How to Choose a Grinder for Espresso

Last Updated on December 10, 2020

People that enjoy a delicious espresso coffee often purchase a coffee grinder. There couldn’t be a better decision. Having such a machine allows you to produce coffee beverages according to your taste at home. This article aims at providing you with the necessary information to make a good buying decision. So, let us check how to identify the best coffee grinder and espresso machine.

What Affects the Taste of Espresso and How Does the Taste Depend on the Type of Grinder?

Best Coffee Grinder For Espresso

Coffee connoisseurs know that the exquisite flavor results from the use of a properly selected grinder. But, what is this machine for? How does it work? Well, grinding is a specific process that produces small particles from coffee beans. It all begins here. If this first process is adequately done, rest assured that an extraordinary experience is awaiting you. The grinder plays a decisive role. In this article, you will learn what this role is.

Hence, the conclusion is quite straightforward. For premium ground coffee, you must use the best coffee grinder for espresso. What qualities should an outstanding coffee grinder possess? What should you pay attention to? Take into account that a pleasant coffee flavor is hidden. The grinder’s task is to unlock it.

So, how do you know that such a machine is performing as it should? To answer this question, you must know the key to top-quality espresso. It applies to any type of coffee beverage for that matter. You need coffee particles that are similarly sized. Another important requirement is to have low static electricity. Moreover, the coffee temperature must be minimal after grinding. Are you confused by these terms? Don’t worry; we’ll come back to them later in the text.

How Burr Grinder Works

We can divide coffee grinders into two main categories depending on the mechanism they use. The first category is a machine equipped with a stationary burr and a rotating one. When a burr rotates, the machine grinds. Something remarkable is the uniformly sized particles that these grinders produce. This is mandatory for top-quality espresso. Hence, the burr design is fundamental. However, these machines are generally among the best espresso coffee grinders.

Blade Coffee Grinders

Blade Coffee Grinder

Contrastingly, blade coffee grinders often fail to deliver the same size uniformity required for top-quality espresso. The principle of operation of these grinders resembles that of a blender. So, this machine doesn’t crush the beans. Instead, a blade chops them. To obtain small particle sizes, you should grind for an extended period. Then, you must stop when the desired size has been obtained.

Blade grinders are relatively inexpensive. But then again, you get what you pay for. Finding chunks of beans in what is supposed to be ground coffee isn’t uncommon. Hence, you can produce only poor-quality coffee beverages with this material.

Another drawback of these machines is the probability that the particles get static electricity. When this happens, coffee particles stick to anything around, thereby creating a real mess when you prepare an espresso. This is something quite annoying and impractical.

Hence, comparing a burr coffee grinder vs blade one doesn’t make much sense. The former is a much better choice. So, to enjoy awesome coffee experiences, stay away from blade grinders.

Burr Coffee Grinders

Burr Coffee Grinder

We have narrowed the search. You have to consider burr coffee grinders only when quality is your main requirement. That’s already clear. They produce very uniform particles. However, the market offers a large variety of these machines. Different characteristics of these coffee grinders determine the outcome. These are:

  • Burr shape;
  • Burr size;
  • Motor size.

Let’s discuss in detail how each of these characteristics impacts the ultimate result, top-quality espresso.

Burr Shape and Size (Flat and Conical Burrs)

Burr size makes a big difference between these machines. As a rule, bigger grinders will yield better results. Because larger burrs possess larger cutting areas, you won’t need many rotations to grind effectively. Coffee connoisseurs appreciate obtaining ground coffee in less time. This also has an additional advantage: the particles are less likely to get a static charge. As will be explained later, static electricity has a detrimental effect on the ultimate quality of coffee beverages.

The burr shape is closely related to its size. You can find burrs of two different shapes on the market. The first type is the conical burrs, whereas the second is flat-plate burrs. Conical burrs will offer a larger grinding area for the same diameter in general. So, in principle, conical burrs can potentially produce finer particles. This is a characteristic highly appreciated by coffee lovers since smaller particles dissolve more easily and faster.

But, how do these two designs differ from each other? Let’s see how burr grinder works for each of the available burr designs:

  • Conical burrs. Here, a conical burr moves inside a larger burr that matches the rotating one. These burrs have ridges, which are responsible for the grinding;
  • Flat-plate burrs. In this design, two flat burrs of circular shape are put in front of each other. Likewise, the ridges do the grinding.

So, which burr design is preferable? Both designs have their pros and cons. Even though conical burrs produce finer particles, flat-plate burrs deliver more uniform particle sizes. The operation with each type of burr yields a different outcome. Hence, the flavor of the espresso created with each type of machine is quite specific. Here, personal preference is the determining factor to choose one burr design or the other.

Motor Power

For electric burr coffee grinders, one may wonder how the characteristics of the electric motor affect the outcome. The rule is rather simple. A larger motor will deliver higher mechanical power, which ultimately results in better espresso. However, something that also influences the outcome is the speed at which the burrs rotate.

When a burr rotates at high speed, the coffee may get static electricity and heat. By the way, blade grinders give similar results. What is the difference between burr and blade coffee grinders in this case? Well, you get better control over the particle size with the former. Moreover, as already mentioned, size uniformity is much better with burr grinders.

Why do the burrs rotate so fast? The burrs are attached to the shaft of the electric motor. Hence, the burr rotates at the same speed as the motor shaft.

High-end burr grinders rotate at low speed. As a result, there is little or no static charge and heat. Low-speed burr grinders often make use of a gear system that reduces the speed. However, others use a low-speed motor. Whatever the method to deliver a low-speed rotation, a grinder whose burrs rotate slowly yields the best outcome. They are made with conical or flat-plate burrs. After trying an espresso made with the material produced with a low-speed burr grinder, you won’t trade it for something else.

Which gear reduction system should you prefer? Low-speed burr grinders with an integrated gear reduction system perform better. They often perform their task without the motor suffering any issue. The only inconvenience of such a reduction system is the noise it creates. However, this is not a deal-breaker in most cases.

The Impact of Heat and Static

The ground coffee temperature after grinding is important. Because of friction, the coffee temperature will rise. If the coffee temperature is too high, then its quality will be poor. Hence, it is advisable to refrain from grinding too many beans at a time. Otherwise, as explained above, larger burrs will do the trick. It will reduce the processing time.

Another detrimental factor is static electricity. This happens because of the friction of the beans with metal and other physical interactions. The grinder plays an important role in the creation of static electricity. However, other factors such as humidity and temperature of the air influence this phenomenon also. Since you cannot control atmospheric parameters, you better minimize this phenomenon by selecting a proper grinder. As was explained above, high-speed grinders produce more heat and static electricity.

The Size of the Grind

Size of the Coffee Grind

Now you know what machine type to select if you prefer the best result. Through the comparison of burr vs blade coffee grinders, we concluded that you should favor burr grinders. Additionally, you have also learned the characteristics of ground coffee that lead to a delicious espresso. However, espresso is just one variation in which you can enjoy coffee. There are many other coffee beverages that enthusiasts can enjoy.

The particle size plays a role in creating these variations. For example, espresso needs very fine particles, comparable to grains of table salt. In general, the required size can vary greatly. The type of beverage determines this characteristic. Hence, you should opt for a grinder that can deliver the particle size for the specific type of beverage. For instance, French Press coffee demands very chunky ground coffee, whereas Turkish coffee is prepared with coffee powder. Hence, think in advance about what coffee beverage you prefer.

About your guides

Stephen Gardner


Coffee Grinders Advice Staff

(Coffee Grinders Advice is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission)

Featured Image Source: Pixabay.

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