Throw Out Your Coffee Grinder

Brewing coffee is all about extraction of the flavors from the bean. However, there are good flavors and bad flavors in a coffee bean. If you over-extract coffee, it will taste acidic and bitter. If you under-extract, the coffee will be weak and sour. If the grounds are uneven some of the grounds will over-extract and some will under-extract. Acidic, bitter and sour flavors do not cancel each other out.

1bladegrinderThere are three types of grinders available for home use: blade grinders, flat burr grinders and conical burr grinders. Blade grinders are the electric spice or nut grinders sold in kitchen stores. The blades spins and cracks the beans. The longer the beans are in the grinder the more they are cracked. They are inexpensive, and easy to clean. However, the result will be large, medium and fine coffee grounds. The large grounds will under-extract in your brewer and the small grounds will over-extract. If you have gourmet coffee beans, you do not want to use a spice grinder.

Flat blade burr grinders have two flat, parallel blade plates that provide a shearing effect on the coffee beans. The bottom is attached to the motor and always spins. Beans enter the chamber from the top and move laterally through the burrs before being swept into the chute. Settings on the grinder allow you to adjust the space between these plates, thus determining the size (or fineness) of the ground coffee. As a coffee bean passes between the plates, it is first broken into chunks, then ground coarsely, then finely, and then expelled from the grinding chamber by sweeping arms that turn with the plate that spins. High end (expensive) flat burr grinders do an excellent job of creating even coffee grounds. However, the less expensive ones that are for home use do not do as good a job. You do not want to use a flat burr grinder for gourmet coffee.

Conical Burr Grinders have two cone shaped burrs facing each other. The two burrs in a conical grinder consist of an outer ring burr, and a inner cone burr (hence the name). Coffee beans pass through vertically before being swept out the chute. Quality conical burr grinders so the best job of producing evenly ground coffee for non-espresso home use..

Now that you know about the different types of grinders, which one should you buy? High end grinders can cost thousands of dollars. However, for brewed coffee there is no reason to buy a top end grinder. Top end grinders are required for espresso coffee.

If you are shopping for a coffee grinder look for these things:

Solid The grinder is going to be on your kitchen counter, so you want it to stay there not walk around.

Repairable Coffee grinders are one of the few kitchen appliances that can still be repaired. Grinder parts do break e.g. the hopper falls on the floor and cracks. Make sure there are parts or repair stations available to you.

Quiet Grinders can make a lot of noise. Good ones have insulation built into the machine. (If you don’t think this is important, run a grinder while your spouse is still sleeping.)

Easy to Clean Grinders have to be cleaned periodically to take out rancid grounds that build up around the burrs and chutes. Some grinders allow you to take out the burrs, clean out the grinding chamber and the burrs. On others one or both burrs don’t come out and it is more difficult to remove old grounds. Check the cleaning instructions on the grinder to see how much work cleaning is going to be.

Warranty Grinders tend to have long warranties. Make sure you can return the grinder to the seller for at least 30 days and to the manufacturer for at least a year.

Here are three conical burr grinders that we recommend for non-espresso coffees.

Capresso Capresso makes an entry level conical burr grinder, the Capresso Infinity. It comes in different finishes which 1capressoaffects the price. The basic model is a good bargain at $85. It is a good machine that should last for at least 500 pounds of coffee. (Since the average couple uses a pound of specialty coffee a month, the burrs will have to be replaced in 45 years.) The only complaints are lack of replacement parts and cleaning the machine after each grind. You can send the machine to the factory for repair.

Baratza Baratza manufactures a line of coffee grinders. Two of the grinders that work very well for non-espresso coffees are the Encore and the Virtuoso.

1barazataencoreThe Encore is their bottom of the line grinder. It does an excellent job of grinding for non-espresso coffees. It should provide even grounds for up to 1000 pounds of coffee. Encores sell for about $129. You may be able to obtain a factory reconditioned Encore on the Baratza website for about $99.

1baratzavirtuosoThe next level machine is the Baratza Virtuoso. The Virtuoso sell for about $229, but reconditioned grinders are available from Baratza for $185. The difference between the Encore and the Virtuoso is that the Encore produces more coffee dust than the Virtuoso and has to be cleaned more often.

One advantage with the Baratzas is the company has an excellent reputation for customer service. They advertise that if your grinder breaks or the burrs wear down you do not have to throw the grinder out. They maintain an on-line parts list and instructions on how to repair their machines. In addition, for a fee they will repair their own machines.

There are other conical burr grinders in the same price range, however, we think that they have problems the Capresso and the Baraztas do not have. You can check most of them out on Amazon under “conical burr coffee grinder.” If you want to do more research, two websites have a lot of information and

Coffee Cupping Competition. Karen is a member of the Hawaii Coffee Association, the Kona Coffee Council, the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, the Holualoa Village Association and the Specialty Coffee Association of America. She is also the author of a number of articles on Kona Coffee including: Coffee Fraud Kona Coffee Farmers at a Crossroad ;How Typica is Your Kona Coffee? ; Are Roasters Eroding the Kona Coffee Brand?; Coffee Cupping Competitions – Real or Random Chance? ; Seven Easy Steps to Become a Gourmet Coffee Taster ; How to Brew Coffee Using a Pour Over Filter; Before You Buy an Automatic Single Serve Coffee Brewer; Siphon Coffee Brewers Suck!; Sweet Coffee;What Color is Your Coffee Roast? You can email her at #huladaddy #konacoffee

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