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Ten key factors in choosing the right burr coffee grinder

By Melody August 30th, 2022 67 views
Ten key factors in choosing the right burr coffee grinder
There is no better way to ensure your morning coffee is as fresh as possible than to get a good coffee grinder. All coffee beans begin losing their taste and freshness about a day after roasting, but whole beans maintain freshness far longer and can still deliver full-flavor coffee up to a few weeks later. Ground coffee begins to taste noticeably stale within just a few days, so the ability to grind beans yourself will provide you with the best and most flavorful coffee experience possible.
 
While there are many things to consider when choosing a coffee grinder, the consistency of the grind size is critical because it can drastically affect the flavor of your coffee. With all the different models and features available, it’s hard to decide on the best grinder for your needs. To help you narrow your search, we list ten key factors to guide you in your search. 
 
1. Consistency
The purpose of grinding our coffee beans is to increase the surface area in contact with water. And the finer or coarser the grind, the more or less quickly water can pass through, affecting brew time and extraction efficiency. Consistency is important for a coffee grinder and is the key to a good cup of coffee.
A coarser grind has looser particles which, in turn, will allow water to move between them more quickly. The combination of less surface area and a shorter brew time means less extraction. On the other hand, a finer grind has particles that are packed closer together, which means water takes longer to pass through the grinds, and more surface area leads to greater extraction.
These will extract at different rates if your ground coffee contains a mixture of larger and smaller grinds. Typically, the larger particles will under-extract, while the smaller ones will over-extract. It can result in unpredictable extraction rates, muddle the flavor of your coffee, prevent you from successfully replicating a recipe, and more.
Most burr grinders will do a good job of this, but there’s some variety in how well they’ll do and how fine of consistency they’ll be able to create. 
 
 
2. Burr shape
Burrs can either be flat in shape or conical (cone-like). Flat burrs use a different force to grind coffee beans (centrifugal) than conical burrs (gravity). 
Is one shape better than the other? At one point, conical burrs are better than flat burrs because they use gravity (the beans slowly tumble in), requiring less energy to be expended on the part of the grinder. Less energy for the grinding means less heat, and less heat is always better. A cool grind is always preferred because too much heat transfer can adversely affect the flavor of the coffee.
The fact that conical burr grinders use gravity as the dominant grinding force does not indicate a lack of power on the part of the grinder itself (if the grinder is electrical, that is). It simply means the physics acting on the beans is different from flat burrs. 
The correlation between shape and burr size is that you can find both flat and conical-shaped burrs in all grinders, from small manual models to high-end electric models. Our preference is usually for conical burr grinders, regardless of the size or purported power of the unit. However, with that said, when grinders get beyond a certain size, you won’t be seeing any that have extremely big burrs that are conical. Most of the grinders with the biggest burrs are flat-burr grinders.
 
 
3. Speed control
High-speed burr grinders are generally referred to as “direct drive” grinders because the motor is attached directly to the burrs causing them to turn at the same speed. The gear reduction grinders have a high-speed motor hooked into a set of gears that reduce the speed of the burrs. Coffee grinders with high-speed motors produce more heat, which risks burning the coffee and negatively influencing the flavor and aroma. High-speed grinders with gear reduction can help solve most of those problems; with the gear reduction, the burr will spin at a lower speed. 
 
4. Heat control
After particle size, heat is another main factor influencing your coffee taste. If your grinder gets the beans hot while grinding them, it will burn the grounds and potentially change the flavor for the worse.
As just mentioned, the main thing that affects the heat of your grounds is the speed of your grinder and how the motor works. as the coffee is ground, it will pick up heat, and the more heat your coffee picks up, the more adversely it will affect your final product. If you are only grinding enough for a double shot, the coffee will not pick up much heat from any grinder. The more coffee you grind, the hotter the coffee gets due to the grinding burrs and surrounding parts getting hotter.
It’s the mechanical design charm to find a balance point for speed and heat.
 
5. Noise
If you’re sensitive to how noisy your kitchen products are, you’ll want to look for a coffee grinder on the quieter side – especially as this is a product you’ll likely want to use early in the morning. Conical burr grinders are generally quieter than flat burr grinders. And burr grinders tend to be better than blade grinders in this regard. However, every product with a motor inside will have a noise level pro.
 
6. Grind setting
The grind size you will need is directly related to the equipment used to brew your coffee. Different types of espresso/coffee machines are designed to extract flavor and aroma from the coffee differently. Therefore they require a different size grind. 
You’ll commonly see grinders described by one of two terms related to the settings they offer — Stepped or Stepless.
Stepped grinders provide a set number of settings you can select before grinding your beans.
Stepless grinders allow more options since they don’t provide established settings and let you choose from an available range.
For people who already know what they like, stepless grinders are an improvement over stepped ones since your options are unlimited. As such, stepless grinders generally cost more.
 
7. Easy to operate & clean
Some people may be willing to try the perfect cup of coffee. Others will want the process to be on the simpler side.
The grind size for a particular setting will vary depending on many factors, including the degree of roast (light vs. dark), freshness, humidity, type of bean, oil content, etc. You will discover which setting best meets your taste and brewing style with us. After discovering it, you will find it’s very easy to operate with only one button control for most of the burr coffee grinders. Coffee grinders vary in how complicated they are to use and clean. If you know you’ll be frustrated by a machine that makes you take extra steps each day to use or that always involves a lot of time and frustration to get clean, then take some time to read reviews about the product before making a purchase.
You’ll be much more likely to appreciate and enjoy your grinder if you don’t feel annoyed every time you use it.
Regarding cleaning, burr grinders require maintenance to keep them in tip-top form. For most the burr grinder, the outer grinder ring can be removed to clean the grinding mechanism, then cleaned with a brush. The remaining coffee residues can be shaken or removed using a vacuum cleaner. 
 
8. Capacity
The grinders you look at will each be built to hold a certain amount of coffee each time you use it. You’ll get better flavor from your coffee if you grind the beans before each time you brew it.
By this logic, you won’t necessarily need a high capacity for your grinder unless you expect to make coffee for several people regularly. If it is just you, you can settle for a small-capacity grinder. If it is you and several roommates or co-workers, look for something that can accommodate everyone.
 
9. Durability
If you’re spending $10-$20 on a blade grinder, how long it lasts may not be that big of a consideration. If you’re spending over $100 on a burr grinder, you’ll want to know you can count on it to last.
As you might expect, some higher-end models with especially high price tags cost what they do in part because they’re made to last many years. You can generally expect stainless steel burrs to last longer and grinders in low speed last longer than high-speed ones.
However, we should also learn to identify the signs that tell you it is time to replace the grinder.
The first thing you will likely notice is a change in flavor. The second sign is increased noise.
The signs discussed above tell you when it is time to replace the burr coffee grinder, which should happen after a minimum of five years.
 
10. Size
A partical consideration you should make before buying any new appliance or item for your kitchen is its overall size.
Most will have limited counter or cabinet space, no matter how large or small your kitchen may be. Since you're looking to buy a grinder, it's probably a safe assumption that you're already giving valuable kitchen real estate over to a coffee maker and, possibly, an espresso maker. So the coffee grinder's overall size will be a factory you should consider.
Before you start your search, ensure you know how much space you have to work. Coffee grinders aren’t especially large, but they must go somewhere.
Whether it sits on the countertop or gets stored away when it’s not in use, make sure you buy a product that will fit in the place you have in mind.


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