You’re very passionate about your coffee, and you want to begin replicating brewing techniques you’ve seen at esteemed cafés in the comfort of your home. You’ve been recommended both blade and burr grinders, but you only need one. Which will make more delectable, crave-worthy coffee?
Burr grinders produce a more consistent cup of coffee as the grinder breaks down coffee beans into a uniform size. You cannot choose the ground bean size with a blade grinder, not to mention they’re inexpensive to the point of being cheap.
We want to help you decide which coffee grinder best suits your needs and budget, which is why we’ll talk about the pros and cons of both blade and burr grinders ahead. You’re certainly not going to want to miss it!
What Is a Blade Coffee Grinder?
Before we can fairly contrast blade and burr grinders, we want you to be clear on both grinder types. That’s what this section and the subsequent section will do.
Okay, so exactly what is a blade coffee grinder? Known also as a propeller grinder, whirly grinder, electric blade grinder, or a coffee mill, a blade grinder is a machine for making coffee. Included in the grinder are propeller blades that are often made of a durable material like stainless steel.
You pour your coffee beans into the blade grinder, turn it on, and the blades spin somewhere in the ballpark of 20,000 to 30,000 rotations per minute. The motion of the blades doesn’t grind coffee beans, per se, despite the blade grinder’s name. Instead, they’re sliced.
Blade grinders don’t have settings that let you control coffee bean particle size, but you can still use this grinder to make chunkier versus fine beans, at least according to some users. What you’d have to do is run the grinder in short bursts versus for longer periods.
The biggest benefit of a blade grinder by far is how inexpensive it is. You can buy one of these machines for around $20.
For the coffee lover on a budget who’s tired of funneling cash into coffeehouses for overpriced drinks, you’ll love the cost of a blade grinder. You’ll now be able to make your own homebrewed coffee on the cheap.
Another perk of blade grinders is their size. If you don’t have a lot of counter space because you rent an apartment or the kitchen in your home is small, then you know you have to be picky about which appliances go on the counter. A blade grinder won’t take up a lot of room!
Admittedly, blade coffee grinders certainly have their drawbacks.
The biggest and most significant one is that the grinder lacks settings for you to adjust coffee bean size. If you ran your blade grinder every day for 15 minutes and then bagged the coffee beans after each grinding session, you’d notice the inconsistency in bean size from one day to another.
That means the consistency from one cup of coffee to another will vary as well!
Also, although you could theoretically run a blade grinder for 15 minutes, you wouldn’t want to. The blades produce friction since they run so quickly, and the longer the machine is on, the more heat those blades generate. Parts of the coffee beans can burn.
On top of all that, blade grinders are known to produce a static charge, again from the propeller blade’s rotation speed. Some of the ground coffee might get stuck not only to the inside of the machine but inside your cup as well.
What Is a Burr Coffee Grinder?
Next are burr coffee grinders. Inside this machine are burrs, with burrs being metal pieces with a ridged or roughened edge. Stainless steel is a popular material for burrs, as is ceramic. Burr grinders will have two pieces of burr that send the coffee beans into the machine in small groups.
Then the beans enter the grinding area, where they’re ground instead of chopped. Unlike blade grinders, with a burr grinder, the coffee ground size is up to you. All you have to do is open the burrs up more or move them closer together.
You can pick between two types of burr grinders, conical or wheel burrs. Wheel burr grinders are still more consistent than blade grinders, but the burrs rotate in the same way as a blade grinder. This type of burr grinder is less expensive, but it might make noise when running. Using one of these machines can also get a little messy.
Conical burr grinders are the better of the two types but are among the most expensive coffee grinders available. The slower burr spinning speed reduces messes, not to mention unwanted noise.
The biggest advantage of a burr coffee grinder is its consistency. If you want somewhat thicker ground coffee beans, then by setting the burr positioning, you get it every time. That’s also the case if you’re in the mood for finely ground beans.
If your schedule is especially busy, brewing coffee will be one of the easier parts of your day because you know you’ll get a reliable cup of coffee day in and day out with a burr grinder.
Lots of cafés and professional baristas will use burr grinders, so when you choose one of these grinders as well, you’re making a cup of coffee at home that’s professional-grade.
The durability of burr grinders is worth talking about as well. When producing these machines, manufacturers choose high-quality burr materials such as ceramic or stainless steel. The burrs will last for years without losing their ridges or sharpness.
Burr grinders, as advantageous as they are, are far from the norm. Only baristas and true coffee lovers might have one of these machines in their homes. If you were hoping to visit your favorite department store or grocery store to pick up a burr grinder, you probably will come home empty-handed.
Of course, you can always buy a burr grinder online, which makes the above a partially moot point. Still, your takeaway should be that these grinders are quite uncommon, especially compared to blade grinders.
As you might have guessed, the price of a burr grinder is commensurate with its rarity. Unlike a blade grinder, which you can buy for about $20, burr grinders can cost hundreds of dollars.
Blade vs. Burr Grinder – Which Coffee Has the Better Taste?
Now that you’re more familiar with blade and burr grinders respectively, it’s time to answer that all-important question. Between the two grinder types, which will produce the better cup of coffee?
The answer, hands down, is a burr grinder. Here are the reasons these machines far outpace blade grinders.
Consistent Grounds Every Time
If you’re going to bother with the time and expense of buying a coffee grinder, you want consistent coffee grounds for your trouble. Otherwise, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t just buy a container of pre-made coffee grounds at your local grocery store and brew those.
With a burr grinder, you’ll enjoy consistency each time you run this machine. The uniformity of the beans is such even if you like your grounds finer than most.
Blade grinders cannot guarantee that consistency. We mentioned before that as an experiment, you can run your blade grinder for the same amount of time several days in a row, and then examine the results. The grounds would not all be the same size by far.
The fineness and coarseness of your coffee beans absolutely impact the taste. Over-grinding, for example, can make coffee taste bitter. Larger coffee grounds can be chunky and unappealing when you’re expecting a smooth cup of coffee.
Is saving the money in buying a blade grinder worth it for the inconsistent cups of coffee you get time and again? We’d say no!
No Risk of Overheating and Burning Beans
That’s not the only issue with blade grinders, as we talked about. Due to the very fast speed of the blades, these machines can overheat. Some of the beans can end up burnt and others not, which further makes drinking blade-grinded coffee very inconsistent.
If you’ve ever over-brewed coffee beans to the point that they’re burnt, then you know how horrible they taste. For anyone who hasn’t made this cardinal coffee sin, there are notes of charcoal in your burnt cup of coffee, not to mention bitterness. It’s not appetizing in the least.
Some blade grinder lovers have come up with a sort of hack that mitigates this problem. They run their machine in seconds-long bursts.
Sure, this can prevent bean burning, but it’s also quite time-consuming. If you overslept this morning, you’re not going to have time to monitor your blade grinder every few seconds to see how finely ground the beans are. Even on days where you do have the time, you might not necessarily have the patience. We can’t blame you!
Burr grinders will not burn your beans, especially conical burr grinders, and you can run them for longer than a few seconds without worrying. These machines are too high-quality and low-speed to leave you with a bitter cup of coffee.
No Static Cling
Have you ever had your coffee beans stick to your grinder? Then you know the properties of that cup of coffee can be quite interesting, to say the least. Static cling is a common byproduct of blade grinders, but that’s not the case with burr grinders.
Compared to the other issues with blade coffee grinders, a bit of static is not the worst thing ever, but it’s still inconvenient and strange. Your cups of coffee will always be static-free with a burr grinder.
Homebrewers deciding on a blade grinder versus a burr grinder should choose the latter for several reasons. Burr grinders will grind coffee beans to the same size for consistent cups of coffee daily.
Burr grinders also lack static electricity and won’t burn your beans. They are harder to find at stores than blade grinders, although you can always shop online. We do have to note that burr grinders are far more expensive than blade coffee grinders, especially if yours is a conical burr grinder.
We hope the information in this article has helped you choose the right grinder for you!