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Choosing the Best Coffee Grinder There are basically two major kinds of coffee grinders: blade and burr. As the name suggests, blade grinders use blades to grind whole coffee beans. They’re actually very similar to blenders and food processors. Whereas blade grinders chop up coffee beans into coffee grounds, burr grinders actually grind them. Burred grinders are so-called because of the two burred plates inside that serve as the mechanism for grinding. For the beans to be properly ground, only one plate spins. The other remains stationary. Burr coffee grinders are typically more expensive than blade coffee grinders. However, if you’re particular about your coffee, this is one extra expense you might want to invest in. Every coffee artisan who believes coffee is an artform will tell you the same thing; blade coffee grinders are a sacrilege to all things caffeine.
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That may be a little over-the-top dramatic for something as simple as coffee, it matters very much to the people who mind.
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Blade Coffee Grinder Pros Perhaps the biggest pro blade grinders have going for them is that they’re cheap – and that’s it. If you’re not sure about using a hand operated coffee grinder, a blade grinder is the affordable choice. If you’re one of those who are just after a fresh cup of coffee, you won’t taste the difference right away. And no matter how bad blade-ground coffee beans are, they’re nothing compared to pre-ground coffee beans. Just like fruit loses its freshness moments after it’s peeled, coffee also goes stale after it’s been ground. The richness and aroma that makes coffee uniquely coffee will disappear after a few hours. Who knows how many days the pre-ground, pre-packaged beans sat in transport before they reached supermarket shelves. So there are things worse than blade-ground coffee beans, and those are pre-ground coffee beans left to go stale on grocery shelves. But Blade Grinders Can Never be The Best The fact is, when you use a blade grinder to grind coffee beans, you’re basically tossing vegetables into a blender and expecting them to come out in nice, even slices. And, like I mentioned earlier, that’s not very far from the truth (the resemblance is a fact worth repeating because it is no coincidence). Fact of the matter is that there’s no way in cold hell you’re going to get precise, clean cuts from a blender or food processor. You will, however, get a pulverized pile of vegetable mush. Despite the fact that it slices, a bladed coffee grinder just isn’t as precise as a burr grinder. It doesn’t so much ‘grind’ as it ‘mashes’. You have practically no control over the result. The blades will just keep spinning and spinning, continually cutting the already small coffee pieces until they reach particulate level. But wait. Finer coffee particles. Isn’t that what we want? Not really. Unless you’re going for a very fine brew, ideal coffee grounds should be like sand, not sawdust. When your ground coffee has the consistency of sawdust, it’s now what you call “fines”. If you blend them along with your coffee, the fines may over-extract the coffee’s natural flavour. When that happens, you’ll end up with coffee that doesn’t taste as smooth and is quite bitter. If you want to get the natural, fresh flavor of your coffee beans without the risk of over-extracting, your coffee needs to be ground into uniform-sized particles. These same-sized particles will maximise your coffee’s flavour and aroma. It also helps to avoid chunking and clogging problems. Lastly, if you want to have complete control over the fineness or coarseness of your blend, same-sized coffee grounds are the best way to go. Precision is the only way to achieve this sameness. The best grinder is a precision grinder, and a burr coffee grinder is precision through and through.