In today's convenience age when it comes to kitchen appliances, the art of coffee making is sometimes overlooked. Many people will grab the pre-ground coffee from the grocery store, put it in a drip coffee maker, and voilà you have your coffee. The problem is your not getting the best results, and more often than not we end up going to the coffee shop on our way to work weeks later for better coffee. The find the best coffee grinder for you can help make that same cup of joe as you buy from coffee houses with huge savings in time and your wallet!
How can the best coffee grinder change the flavor of coffee?
To understand how grinders play a significant role in the flavor profile of your coffee you have to understand what exactly a coffee mill (another word for a grinder) does. Now I am sure most of you are rolling your eyes right now because everyone knows that the best coffee grinder grinds down coffee beans, but we need to take a deep look into the process.
Why do we grind the beans in the first place?
If you look into the history of coffee, you will found out the first extraction of coffee beans was by agitating the bean through a long boiling process. This process left you with a highly caffeinated, bitter, and thick concentrate of coffee. Lucky for us we have since started grinding coffee and running water through the grounds. Why? Well, coffee beans contain caffeine and oils inside of the bean. These oils are what give coffee its aroma and taste and the caffeine well it's what makes sure we get to work in a less zombie like state!
So why is it bad to buy pre-ground coffee?
Pre-Ground Coffee offers a host of issues-
- Oxidation- Most of the armor that we get from coffee is due to gasses trapped inside of the bean after roasting. The minute you grind the bean is introduced to Oxygen, and the gasses interact in what is called oxidation. After grinding coffee beans after 20 minutes, an estimate of 60% of the coffee aroma is released and gone. Simply put you lose most of your armor and some of your flavor profile from pre-ground coffee.
- Soluble Oils- Coffee bean oils are soluble. That is excellent news for us or else the brewing process would be much more challenging. The problem is when you grind coffee beans and expose them to the environment moister in the air starts to dilute these essential oils. That is why the best cups of joe are ground fresh and brewed as soon as possible.
- Delicate Oils- Coffee oils are very easily manipulated by their environment once they are out in the open i.e. they have been ground. They will often pick up and hold odors from around the grinds if exposed for extended periods of time. These new odors only weaken or sometimes even spoils the brew.
- Weakens the Roasting Process- During the roasting process, a lot of CO2 is created. Carbon dioxide is needed during the brewing process to help release the oils for a more flavorful and aromatic brew. When you grind your coffee, it creates more surface area in your beans raising the probably of release CO2. According to coffee confidential, almost 80% of all CO2 is released within 60 seconds after grinding.
Grinding Process- Types of Coffee Grinders
Knowing that the best cup of homemade coffee comes from freshly ground coffee beans lets look at how grinders work. So there are two different type of mills, the first what we call the mini blender.
These mills use blades to grind up the coffee beans. They spin the blades as fast as the motors will allow it and the blade cuts where it hits the bean. Two issues come from these little value beauties.
One they are too inconsistent. Most of these grinders have only manual controls and grind meaning you control that grind. While controlling may sound like a good thing you are responsible for how long (how fine the grinds are) to let your blades run. The process means its all on how long you run the grinder and well human error does occur. The other inconsistency is about the mechanism of the blades. Since the blades will be cutting the bean where ever it hits the bean, there is no consistency.
The second problem comes from the blade friction causing heat. With the blades swirling around and hitting solid objects friction heat starts to build up. Remember those lovely oils we are trying so hard to preserve until we run the drip? Yeah, they don't like heat especially after being ground up and out in the open. You lose a lot of the oils and moisture you with blade grinders; something grind fresh was supposed to preserve.
Burr grinders have two separate pieces commonly made of metal or ceramic that are set a specific distance apart (the size you want your grind). The two parts then rotate and grind down the bean until it is small enough to fall through the opening leaving an ideal size of the bean. To give you an idea this is the same concept used in pepper shakers that have mills in them. You turn the grinder and pepper fall out once it can fit through the burrs. There are two different types of burr mills flat plate and conical burrs. There is a heated debate amongst coffee enthusiasts alike on which one of these kinds of burrs are better but almost everyone agrees that either is substantially better than a blade grinder and make the best coffee grinder.
Size of Grinds
Best Types of Brews
Slightly larger than sea salt
Cowboy Coffee, Cold Brewing
Close to the size of sea salt
French Press, Precolators
Size of Corse Sand
Clever Dripper, Chemex
Size of Regular Sand
Flat-Bottom and Cone Drips
Slightly finer than sand
Cone Shaped Poor Overs
Slightly smaller than table salt
Feels like flour
Best Coffee Grinders of 2017
In a lot of our lists, there is room for argument that this our that should be rated higher but not on this page. There is doubt in our mind that the highest rated and best coffee grinder currently for consumers is the Baratza Virtuoso. While we consider this on the top end price range for grinders the Baratza Virtuoso's simplicity is what leads to its consistency. A fantastic scientific study on the accuracy of grinds in grinders can be found here on homesweet. If you don't want to take the time in reading all their findings, we will sum it up for you. If you want a machine that grinds coffee beans at close to the same accuracy of a commercial grade grinder you want the Virtuoso. The best coffee grinder grinds coffee in uniform size and that is exactly what the Virtuoso does.
- Grinding Accuracy is world class
- Ideal for French Press Grinds
- Easy to clean the burrs and inside the machine
- Not Ideal for Espresso Grinds
- Cylinder is harder to get off and no stopper to hold beans
- Grinds sometimes leak from cylinder
Best Value for Coffee Grinder
Coming in a full three figures cheaper at times this compelling value option is right for people looking to save some cash but still want a higher performing coffee grinder. The Baratza Encore tested well in medium sized grinds, fine grinds, and medium grinds. Most of the grinds were as uniform as some of the other $200 models. The Baratza Encore does not have the ability to provide quality fine grinds however you should not buy the Baratza Encore if you want to use it for espresso grinds. This machine is your best coffee grinder if you are comparing results to dollars spent.
- Great Value
- Good for Common Brews (Medium Grind)
- Easily Clean the Burrs
- Best $200 or under coffee grinder
- Corse Grind Consistency is Poor
- Lots of Plastic
- Not suited for espresso grinds
- Cylinder is harder to get off and no stopper to hold beans