You might think that you’re ready to be an at-home barista, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Before grinding that first batch of beans, learn some of the best practices to get the best use and performance out of your coffee grinder.
1. Burr vs Blade
If you just have a percolator or a regular drip coffee maker, an inexpensive blade grinder is really all you need. Blade grinders cut the beans up like a lawnmower, and you can lose some of the coffee flavours through heat, which may not matter for coarse grind applications. However, if you make espresso, Turkish or Moka Pot coffee, the more consistent and finer grounds that come from a burr grinder will suit your coffee tastes better.
2. Grind Selections
There are seven basic coffee grinds. Extra coarse, coarse, medium coarse, medium, medium fine, fine and extra fine. Those grinds will cover virtually any type of coffee type that you want to make. Some coffee grinders offer you dozens of grind settings, and you’ll pay more for that luxury, but you can save yourself some money and be just as satisfied if you get a grinder that covers the basic grinds. If you are a true coffee or espresso fanatic, a grinder that offers dozens of grinding options may be your cup of tea. For most people, however, once they find a grind they like, they will rarely adjust it to any other grade.
3. Only Grind What You Need
You should only grind the amount of coffee that you need. Sure, you can grind in bulk, but your coffee may go stale, and that is the beauty of a coffee grinder. Grind up your beans fresh each day for the best tasting coffee that you’ll ever have.
4. Manual or Electric
Most manual grinders are capable of giving you a very fine grind, but they are slower to use. Electrics will grind up a full pot of coffee grounds within seconds, as opposed to a manual grinder which may take several minutes. If speed is what you need, go electric, but if you like the romantic aspect of grinding your own beans by hand or if you want to take your grinder with you any place you travel to, go manual.
5. The Price Factor
Coffee grinders don’t have to be expensive, but a manual grinder will be a better deal because the quality of the grounds will be far superior for the price. Consequently, high-end retail coffee grinders will not only grind beautifully but will also look lovely sitting on your countertop. Get what you can afford, but if you are new to grinding your own beans, try an inexpensive grinder first and see how you like it. You can always get a better one if it doesn’t suit your needs.
Although we think of coffee beans as being hard and dry, the fact is that they are filled with essential oils which give coffee its flavour. The oils will eventually stick to the grinding surfaces and potentially gum them up making them less and less effective with every batch of beans. You can remedy this by running a handful of white rice through the grinder every other month or so, which will soak up the oils and dislodge any coffee bean particles that may have been sticking to the metal blades.