What do you need to know before you buy a coffee grinder?

We know: 5 Basic Facts About Coffee Grinders

1. What is a coffee grinder?

A coffee grinder or coffee mill is used to grind roasted coffee beans into grounds in preparation for making coffee. Coffee grinders are categorized by the way they do the grinding.

2. What are the categories of coffee grinders?

There are two basic kinds of grinders, blade and burr. Here's how they work and their advantages and disadvantages:

  • Blade grinders chop up the beans by using a rotating metal blade. You can control the grind (coarse versus fine) by the length of time you keep the blade running-the longer the finer.
    • Advantages: Less expensive than burr grinders.
    • Disadvantages: The grounds are often uneven sizes, making for a less predictable brew. Also, if you grind the beans too much, the heat from the blades can actually heat the beans, giving your coffee a burnt taste.
  • Burr grinders work by crushing beans between a grinding wheel and a stationary disk or surface. You control the grind (coarse versus fine) by positioning the burr.
    • Advantages: A more consistent and predictable grind, making for a more consistent and predictable brew. No risk of 'burning' the beans. If you're making espresso, this is the grinder you want.
    • Disadvantages: More expensive, requires clean up, and the beans sometimes get stuck and need to be stirred.

Burr grinders come in two different types.

  • Flat wheel burr grinderd use a high speed rotation. They're less expensive than conical burr grinders, but noisier.
  • Conical burr grinders are often considered the best and, of course, the most expensive. With a cone-shaped grinding surface, they rotate slower than a flat wheel grinder, are less likely to clog than other grinders and are less noisy.

3. Are they all electric powered?

It's possible to buy a manual, or hand cranked, grinder in either a blade or burr style.

4. Who makes coffee grinders and what do they cost?

There are lots of manufacturers, both domestic and foreign. Examples include Cuisinart, DeLonghi, Capresso, KitcheAid, Herman Dodge, Bodum, Braun, Bunn, Krupps and Gaggia.

5. What are the price ranges?

You can find electric blade grinders beginning at about $20, and high-end burr grinders that cost more than $200.

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