see it to believe it. Have you ever noticed your hair standing on end after donning your wool sweater? No it’s not a ghost, it’s a static charge.
The static charge forms when the coffee is ground and then forced through a chute and into a receptacle. Factors that affect this ghostly phenomenon are the speed of the grinding burrs, the way in which the coffee exits through the chute, humidity, temperature and the coffee itself. It is pretty hard to control most of these factors but it is easy to control which grinder you purchase. As a rule, the grinders that produce the most static charge and add the most heat to your fresh ground coffee are the high-speed grinders.
Different types of espresso/coffee machines are designed to extract flavor and aroma from the coffee in a different way. Therefore they require a different size grind. The following will provide guidelines to help you understand what you will need to get the best out of your espresso/coffee machine.
French Press - Very Coarse.
Pour Over - Coarse.
Drip Coffee - Between Coarse and Fine.
Siphon - Fine.
Portafilter - Very Fine.
Turkish Coffee - Extremely Fine.
BURR vs BLADE
Blade grinders don’t grind consistently for making quality coffee drinks. They have a blade similar to that of a propeller that chops the coffee beans. The fineness of the grind is determined by how long you let the grinder operate via a built in timer. The longer it grinds the finer the coffee becomes.
The negatives of a blade grinder are that the grind can vary from powder to chunks and the coffee picks up a static charge, which will make it stick to just about everything and is therefore is very messy. For these reasons, we do not recommend blade grinders.
The burrs are the part of the grinder that crushes the coffee beans into a uniform size which is essential for creating an awesome espresso/coffee. There are two different burr grinders, conical or flat plate.
Conical Burr Grinders have two cone shaped burrs with ridges that grind/crush the coffee. Flat Plate Burr Grinders have two identical and parallel rings that are serrated on the side that faces the other. Both burr grinders have one stationary burr while the motor turns the other. The beans are drawn in between the two burrs and crushed into a uniform size. Both types of grinders are known for their flexibility and quality. You really can’t go wrong with either one.
Both style of burrs are used in home and commercial grinders. They produce a consistent grind worthy of any high end or home espresso machine. The conical burrs are usually used on the very low-speed gear reduction grinders. The flat plate burrs are used on all qualities of grinders, from the low priced high-speed grinders all the way up to the low-speed direct drive commercial grade grinders.
High-speed burr grinders may still heat the coffee like a blade grinder, but offer the user more control in deciding on the grind size. They also produce a pretty consistent grind. These grinders are generally referred to as "direct drive" grinders because the motor is attached directly to the burrs causing them to turn at the same speed.
At the top of the list are the low-speed burr grinders. Since this type is the "Cadillac" of grinders, once you get one you’ll never go back. Low-speed grinders offer the advantages of little or no static charge, very little heat, quiet operation and the motor does not bog down or clog up when grinding very fine. Low-speed grinders also come with either flat burrs or conical burrs and can be broken down into two categories, "direct drive" or "gear reduction" grinders.
designed to collect the ground coffee into what we call the ground coffee container and then, with the pull of a handle, dispense it directly into your receptacle, such as a portafilter. The ground coffee container looks like a pie that is cut into six equally shaped pieces called sections. The ground coffee exits the grinding burrs through the chute and drops into these sections. These sections rotate around and when they reach the front of the grinder the coffee drops through a hole and into your receptacle. The rotation is controlled by means of a handle (one pull turns it one sixth of a rotation). The amount of coffee that the sections can hold is usually about 6 to 7 grams (one shot). With the Mazzer Mini and Pasquini Moka you can adjust the dose per pull to around 5.5 to 9 grams.
There are two styles of stepped adjustment grinders. They are the "Self Holding" and "Lever Release." The reason that manufactures make "stepped" adjustments is because they need a way to lock the setting into place after the adjustment is made. Otherwise, as the grinder operates the grind setting could change.
On the "Self Holding" grinders you will either turn the bean hopper or an adjustment knob to adjust your grind setting. As you turn it you will hear and feel a "click" as the setting is locked into place. With each click you are changing the fineness setting one level.
The latter, you have to push down a release lever and then turn the bean hopper to adjust the fineness setting. You will not hear any clicks as it turns. When you let go of the release lever it will snap into place and lock the bean hopper/setting into place.
With stepless adjustment grinders you have an infinite number of setting you can adjust your grind to. You can adjust the setting as little or as much as you like. There are no preset spots that the grind setting will stop at like the on grinders with stepped adjustment.