When it comes to coffee, everybody has different opinions towards what constitutes the best, the most delicious, the purest, the worst, the finest, and so on. The specific variety of the beans used plays major factors in determining the flavor indeed, but the fineness of the grind is equally important. Even when two people prefer the same exact species of coffee beans, they may have different takes concerning how the beans should be treated and ground before their cups of nicotine shots are ready. This is why choosing the right electric coffee grinder is not always an easy undertaking.
Here are some basic guidelines on coffee grinder’s features to consider when you buy the electric appliance.
Let us start with the brewing method that you prefer. If you are an espresso person, you want the grinder to excel at delivering the finest possible grind. It also means that the grinder should provide a comprehensive control at how fine you want it to be. On the other hand, you want a grinder that performs well at producing coarser grinds if the brewing method of choice is drip or press. There can be no significant amount of coffee dust produced to accommodate the aforementioned brewing method.
The good thing is that some coffee grinders actually allow you to switch between different levels of fine grinds, making the appliance more versatile for the vast majority of consumers. You can just divide coffee grinders into three major categories: espresso grinder (for fine grinds), coffee grinder (for coarse grinds), and multi-use grinder (for both fine and coarse grind). Fineness of the grinds typically comes in four criteria including:
- Coarse: ground coffee beans that look like particles of salt. Coarse grinds are best used for French Press, cold brew, and percolators.
- Medium: medium coarse (or medium fine) grinds resemble the texture of sand. They are usually used for vacuum pots, drip coffee, and pour-over.
- Fine: the grinds are almost powdery, but still a little bit coarser than that. You can use fine grinds for espresso machines.
- Turkish: the finest grinds of them all. At this level of fineness, the grinds are only good for Turkish coffee pots.
Most high-end coffee grinders allow you to choose the specific level of fineness you need. Put the preferable brewing method into account to get the best of the beans.
Blade and Burr Grinders
Based on the grinding wheels mechanism, coffee grinders come at two different models: blade and burr. The former, as the name suggests, uses blades that look like propeller and it works similar to a blender blade. It is cheaper than its burr counterpart, but arguably more popular. Burr grinder machines work by using two revolving abrasive surfaces positioned at specific distance from each other. Thanks to the design, burr grinder is more accurate and capable of producing more consistent fineness level. Burrs have several models as follows:
- Flat and conical: some people argue that one is better than the other, but both actually perform in similar manner. Flat burr is comprised of two parallel abrasive rings with a space between them for the beans to enter and get crushed, while conical burr uses a cone-shaped material placed inside a ring.
- Steel and ceramic: both steel and ceramic are equally effective, but the latter is much more durable.
Serious coffee enthusiasts will always tell you to throw away your blade grinder because the grinds can be inconsistent in size, and therefore make the brewing result unpredictable.
There are two types of measuring methods in coffee grinders: weight and time. In many cases, a simple timer works for everybody but this is not actually an ideal measuring method. Most lower-end coffee grinders use timer mechanism either by a lever or digital timer to dial the duration time you want. It is practical, but at the expense of accuracy. The machine does not care how much beans you use; it just crushes them until the timer is set off. Measurement by weight is more common in higher-end coffee grinders. Based on weight, the machine does its job until it produces the level of fineness you want.
As always, some coffee grinders provide the options to switch between the two measuring methods. There are also some models equipped with built-in doser, which catches the grinds and delivers them in measured doses into a container, brewer, or portafilter.
When choosing an electric coffee grinder, your options basically come down to two distinct categories: low-end and high-end. The majority of coffee grinders you see are probably the entry-level models. Despite the categorization, entry-level does not always mean low quality; it simply tells you that it only does basic coffee grinding applications without additional features. As a rule of thumb, purchase the best coffee grinder your budget allows. Of course the choice leans towards the higher-end of the spectrum, but it is indeed always better to have some features that you will likely use later than having a coffee grinder that can no longer satisfy your needs as you grow more proficient.
It also comes down to your budget. The coffee grinder that you will buy, at the end of the day, is the one you can afford. That being said, it is recommended to spend at least $50 on a coffee grinder to make sure you get good build quality from a well-known brand. You get what you pay for; there are always fancier models that cost hundreds (if not thousands), but everyday-grinding and brewing for personal usage should not set you back that much.