In a previous post, we covered the reasons you should grind your own coffee beans. In this post, we provide a guide to buying a grinder for your espresso machine. As you probably know, buying an espresso machine is not a guarantee for high-quality coffee. For those of us who love coffee, the importance of a fresh brew cannot be overemphasized. One of the primary factors controlling the brew time for a shot is the quality of the grind. If you rely on coffee that is already ground from the supermarkets, the quality of your espresso will undoubtedly be low. Grinding roasted coffee beans is the only sure way of getting the most aromatic coffee every morning. A grinder gives out the best coffee aroma and allows the user only to grind coffee beans as the need arises. Stored ground coffee gets oxidized with time losing the original rich taste that freshly ground coffee has. When buying a coffee grinder for your espresso, consider the following essential factors:
Burr and blade are the two common types of espresso grinders. A blade grinder is relatively cheap and easy to use. It is manually operated using a power button. The only control that the user has is time. The more extended the period of grinding the beans, the finer the coffee produced. A motor rotates the blades, and the process can be very noisy. Not only that, but the rotation speed of the blades will probably generate heat which will “burn” the coffee and spoil the taste. Burr grinders produce finer coffee dust than blade grinders. They are of two types; conical and flat. They are more expensive and are more consistent. Flat burr grinders rely on centrifugal force and the two flat parallel blades to crush the beans into fine powder. The conical burr grinders, on the other hand, rely on the two conical shaped bars and gravity force to grind the beans. One of the bars rotates while the other remains stationary. Thus, the distance between the burrs determines the fineness of the grind.
This focuses on whether the number of controls available on a grinder is sufficient to produce the kind of coffee particles needed for a good espresso shot. A stepless grinder offers the connoisseur an endless number of options when controlling the quality of coffee produced. With a stepless, it is possible to get an infinite number of grind sizes. An espresso coffee grinder will work perfectly well with a stepless grinder because the user is in full control. However, it can be a lot harder to replicate the settings over and over. A stepped grinder has a limited number of control options. With it, you can only control things like the time taken to grind. Many stepped grinders have a good number of adjustments that will still give the desired quality for a perfect espresso shot and are recommended for beginners.
The primary purpose of a doser compartment in a coffee grinder is to capture the right amount of ground coffee to be added to the portafilter. A doser ensures that the quantity of beans crushed is suitable for multiple espresso shots. If your espresso machine is used for commercial purposes, then go for a grinder that has a doser but if you are buying a grinder for home use, a doser is not that important unless you are making, say, 6 shots in a row while entertaining. Use of a doserless grinder at home saves you from unused powder waste. You will also have less cleaning to do.
Every grinder lets you grind the amount of coffee by weight or time. Setting the number of cups (doses) desired (usually 1 or 2), a grinder works for a set amount of time. Some grinders allow the user to grind for any amount of time by holding in a button. Using weight to determine the amount of coffee to grind is more precise and is usually found on higher priced grinders.
An espresso shot is made by using very fine coffee particles (14 grams) into which pressurized water (9 bar) is forced through in a short amount of time. Therefore, an espresso grinder should provide a high level of consistency in the coffee particles to ensure that the rate of extraction is maintained. If the extraction is done poorly at extremely high temperatures, the espresso shot will be bitter and lack the sweet aroma of fresh coffee. Use a grinder that offers high precision settings.
The price of a given grinder will depend on the size of the motor, the size of the grinder and whether it is a blade type or burr grinder. In most cases, the higher the cost of a grinder, the better the quality. A cheap one has a short lifespan forcing a shopper to go back to the market after a short while. As a rule of thumb, the price of a grinder should be anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the espresso machine's cost. If the grinder is equal to or on par with the cost of the espresso machine, the grinder will exceed the performance capability of the espresso machine. Likewise, a very expensive espresso machine paired with an inexpensive grinder will not allow a user to optimize the performance of the espresso machine.
TotalEspresso.com has a wide-ranging selection of grinders from various manufacturers to meet your needs. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.