Thanks to the coffee grinder you can buy coffee beans and grind them yourself in order to enjoy a drink rich in taste whenever you want. It grinds the beans to almost dust so they can be infused evenly. This device comes in the form of a grinder, electric or manual, generally with a container at its base which allows the ground coffee to be collected. To help you choose yours, Les Very Goods has compared dozens of models. Also, discover our buying guide to choose the one that best suits your consumption habits.
Your Coffee Maker- Start Your Morning With Love
- 1 Your Coffee Maker- Start Your Morning With Love
- 1.1 Why equip yourself with a good coffee grinder?
- 1.1.1 What is a good grinder?
- 1.1.2 Blade mill or wheel mill?
- 1.1.3 Blade mill or Burr ?
- 1.1.4 Flat Wheel Mill Vs Conical Burr Mill
- 1.1.5 Steel vs. Ceramic Grinding Wheels: What’s the Difference?
- 1.1.6 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Coffee Grinder
- 1.1.7 When choosing a coffee grinder, what do you value more?
- 1.1 Why equip yourself with a good coffee grinder?
The way you make your coffee at home is the most important factor in choosing a coffee grinder. In particular, if you want to make espresso at home, you will have a much more limited range of possibilities than if you use a French press, a filter coffee maker, or an Italian coffee maker. Because espresso is ground so finely, small variations in grind size can have an outsized effect on the brew of espresso. To make delicious espresso, you need a grinder capable of grinding very finely and very evenly. This is why professional espresso grinders are such huge pieces of equipment! In fact, a good rule of thumb for making espresso at home.
If you don’t make espresso, you have a lot more options when it comes to choosing a coffee grinder, but something to keep in mind if you typically use the same coffee maker every day or want to use different coffee makers throughout your day.
Each coffee maker requires a different grind size to achieve an optimal cup. In general, it is more difficult to change the grind size on a manual coffee grinder than on an electric coffee grinder. Most coffee grinders on the market will be able to grind for all coffee makers other than Turkish coffee makers and espresso.
Why equip yourself with a good coffee grinder?
Ask your coffee-loving friends the question… and they will answer: “there is a before and an after”. At affamee, we put this (excellent) response into two criteria: the freshness of the coffee and the size of the grind.
Concretely, the freshness of the coffee allows the bean to express its full aromatic potential; adjusting the grind size, to obtain the ideal grain size for your coffee extraction. That said, once you have decided to complete your arsenal, comes the choice of this grinder. Automatic or manual coffee grinder? Blade mill or millstone?
Before detailing the different coffee grinders on the market, let’s ask ourselves the following question:
What is a good grinder?
A good grinder must deliver a sufficiently precise grind for the chosen extraction method and be sufficiently homogeneous with each use. Indeed, if your grind is not the right size or has too many particles of different sizes, your coffee will not be brewed correctly. That being said, the perfect grinder offering a 100% homogeneous grind does not exist, but many models on the market remain good options for anyone who wants to enjoy a good cup of homemade ground coffee. But then, which mill to choose?
There are four important parameters when choosing a coffee grinder: never use a blade grinder, know your coffee maker, know your kitchen and know your budget. We’ll look at these parameters, and along the way, we’ll help you figure out if you really need ceramic or steel wheels.
Blade mill or wheel mill?
So there, there is not even a match: always prefer a grinder. Your grandmother’s blade mill is certainly pretty, but it has three major drawbacks:
- It does not allow you to adjust the size of the grind precisely: the idea is that the longer you grind, the finer the grind but you navigate entirely on sight,
- The grind lacks homogeneity: the blades slice the coffee beans into several parts resulting in an uneven distribution of particles, some being very small and others much larger,
- It heats your coffee as it is ground, ensuring your coffee has less flavor.
The blade mill will therefore make it difficult for you to vary the extraction methods and you will also find yourself with an irregular grind, sometimes fine, sometimes coarser. The result? An unevenly brewed and super bitter coffee.
As opposed to blade mills, there are therefore mills with grinding wheels, one fixed and the other activities connected to a motor. Rather than slicing the coffee beans like a blade grinder, the burr grinder grinds them: the force is not concentrated on a specific point, so the grind is more even. You will always find particles finer than others but the general homogeneity will remain far superior to the grind obtained with a blade grinder.
Now that that’s settled and you’re not going to buy a blade grinder, let’s take a look at the most important criteria for choosing the perfect coffee grinder.
Blade mill or Burr ?
Sisters and brothers in specialty coffee agree, always prefer a burr grinder. Why?
- It does not allow you to adjust the size of the grind precisely: the longer you grind, the finer you will get, but you are navigating entirely on sight.
- The coffee grind is not homogeneous: the blades slice the coffee beans randomly, resulting in an uneven particle distribution.
The blade mill will therefore make it difficult for you to vary the extraction methods and you will also find yourself with an irregular grind, sometimes fine in places, sometimes coarser. It is, therefore, more suitable for the use of a French press coffee maker than for an espresso machine.
Rather than slicing the coffee beans like a blade grinder, the burr grinder grinds them (sometimes you will hear the name coffee grinder to describe a coffee grinder): the force is not concentrated on one point specific, the grind tends to be more regular.
Flat Wheel Mill Vs Conical Burr Mill
Flat Wheel Mill
It is certainly the most efficient model. Its wheels can be either stainless steel or ceramic. Precise and fast, it offers the possibility of choosing the ideal setting according to the type of coffee machine used.
Conical Burr Mill
The grinding wheel, either ceramic or steel, grinds grains more efficiently than a bladed model.
These two types of grinding wheels therefore each have their strengths, but be aware that for domestic use, both will be just as suitable for all types of extraction. And if you want to go a little further, we can also compare the two types of materials in which the grinding wheels are made: steel and ceramic.
Steel vs. Ceramic Grinding Wheels: What’s the Difference?
The main difference is related to thermal conductivity. Steel is a good thermal conductor, which means that the grinding wheels will heat up and cool down more quickly, an important criterion for professionals in the sector. Ceramic grinding wheels have a lower thermal conductivity; it will take them longer to warm up but also to cool down.
On the other hand, ceramic wheels are almost indestructible but they are also more expensive and more fragile. That said, for home use, their greater fragility won’t be a problem unless you’re sending something other than coffee beans into your hopper (like a large pebble for example, but that’s unlikely to happen). And to be completely honest, the choice of one or the other material will not impact the taste of your coffee.
Thus, the choices between the types of grinding wheels or materials mainly concern professionals with high throughput, for whom conductivity or the risk of breakage is important criteria. For your home grinder, on the other hand, you don’t need to take the trouble to compare these elements because the result will be the same.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Coffee Grinder
Coffee grinders are handy little kitchen utensils, especially if you drink a lot of coffee. These allow you to grind your coffee as you consume it so that you always enjoy fresh coffee. Indeed, once ground, the coffee can only be kept for 15 days, after which it oxidizes. Also, by investing in a small coffee grinder, you will always have optimal results. Before choosing your device, know that there are different types of models.
This is certainly more of a concern for those of us with Parisian kitchens, but available counter space is something to consider when choosing a coffee grinder. Electric grinders are generally much larger and heavier than their manual counterparts. Electric coffee grinders (at least the good ones) are made to be placed on your counter, plugged in, and left there. If you have a decent-sized kitchen (or really like coffee) that’s probably not an issue, but if not, you might consider a manual grinder that can be stored in a cupboard. when not in use.
Whether you’re worried about annoying your neighbors or waking your spouse, noise is also a factor to consider when choosing a coffee grinder. Coffee grinds make noise no matter what, but the motor and housing of an electric grinder greatly amplify the noise. I tend to grind my coffee with a Baratza Encore electric grinder most mornings and hope it doesn’t bother my neighbors in the apartment next door too much (it’s been five years, they’ve never complained ), but in the morning, when my girlfriend is sleeping, I use my Comandante manual grinder.
One final note, if you can’t stand drinking substandard coffee on vacation (yes, those people do exist, I’m one of them) and you plan to travel, you’ll probably want to opt for a small manual grinder, at unless you like lugging heavy bags.
This one is obvious, but the better the quality of the burr, the better the quality of coffee you will be able to make. A higher-quality wheel will also tend to stay sharp longer. Unlike a knife, when a wheel is dull there is no easy way to sharpen it, so longevity is an important consideration. It can be difficult to compare the quality of a grinding wheel based on technical specifications, but you need to consider the size of the grinding wheel and how it is attached to the grinder body. A bigger burr will tend to create a more even grind, so “bigger is better” in this case. With manual grinders, you need to make sure that the grinding wheel is fixed to the body of the grinder and that it does not move much.
The material of which the grinding wheel is made is therefore not very important. In our experience at Belleville, the highest quality grinders tend to have a steel burr, but there is an argument to be made for ceramic burrs (see “ceramic vs. steel” note). You can also see mills with conical or flat grinding wheels. There are important differences between conical burrs and flat burrs (see note), but the vast majority of home grinders use a conical burr set.
Ease of use
The ease of use of your grinder is a determining factor in choosing a grinder. In this regard, an electric grinder has a great advantage over manual grinders. That said, not all manual coffee grinders are created equal. The length of the handle and the attachment of the burrs will have a big influence on how well your coffee grinder will grind this one. In general, a longer handle will give you more leverage and allow you to grind faster and easier. You should also look for a coffee grinder that has ball bearings for attaching the burr. Ball bearings will cause less effort for you.
You also need to consider the capacity of your grinder. The Timemore Nano is a cute and practical grinder, but it can only hold 15g of ground coffee. If your French press requires 30 grams of coffee, that means refilling and grinding it twice! Check that the capacity of the grinder is suitable for your coffee maker. An easy-to-use grinder is a grinder you will use!
How much precision do you really need for your coffee grinder? How precisely do you need to be able to adjust the size of your grind? Most household grinders are pinwheel grinders. To change the grind size, you spin the burr and each change is a fixed amount (one notch). The change in wheel size is measured in microns. For most people, a high-quality burr is more important than the degree of precision you can achieve, but if you’re making espresso at home you need to make sure you have a grinder that allows you to finely adjust the size of the grind. Professional espresso grinders are usually notchless, which means you can adjust the grind size almost infinitely. Although most domestic coffee grinders are equipped with notches, the precision between each notch can be more or less fine. When choosing a home espresso grinder, you need to ensure that you have a high degree of precision in the settings. What is possible with a grinder like the comandante Nitro Blade by adding the ‘red clix’ kit .
A coffee grinder is primarily used to make delicious coffee, but aesthetics are important. A glass and wood hand grinder is a beautiful object! If it also makes good coffee, that’s even better! As for the awesome vintage Peugeot coffee grinder you found at the flea market, I wouldn’t recommend using it to grind coffee. The grinding wheels are usually very old and dull (even rusty) and it is practically impossible to replace them. That said, it will make a very nice decorative object!
At this point, you should know whether a manual grinder or an electric grinder is best for you, and whether or not you need a specialty espresso grinder. I also hope that you have made the decision to use your blade grinder exclusively for grinding spices (please confirm that you no longer use your blade grinder for coffee). There are still plenty of different coffee grinders to choose from!
To decide which coffee grinder would suit you best, we have to talk about the budget. We can spend hours discussing the merits of stainless steel versus hardened steel, but if you only have $50 to spend on a grinder, there’s no point, a coffee grinder with ceramic would be more in your budget. A tight budget doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a grinder. The Timemore C2 grinder is a great beginner grinder (under $100!) and will give you freshly ground coffee every morning. Any mill (except a blade mill) is better than no mill.
Still haven’t found all the information you need to choose your coffee grinder? You will find more details below.
Manual VS Electric Coffee Grinder
On the current market, this kind of accessory comes in two main categories, traditional and electric models. For the first, they usually have a crank to grind the beans quickly. These will then be accommodated in a bin after each operation. To handle them, you put the grains in them and with your hands, make a rotary movement to grind.
Generally, this process is carried out by blades or a grinding wheel. The advantage of this type of machine is that it is used in a conventional way and is simple to use. We recommend these items if you do not intend to invest in the purchase of an expensive product. In most cases, they have a price between 20 and 40 euros.
Do you want to know which is the best coffee grinder on the market? Then you might want to set your sights on electric models. As you will have understood, these incorporate a motor whose power varies. However, we advise you to choose a specimen displaying no less than 150 W. They will allow you to grind your beans in no time.
Depending on the product, the container for the coffee may have a conical shape, which remains appreciable. These will be suitable for easy grinding without sticking. Electric grinders will also offer you multiple uses since some are even used for different spices. For example, you will use them for pepper, nuts, or even peanuts.
When you go to buy your device, the first step will be to choose between an electric or manual model. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
The Manual Coffee Grinder
When we talk about the manual coffee grinder, we immediately think of the Peugeot coffee grinder that we regularly find on flea market stalls. Launched in 1840 before the company started selling cars, these cubic wooden grinders quickly gained significant notoriety and became the symbol of the domestic coffee grinder. Since then, many improved models have emerged with several advantages:
The Electric Coffee Grinder
The electric coffee grinder was born almost a century after the manual grinder, from the mind of Jean Mantelet, future founder of… Moulinex. The electric coffee grinder has two main advantages over the manual coffee grinder.
The Note: The electric bean grinder is a quick and effortless way to get ground coffee
When choosing a coffee grinder, what do you value more?
Depending on the type of extraction you prefer, and therefore depending on the type of coffee maker you use, you will have to make a more or less fine grind.
Each type of coffee (and therefore of the coffee maker) corresponds to a type of grind:
- Extra-fine for a Turkish coffee
- Very fine for an espresso
- Fine for filter coffee
- Average for an Italian coffee maker
- Very coarse for a vacuum coffee maker.
- Some manual or electric coffee grinders offer the possibility of adjusting the fineness of the grind, which is very useful depending on its future use, for espressos for example and therefore the type of coffee machine you use.
These are equipped with an adjustment wheel, so nothing really complicated in the maneuver. So, at the stage we are at, we are ready to take stock of the coffee grinders available to you.
How to maintain and clean your coffee grinder?
The electric mill requires little maintenance!
Occasional cleaning of the hopper (bean container), accompanied by cleaning of the recovery tank, using a damp sponge, will be enough to guarantee you constant quality.
For grinding wheels, especially no water or humidity! Use a brush or a small brush to remove coffee residue. And remember to unplug your grinder beforehand to avoid any risk.
As for the rest of the device, you can tap it lightly to drain the grinds stuck at the grinding wheels. It is also recommended to proceed in this way when you change the variety of beans. A residue of the previous coffee could alter the taste of a new coffee. For a better in-cup experience, do not hesitate to grind a few beans to be sure not to leave any traces of the previous coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to use a coffee grinder?
To do this, you should first measure the ideal amount of beans you want to use. Do not hesitate to use a dosing tray to define the volume to be poured into the device. Then, put them in the cone while making sure not to overfill it. After that, everything will depend on the type of machine you have. If you have an electric model, all you have to do is press the activation button. This will trigger the motor to grind your beans quickly.
If you have a manual device, you will have to make rotating movements with the crank. This will operate the burr and grind the coffee into powder. Finally, all you have to do is take the tray and pour its contents into a beverage compartment.
How to clean an old wooden coffee grinder?
If you use such equipment in your home, it is very likely that dirt will collect on it after years of use. To make it clean again, there’s nothing like a good trick from grandma. Thus, you should first remove any remaining dust or grit deposits. Use a brush or a slightly damp cloth to do this. During this operation, make sure that all parts of your equipment are clean.
After all, this, pour some amount of raw rice into your grinder. Add enough until the bin is full to the brim. Then, operate the crank to grind as if you were to grind coffee. Wait for the food to completely take on the texture of the powder. Then empty the compartment and you can now reuse a cloth to get rid of the remains. That’s it, your equipment is now ready to use.
How to clean an electric coffee grinder?
The components of this type of device often remain detachable. Therefore, all you have to do is separate them from the main material to wash them afterward. For the plastic elements, they can be put in the washing machine so that you have no trouble cleaning them. On the other hand, parts made of glass or ceramic require more effort.
We advise you to use a brush to dislodge all powder residues. Tilt the compartment in question slightly to reach all corners. After that, use a cloth, preferably wet, to get rid of the remaining dirt. However, please take care that the engine components do not get wet.
How to adjust your coffee grinder?
This will mainly depend on the type of equipment you have. If you have an electric model, there is usually a rotary knob to vary the fineness of the grains. Other articles even incorporate a small display that helps to see the intensity of the grinding and thus defines the grinding result.
For traditional devices, all you have to do is tighten or loosen the collar located near the crank. This will have the effect of reducing the grains you put in as much as possible. And for most models, this action will still require a strong grip on your part. The resulting powder will be finer.
More Advice for Coffee Success
As you will have understood, choosing the right coffee grinder(s) is an essential step in obtaining exceptional coffee. The choice is very wide and you will discover amazing models with an incredible design.
Here you are (we hope), well equipped to choose your coffee grinder. Nostalgics will undoubtedly have a weakness for manual models, demanding ones for high-performance electric models. Purists will probably tend not to buy a grinder or a type of coffee grinder, but several, to make the same collection.
By the way, do you know what coffee grinder collectors are called? Mylokaphephiles!
Good tasting, in any case!
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