There are a few things you shouldn’t take for granted if you’re trying to brew coffee with a good taste and flavor, the type and performance of your coffee grinder are two very important factors that could make or break your brew.
You can actually get ground coffee at your grocery store but at that point, there are a few things about the final taste you no longer control.
Why You Need A Coffee Grinder
The first and probably the most important reason is so you’ll be able to tweak the flavor of your coffee into something you’re comfortable with.
You can’t do this with pre-ground coffee because the bean variety used during production may not have been standard.
Also, coffee beans contain flavor and aroma compounds, if you buy coffee grinds that have been too long on a store shelf, you’re getting grinds that have lost a huge portion of their flavor.
This is different with a coffee grinder as you’ll have fresh grinds anytime you want to brew coffee.
Types Of Coffee Grinders
Coffee grinders can be classified by their mode of operation and the type of cutting employed so you’ll have burr and blade grinders that have two different ways of crushing coffee beans and the manual and automatic grinders with different modes of operation.
Burr Coffee Grinders vs Blade Grinders
Coffee grinders prepare the grinds either with burrs or with blades.
Burrs are groups of triangular objects with sharp pointers that work by crushing the beans to produce uniformly sized grounds.
They can give you uniformly sized fine, medium or coarse grinds. You can control the size of the final grinds by adjusting the distance between the burrs.
This is the grinder of choice for most baristas, so if you want to make coffee that good, that’s what you should get.
There are different types of burr grinders, they could be flat or conical, steel or ceramic and stepped or stepless burr grinders.
Conical burrs provide more surface area for the coffee beans than flat burrs. Steel burrs are cheaper than ceramic burrs but they don’t last as long when grinding.
Stepped and stepless burrs are two designs used to adjust the distance between the burrs when you need to change the size of the grind. Stepped grinders use levers to adjust the size of your grinds.
These grinders use blades that rotate at a fixed speed in an automatic machine or at random speeds in manual grinders.
Blade grinders produce coffee grinds that aren’t uniform in size and that leads to the production of flavors that are inferior to that produced by the burr grinder.
Most budget grinders are blade grinders though so if you want to try some of the benefits of grinders without investing too much, it’s one you can buy.
Automatic vs Manual Grinders
Automatic coffee grinders are machines, so all you need to do is push a button and your coffee grounds are set. Manual grinders need you to expend a bit of your energy to get the final result.
Making coffee for one or two people is usually not a problem with manual grinders but you’ll need more coffee grounds when you’re dealing with ten or more people and it’s very easy to develop muscle fatigue after all that grinding.
Automatic grinders save time so if you’re in a hurry and you need a quick cup of coffee that’s what you want but if you’re someone who cares about inhaling some of that coffee aroma while grinding, manual grinders are what you need.
Manual grinders are more portable so you can include them in your backpack when going camping.
5 Best Automatic Coffee Grinders
1. Capresso Infinity Grinder
This grinder from Capresso uses a conical burr which can produce up to 450 revolutions per minute of grinding. Grinding starts after you set the timer.
It can produce fine to coarse grounds. The upper conical burr can be removed so you won’t have problems with cleaning and grind time is from 5 to 60 seconds.
The grinder sits on a heavy duty zinc makeup so is very durable. It can hold up to 4 ounces of ground coffee and about 9 ounces of coffee beans.
2. Baratza Encore Grinder
Here’s another conical burr grinder, there’s a switch to start and stop grinding and another button that produces a quick and immediate grind.
There are 40 different grind settings so apart from choosing between coarse or fine grounds, you can also use grind settings for popular brewing devices like the Aeropress and French Press.
It can hold up to 10 ounces of coffee beans.
3. Quiseen Coffee Grinder
This is more of a budget automatic grinder, it has a one-touch operation feature so if you want an automated device without a lot of settings, this should do.
It uses a stainless steel blade so if it’s something you plan on using for a long while, replacement blades are things you should include in your budget.
It holds 2.5 ounces of coffee grounds so you’ll use it a lot if you’re serving lots of coffee.
4. Breville BCG820BSSXL Grinder
It uses an LCD display so you can have a good view of the entire process and 60 grind settings so you can be as flexible as you want while grinding.
Your coffee grounds go directly into a portafilter and it can hold up to 18 ounces of coffee.
5. Baratza Vario Grinder
The Vario grinder is one of the expensive devices out there but it does have some exciting features.
It’s a ceramic flat burr grinder, with a digital control panel that uses an LED display. There’s a 1 to 10 scale denoting settings for fine and coarse grounds.
Grounds are stored in a portaholder and the machine can hold up to 6 ounces of coffee grounds.
There are 230 grind settings on this machine so this is something you’ll need if you run a cafe where you’ll be making lots of coffee.
3 Best Manual Coffee Grinders
1. Hario Coffee Mill
This is a manual coffee grinder using ceramic burrs and you don’t need to preheat your coffee beans before grinding.
The ceramic burrs are adjustable so you can tweak grind size, this grinder can hold up to 100g of coffee grounds.
Its rubber base keeps it fixed while grinding so you shouldn’t be worried about any slips.
2. KONA Coffee Grinder
The KONA grinder is a manual coffee grinder using ceramic conical burrs. It’s lightweight and portable so this is something you can use on a camping trip for two.
Its stabilized burr mechanism will give you more uniform grinds than most manual coffee grinders.
It can store up to 50g of coffee grounds and its burr settings work for different types of coffee like the cold brew, drip coffee, and espresso.
3. Porlex Coffee Grinder
The Porlex grinder is a Japanese manual coffee mill with a stainless steel makeup.
It uses adjustable ceramic conical burrs which can produce anything from fine to coarse grounds.
It can store up to 20g of coffee grounds. It comes with a handle at its center to provide stability during grinding and has a lightweight design.
How To Grind Coffee Beans Without A Grinder
You can still get coffee grounds without a grinder, look at some of the ways to do this:
You can use a blender to get coffee grounds though the consistency of your grounds will depend on the kind of blade used in the blender.
Test your blender with just a tablespoon of whole coffee using the pulse setting to see the quality of your grinds and to confirm that the glass can handle the coffee beans.
2. Mortar and Pestle
You can use this to grind your coffee beans but you need to grind a little quantity at a time so it doesn’t spill out of the mortar.
This is a noisy alternative to using coffee grinders so it’s not one you can really use outside your home.
You can crush your beans in a plastic bag if you have a hammer you can use. Make sure the bag is made of high-quality plastic so it’s not one that can be destroyed by pressure.