If you have just bought yourself a manual machineor a manual infusion system such as Chemex or V60you will need'a good grinder that will help you get a fresh coffee full of flavor. You could buy pre-ground coffee from the store, you might say. But the grind would not necessarily be adapted to your machine, since most of the coffees already ground in the shops are filter-ground coffees. Moreover, the taste of your coffee will be disappointing because it will be much less fresh, since commercially ground coffees have been ground for some time when they arrive on the shelves.
But then which grinder to choose? Manual or automatic? A grinder with flat or conical burrs? And what is the difference between ceramic and steel burrs? There are many different models, with different options or materials, and you can quickly get lost.
The My Caffeine team has written this guide to help you find the grinder that is right for you and your coffee machine. You'll get the best possible coffee in a cup thanks to the right grind and freshly ground coffee.
- Blades or burrs grinder?
- The different burrs
- The manual grinder
- The automatic grinder
- Choosing the right grinder for your machine
- Maintenance & Accessories
1- Blades or burrs grinder?
You may want to use your old hand-cranked grinder that you got from your grandmother. Yes they are beautiful, antique, and bring a lot of charm on your countertop, but that would be a mistake. We'll tell you why.
The old grinders are equipped with blades, not burrs. Their price is very attractive yes, but the quality of grinding will not be there. And the explanation is very simple. The blades in action will heat your beans and give a burnt taste to your coffee. They also do not allow you to adjust the grind precisely. You will have an approximate grinding for your infusions, which is far from optimal.
Your grind will also lack homogeneity since the beans are sliced into several parts and not ground evenly. You will therefore have different grind sizes.
This type of grinder will also prevent you from varying your brew types if you have different brewing systems.
Generally speaking, the blades will damage your grain, you should ban this kind of grinder for your coffee. A blade grinder is reserved for your spices.
The burrs grinder
Burrs are now the norm for modern grinders. Burrs are available in different sizes or materials, providing you with various advantages depending on your choice of model.
This is what you need to get the perfect, uniform, and right-sized grind for your machine. Grindstones grind your grain and do not cut it in a crude way like blades.
We explain the difference between flat and conical burrs, but also between ceramic and steel.
2 - The different burrs
As seen previously, there are different models of burrs.
They can be conical or flat, and made of steel or ceramic.
Both shapes guarantee an excellent grinding quality, but their differences should be taken into consideration when making your choice.
The size of the burrs is proportional to the grinding speed. The larger the burrs, the faster the grinder grinds. Using conical burrs increases the grinding speed without increasing the diameter of the burrs.
In terms of technical operation, the distance between the two parts of the burrs will determine the size of your grind.
The operation is quite simple. One of them is fixed, while the other, which is connected to the motor, turns and grinds the coffee.
Positive points : Grinders with flat burrs are quieter and faster. Less grind gets stuck, so less cleaning is required on a daily basis.
Negative points: A little more cumbersome on the counter, they can also be more expensive.
Example of a flat burrs grinder
Conical burrs consist of two parts, one of which is cone-shaped as the name suggests. The two parts fit together, one at the top, the other at the bottom.
Positive points The slower rotation of conical burrs prevents the grain from overheating. Grinders are generally more compact and less expensive.
Negative points They are noisier and slower. They require more maintenance and daily cleaning, especially if you use oily coffee because the grind (especially fine grind) can accumulate and block the burrs.
Example of a conical burrs grinder
Steel or ceramic?
Both materials exist and guarantee an excellent grinding. The main difference is the thermal conductivity. In other words, heat diffusion, which is an important factor for professionals who have to make several coffees in a row. Steel is a good conductor, so it will heat up faster but also cool down faster. The opposite is true for ceramic.
But whether you choose one or the other will have no impact on the taste of your coffee, as long as you maintain your grinder properly.
The most common type of automatic grinder, steel is affordable and very strong. However, it is necessary to change your steel burrs from time to time, as they are not immune to wear and tear.
Ceramic is a very expensive and fragile material for mills, but its fragility is not a problem for domestic use. It is mostly found in manual grinders. On the other hand, they are almost indestructible!
3 - The manual grinder
Hand mills are very popular today. They are economical, but also very easy to carry and use. They are available with ceramic or steel burrs, and the size of the grind can be easily adjusted by means of an internal knob.
Grinding coffee with a manual grinder is like developing a kind of ceremony around coffee that brings a certain pleasure, even if for some turning the crank can become tiring.
However, you will only be able to make a small amount of ground coffee, depending on the size of the tank, and they are not suitable for Turkish or espresso type grinds, as you will not get a fine enough grind to guarantee the best extraction. (see our grinding guide)
They are however perfect for manual infusions, Italian coffee makers or the French press! This makes it the perfect grinder to take on a camping trip!
Store for a manual grinder
4 - The automatic grinder
The first advantage over the manual grinder is the speed of execution. Once you've calibrated the grinder to your desired grind, you only need to press one button to fill your filter holder, which saves you precious time. It's ideal for people in a hurry in the morning!
You can also achieve unparalleled grinding precision very easily, and in large quantities. (see our grinding guide) Note however that it is not advisable to grind too much in advance in order to keep the coffee fresh. Ground coffee loses its aroma after a week.
The automatic grinder has become an essential on the counter next to your manual machine. Some grinders are true works of art as the aesthetics have improved so much in recent years.
However, it is more expensive and noisy than a manual mill.
Store for an automatic grinder
5 - Choosing the right grinder for your machine
As seen previously, not all grinders are adapted to all machines or brewing systems, and therefore to all grinds. You must therefore choose your grinder according to the machine you have.
If you have different machines, make sure you get a grinder that will offer you a wide range of grinds, from fine to coarse without problems.
So, if you have a Turkish coffee maker or manual espresso machine, don't get a manual grinder that won't give you a fine enough grind for your coffee brewing (see our grinding guide)
Little advice? You should always change the size of your grind while grinding coffee to avoid damaging your grindstones.
6 - Maintenance & Accessories
Yes, like any household appliance, a grinder needs maintenance. Properly maintaining your grinder guarantees good grinding performance and therefore the quality of your coffee in cups every day. You also ensure its longevity. It should be noted that a grinder that is not used for a while may no longer function properly, just like a coffee machine.
For a deep cleaningThere are products that remove the coffee that has accumulated in your grinder and clean the fat from the beans used. The optimal frequency of deep cleaning is every 3 months, but can be more spaced if for example you use brown coffee, which is less oily.
For regular everyday maintenanceYou can use a clean, dry brush or paintbrush. You can also use a clean cloth to regularly clean the inside of the bean container or the coffee outlet.
Maintenance of your grinder
Accessories for your grinder
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