The coffee grinder is the most overlooked piece of equipment. Most of the attention goes on the coffee machine and the coffee itself. This is largely due to the fact that so little is understood about the importance of the role the grinder has to play. The coffee grinder is an equal player in the equipment needed to get consistent quality every time.
Once the coffee beans have been roasted, they need to be broken apart. The trick is to capture the aroma and freshness of the coffee just after it has been ground. It’s better to only grind as much coffee as you need. It is possible to store coffee once ground, but for best results, fresh ground is best.
How To Choose A Coffee Grinder Properly
A good quality coffee grinder should always give you the ability to adjust the grind. This is because the rate of extraction (the pour time) will be influenced by how fine the coffee is. You will also be able to control how much sediment there is in each extraction. A finer coffee will give more sediment. This could be a good or bad thing, depending on your taste!
Coffee machines will typically come in two types – the burr grinder and the blade grinder.
The blade grinder tends to be the cheaper option for home use. It’s actually quite hard to get any proper consistency with a blade grinder. This is because you can only control how fine the coffee is by leaving the machine on for longer. The process is the same as grinding bread in a food mixer. You just throw in the beans and the blade will repeatedly cut the coffee beans into smaller sizes.
Burr grinders provide a superior ground coffee. The Burr grinder has two cylindrical plates. Each plate has teeth that will crush the coffee when they rotate. You can adjust the gap between the two plates that will determine how fine the coffee is.
Burr grinders can be further categorised by the speed of the grinder. A high speed direct drive grinder is the cheapest option, although the high speed using the motor directly to drive the plates can give rise to heat. This heat can change the quality of the coffee. A better option is to use a low speed direct drive grinder. This will push the price of the grinder up, as the grinder will need a set of gears to reduce the speed of the plates. The sound of the coffee grinding is also much louder with a low speed grinder.
There are two more considerations after this. The first is weather to choose a grinder with a doser. The doser is a lever that will dose an exact amount of coffee you need per shot and will take the coffee from a chamber that is used to store coffee once it has been ground. For home use, this is not necessary unless you are catering for a large number of people. It could be handy for a dinner party for example. The second, more important consideration is stepped grind adjustment or manual. Manual grind adjustment will allow you to make a slight change to the grind, to allow for changes in room temperature. Yes! It does make a difference! If you don’t have a manual grind setting, don’t worry too much as you can always press harder or lighter when you ‘tamp’ the coffee in the porta filter. This is the handle that contains a basket for you to place the coffee. The ground coffee is pressed by using a handle or a flat surface attached to the coffee machine.
Sounds like a massive amount of information to take in at once. Messing around with the results from your grinder is fun. In time, you will get to know how to handle ground coffee and will start producing some really good results.