Coffee Grinding 101 - The Best Burr Grinders & Hand Coffee Grinders
The Importance of Coffee Grinding
You prefer to make your own coffee at home. You always grind your beans right before you make your coffee. You’ve got it all figured out, you’re a regular old coffee connoisseur! But did you know that...
Bean grinding is the single most important part of the coffee making process!
Yes that’s right, grinding is more important than having an expensive, state of the art coffee machine. In fact, if you invest in the right grinder and learn how to choose the right type of grind for your desired coffee, you’ll be fine with any old coffee maker! (I mean, within reason, it has to at least work.)
The more uniform your grind is, the better your coffee will be.
To achieve a uniform grind, use a Burr Grinder.
A Burr Grinder? What’s so special ab-
Wait! let's back up a second. Before we discuss why Burr Grinders are superior, let’s chat quickly about why a uniform grind is the be all end all of quality coffee.
The Uniform Grind
You may be thinking...
"Surely a tiny, microscopic difference in the size of grinds doesn’t make that big of a difference. I mean, the water doesn’t care!"
Well, actually the water does care.
What more proof could you ask for?
The more surface area that the water has to interact with, the higher the rate of extraction of soluble solids from the coffee grinds! The trend works both ways, less surface area allows less extraction.
Hold on a second, surface area? Are we doing mathematics here? Well... kind of. But let’s think of it as the science of coffee instead.
When water temperature, time and your brewing method are held constant;
Finely ground coffee = higher extraction
Coarsely ground coffee = lower extraction
Why should you care about coffee extraction? Coffee extraction has an immense impact on the final taste of your drink!
In general, a good coffee has between 18% - 22% of soluble solids extracted from the grinds. If you stray too far either way from this range, you’ll start to get undesirable tastes!
Extraction Yield %
Uhh, did you remember to add water?
Sour, acidic taste... not desirable acidity.
18% - 22%
The best tasting coffee!
> 22 %
Flavor notes have become dull, bitter... and not pleasant bitterness.
Probably pretty undrinkable… you just poured grinds into a cup of water didn’t you?
So to put it all together;
A uniform grind allows for uniform extraction!
A non-uniform grind will have larger and smaller pieces with variable surface areas! Each different size grind will have a different rate of extraction leading to an unbalanced coffee.
Okay now let’s bring it back to Burr Grinders, or more specifically…
Blade Grinders Vs Burr Grinders
Okay let’s compare Blade Grinders and Burr Grinders. What’s that? You already know where this is going? Are you implying that we have a bias? Well… yeah fine, but it's justified!
You probably can guess what we have to say about blade grinders by now, but here it is anyway. Blade grinders suck, plain and simple. Instead of actually grinding your coffee beans, blade grinders essentially just cut up the beans. The problem with this? You guessed it, uniformity. Slicing and dicing beans leads to extreme variability in grind size. If we didn’t drill it into your head earlier, THIS IS BAD.
Uniform. Grinds. Burr Grinders slowly funnel beans through ceramic or stainless steel burrs and actually grind them. As the beans are forced through the burrs, they are crushed in to grinds of uniform size. We can’t stress enough how much of a difference this makes. This alone makes Burr Grinders superior, but the benefits don’t stop there.
Burr Grinders also allow you to choose how fine you want to grind your beans with high precision. This allows you to easily choose the size of grinds you want, depending on how you plan to brew your coffee!
Making some good, old drip-coffee? Set your Burr Grinder to a fine grind. Feeling French Press? Go for coarse grind. Espresso type of morning? Select a super-fine grind. Each setting will grind to your liking, making for a predictable and easy brewing process!
Okay, so despite being clearly in the Burr Grinder camp, we won’t pretend that there aren’t any cons.
The biggest one is cost. Decent Burr Grinders aren’t cheap. Are they worth it? We think so, but it depends how much of a coffee lover you are. Don't worry, we'll take a look at a few of your options!
The Best Burr Grinders
First we're going to take a look at the best Burr Grinders of the motorized variety. These grinders are high end machines that do all of the work for you! If you're looking for something a little easier on the wallet and are willing to put in a little elbow grease, check out our best hand coffee grinders!
This is the most expensive option in our list, but to be honest, it’s a very reasonable price. You could pay a lot more! As we said before, you get what you pay for with burr grinders.
This Burr Grinder offers 40 grind settings that will allow you to grind for any brewing method, including espresso!
This grinder is also much quicker than other similar grinders, so the agonizing wait time for your coffee will be reduced! Every second counts on those Monday mornings.
If you’re buying this grinder, you’re probably in it for the long haul. Although this product is very durable in it’s own right, you can opt for an extended 3 or 4 year warranty for a few extra bucks!
This is the best selling Burr Grinder on Amazon, and for a good reason. This is a seriously high quality burr grinder that also happens to be quite affordable.
This grinder fits 14oz of coffee beans, which is more than enough. This machine also includes a scale and auto-dosing feature that allows you to easily choose the number of cups to grind for!
A 3 or 4 year warranty is available for just a couple of extra dollars.
This Burr Grinder may not be suited for a first time user, as it lacks pre-defined grind settings. But if you know what you’re doing, you really can’t beat the value!
This Burr grinder is not crazy expensive. Trust me, you could spend A LOT more.
There are 60 different grind settings. This allows you to very specifically choose the best grind size for whatever brewing method you’re using. It’s also pretty fun to fool around with, you’d be surprised at the differences you’ll taste with some fine adjustments!
This grinder has room for 18 ounces of beans at one time. Assuming you grind fresh daily, this is a much larger capacity than you’ll ever need.
This machine is quite durable, but you can grab a 3 or 4 year warranty for only a few bucks. You probably won’t need it but hey, peace of mind, right?
This is the cheapest Burr Grinder out there that still consistently produces top of the line grinds. In fact, each machine is tested individually with real coffee beans. This is a great first Burr Grinder for anyone looking to get their feet wet without dropping a huge amount of money.
You can select from an ultra-fine grind to a coarse grind, which will encompass any brewing method that you desire.
This grinder has room for 8.8oz of beans and 4oz of ground coffee. These aren’t huge numbers, but this is likely sufficient for home brewing purposes.
Despite being on the cheaper end, this machine is durable. You can grab an optional 3 or 4 year warranty as well!
This Burr Grinder is another good entry level, budget option that is great for beginners.
With 15 grind settings, it’s easy enough to choose the grind size you want and get started. This machine remembers the last grind setting that you used and can be started with the press of one button!
The hopper can hold up to 12oz of beans, and the grinds container holds enough for a 12-cup pot of coffee! It’s nice and easy to fill up the container and make yourself a nice big pot of Joe.
You can grab a 3 or 4 year extended warranty for only a few bucks.
Although these are all great options, if we HAD to pick just one, the Baratza Virtuoso would win by a hair.
This is indeed the most expensive burr grinder on our list, but it's really not that much more than the other options. And as we said before, you get what you pay for!
If you'd prefer something cheaper, you should definitely check out...
Hand Coffee Grinders
What is a hand coffee grinder? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a coffee grinder that allows you to manually grind by hand. That’s right, you have to physically grind the beans yourself. No, it is not strenuous, but it is a bit more time consuming.
Manual coffee grinders are great because they do not require power. This means that all hand coffee grinders are portable coffee grinders! You can take your portable coffee grinder with you anywhere. Whether you’re just going to work, going camping or spending a few days at your savage-friend-who-uses-a-blade-grinder’s place, you’re good to go!
Another huge benefit is price! Hand coffee grinders are available at very affordable prices. If you’re willing to add a little bit of physical labor into your daily coffee ritual, this is a great option!
The Best Hand Coffee Grinders
There are a ton of hand coffee grinder options out there, so we'll save you the trouble of searching through all of them. Here are our top 5 best hand coffee grinders. Each of these hand grinders use burr grinders and consistently produce grinds to your preference. The best part? All of these options are cheaper than any motorized burr grinder!
This hand coffee grinder is extremely popular, and justifiably so! JavaPresse manual coffee grinders use a ceramic burr grinder combination that is rigorously inspected.
This slick little grinder contains 18 grind settings, from espresso, or even Turkish coffee to French Press, Cold Brew, anything you want!
This grinder is both lightweight and durable, making it easy to bring with you where ever you go!
The reviews for JavaPresse hand coffee really speak to the quality of the product. Great grinder, great company!
This hand Burr Grinder is a great, and very affordable alternative to a motorized Burr Grinder.
While not as precise as a motorized Burr Grinder, you still have the ability to adjust the grind size to whatever you want.
This is a small and light, portable coffee grinder. Take it with you anywhere!
Although it’s not much of a task to clean, if you’re not feeling it, you can toss it in the dishwasher!
For a hand coffee grinder, Porlex costs a little bit more. But these Japanese made grinders are extremely durable, you won’t need to replace it any time soon!
You are able to adjust the grind size from coarse to extremely fine, making this manual grinder perfect for any type of brew that you desire.
This hand coffee grinder sports a 30g bean capacity. You’re getting a lightweight, very portable stainless steel grinder.
If you intend to use it a lot, and take it with you everywhere (you’ll want to, trust us) Porlex is a great choice!
Produced is Austria, this coffee grinder is made for the long haul. Three levels of inspections have indicated that these hand burr grinders will last 5x longer than stainless steel blades.
With 18 grind settings, you can grind for any brewing method. You can even grind fine enough for Turkish coffee, (more fine than espresso).
This thing is great for taking with you anywhere from camping to world travel. You can't trust anyone to make you good coffee these days, so why leave it to chance?
This hand grinder comes with a 100% money back guarantee if you're not satisfied... but you will be.
This is the best value hand coffee grinder that you’re going to find. Conical ceramic burrs in a stainless steel exterior has never been more affordable!
This grinder is great to take with you anywhere. The office, camping, you name it! There’s room for 35 grams of coffee beans in here.
This makes for a great gift for any coffee drinker. You get a grinder, and you get a grinder… everyone gets a grinder!
You’re honestly better off with a manual burr grinder than an expensive blade grinder. I can’t stress enough how big the difference uniform grinding makes.
If we've been unclear in any way...
Always go for the Burr Grinder.
What are your thoughts and experiences with coffee grinding? Do you have any insights for us? Disagree with everything we’ve said? Let us know! We’re always happy to chat about coffee.
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