Choosing the Best Coffee Grinder for homeHigh-quality coffee grinders for home are just as important as a high-quality espresso machine. Although the coffee machine is often the more idolised piece of equipment, the grinder plays an equally important role in making your morning cuppa joe. Without the grinder, it would be quite the challenge trying to turn those beans into a creamy espresso! Below we unpack what makes a good grinder… well, ‘good’ and which grinder you should choose for your specific brewing needs.
So – what makes a good grinder, ‘good’ ?The best coffee grinders for home offer the following: 1. Consistent grind particles 2. Exact grind measurements 3. Even distribution of coffee grinds in the basket 4. Micro and macro adjustments 5. User-friendly buttons If your grinder doesn’t do the above, it will be impossible to produce an even extraction consistently. Without an even extraction, you won’t be doing your delicious specialty coffee beans justice.
As the Professional Barista’s Handbook lays out, “no espresso machine, no matter how impressive, can (yet) compensate for the problems created by poor grind quality.”In fact, some coffee professionals argue that you should be investing more in your coffee grinder than you’re investing in your coffee machine. However, this topic is a debatable one. If you ask us… we think they work hand in hand in producing that high-quality brew. This might mean you’ll need to splurge a little more on your brewing equipment but, if you make the right choices, you’ll be making these purchases to last a lifetime. Thus, in the long run, you’ll be saving money!
Most important featureWhether it’s for home or, for your cafe – one of the most important features a grinder has are the burrs. Burrs are the blades of the grinder that will be chopping your coffee beans into the fine grind you need to make your brew. Sharper the burrs, the better they are. Sharp burrs require less energy, generate less heat, offer more consistency, finer grind options and better distribution. And, once you’ve purchased sharp burrs you can get them resharpened several times to promote longevity.
Is a burr or blade coffee grinder better?In short, you want burrs. If you’re researching grinders, you’ll soon discover an entire world of options. A common choice you’ll have to make is whether to choose blades or burrs. Blade grinders are quite common amongst supermarket sellers whereas burrs are industry standard. It’s important we differentiate the two early as they vary greatly in quality. Burrs use two circular sharp discs, which then turn in opposite directions to grind up the coffee beans. Using a good quality burr grinder, you notice the great output instantly. Even grind particles, less energy consumption, smooth distribution – it’s a coffee lover’s dream. Blades on the other hand, offer a different product. Even the ‘best’ blade grinders aren’t as reliable as the ‘worst’ burr grinders. They can be compared to what your kitchen blender uses to make a smoothie. Quick, rough and choppy – the blade grinder can often heat and burn your beans and they don’t offer true grind settings. Although much more affordable, blade grinders struggle to offer that consistency and accuracy that is so important in coffee brewing.
Side note: consistency is everythingYou’ll hear baristas and coffee enthusiasts talk on and on about the importance of consistency. It might be repetitive, but we promise it’s all for a good reason. As baristas and coffee aficionados we rely heavily on specific numbers throughout each coffee-making step to acquire the optimal coffee flavour. From the amount of coffee you put into the group head, to the time it takes to pour, to the grind setting you used for the grounds: each step is recorded and altered appropriately to fit your espresso recipe. The grind setting plays a massive role in your coffee-making process. Whether you’re making an espresso or, you’re brewing a pour-over – the coffee grind is the channel from turning your beans into the brew. Therefore, grounds need to be reliable, uniform and… consistent!
Choosing a burr grinderThere are two popular types of burr grinders, these are flat or conical. Depending on your needs will depend on which burr grinder is better suited to you.
Flat burr grindersWith flat burrs, they’re made up of two rings that lie flat on one another. The burrs are – as the name suggests – flat and they have sharp teeth angled inwardly. Due to grinding horizontally, the flat burrs are able to produce an exceptionally accurate grind size that’s homogenous across grind particles. Flat burr grinders are remarkably accurate, consistent, and reliable. They’re an exceptional choice if you’re pouring exceptional coffees and need the grind setting to be exact. They’re usually more expensive due to the higher accuracy the flat burrs can achieve. We have two EK grinders at our cafe front that we use to grind coffee beans for Single Origin espresso and for Single Origin filter coffee. When you purchase a bag of our Karvan coffee beans and request them to be pre-ground, we use our flat burr grinder to ensure exact measurements for your home brewing. The only downside to flat burr grinders is the heat retention. Flat burrs output more mechanical power than conical burrs and in turn, produce heat. This can be detrimental to the coffee, potentially heating the coffee beans as they grind. If you have a flat burr grinder be wary of this, you might need to let the grinder cool down after use. Many cafes choose a conical grinder for their cafe due to the heat retention flat burrs can cause. We use a conical burr grinder for our house blend coffee grinder which is pumping out a large volume of coffees daily. The best flat burr grinder is the Baratza Forte AP. Whether you enjoy an espresso or, a filter brew – this Baratza grinder delivers on quality, consistency, and accuracy. If you enjoy drinking various Single Origins for different brewing methods, this coffee grinder will be able to keep up with your needs. There is micro and macro adjustments to acquire the fine espresso grind or, the course cold brew grind. Plus, it’s user-friendly, easy to dial in, and no-mess. In fact, it’s the coffee grinder that Leaf Bean Machine’s owners Brad and Fleur have at their own home! It is the most expensive coffee grinder that we stock however, the price reflects the quality. By purchasing the Baratza Forte AP, you’re making an investment for a lifetime.
Conical burr grindersDesigned in a cone-shape, with a smaller cone inside a larger cone. Both cones have sharp teeth along the sides which grind the beans. Conical burrs grind vertically, using gravity to push the beans down its channel. Conical burrs offer a very high-quality grind, however, have been known to deliver small inconsistencies due to their vertical design. These small inconsistencies can only be seen under a microscope and generally won’t affect the flavour of your coffee. They work great for cafes that are pouring a high volume of coffees and for home coffee lovers who’re after a trusty machine to make their morning mug. Although slightly less accurate compared to the flat burrs, conical burrs do come with a few of their own perks. Conical burrs tend to be quieter, have less coffee retention, less heat, and are more affordable. You’ll find conical burrs to be the go-to for the majority of home baristas who take their coffee seriously. The best conical burr grinder for home is the Baratza Sette 270Wi. This grinder is the new and improved model from the previous Baratza Sette 270W. Offering additional user-friendly features such as weight-based dosing powered by renowned Acaia technology, three programmable weight buttons as well as macro and micro-adjustments to cater to espresso grind settings and manual brewing. Choosing the Baratza Sette 270Wi is a superb addition to your kitchen. Premium quality, compact size, energy-efficient and low-waste: this is a top-of-the-range conical burr grinder for home.
Hand/manual grindersHand grinders are (for the most part) lightweight, portable, durable, simple to use and quiet in noise. Plus, they’re the most affordable, sitting at a fraction of the price compared to electronic grinders. Many choose hand grinders due to their affordability and compact size, making them great to take on camping trips. Most manual grinders can only hold up to 40g of beans. This means if you’re wanting to make coffees for yourself and some friends, the time is doubled. Plus, it will require a bit of muscle. Turning the handle to grind the beans is a fun process at the beginning but it soon can become a bit of a hassle if you’re kind enough to offer your family members a brew too. All hand grinders have conical burrs, allowing for a reasonably accurate and consistent grind. Unlike the electronic grinders mentioned above, there are no micro or macro adjustments making it more difficult to acquire the specific grind measurements. In my experience, hand grinders have worked really well for making a single brew for a filter gadget. Filter brewing requires a coarser grind setting compared with espresso and therefore, can be a little more flexible with accuracy. My go-to is making a coffee with the v60 and the Rhinowares hand grinder has always done an excellent job at grinding my chosen Karvan Single Origin beans. I would highly recommend the Rhinwares hand grinder if you’re looking for a way of grinding 1-2 coffees at a time for a filter brew method. If you’re looking for an electronic grinder for filter brewing then the Baratza Encore is your go-to. This coffee grinder offers more accuracy than the hand grinder, is able to grind a larger dose plus, you do it all by flicking a switch (rather than hand grinding). This is a recent step up I’ve recently made in my own personal brewing and I’m thankful for it every morning.
Need help?There’s certainly a lot to know when it comes to coffee grinders for home. We understand it can be a rabbit hole of information. If you would like some extra help please don’t hesitate to reach out. We have a wide range of resources via our YouTube channel, blog, Instagram, and here at our roastery! Visit us for a chat and we can help you in your coffee journey.