Striving to make that perfect cup of smooth coffee full of flavor and low on bitterness is the goal of every coffee lover. Many factors go into brewing the best cup of coffee, and so many devices out on the market promise just that. So, this makes you wonder: Does a coffee grinder make a difference?
A coffee grinder makes a tremendous difference in the overall quality of your coffee. Coffee made from freshly ground coffee beans will always have a fresher, more flavorful taste than pre-ground coffee.
There’s much to cover on the type of coffee grinder to use and how it affects the consistency, grind size, and whether or not you end up with uniform grounds.
What Happens to the Beans Once They are Ground?
Once a coffee bean is ground, it degrades more rapidly due to oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs as coffee beans or grounds come in contact with oxygen. You go from having a few hundred beans in a bag to a few thousand ground particles, so air can reach more coffee and degrade it quicker.
Even in a sealed bag or stainless steel container, it will never taste as good as when freshly ground.
Buying whole coffee beans is always better for taste than using ground coffee. Even though buying your coffee pre-ground is highly convenient and a time-saver in the morning, it’s not the best option.
What is the Best Time to Use Coffee?
Stale coffee is the coffee lover’s enemy. From the minute coffee is picked, it starts to degrade; however, from the moment it is roasted, the countdown begins. Like a loaf of bread, coffee beans need a little time to cool down and rest before reaching their optimum consumption moment.
With coffee, this is between 5 and 10 days after roasting. This is enough time for the coffee to release some of the gasses created in the roasting process but not so much time that it starts to degrade from its exposure to air, light, and moisture.
Good Coffee Grinders Allow you to Choose your Grind Size
Each brewing method will require a different grind size for optimum taste. You can select the exact coarseness or fineness when you grind your beans. The coffee will be extracted more precisely when the grind size fits your method.
Let’s go through some of the most popular brewing methods and what size grounds they call for.
Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is brewed cold to create a smoother finished cup of coffee, but it is not the same as iced coffee. Brewing requires an extra coarse grind size, just larger than sea salt.
Cowboy coffee invokes the resources available on the trail. To make cowboy coffee, you must warm up coarse coffee grounds using water and then drink it after the beverage brews.
A French Press uses an immersion brew method where the grounds sit in water for a few minutes. Coarse grounds are required for a French Press.
Percolator Coffee Machine
Along with the French Press, percolator coffee machines call for coarse grounds to brew the optimum coffee.
Chemex is a type of pour-over brewing system that calls for medium-coarse coffee grounds.
Pour-over coffee is made with medium ground coffee, where a steady stream of water is poured over the grounds in a circular motion.
Aeropress is a portable manual coffee maker that brews high-quality, clean-tasting coffee. A medium-fine grind size is required for these devices.
Moka Pots are heated on the stove and brew coffee by passing the boiling water pressurized by steam through the grounds. As with an Espresso, fine coffee grounds are required.
Espresso is a small coffee most coffee shops offer that requires fine coffee grounds. It can be drunk like a short, strong, intense coffee without accompaniment. Although, it is more often than not used as a base to make drinks such as cappuccinos, flat whites, and americanos.
Coffee Grinders are Essential to Optimal Coffee Brewing
When coffee pros are brewing coffee, they are looking for even extraction. Extraction is the process of dissolving soluble flavors from coffee in water. If the water does not come into contact with the (ground) coffee long enough, you get under extraction, usually ending in a pretty grassy, watery-tasting cup of coffee.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, if it’s over-extracted because the water has been in contact with the coffee for too long, you may have a very bitter and unpleasant-tasting brew.
If your grounds are not appropriate for your brewing device or are not uniform, you are not going to produce quality coffee.
What Does Extraction Have to do With Coffee Grinders?
Everything. The better the coffee grinder, the more equal size each particle of ground coffee is. The more similar in size each particle of coffee is, the more likely it is to extract as evenly as every other piece of coffee in the brew.
This is why we grind coffee in coffee grinders and not blenders. Blenders keep chopping a thing until they are eventually chopped up and blended together. They do not chop pieces evenly.
Best Way to Grind Coffee Beans
To properly grind coffee beans, you first need a good burr coffee grinder that grinds the beans uniformly in size. You can purchase electric grinders or manual grinders.
A blade grinder is the least expensive coffee grinder. It has a small motor and blades that spin, like a propeller, to smash or slice the coffee beans, much like a food processor.
A burr grinder funnels the beans between a rotating grinding wheel and a stable surface that grind them. Rather than chopping the beans, the burr grinder works to crush them, producing very little heat.
These grinders come in two varieties: flat burr grinders and conical burr grinders.
Click here to read “What is the Best Way to Grind Coffee Beans?”
Best Coffee Grinders For that Perfect Cup of Coffee
Budget: Rhinoware Hand Coffee Grinder
There are loads of great things about this grinder that makes it well worth the $35.00 price tag. First, it’s small, so it will only take up a little room in the kitchen. Seconds, it’s a hand grinder, so it doesn’t require plugging. You can adjust the grind size. So it can be adjusted to suit whether you are making a cafetiere or V60.
The hand grinder I have is very similar to this. I love it because I can take it on holiday with me and it fits in my AeroPress and doesn’t take up much room in my luggage. A downside to the small size is you can only fit around 40g of coffee in there (just over 2 cups worth), and hand grinding is a little time-consuming. However, for $39.00, it can get you on the road from being a ground coffee buyer to being a pro.
Mid-range: Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder
Our top pick for burr coffee grinders is the Baratza Encore Conical Grinder. This one is a bit more expensive than the other two we will recommend. But the extra cost is worth it.
The Baratza Encore will give you a consistent grind every time and is built to last. It is straightforward to use, with 40 grind settings to choose from. You’re always going to find that perfect grind size for whatever brewing device you use.
Best: Niche Zero
This would be my pick if I had a stack of cash (which sadly I do not), and I could buy any coffee grinder for home. The Niche Zero Coffee Grinder. You can only buy them on Indiegogo (they are a crowdfunded project), and they cost a mere $499.00.
I have not been fortunate enough to test one of these out, but from what I hear, this is a commercial grinder built for home use. Considering that an excellent commercial grinder will cost you upwards of $1000.00, this is a great innovation.
Most home coffee grinders are not great for grinding coffee for espresso, but this is. The speed, quality of grind, design, and the fact that it has no coffee retention (that is, the zero bit) make it a dreamy kit for the serious coffee brewer. Oh, and it also is beautiful.
So, there you have it. That is why you should buy a grinder and some options to consider. If you are into coffee, buying a grinder is essential. You’ll never get the best cup if you don’t use good quality, freshly roasted coffee and grind it as and when you need it.
Here at Taste The Latte, we guarantee the freshness of our coffee beans. Our Master Roaster roasts them fresh every day. If you want to learn more about our specialty beans, click here!
If you don’t fancy any of the grinders, I have suggested here some things to look for when buying a grinder –
- Ensure the coffee goes through the grinder, not staying in the same location to get ground (like a blender). This will give uneven particle sizes.
- Make sure you can change the grind size. Otherwise, you will never be able to get it the perfect size for what you are brewing.
- See if your local coffee shop is selling coffee grinders for home, if they make tasty coffee in the shop, and can answer your questions about the equipment they’re selling. They’ll probably sell you something just right for what you’re after.