Do I need a coffee grinder?
You have heard about coffee grinders. They say it really improves the quality of the cup. But is it indeed that important? Is it worth the expense, the extra space on the counter, and the daily fuss? Well, maybe, but let’s consider a few things first…
The four factors of gourmet coffee
The Italians have four traditional M’s that dictate the ultimate quality of the cup: Macchina — the coffee machine, be it espresso, drip, French Press, etc; Miscela – the coffee blend that requires a fresh high-quality roast with near 100% Arabica beans; La Mano--the experienced hand of the barista, the barman who makes the coffee; and finally Macinino -- the coffee grinder.
So, do I need a coffee grinder?
If you have any one of these four Ms in bad shape, the coffee will not come out right. If the coffee is not freshly delivered from the roaster (sorry, no shortcuts here), or if the coffee maker is of poor quality, a coffee grinder is a waste of money - a simple case of the “weakest link”. Otherwise, a coffee grinder can elevate your brew to new heights.
Which coffee grinder should I get?
Basically, there are two grades of coffee grinders. At the entry level are the electric blade and manual grinders. These double also as spice mills and are very popular mainly due to their low cost – typically up to $25. They output an inconsistent grind but they are definitely so much better than buying a pre-ground roast. While whole bean coffee keeps its flavor and aroma for a couple of weeks, ground coffee loses it in a couple of hours!
Next come the electric burr coffee grinders. These little wonders take coffee to the next level. To get homogeneous coffee particles they use two burrs facing each other at a fixed distance that determine a consistent grind size. When it comes to price, there are no short cuts. The basic burr coffee grinders start at $25 and the higher quality ones, called conical burr coffee grinders, start at $75. The higher the price the better the results, as long as we keep in mind our “weakest link”…
espressom | Sun, 05/22/2011 - 15:40
Great article. I was wondering why my espresso coffee started tasting like hazelnut. I used the coffee grinder at the grocery store and it probably isn't pristine when I put in my whole beans. I will look into buying a coffee grinder eventually. Meanwhile I'll see which "macinatore" works for me. Grinding coffee daily won't bother me.
broseph | Fri, 12/10/2010 - 23:57
I agree with the other three-star reviews. As a side note, I find the allusion to Italian guidelines to be a little insidious. Let's stop acting as if Italian coffee is authoritative...and let's stop buying coffee roasted in Italy. Locally roasted is where it's at...
shaffer22 | Tue, 12/07/2010 - 03:00
I echo the comments of the other posters. The beans are paramount. But the grinder is very closely related. I think it is one of the most under-emphasized aspects, especially when talking about brewing coffee, and not espresso. Those who brew espresso know that the grind is important, but it is equally important when using a press pot. A grinder that can make consistent, course grounds, is a necessity with the press and immersion methods of brewed coffee.
Red Barn Coffee Roasters | Tue, 11/16/2010 - 16:18
With a service like Roaste available to provide you with fresh, high quality whole beans, the right grinder will certainly add to your coffee experience at home or the office. Additionally, you are afforded the luxury of personalizing and perfecting your own grind to brew yourself the perfect cup.
adam_sickles | Wed, 05/05/2010 - 20:49
For example, a blade grinder is not an option for people who are serious about French Press or espresso. Or that when you are planning to purchase an espresso rig, your plans should allow for a significant amount of money to be allocated to a grinder, e.g. don't get a La Spaziale or Alex Duetto if that only leaves you enough money to buy a Baratza Maestro.