Coffee Grinders: A Quick Look

by laura everage on April 2, 2013 · 1 comment

A proper grind is essential to brewing a great quality cup of coffee, but not all grinders are created equal. We caught up with Kyle Anderson of Baratza to get some tips on what to look for in a grinder.






Coffee Universe: What are the telltale signs that indicate that a consumer needs to replace their coffee grinder?

Kyle Anderson: Most importantly, it’s time to replace the grinder if the coffee doesn’t taste good! Honestly, if they have a “whirly-bird” grinder, they should consider moving up to a burr grinder. Period. I know of no “real” burr grinders for under $80. Consider a Bodum Bistro Burr, Capresso Infinity or Baratza Encore as your entry level to this category.


Coffee Universe: What are the essential things to look for when it comes to home grinders?

Kyle Anderson:  At a minimum, it is essential that it is a real burr grinder (see above), has a range of grind (espresso to French press), the static is minimized, noise is minimized, and great customer support.


Coffee Universe: There are so many price points when it comes to home grinders, how do consumers choose which one is right for them?

Kyle Anderson: “Whirly-bird” (blade) grinders run between $19-$29. These merely beat the beans into random sizes (powder, dust and chunks) resulting in poor taste. There are “burr” grinders from $39-$69, but these are basically blade grinders with cheap burrs instead of a blade. These spin at about 18,000 rpm (like a blade grinder) and they pulverize the coffee and over heat it. At about $99, you get into “real” burr grinders that spin around 500-1700 rpm,  and they actually cut the beans into precise particle sizes resulting in a much smoother taste in the cup.


Coffee Universe: Could you explain to our readers how the fineness of the grind affects the brewing and why different grind levels are needed.

Kyle Anderson: The smaller the coffee particle, the greater the ratio of surface area to volume. What this means is, much more of the ingredients of the coffee will be exposed to water, hence extracted into your cup. Finer grinds allow for shorter water contact times (think espresso). A typical espresso will be in contact for 28 seconds yielding really rich flavors By comparison, a filter grind may require 4 minutes of contact time (largely due to bigger coffee particles). For people who enjoy a variety of brewing methods, it is critical to be able to accurately adjust grind size. A burr grinder accomplishes these various grind sizes by adjusting the distance between the two cutting surfaces of the mating burrs.

Baratza offers a range of burr grinders designed to deliver exceptional cup quality for the home or the cafe. Visit Baratza’s website to view their full collection.


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