Choosing The Perfect Coffee Grinder

 

Introduction

That ritualistic morning cup of coffee has become a necessity to most people in today’s society, but just how many people out there are actually drinking real coffee? We don’t mean that jar of instant stuff that is sitting at the back of the shelf in the kitchen – we mean good, freshly made and real coffee.

Here at E-Review, we know our stuff when it comes to coffee grinders, and what it takes to make an honest-to-goodness good cup of joe. We’ll be taking a closer look at different coffee  grinders such as the Delonghi home grinder and the Breville SMART grinder to name a few. So, trust us when we tell you that your gloom-and-doom Monday mornings will seem like a Friday breeze with one of every coffee-lover’s dream machines.

Why Are They So Popular?

That seems to be the biggest question on everyone’s mind – “why are they so popular all of a sudden?” There is a very simple answer to that, it’s just because they are exceptionally great machines! However, if that doesn’t answer your question, here are a few admirable qualities of the coffee grinder that may make you fall head-over-heels in love:

  • Within a coffee bean is around 800 different flavour components. These include all the natural oils, original flavours and the beautiful aromas, such as: floral, fruity, warming and ashy. A coffee grinder is a medium that allows you to convert those coffee beans, without disturbing any of their natural elements, into a ground powder.
  • Depending on the size of powder that you want for your coffee, or that is required for your method of brewing, a coffee grinder has multiple settings that can grind your coffee beans to perfection.
  • Once you get your hands on that perfect coffee grinder, you’ll never want to pay the extortionate prices at your local Starbucks again – especially when you have your very own private café in your kitchen.

Important Factors

Before you go running off to pick up that coffee grinder we all know you’re dying for at this point, it is very important to know what is important when choosing your grinder:

  • When using a coffee grinder as a medium to convert your coffee beans into grounds, it is important to know the setting needed for your specific coffee, so as not to burn or taint the taste of the grounds.
  • As well as knowing the setting needed for your coffee, your coffee grinder must have a decent number of measurable adjustments, so that you can vary the grind to being coarser or finer – as required.
  • The adjustment settings on the coffee grinder must also be stable, so that you are able to replicate the size of your coffee grind every time, without error.

Which Coffee Grinder Is Right For Which Brew Method?

Unless you have done your research, it can be difficult to jump straight into the world of coffee grinders. Especially when you discover that not every coffee grinder can/should be used for varying brew methods that are out there. At E-Review, though, we have done our fair share of research to help you find what is right for you:

Brew Method:

  • Medium – Drip Coffee Makers (flat bottom filters).
    • Size – Similar to grains of sand.
  • Fine – Drip Coffee Makers (cone filters).
    • Size – A little finer than sugar or table salt, has a smooth feel.
  • Coarse – French Press, Vacuum Coffee Pots and Percolator.
    • Size – Similar to that of kosher salt.
  • Extra Fine – Espresso Machines.
    • Size – Is smaller than sugar, but does not have a powdered consistency.
  • Fine – Espresso Moka Pots.
    • Size – A little finer than sugar or table salt, has a smooth feel.
  • Turkish – Ibrik.
    • Size – Similar to the consistency of flour, has a powdered texture.

How Much Should I Be Spending?

How much you will be spending really just comes down to the coffee brew method that you will be using. If you’re wanting thinner grinds, you’re generally going to be looking at a higher price. The cost of the coffee will increase as the reliability improves. Reliability includes the ease of repeatability of your coffee grounds and being able to transfer as little heat to the coffee grounds when grinding them. Another thing to remember is whether or not you will be wanting to change/upgrade your coffee grinder apparatus. If so, make sure that you are budgeting, so that you are able to include these costs right away or even later on.

  • £25 to £150 – Entry level coffee grinders will cover fine, medium and coarse brew methods.
  • £150 to £300 – Extra fine and fine-espresso moka pots.
  • £300 to £1500 – The biggest price variation. For the very much advanced users, that are using more advanced methods and purchasing high-end products.

How To Choose Your Coffee Grinder

When it comes to choosing your perfect coffee grinder, it can be quite difficult, so knowing your stuff is key! There are two classes of coffee grinder, blade and burr. When purchasing your grinder, it is best to know which one you should opt for:

  • Blade – When using a blade grinder, your coffee grounds can come out very unevenly. This is due to the fact that, if a single blade is spinning extremely fast to chop the beans, there is no way to prevent some beans from turning to dust before others have even been cut in half. As a cheap option, it is an option, but should be avoided if you are looking for a good quality product.
  • Burr – On the other hand, burrs work by using two serrated pieces of metal (or sometimes ceramic) that are positioned a specific distance apart from each other (depending on the grind) and rotate to crush the beans to your specific wanted size. Burr coffee grinders often cost quite a bit more than blade grinders, but offer a quality that you just can’t get from any other kind of grinder out there. They are also the more popular option.

Where To Find Coffee Grinders Online

Rather than go searching around for a specific coffee grinder that you may not even be able to find, it could always be helpful to look around online instead. This way, you can look out for good deals without even having to leave the comfort of your own home! Here are some of our favourite sites to find the best of the best:

  • amazon.co.uk
  • onlinecoffeeshop.co.za
  • ebay.co.uk
  • overstock.com
  • starbucks.com
  • argos.com

Our Top Picks

If you’re just embarking on the journey of discovering real, good coffee, it might be difficult to get your head around what it is that you need to be buying. Luckily, here at E-Review, we decided to do the research for you and show off our top 5 coffee grinders out there:

Capresso 560 Infinity

*check list*

  • Price – £535.45
  • Grind Settings – 16
  • Colours Available – Stainless, Brushed Silver, Black
  • Dimensions – 14.6 x 9.6 x 7.8 (inches)
  • Weight – 4 pounds
  • Shipping Weight – 4.2 pounds
  • Bean Hopper Capacity – 8 ½ oz
  • Motor Power – 100 Watts
  • Grinding Speed (RPM of Burrs) – 420 RPMs
  • Warranty – 1 Year
  • Suitable Applications – Coffee Press / Drip Coffee
  • Rating – 4.2 out of 5 stars

 


PROS:

  • It produces consistent coffee grounds with 16 settings for all brewing methods.
  • The gear reduction motor grinds at less than 450 RPMs that generates less noise and less heat and static. More aroma and flavor are retained as a result.
  • It’s very affordable for a conical burr grinder, and is simple to use and to adjust the grinding dials.
  • Large range of grind capabilities (pressurized espresso to French press).
  • The coffee receptacle is removable for dosing coffee grounds to a portafilter directly to save time.
  • The compact size won’t take much counter space.

CONS:

  • There is no built-in doser other than holding a portafilter under the dispensing spout.
  • It’s impossible to switch coffee without dumping all the beans from turning the unit upside down.
  • Cleaning requires that you take the burrs apart and it’s somewhat time-consuming.


 

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Breville BCG800XL Smart Grinder

*check list*

  • Price – £179.99
  • Grind Settings – 25
  • Colours Available – Silver, Black Sesame, Cranberry Red
  • Dimensions – 15.5 x 6 x 8.25 (inches)
  • Weight – 6.2 pounds
  • Shipping Weight – 9.2 pounds
  • Bean Hopper Capacity – 16 oz
  • Motor Power – 165 Watts
  • Grinding Speed (RPM of Burrs) – 500 RPMs
  • Warranty – 1 Year
  • Suitable Applications – Coffee Press / Drip Coffee / Espresso / Fine Drip-Pour Over
  • Rating – 4.0 out of 5 stars

 


PROS:

  • Stainless steel burrs for durability and the upper burrs are easily lifted out for cleaning by a simple switch.
  • Adjustable grind settings for different fineness and Dosing IQ technology for different dosing amount based on the selected setting. Different options for dispensing into the coffee container, portafilter or dripped filter without much mess.
  • Large bean hopper that can be taken out without emptying all the beans.
  • Consistent grounds comparable to Italian made grinders, and minimal noise that doesn’t have to disturb other during grinding.
  • Excellent User Guide, YouTube Video and How-to Instructions by Breville.
  • It gives Minimum Time to Grind Double Shot.

CONS:

  • Not the best for dark oily beans.
  • Only 25 grind settings.
  • It is a little bit expensive.


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Baratza Encore

*check list*

  • Price – £140.00
  • Grind Settings – 40
  • Colours Available – Black
  • Dimensions – 13.7 x 6.2 x 4.7 (inches)
  • Weight – 7 pounds
  • Shipping Weight – 8.4 pounds
  • Bean Hopper Capacity – 8 oz
  • Motor Power – 160 Watts
  • Grinding Speed (RPM of Burrs) – 450 RPMs
  • Warranty – 1 Year
  • Suitable Applications – Coffee Press / Drip Coffee / Espresso / Fine Drip-Pour Over
  • Rating – 4.1 out of 5 stars

 


PROS:

  • Very affordable burr grinder providing great value for the money.
  • Grinds consistent coffee for all brewing methods with 40 grind settings.
  • Small footprint that doesn’t require a lot of counter space.
  • Idiot-proof to operate and maintain.
  • Responsive and excellent customer service.

CONS:

  • No timer or automatic dosing mechanism.
  • Doesn’t work well with oily beans.
  • Reported poor packaging resulting in Missing-in-Action (MIA) upon delivery.


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Baratza Virtuoso

*check list*

  • Price – £210.00
  • Grind Settings – 40
  • Colours Available – Silver, Black
  • Dimensions – 13.7 x 4.7 x 6.2 (inches)
  • Weight – 8 pounds
  • Shipping Weight – 8.6 pounds
  • Bean Hopper Capacity – 8 oz
  • Motor Power – 450160 Watts
  • Grinding Speed (RPM of Burrs) – 450 RPMs
  • Warranty – 1 Year
  • Suitable Applications – Coffee Press / Drip Coffee / Espresso / Fine Drip-Pour Over
  • Rating – 4.3 out of 5 stars

 


PROS:

  • Consistent grind for different brewing methods and fine enough for espresso.
  • 40-settings to fine tune the grind size to fit your needs.
  • Quieter and less static with the anti-static property in the coffee receptacle.
  • Well-designed and made in a compact size, and is easy to operate, and clean.
  • Baratza’s commitment to its excellent customer service and replacement parts are readily available and affordable.

CONS:

  • Hopper not removable that makes changing beans quite cumbersome.
  • Smaller ground coffee container not best for grinding a large quantity of beans.
  • No micro-adjustments are possible on the Preciso, Vario or Forte grinders.
  • Lacks programmable settings.


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Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill

*check list*

  • Price – £53.00
  • Grind Settings – 18
  • Colours Available – Stainless
  • Dimensions – 10.8 x 7.1 x 6 (inches)
  • Weight – 4.5 pounds
  • Shipping Weight – 4.7 pounds
  • Bean Hopper Capacity – 8 oz
  • Motor Power – 150 Watts
  • Grinding Speed (RPM of Burrs) – 420 RPMs
  • Warranty – 18 Months
  • Suitable Applications – Coffee Press / Drip Coffee
  • Rating – 4.2 out of 5 stars

 


PROS:

  • Heavy duty motor and automatic shut-off feature.
  • Ultra-fine to coarse 18-position grind selector.
  • Removable 8-ounce bean hopper.
  • Is easy to operate and can be cleaned with little effort.

CONS:

  • Grind is not entirely even (some grind is larger than it should be).
  • Static from the grinder attracts dust.


 

How To Set A Coffee Grinder

Setting Your Coffee Grinder

On a grinder, there are two burrs that are placed on top of each other, that are used to grind up your coffee beans. The distance that is between each of these burrs is what definitively defines the fineness of the coffee grinds that you will get. The closer the burrs are together, the finer the grind.

While the bottom burr is connected to the bottom of the grinder and cannot be changed, the top burr can be moved clockwise and anticlockwise, and is connected to the top of the grinder. To be able to adjust the distance of the burrs in the grinder, sometimes coffee grinders will have a dial with numbers to indicate the distance between burrs (the lowest number showing as the finest setting). Move the top burr towards a higher number to be able to increase the distance between the blades. Other coffee grinders, instead of having numbers, will have instructions to illustrate which direction is finer or coarser.

Testing Your Settings

The best way to check how well your settings work is by testing the fineness of the grind via making a double espresso. We know that the DeLonghi home grinder produces the most consistent results with the burr grinding wheel, testing the results is the only way to confirm its performance. Firstly, ensure that there is the correct amount of coffee in the filter to be able to make the drink. If the extraction takes under 20 seconds, then the grind will be too coarse and the coffee itself will be under-extracted. However, if extraction takes over 30 seconds, it will mean that the grind is too fine, meaning that the coffee will be over-extracted. Extraction should be between 20 and 30 seconds. These will be easier to figure out with the Breville SMART grinder though since it boasts of 60 precise grinding settings.

The problem with having under-extracted coffee is that the water will filter through too easily. In order to correct this, move the burrs closer together in order to create a finer grind. This must be done very carefully, though, by only setting the burrs one click at a time. Remember: the slightest movement can make the biggest difference.

Care And Maintenance

Why Should I Keep My Equipment Clean?

  • Rather than have an old and used looking coffee grinder, your equipment should always look new and shiny. Family, friends and customers may see your home or shop as a dirty place otherwise, and set you up with some low standards.
  • Resins will be able to circulate around your coffee grinder, giving your coffee some unwanted bitterness.
  • Impurities will sit in the equipment, meaning that when you want to make your favourite cup of coffee, there will be an unpleasant stale smell/taste due to a buildup of oils.
  • By keeping care of your coffee grinder, it will extend its life, meaning you get your money’s worth!
  • By not maintaining the cleanliness of your equipment, limescale can build up, which could cause your machine to break down, leaving you prematurely buying a new grinder.

How Should I Know When To Clean My Equipment?

  • When the coffee grinder is significantly slower than when you first purchased it.
  • When someone uses flavoured coffee beans in your grinder which is not intended for flavoured coffees.
  • When the taste of your coffee starts to taste like a variation of tastes that weren’t intended for that grind.

Cleaning Tips:

  1. Make sure that you’re regularly cleaning out your coffee grinder, to prevent any damage or lack of quality in coffee. This should be done roughly once a month, depending on how much you use it.
    1. Set your coffee grinder to Espresso settings, and add white uncooked rice. Keep putting rice through the grinder until it comes out as clean as it went in (should look similar to snow).
    2. Unplug the grinder, and clean any plastic parts. Remove the plastic reservoirs from the top and side of the grinder. The best way to clean is to just wipe them down with a damp cloth. This will remove any coffee buildup. Then, stick them in the dishwasher to ensure it has been cleaned thoroughly.
    3. Move onto cleaning any metal parts. These pieces must be kept dry! Do not spray anything into the grinder. Instead, locate a clean and dry toothbrush/paintbrush (preferably with a slightly stiff bristle). Use the brush to dislodge any any coffee grounds and oils that are inside the grinder. Then, turn the grinder over and slap on the sides. Lots of grounds should come flying from the interior. Repeat this process until no more grinds come out.
    4. If more oils remain on the plastic parts after they have been put in the dishwasher, it is time to deep-clean with Q-Tips. If the oil doesn’t want to budge, try damping the Q-Tips in soapy water. Just make sure that the water does not come into contact with any metal, and that the soap doesn’t get left behind. You can also clean the outside of the grinder with soapy water on a damp cloth, or by spraying a cleaner onto a paper towel prior to cleaning the parts of the grinder that will not be in contact with the coffee.
    5. Finally, it’s time to reassemble the grinder and run a test grind. At this point, your coffee grinder should be in pristine condition and run like a champion! We would suggest that you make a quick throw-away coffee. This is so that, if there does happen to be any left-over rice left in the coffee grinder, it is near impossible for any grains to get their way into your next cup of joe.
  1. Give your grinder some weekly attention.
    1. Remove any grit. Firstly, take out the hopper and begin with a good vacuuming. This can be done with any vacuum that has a wand extension. However, if that option is not available to you, and you don’t want to go out and spend any big money, forcing air into the spaces with a can of compressed air can work too. Also, at this point it can be beneficial to check the chute that your coffee beans are dispensed from too. If it is clogged, or coated with coffee, you can rustle it loose with a finger or small object, then use air to dislodge anything remaining.
    2. Make sure to keep it from being clogged with grease! Since the plastic surfaces can retain coffee oils and other gunk, it is best to remove the bean hopper and wipe down the inside walls thoroughly. If your grinder has a removable grinds chamber, now would be a good time to wipe that down too, especially in all the corners.
    3. Clean your burrs! Burrs can be removed from many grinders quite easily by simply turning the collared outer ring and then lifting the outer burrs outwards. By holding up the burr set, you will easily be able to see any accumulated coffee that is stuck to the ridges of the inner ring. Scrub this away with a toothbrush or other bristled object. Make sure, though, that the brush is dry!
    4. It is recommended that you remove the hopper and chamber weekly, wash with soap and water, and give the burrs a quick scrub.

Beans: How To Choose

While a Delonghi home grinder produces a uniform ground texture, or the Breville SMART grinder which has 60 precise grinding settings, no machine will be able to compensate for a low-quality or stale product. To counter this, here are a few steps to make sure that you are getting the most out of your coffee grinder:

  • Try to find recent roasted beans of a good quality and use the freshest roast that you can find (a few weeks of the roast date). The coffee beans should have a thin layer of oil still on the bean itself.
  • Search in specialty food stores, coffee shops, or online for a good product.

Recipes

  • Espresso Macchiato:
    • Espresso – 1 shot
    • Foamed Milk – 1-2 tablespoons
  • Pour one shot of espresso coffee into a demitasse cup, and top it with 1-2 tablespoons of foamed milk, for added flavour.
  • Espresso Doppio (Double Espresso):
    • Espresso – 2 shots
  • Double the amount of a single espresso for people that want double the pleasure. Usually served in a cappuccino cup.
  • Espresso con Panna:
    • Espresso – 1-2 shots
    • Whipped Cream
  • Depending on the person’s requirements, either one or two shots of espresso is usually used for this recipe. Then, the shot(s) will be topped with a preferred amount of whipped cream.
  • Espresso Romano:
    • Espresso – 1 shot
    • Fresh Lemon Peel – As Required
  • While it’s not a traditional Italian coffee, it is often served within the US. A single shot of espresso topped with fresh lemon peel.
  • Spicy Viennese Espresso:
    • Espresso – 2 shots
    • Ground Cinnamon – ½ tablespoon
    • Ground Cloves – 4
    • Allspice – ½ tablespoon
    • Whipped Cream – As Required
  • Mix together the shots of espresso, cinnamon, ground cloves and allspice. Top with a preferred amount of whipped cream.
  • Cappuccino:
    • Espresso – 60 ml
    • Steamed Milk – 60 ml
    • Foam – 60 ml
  • Traditionally, the cappuccino is crafted with ⅓ espresso, ⅓ steamed milk, and ⅓ foam. It is then garnished with a light sprinkle of ground chocolate, nutmeg or cinnamon.
  • Mocha Cappuccino:
    • Espresso – 60 ml
    • Steamed Milk – 120 ml
    • Cocoa or Chocolate Syrup – 1-2 tablespoons
  • Mix in the cocoa or chocolate syrup into the steamed milk into a cup, then add the espresso for an added kick.

 

  • Black Eye:
    • Drip Coffee (American Style) – 1 cup
    • Espresso – 2 shots
  • Mix in a double shot of espresso to one cup of American style drip coffee.
  • Caffe Americano:
    • Espresso – 1-2 shots
    • Hot Water – As Required
  • By diluting the espresso with hot water, it gives a similar strength of being an American drip coffee, but with a different flavour.

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