Do you love coffee? Of course, you do - who doesn’t? You wouldn’t be reading this guide right now if you had no interest in it. Are you wanting to elevate your coffee-drinking experience and find out how a burr grinder could help you do that? Well, you’re in the right place.
In this extensive guide to burr grinders, we’re going to cover the different types of them available, how you can best use them to make an amazing cup of coffee, how to maintain them, how to properly store coffee after you’ve used one, and much more.
Before we jump straight into telling you all about the various coffee grinding methods, though, let’s go back in time and see how coffee became so popular. You didn’t think it was a recent invention, did you? No, no - coffee has been around for centuries!
Coffee can be traced all the way back to the 15th century, in the area that’s now known as Yemen. Traders who had visited East Africa (where the coffee seed comes from) brought it over and traded it throughout Southern Arabia.
A love of all-things-coffee quickly spread throughout the surrounding countries and eventually across Europe. Over the past few centuries, the entire world has become infatuated with this rich, flavorsome beverage.
Much written evidence about the early days of the coffee trade exists and it’s a fascinating subject to dive into if you have the time.
Because of how widespread coffee has become, there are many different variations on the preparation of the coffee bean. There are dozens of different style coffees that you can find all around the world, but all of them stem from the same basic principle of coffee-making.
Let’s take a look at the basic preparation of coffee and how each stage affects the flavor of the final product.
There are four main stages in the preparation of coffee and we wouldn’t dare go any further without explaining them to you. It’s important to understand and appreciate each step as they all add so much to the end taste of the beverage.
In this next section, we’re going to be going over the various ways of grinding coffee and explain the advantages to each method.
Whatever method of grinding coffee you are most comfortable with will depend on what you want to get out of it and how you like your coffee. Let’s explore the different techniques out there and see what each one has to offer.
Grinding your coffee using a burr grinder (or burr mill) is a simple and highly-effective process, which is part of the reason why it’s so well-loved all around the world. Everyone from at-home connoisseurs to coffee-house baristas use burr grinders.
With two oscillating, serrated plates (these are known as the burrs), a burr grinder can produce extremely consistent grounds time and time again. As anyone who loves coffee knows, the consistent size and shape of the grounds are essential in ensuring you get the best taste.
The advantage of using a burr grinder is how uniform the fineness of the coffee you ground is, allowing the flavor to be more effectively absorbed by hot water during the brewing process.
While chopping up coffee beans in a traditional blender or food processor might sound like a simple and no-fuss alternative to a burr grinder, it actually hinders certain parts of the process. Let’s take a look at the reasons why simply chopping up coffee beans can be detrimental.
Blenders don’t allow you to fine-tune the consistency of the grounds and provide no way to ensure fineness.
Timing is key, as the more you chop the smaller the particles of coffee become. There is no way to predict how long you should do it each time and keep it consistent.
Although there are no provable weaknesses to heating up the coffee grounds, connoisseurs don’t like the fact that traditional blenders will do just this. Some believe it has a negative effect on the taste of the grounds.
The fine dust that is created when chopping coffee beans can cause damage to your coffee machine.
As you can see, chopping up your beans (as easy as it may seem) is actually the wrong way to go about creating coffee grounds.
There are certain, niche types of coffee (such as Arabic or Turkish style coffee) that require the coffee grounds to be even thinner and finer than certain other methods allow. This fine type of coffee ground is created by pounding the beans.
This is an ancient process and has been around for centuries. It’s very simply achieved by using a device like a mortar and a pestle to pound and hammer the beans into a fine powder; perfect for speciality drinks.
Grinding your coffee beans between corrugated rollers may sound like an effective solution to your coffee needs. However, it is almost exclusively used in the commercial (large-scale) production of coffee grounds.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find a home appliance version which can offer the same consistency and durability as the huge models of roller grinder that are used in coffee factories.
Simply put, a burr is the serrated plates inside of a grinder which accurately and consistently grind the coffee beans. The burrs spin in such a way that consistency, texture, and overall size and shape of the coffee grounds you produce are all identical (or as close to possible).
Most burrs can be adjusted and moved around inside of the grinder so that you can set it to the exact size you want your coffee grounds. Certain styles of coffee require thinner grounds than others, so having the option to adjust the burrs as and when you need is great.
Burrs require very little effort to spin and grind up your coffee beans, so there isn’t much difference between use in the automatic versions you can buy and manual burr grinders. The final product, however, does have some differences which we’ll cover a little later in our guide.
When looking at what burr grinder to purchase, it’s important to pick up one with ceramic or metal burrs. Cheaper models of electric burr grinders come fitted with false burrs. In essence, these are just sharp cutting blades that aren’t as accurate as a true burr.
If you purchase a grinder fitted with false burrs you’ll find that the coffee grounds it produces are inconsistent in fineness and size. This goes against the whole point of purchasing a burr grinder in the first place.
As we’ve explained previously, the oscillating, serrated burrs in a burr grinder can produce beautifully consistent coffee grounds. A blade grinder, on the other hand, is something like a blender or food processor.
These devices are nowhere near as accurate and consistent as the burr grinder and produce a less-than-perfect ground. Of course, blade grinders are still much better than purchasing pre-ground coffee in terms of freshness.
Ideally, you’ll opt for the burr grinder over the cheaper blade grinder. You might think you’re being smart by choosing a less expensive option but in the long run, you’ll wish you went for the choice that provided you with the best overall flavor
There are several differences between manual and electric burrs and the results that you’ll get from operating one or the other. If you’re simply looking for the easiest choice, then nobody is going to chastise you for purchasing an automatic electric burr grinder.
Of course, a manual burr grinder will always produce a richer and more flavorsome coffee. Part of the appeal of manual burr grinders are the ritual side of it and being so integral in the production of your own cup of coffee is a great feeling. Many people cite it as one of their favorite parts of using a manual burr grinder instead of electric.
We won’t judge you if you decide to go for the automatic model. Part of drinking and enjoying coffee is how fast and accessible it as a beverage, so we understand if you feel like eschewing the traditional method in favor of something easier and less time-consuming.
If you don’t like the sound of manually grinding your own coffee, what can we say to convince you that it’s such an enjoyable and advantageous decision? It should be evident by the sheer number of people who use them that they’re a great product. We’ll try our best to show you the appeal of them, though.
Here are what we consider to be the top advantages to trying out a burr grinder:
There is so much to love when it comes to burr grinders. Whether it’s being part of an ancient process or achieving the best taste possible, it’s clear to see that burr grinders aren’t going away anytime soon. More and more people are opting for these devices and using them on a daily basis.
Let’s tackle a few more frequently asked questions and dive deeper into our in-depth guide. In these next few sections, we’ll be trying to answer some questions you might have about burr grinders that you can’t find answers for anywhere else!
Traditionally, burr grinders are designed to only be used for one particular item. For example, you wouldn’t usually purchase a burr mill to grind both coffee and poppy seeds. The transfer of tastes would be hard to eliminate if you use your grinder for more than its intended use.
Much like blenders and food processors, though, there are some types of burr grinders that can be used for multiple products. More often than not, these particular grinders will be the manual kind, as opposed to electric.
Check the instruction manual that comes with your grinder to find out if it’s also possible to use it with other food products, herbs, and spices etc. Please remember that certain grinders won’t be compatible because of the adjustment levels available. You more than likely wouldn’t be able to adjust a coffee grinder enough for it to properly work on flour, for example.
Let’s get back on the subject of coffee and find out how we can make sure our ground coffee stays fresher for longer. This is a very important subject for anyone who has a burr grinder at home.
The best part about grinding your own coffee beans is that you can taste the freshest cup of coffee whenever you want. Sometimes, however, you'll grind a little too much or grind enough to last yourself a little while. In these cases, it’s best to know how to properly store the ground coffee.
Your best bet to keep coffee grounds fresh is by using an airtight opaque container. Keep your ground coffee out of direct sunlight and away from any moisture or heat. This will ensure your grounds will keep fresh for longer.
You may have heard that people store their coffee grounds in their freezer and this is true, also. It’s important not to store the coffee you use every day in a freezer, though. Removing it daily and taking a little bit each time will cause the temperature to fluctuate, introduce moisture to the grounds, and leave them tasting awful and flat.
Instead, only store coffee grounds in the freezer if you’re planning on keeping them there for a while and removing them altogether. Or, alternatively, you can store several small containers of coffee grounds in the freezer instead of a large one.
If you want a little bit more information about how best to store your coffee then simply take a look online at the hundreds of guides out there. You’ll find lots of helpful tips and tricks which will mean your coffee lasts longer and stays as fresh as possible.
The next section is all about the different elements to brewing your coffee grounds and how you can assure a perfect cup time-after-time.
Knowing how to brew the perfect coffee require a little bit more knowledge than just throwing some instant coffee into a mug with boiling water. The brewing process is something which you should learn and practice properly.
To make the ideal cup, you need to ensure that you’re consistent each time you brew your coffee grounds. Check out some of our easy-to-learn tips below to find out how you can make sure every single cup you make is as perfect as the last:
Of course, many different cultures around the world practice making coffee in a variety of ways. If you really want to experiment with how best to make a cup of coffee, consider looking up the various techniques from all corners of the world.
Although they’re extremely easy machines to operate, it’s still important to keep a burr grinder properly cleaned and maintained. Over time, the dust and oil from coffee beans can clog up your machine and cause parts to stick or become jammed.
Many guides out there will recommend using rice to clean your burr grinder as it absorbs a lot of the dust and oil without you having to take the machine apart. While this can work, it’s important to remember that doing so could possibly void your warranty. Make sure you check with the manufacturer before trying this trick.
In general, it’s much simpler to just disassemble the burr grinder and clean it up safely with a lint-free cloth (paper towels can leave behind residue). It’s an easy process and should only take you a few minutes. The instruction manual you receive with your grinder should explain how to remove each part and reattach it once you’re finished with the deep clean.
Now, as we’ve reached the end of our guide, let’s move on to our conclusion and see what the final thoughts are about burr grinders.
So, we’ve reached the end of this epic guide on burr grinders. Hopefully, we’ve converted you into a burr grinder fanatic and you can’t wait to try out this simple coffee grinding appliance. In fact, we bet you’re dying for a cup of coffee right now, right?
If you are interested in getting a hold of a new burr grinder, don’t just purchase the first one you come across. It’s important to ensure you purchase something that suits your needs and can provide the consistency of coffee you require.
Think long and hard about what you want to get out of your experience before deciding between a manual grinder or an electric version. Do you want to sit back and let a machine do all the work for you or do you want to be an integral part of the coffee-making process?
Whatever choice you make, we hope you settle on something that gives you the richest, fullest, most flavorful coffee you could possibly desire!