Grinding coffee is an incredibly violent process. You just yank those lovely coffee beans from their home and unashamedly butcher them to small pieces. But this is one scenario where from violence comes beauty, and is the start of your coffee experience.
Any barista will tell you that the grinder is the sole most important piece of equipment in the brewing chain. Most people think that the beans are more vital than anything else – but try brewing coffee without a grinder (e.g. a good manual grinder) and you’ll just end up boiling whole beans.
That’s why you always buy the grinder first. But the question is, which one will do your beans the justice they deserve? Let’s take a side by side look at two of the most popular options.
Best coffee grinders: Burr vs Blade
A blade grinder is basically a food processor with blades that whir around in a container, just on a much smaller scale. However, calling it a grinder doesn’t accurately describe what it does. Instead of grinding, blade machines actually smash, cut and bash the beans into bits using the fast spinning blades.
There’s only one problem with this bashing approach; the repeated chopping results in a highly inconsistent grind size. You’ll end up with coarse chunks as well as extra fine powder. Of course, this is not such a great way to get the very best from your batch of beans. Plus, the powder size particles tend to clog certain coffee machines. Blade grinders are cheaper than burr.
Walk into any coffee shop of café and chances are that you’ll find a burr grinder of some sort. Whether it’s conical, flat, manual or electric, most coffee connoisseurs will tell you that burr grinders are superior.
Unlike their blade counterparts, these machines actually grind the beans between two abrasive plates.
Now, since the ground beans are sort of filtered out and selected by size, you end up with a far more consistent grind.
With uniform sized particles, you avoid clogging problems, have more grinding flexibility, and can make one heck of a delicious cup of coffee. Of course, you’ll have to pay more for a burr.
So, which one is better for you?
Burr vs Blade: Consistency
There’s no question about it; Burr grinders take the cake when it comes to consistency. Even the lower end models can tackle a coarse grind no problem. With a blade grinder, you just can’t get the same consistency – even with all that shaking and pulsating.
Burr vs Blade: Speed and heat transfer
Blade grinders are incredibly fast and can get quick results for a single pot. However, they don’t work well with large quantities because of the heating and inconsistency. With all that smashing and spinning, blade grinders tend to heat up the beans prematurely leading to deteriorated flavour and quality. Burr grinders keep the heat to a minimum.
Burr vs Blade: Price
Here’s where the blade grinder really comes into its element. Since it uses only simple mechanics that are cheap to build, it is more affordable than a burr grinder. A high quality burr grinder can get really costly, especially for home use, although you can find some good grinders under 200 pounds.
There you have it; a side by side look at the differences between a burr grinder and a blade coffee smasher.
Looking at both models, it’s clear that the Burr grinder is the best option for high quality, consistent coffee – especially if you’re working with a very large quantity of coffee. And although blade grinders won’t give you the same quality and consistency, they’re worth a look if you’re working on a tight budget.