Have you tasted pre-ground coffee? Compare it with a cup of coffee made from freshly ground beans, and you will see a world of difference. There is a reason why most coffee addicts treasure their coffee grinders as the most important appliance in the kitchen. Freshly ground coffee gives you the best caffeine kick that will last long, and will give a boost to the flavour of the drink so that your coffee breaks become the most enjoyable part of your day!
Why do you need to freshly grind coffee beans?
If you confess to a true coffee lover that you buy pre-ground coffee powder, you will earn a ridiculous look of disbelief. There are several reasons why you must buy coffee beans and grind them fresh every day for your cuppa.
Risk of contamination
Ground coffee is very delicate. If you leave the powdered coffee out for long, it will immediately lose its taste. Also, it is very easy to contaminate the flavour if you do not keep it properly sealed. Even if you are taking good care to make sure your pre-ground coffee is in an air tight jar, you will risk exposing it to air every time you open it. With time, the volatile oils of the coffee powder will dissipate, and you will be left with bad tasting coffee.
Most of the delicate aromas and oils present in coffee powder react with the oxygen in the air and dissipate. As a result, your coffee powder will lose its flavour and smell through any exposure to air. Since beans have much less exposed surface area this effect is much slower if you store your coffee as whole beans.
Depletion of carbon dioxide
When coffee beans are roasted, carbon dioxide is trapped inside the porous coffee beans. This gas is extremely important as it will ensure that the oils of the coffee beans mix thoroughly with water. When you grind up the beans, however, carbon dioxide is released. If you leave coffee powder out for long, the gas will deplete completely and the oils of the coffee will not blend in water.
Since coffee powder dissolves in water, exposing them to air for long will cause the oils to dissolve (due to the humidity in the air). Again, the coffee powder will lose its taste and taste bitter or bland when brewed.
What should you use to grind coffee?
If you are ready to grind your own coffee beans, you need to do some adequate research on what type of grinder you should buy. While – traditionally – blade grinders were most popular, over the years many households have replaced their blade model with burr grinders. A burr grinder contains two abrasive surfaces which revolve in opposite directions. The coffee beans are crushed in between them, and the small pieces are reduced to powder. There are a few advantages of using burr grinders:
- Burr grinders break the coffee beans down to uniform pieces, but the blade models do not. This is important as different-sized coffee particles will dissolve at different rates into the coffee when brewing.
- Burr grinders let you have more control on grinding your coffee than the blade grinders, with adjustable settings from coarse to fine grinds.
- Burr grinders do not heat up the coffee as there is only a small amount of friction generated during the grinding process, unlike the fast moving blades of a blade grinder.
Tips to grind coffee well
Remember that there are different sizes of ground coffee beans that you need to use for different brewing methods. For example, if you want to use French Press or Vaccum Coffee Maker, you need to get a coarse grind. In that case, you need to set your burr grinder up to make sure that the coffee beans get broken into larger particles. For espresso, you need a fine grind and for drip or pour-over you need a medium one.
You also need to let your coffee beans and taste decide what exact level of grind you desire. To get the best out of your coffee, use a trial and error method to test your way to the right settings. Try grinding a few of your coffee beans using your burr grinder and see what settings works the best in order get the best brew.
Best Coffee Grinder Under 200
So, if you’re convinced that a burr grinder is the way to go – which one should you choose? While high-end burr grinders can be incredibly expensive, there are plenty of good mid-range and budget options to choose from.
Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder
The Baratza Encore is an entry level burr grinder featuring 40 burr size settings, allowing grinding of everything from fine espresso to medium and coarser grinds if you are using a pour-over or drip coffee maker. This makes the machine a great choice if you want to try different brewing options and grind sizes.
The machine comes with a motor that generates very little heat and grinds at slow rotations, ensuring that the coffee beans are not heated up during grinding. This preserves their aroma and flavour for when you brew instead of releasing it into the air whilst grinding. The design is simple and classic made from good quality plastic parts with durable conical burrs. Read also our comparison of Baratza Encore vs Virtuoso.
Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Smart Grinder Pro
This Heston Blumenthal branded grinder is as you might expect a real piece of high-tech precision machinery.
Featuring an LCD display and an impressive 60 different grind options along with adjustable grind times, it allows you adjust the grind to your exact preferences.
The machine has a feature which grinds directly into your portafilter for easy and quick espresso. Backed by the strongest motor of the three machines we tested – 165w – this machine provides plenty of power to quickly and finely grind your beans.
Unlike the other machines we present here, the Sage Smart Grind Pro is made primarily stainless steel and the look is sleek and futuristic.
De’Longhi KG79 Professional Burr Grinder
The De’Longhi KG79 is a best selling budget grinder which provides a great entry into grinding ones own beans.
It can grind up to 120 g of coffee beans for up to 12 cups of coffee at one time.
While it won’t grind the absolutely finest sizes it has adjustable settings from a “fine” setting suitable for most espresso machines to a “medium” and “coarse” setting for drip and pour-over.
It doesn’t have the precision of the Sage Smart Grinder Pro or Baratza Encore but provides a good grinding experience at a much, much lower price.
These three machines all provide a valuable addition to any coffee enthusiast’s kitchen. The choice between them comes down to whether one is looking for a budget grinder or a more advanced, but much pricier, option. Regardless of which machine you choose, though, having freshly ground coffee from a burr grinder will make your enjoyment of daily cup much greater.