Buying Your First Espresso Coffee Grinder

Posted by Elaine Mead on 3rd Mar 2020

In one of our recent blogs, we touched on five of the best ways we think you could elevate your morning cup at home, and one of those tips focused on the grind of your beans.

Well, we thought that might be a great point to revisit. We know many people prefer to buy their coffee beans pre-ground, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but if you’re wanting to get stuck in on a little ritual that’s not only quite relaxing (in its own odd little way) but could also lead to a fresher in-cup experience, investing in your own at-home grinder could be the way forward.

Below we’re going to take you through the paces of everything you need to know when considering purchasing a grinder for at-home use.

Blade vs. Burr Grinders: What’s the Difference?

In a nutshell:

  • A blade grinder typically has a blade in the centre, that looks a little like a propeller. It’s quite similar to a standard blender blade.
  • A burr grinder is made up of two revolving abrasive surfaces (the burrs) in between which the coffee gets ground.

A blade grinder does tend to cost less and can be great for things like spices, however they won’t give you the best grind experience for your coffee beans. The blade grinder can be pretty inconsistent and produce an uneven, powdery consistency with your beans.

Although they do cost more, burr grinders are a great investment as they allow you more control over your grind, alongside producing a higher consistency and quality grind. A consistent grind equals a superior in-cup taste.

The Features to Look Out For

There are a lot of products in the market when it comes to coffee grinders, so it pays to be familiar with all the lingo and features you’ll be bombarded with. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way to helping you pick the best product for you.

Here’s out shortcut list of features to know about and why they matter:

FeatureWhy you should care
  • Fineness Settings
Depending on the type of brew you want to make with your beans, you’ll need to be able to adjust how fine the grinder grinds them. This might require a little bit of experimentation to find the best setting for your particular taste, and also depending on the other coffee brewing equipment you’re using. Some grinders have defined fineness settings, whereas others have ‘stepless’ settings, meaning it will have infinite adjustment possibilities for grinding. This can be a good thing if you have a really precise memory. If not, you might lose days attempting to re-find a preferred setting!
  • Automatic Switch-Off
Very handy if you have a busy morning schedule. Once your grinder has worked through the beans you put it, it will automatically switch off after a short period, meaning you don’t have to stand and keep watch if you’ve got shirts to iron or kids to feed.
  • Ability to Adjust the Amount of Ground Coffee
You’ll need to be precise when you’re grinding for different cup-sized pots and single vs. double espressos. Checking for this feature saves time and wastage.
  • Portion Control
This little feature allows for control over the dispensing of the ground coffee in measured amounts. Very helpful.
  • Ease of Cleaning
Another (and very important) feature to look out for is how easy it is to clean. Grinders need to be cleaned regularly, so one that doesn’t allow you to do this easily will become cumbersome and dirty.

How Much Should You Spend

This really does depend on you and your budget, and how much you want to invest in your equipment.

It makes sense to purchase the best grinder you can afford, especially if you’ve already gone all out on a pretty decent espresso machine (why pair a $2000 machine with $100 grinder?).

That said if you’re just wanting to try this out and see if it’s something you want to commit to, opting a mid-range grinder could be a good option. That way you won’t feel guilty if it ends up sitting in the cupboard after a week of use.

Some Quick Coffee Grinding Tips

Getting started with grinding coffee yourself at home might seem like ‘an extra thing’ to add to the to-do list, but we promise it’s actually pretty fun, and one of those activities that are satisfying or the immediately gratifying results you get.

If you’re ready to get stuck in, here are a few of our favourite tips to help you on the way:

  • Remember: ground coffee loses its freshness quickly compared with full beans so make sure you only grind as much as you need for the day.
  • Spend some time playing around with the settings on your new grinder. Experiment a little and get to know your machine and the perfect settings for you.
  • A grind that’s too coarse will result in a poor flavour experience and crema (the foamy layer you get on top of your coffee) and a too fine grind can block the filter on your coffee machine. If either of these things is happening - go back to your grind and play around some more.
  • Make sure you clean the hopper and the ground coffee container regularly. Once ground, coffee will be slightly oily and can leave residues that can lead to mould if you don’t clean your equipment regularly and properly.

Getting the Grind Right: Coarse to Fine

Getting the grind right is crucial for your in-cup experience. We’ve mentioned it already, but this will take a little bit of practice and experimentation.

To help you out, here’s a quick guide on the grind you want to aim for, to suit the coffee you want:

  • Extra Fine = Best for Turkish Coffee
  • Fine = Best for Filter and Espresso Coffee
  • Medium = Good for Plungers
  • Coarse = Best suited for Percolators

Ready to Give it a Go?

We’re feeling pretty confident we’ve given you a good starter guide to go forth and find the grinder that works for you and put it to good use.

And if all else fails, well, we’re here for ya. With a big bag of pre-ground beans.

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