Grinder Buying Guide
Purchasing an adequate grinder is one of the most important things you can do to get the most out of your coffee brewing experience. While there are a number of varieties of grinders with different features, the most important attributes to consider when selecting a grinder are:
- How will you be preparing your coffee?
- Does it offer a suitable range of adjustments so you can dial in your brew properly and make changes from one coffee to another coffee?
- Are the grinds it produces uniform in shape and size?
Below are the features that answer these questions. Defining features to consider are blade grinders vs burr grinders, stepped vs. stepless, and doser vs. doserless.
Blade vs. Burr
Blade grinders aren’t exactly worth mentioning in terms of grinding coffee, but people still use them occasionally. As their name suggests, these grinders use rotating blades to chop coffee into bits. The grinds themselves are often uneven in shape and size, making blade grinders only marginally suitable for low end automatic coffee makers.
Burr grinders are the industry standard for both home and commercial coffee grinding. Burr grinders operate by crushing the beans into a uniform size between the two burrs. You’ll want to look for a grinder with a conical or flat burr set. Burr grinders offer consistent particle size for a more even extraction, resulting in a better tasting cup of coffee.
Stepped vs. Stepless
Stepped grinders have a pre-set range of adjustment, and will typically have a clicking feel and sound when adjusting grind coarseness level. Remembering favorite settings is easy when dialing in for espresso or other brew methods. However, this limits the amount of fine tuning that stepless grinders can boast.
Stepless grinders allow for an infinite range of adjustment, depending on how the burrs are calibrated. There are no preset spots that the grind setting will stop at like the on grinders with stepped adjustment. This allows for more fine tuning and proves to be beneficial, especially when dialing in espresso shots. Some grinders allow you to set your range of adjustment by changing where the adjustment collar, knob or lever stops.
Doser vs. Doserless
Dosing grinders typically grind coffee into a chamber, which is often released via a lever on the side of the chamber. One downfall of these grinders is that more coffee is ground than needed, and typically, more waste is created, compared to using doserless grinders.
Doserless grinders dispense ground coffee directly into the portafilter or ground container. Typically these grinders allow you to preset the amount of coffee that is ground by changing the length of grind time. Most doserless grinders also feature a manual option, which allows the user to grind coffee until they shut the grinder off. Either by grinding manually, or by using timed grinding buttons, it is much easier to grind the right amount of coffee with a doserless grinder than without one.