Burr Coffee Grinder Features To Look For
Burr grinders are considered the best type of grinder to use for the freshest and most flavorful cup of coffee you can experience. When it comes to choosing which one will suit you best, there are a lot of factors, the most important of which is the speed of the grinder. Higher speed models tend to be lower priced and reasonably effective, while lower speed tend to be more costly and offer the widest range of options in terms of how fine the grinds come out. Be sure to look for models that either offer the fineness you prefer, or an option to experiment with the size of the grinds.
High speed burr grinders use smaller motors to spin the burrs quickly. The results tend to be that you get consistently fine grounds quickly. However the drawback to models that only use high speed motors, is that they can result in the grinds getting heated slightly. The warming up can affect the flavor of some beans. If you have a very specific palate, or use very delicate beans, then consider that high speed grinders can affect the flavor and look for models with lower speeds, or multiple speed settings if you want to preserve more of the bean’s flavor for brewing.
Considered the best of the best, low speed burr grinders are also the more expensive variety. Slower grinding results in consistent results, as well as less heat or static being transferred to the beans in the process. If you prefer the most consistent grind with the least likeliness of the flavor being affected at all from the process, then look for purely low speed burr grinders.
One common option among lower cost models is the use of manual power. Often referred to as coffee mills, they utilize metal burr discs, but instead of a motor, have crank handles that rely on manual power to grind the beans. For people just getting into the practice of self grinding, a manual burr coffee mill is considered a decent stepping stone towards and electric model. Just be sure to look for metal burr discs to ensure the grind is even and proper.
Measured or Non-Measured
One basic feature that burr grinders have will either be a measured, or dosed, intake or a simple funnel/open intake. The major difference is simply a matter of controlling how much is ground at a time. Some people prefer to just use a scoop and a funnel/open grinders, while others like the convenience of pouring into a measured intake. As it is mostly a pure preference and not indicative of quality per say, look for a model that suits your tastes.
Pre-set controls are exactly as they sound. Coffee burr grinders, like most of the features, are available in one of two options; pre-set or fully customizable. What pre-sets offer is predetermined levels of fineness, which is determined by the speed and time spent grinding. For those who like the convenience of just pouring in the beans and hitting a button, pre-set grinders are the way to go.
More diehard enthusiasts and aficionados feel that being able to fully customize the grind results, by controlling the speed and time the beans are ground, will result in the best results. While there is easily some debate over how much more effective precise control is, if you would like to see for yourself, then look for models that either offer fully customizable, or both customizable and pre-set grind settings.
Flat Plate Grinders
All true burr coffee grinders will have flat plate grinder heads. These metal discs with ridges are unmistakable and can be used either in pairs, or with conical counterparts. One thing to watch out for is lower end models that use plastic burr discs instead of metal. Not only do these tend to wear out more quickly, they can produce very uneven grinds. Look for models that specify the burr discs are metal, especially if it is lower priced than others.
Best Burr Coffee Grinder Brands
Founded in 1999, Baratza has always been about one thing; making the best grinders available to those who really care about making the best cup of coffee they can. Their selection of burr coffee grinders includes the highly popular Encore (entry level) and Vario (expert level) series. They are known for making very high quality and reasonably priced products, which include burr grinders and accessories to make the most of your grinding experience.
A name that is well known in kitchen of homemakers and professional chefs alike, Cuisinart produces some of the best selling burr coffee grinders without specializing in that particular niche. The Cuisinart DBM-8 is one of the highest selling and top rated models of automatic burr grinders on the market today. It’s extremely affordable pricing accounts for a good portion of its popularity, and makes it hard to beat for its category.
Not as popular, but still fairly competitive when compared to other coffee dedicated companies, Bodum makes a mid-range burr grinder that is an excellent choice for those stepping up from beginner models. Their premier Bistro Electric Burr Grinder offers something fairly unique in the market; it is available in a variety of bright colors. Most standard and professional quality grinders tend to stick with silver and black, but Bodum has a tendency to offer more than the traditional colors, which can be great if you like to coordinate in brighter shades.
Often found alongside other major names in the field, Capresso burr grinders are part of the company’s many products that center around coffee and tea preparation. Competitively priced among mid-range models, Capresso’s infinity series is often compared to others in regards to quality step up models, for those wanting to experiment with above beginner level models. Similar to Bodum, they also offer a bit more variety in terms of product color, bust still remain within the standard of black, silver, and white tones.
Mr. Coffee is known for making extremely economical and fairly reliable products. At the lower end of the budgeting scale, they produce the Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill that is very popular. For casual users and those not wanting to spend too much on just trying grinding for themselves, Mr. Coffee offers the perfect selection of products.
Features of Professional & Commercial Burr Coffee Grinders
When it comes to choosing a commercial quality burr grinder, the details are what set them apart from standard grinders. Professional burr grinders are designed to handle large quantities, or frequent usage, which means measured intakes are not that optional. Most will come with some system of hoppers that can be loaded up with beans and ground in measured portions. The Baratza Forte is an excellent example of a professional quality grinder in terms of hopper capacity and measurement. Look for such details as sturdy construction, capacity, and clear markings to indicate fill levels.
In addition to having hoppers as a standard for commercial burr grinders, a hold compartment or sophisticated method for catching the grinds is considered standard. The system can include both a station to set baskets that will go straight into a brewer, or canisters to hold fresh grinds in reserve for use in the immediate future. While some basic models include holding compartments, professional quality models are set apart by the capacity and versatility. Look for models that will meet your needs in terms of how much coffee you want, or need, to be able to make at a time.
More Grinding Options
Distinguishing a professional grinder apart from a standard run of the mill burr grinder, aside from the price tag, is the number of options you will have in regards to controlling the fineness. Standard grinders that offer flexibility will typically have more increments, but can still pale in comparison to some professional models, which allow you to produce grinds so fine they feel like mist. While it may seem a bit excessive to grind that finely for normal coffee, rarer blends and styles actually require a finer grind. Look for models that match the guidelines for what you wish to grind, sometimes you can find standard models that fit the range, while others require a professional level machine.
Direct Drive and Gear Reduction Motors
Low speed motors are common in standard models, but professional quality burr coffee grinders will go beyond just having a slower running motor. There are two types of commercial grade motors used in burr grinding; gear reduction and direct drive. With gear reduction, a high speed motor is used, but is hooked up to a series of gears that reduces the effective speed. The end result is more torque and less spin (think about peddling uphill, you have to put more effort into turning the wheel which results in more force to fight the incline but not so much speed). With direct drive motors, which happen to be the most expensive type there is for grinders, there is a direct connection between them and the burrs. They are low speed in design, but they are also made to easily withstand the strain of directly rotating the burrs, which also means they produce the least amount of heat or static.
All burr grinders, by virtue of what they do and the fact they are motorized, will produce a fair bit of noise while they in use. Professional quality grinders, especially those with direct drive motors, tend to be the quieter models available. Arguably, hand grinding can be as quiet, or more than some commercial grade grinders, but they are not nearly as efficient. Look for models that specifically address their noise level, if being quiet is preferred or necessary for your needs.
Blades Are Not Burrs
One common mistake that people make when shopping for a coffee grinder, is that they purchase a blade grinder instead of true burr grinder. This is especially common for lower priced models. Blade grinders are like food processors; there is set of sharp blades at the bottom of the compartment that dices and bounces the beans around to chop them up. This can lead to uneven textures, which can damage the flavor of the brew. It is important to look for models that specifically list burr blades, either flat plate or conical are ideal. If they show pictures of the burr compartment it is even easier to confirm it’s the right thing.
Be Familiar with Grinding Styles and Uses
Standard burr grinders will generally be able to produce coarse (think coarse sea salt in texture), medium (finer than coarse salt, more like sandy texture), and fine (think sugar or table salt smoothness) levels of grinds. In order to get the super fine (think confectioners’ sugar with a hint of texture) and Turkish (powdery, like flour) levels of grinds, you will almost always need a commercial quality grinder. The grinds tend to correspond to a different type of brewing machine/method. Examples would be; coarse grinds for French presses, medium grinds for auto drip makers, fine grinds for espresso pots (stove top only), super fine grinds for espresso machines, and Turkish grinds for Turkish coffee preparations. Consider what type of coffee you will be preparing most often when looking for a grinder that meets the level of fineness you will need.
Consider Your Coffee Budget
When deciding on grinding your own coffee, it is a good idea to consider your overall budget for coffee related goods. Most professional coffee shop owners will confirm, you should be willing to at least one-third to equal amounts into the grinder as the machine. A large portion of the quality coffee comes from how the beans are prepared before being brewed. This is why it considered so important to invest reasonably into the grinder half of your coffee making. If you already own a quality coffee brewing machine, then consider investing into a comparable grinder. For example, if you have a very high quality home machine for making cappuccino and espressos, then you want a high quality standard or professional grade grinder to ensure you get the most benefit from both. Look at what you have already, or what you plan to use for brewing when investing into a grinder.