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While a blade coffee grinder uses spinning metal blades to chop up the coffee, you may find yourself wondering: what is a burr grinder?
A burr grinder can grind the beans into even particles by using “burrs” which are rough surfaces typically made from either ceramic or metal. The coffee beans are rotated through the burrs until the grounds are small enough to fall through the burrs and into the container.
Burr grinders also allow users to adjust the size of the grind by changing the settings on the machine to place the burrs closer together or further apart, depending on the desired grind size.
Because of this, there is much more opportunity to change the coarseness of the grind based on your preferred brewing method. Rather than trying to guess how fine or coarse you want your beans, the burr grinder will do it for you—and with precision.
But why is this Burr Grinder important?
According to the National Coffee Association of USA, using a burr grinder is the most reliable way to get an even grind in order to extract the best possible flavor from your coffee beans.
We’ve all experienced that ho-hum, average cup of coffee brewed at home, right? If you’re less-than-satisfied with your home-brewed coffee and found yourself wondering if using a burr grinder will make a difference—the answer is a resounding yes!
Several elements go into providing an excellent cup of coffee -- water purity, water temperature, brewing equipment, and coffee ratio.
And while this is the case, one of the most critical points of brewing a perfect “cuppa” is beans that are consistently and accurately ground. And this can be achieved best by using a burr coffee grinder.
Why Use a Coffee Grinder At Home?
Buying coffee that has been pre-ground is a relatively standard practice. However, what pre-ground coffee gains in convenience, it loses in taste.
While roasted coffee beans are whole, they retain flavor components inside of them that add to the aroma and taste of the coffee experience. Grinding the beans almost immediately begins the degradation of flavor.
One of the essential components of this flavor, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), is a crucial gas that moves the coffee oils into the water during the extraction process. However, up to 80% of CO2 is released within the first minute after the beans are ground.
This means that even grinding your coffee the night before means that the taste of your beans will suffer significantly. And that pre-ground coffee from the grocery store shelf? Well, that’s just downright stale.
Instead, the best practice for making a fantastic Cup of Joe is to grind your coffee immediately before brewing.
Types of Coffee Grinder
Two different basic types of coffee grinder are in regular use today, categorized by the mechanisms used to grind the beans: the blade grinder and the burr grinder.
Commonly used, the blade grinder typically employs stainless steel blades that create a whirring action to chop at the beans and pulverize them into smaller particles.
Although blade grinders are relatively inexpensive and may be useful for grinding spices, blade grinders are unreliable for coffee. The reason is that it cannot ensure that the ground particles are of similar size.
This means that the coffee is extracted from the grounds in an uneven manner producing results that are not ideal. Coffee that is extracted from the grounds that are too small will often taste bitter.
Meanwhile, what is extracted from grounds that are too large is rather weak, making for a flavor that is imbalanced and just not very good. Using a blade grinder at home may be better than brewing with beans that have been ground weeks (or even months!) ago. For the truly best cup of coffee, it is critical to obtain a fresh, even grind that can only actually come from using a burr grinder.
Buying a Burr Grinder to Improve Your Coffee Experience
Many burr grinders are on the market today, but not all of them are the same.
If you have nothing else to spend your money on, you can certainly find an excellent burr coffee grinder in the $2000 range, but don’t let that scare you. Good burr grinders are available that run in the range between $100 and $150.
When shopping for a grinder, do be sure that the burrs are of real steel and the company provides an extended guarantee. From a reliable burr grinder, you can expect to get several years of excellent coffee, brewed and enjoyed in your own home.
Now that you’ve gone beyond the question “What is a burr coffee grinder?”, you can move on to a more important question: Which burr grinder should I buy?