Basics: Getting started with a Grinder

Wednesday, 10 April, 2019

Can you really call yourself a connoisseur if you don’t own a coffee grinder to grind your own beans? Maybe, maybe not… Either way, here’s what you need to know to find the right grinder for a fresher and more flavourful cup…

Blades vs. Burr

A blade grinder has blades similar to those in a food blender. It grinds coffee beans very swiftly, which is an advantage, but the grounds produced are often different in size, meaning the resultant cup of coffee won’t be the best quality. On the plus side, you’ll find blade grinders have price on their side. That age-old struggle: price versus better tasting coffee.

A burr grinder produces very consistent grounds, so it’s the superior option if taste is your ultimate deciding factor. A burr grinder is a type of mill – coffee beans pass through a small gap between a stationary surface and a revolving surface, both of which are coarse. The two surfaces belong to two cylinders or a cylinder and a flat surface, and these are the burrs. The user can usually set the distance between the two burrs, allowing you to choose between larger or smaller grounds. This is definitely the first choice if your morning routine calls for a serious cup of coffee.

Manual vs. Electric

Electric grinders make grinding easy work. You pour beans into the funnel, press the button, and hey presto, freshly ground beans. However, if you’re choosing to grind your own beans over buying pre-ground ones, perhaps you’re not all about modern convenience. Also, given our national loadshedding situation, perhaps manual grinders are the way forward. 

A manual grinder, albeit burr or blade, involves effort on your part. The manual burr grinder is, of course, the ultimate in personal control – you decide the size of the grounds based on where you set the burrs, and you control the speed of the grinding process, as you’re in charge of the swivel arm. The finer the ground you want to produce, the more elbow grease required. Those who make coffee from grounds they produced themselves using a manual burr grinder must feel all sorts of achievement unknown to the rest of us plebs, but we don’t recommend this option unless you know you’re willing to put in the extra time and effort. 

Manual burr grinders are great for on-the-go coffee consumers and a hit amongst the craft coffee crowd, but an electric grinder (burr or blade) is probably best for those who want an easy operation that gives you a quality cup of coffee every time.

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