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Coffee Grinder FAQs

After 15+ years as a home barista and 5+ years as a coffee machine retailer I know the questions that come to mind for new starters. And I have a rule. If I get asked a question 3 times I write an FAQ. This is great for me as it has allowed me to build up a collection of handy tips to share online. Please enjoy my Coffee Grinder FAQs.

Can I use an appliance coffee grinder?

I’m often asked this when people make the step from an appliance coffee machine to a manual Italian coffee machine. The good news is that most find that they can keep on using their old appliance coffee grinder. The bad news is that this is a temporary solution as most appliance coffee grinders cannot give the grind particle size consistency or control needed to get the most out of a manual coffee machine. If you do decide to keep on using your appliance grinder be prepared to upgrade to a premium coffee grinder in the not too distant future.

Is it important to get a stepless coffee grinder?

Steps on appliance coffee grinders are an issue because of large changes to coffee particle sizes between settings. With commercial coffee grinders stepped adjustment is far less of a problem. Of course, stepless adjustment is the way to go if you are an espresso aficionado looking for the ultimate in grind particle size control. Only a stepless coffee grinder will allow you to accurately tweek your grind size to control the speed of espresso extraction.

Is a timer useful on a home coffee grinder?

Until recently I never used the timer on any coffee grinder. The reason for this was that dosing accuracy for traditional Italian coffee grinders is in the range of 1-3 grams. This is far too high for dosing, so I always chose to grind manually (push to grind) and use scales to dose by weight. Although weighing the dose was an extra step in my espresso workflow, it was a simple and quick step, and one well worth having.

This changed with the recent introduction of coffee grinders with accurate and repeatable time based dosing. These grinders include the Eureka Silenzio and the Eureka Specialita with their timed dosing accuracy of 0.2g. Amazing! These are 2 of the best coffee grinders for home and you can learn more by reading through my coffee grinder Buying Guide

Is there a mess free coffee grinder?

Going back 10 years coffee grinding was a messy affair. I recall the daily coffee grinder and bench top wipe down.

There were a few causes of this. One was that messy dosser grinders (the ones that click) where still commonplace. The grind-on-demand Italian coffee grinders that were available often spurted out clumpy coffee grinds with coffee particles charged by static. The static meant that coffee particles would really stick onto metallic grinder bodies.

The good news is that dosser grinders have been left in the past with mostly grind-on-demand grinders on the market today. Most of these grinders are low mess and many are completely mess free thanks to new designs and coffee grinder innovations.

Are conical burrs better than planar burrs?

Grind Speed - Many large commercial grinders have conical burrs. The reason for this is that conical burrs cut faster than planar burrs of the same diameter.

Consistency - When it comes to grind particle size consistency planar burrs have been proven to perform better that conical burrs in numerous studies. This is an undisputed fact as the narrower particle size distribution from planar burr grinders is measurable (objective).

Results - In-the-cup results are much less clear as coffee taste is subjective. Whilst it is widely agreed that different burrs do have an effect upon espresso flavour profiles, consensus is that these flavour nuisances are small. So small that it’s certainly not possible to identify burr types in blind tests.

So are conical burrs are better than planar burrs? If by better you mean “faster grinding,” then yes. If by better you mean “better results,” then no.

Which specs are useful when choosing a coffee grinder?

When looking for a coffee grinder you will come across tables covering specifications including burr size (mm), burr speed (rpm) and motor power (W).

It’s a common misconception that a coffee grinder with a more powerful motor will help a grinder to grind faster. This is not the case as all that a grinder needs is enough power to drive the burrs as they cut through the beans. All premium coffee grinders can do this with ease. This means that motor power has no role to play when it comes to coffee grinder selection.

Of the specifications mentioned above, only burr size and burr speed are somewhat useful. This is because both of these have an effect upon grind speed, with grind speed increasing as burrs get larger and as burr speed increases. I say somewhat useful as when choosing a coffee grinder for home grind speed is unlikely to be of great interest. What’s the rush?

How much do I need to spend on a coffee grinder?

Some good news …The need for a ridiculously expensive coffee grinder for home espresso is a myth. Great espresso grinders start at $500 and as you go up from there you will find a huge range of Italian coffee grinders to choose from, each with strengths and weaknesses. Factors to consider when making your decision are performance, experience and quality.

As you go up near the $1000 mark you get to choose from the very best coffee grinders for home from a range of compact commercial and high end domestic grinders.

Here’s a surprise for many. Spending more than $1000 is unlikely to improve the quality of your coffee. In fact, expensive large size commercial grinders are generally a poor choice for home due to more mess and higher grind retention.

There are many great Italian coffee grinders to choose from. My advice is to start off by choosing your Italian espresso machine. Choose the right machine for you, then find the right coffee grinder and accessories to suit your total budget.