When buying coffee grinder, one of the most important factors of best coffee grinder is evenness of your grind. For that purpose burr coffee grinders are the best. The burr coffee grinders are in general better than blade coffee grinders. Burr coffee grinders are more expensive than blade coffee grinder, but they are more expensive for a reason; they offer more quality grinding. So if you want to grind good coffee it is advisable to look for a quality burr coffee grinder.
History of burr coffee grinders
Coffee grinding was first spotted in Ethiopia around 800 AD. In Europe the Greeks and Romans adopted a concept of grinding mill around 1200 AD. The mills back then were big and not only used for coffee at first. First spice grinders were invented by Turks or Persians. That was around fifteenth century. Over the time those grinders were improving (at start they only had four legs and did not catch any spices). Then a drawer for catching spices was added and technology advanced. Coffee grinders were back then under the category of spice grinders. There were some grinders designed just for coffee, but that was very rare. In the year 1665, a man by the name of Nicholas Book, from England, claimed to sell the only coffee mill which was specifically designed for grinding coffee. It is not sure though if it was actually the first grinder specifically designed for coffee. In eighteenth century coffee grinders underwent some improvements. They looked like today old fashioned coffee mills. From then on their looks started changing with introduction of electricity. In year 1898 the first electric coffee grinder was introduced by Hobart Manufacturing Company of Troy, Ohio. All that time the technique used for grinding was actually closer to the burr grinders than blade grinders. The old grinders contained two stones which were brushing at each other. So the brief history of coffee grinders is actually a brief history of burr coffee grinders.
How burr coffee grinders work?
Burr coffee grinders consist of two burrs which are positioned close to each other. The coffee beans come in between those two burrs. When they are there, one burr is turning, while the other one is stationary. The coffee beans are therefore grinded between those two burrs. Of course the burrs can be positioned in different ways and in different distances from each other. That plays a big role in grinding coffee because different positioning of the burrs regulates grinding size and type. It enables flexibility of grinding so you can choose the coarseness of your grind. That enables burr grinders to have many steps of adjustments. Some burr grinders even have stepless adjustments where you have infinite amount of steps of adjustment.
The choice of burr coffee grinders
The choice of burr coffee grinders is very big. On a market you can find a large number of different burr coffee grinders. This is because almost every quality coffee grinder is a burr coffee grinder. There are also a lot of different companies and manufacturers offering different kinds of coffee grinders. It was an inspiration for this webpage to make the choice of which coffee grinder to buy easier since there are many models on a market. The good thing is that you have a higher chance of finding a model in your desired price range.
The difference between flat burrs and conical burrs
On the market you can most often find conical burrs and flat burrs. They are different in several ways, as described below.
Conical burr grinder is a grinder that has a hardened cone-shaped grinding wheel referred to as a “conical burr” at the center of the grinder. Both burrs are shaped as a cone. The center cone burr is usually not fixed in position firmly. Adjusting the center cone burr allows you to have more grind adjustments .The conical burr grinders use a slower rotation than the flat burr grinder and are more expensive, but less noisy and messy, also better at handling oily or flavored coffees without clogging. In order to decrease the speed of grinding and thus decreasing the warmth of the coffee, conical burrs often come equipped with gearboxes. The design of the steel burrs permits a high gear reduction. They omit the speed of grinding. They operate at around 500 RPMs. They also use a higher surface area. The conical burr grinders emit less heat by reducing friction heat created by burrs. Conical burrs are also in general quite expensive. But they do need proper cleaning. In order to be able to clean them easily, upper burr is usually removable. In this way the grinding chamber may be easily cleaned. Good conical burr grinders allow extra-fine grinding suitable for preparing Turkish coffee.
Flat burr grinders have two parallel discs with sharp ‘teeth’ notched along them — one stays stationary while the other spins, grinding the beans between them. The main distinction between the flat and conical burrs is that the flat burrs rotate faster. They operate at 10,000 to 20,000 RPMs and therefore creating a higher degree of warmth in the coffee. They are more noisy than conical burr grinders. Also they do not handle dark oily beans as well as conical burr grinders. But that does not mean that flat burr grinders are worse than conical burrs. They can be adjusted better and usually the grinders equipped with flat burrs have their own ways of dealing with heat. So at the end they can be as good as conical burr grinders or even better; they also grind faster so that could be good in case you do not have problems with heat (for example if you do not grind large amounts at once). They are also cheaper. In general the difference between flat and conical burrs is not big. Experts would say that it is not possible to distinguish which ones are better. But one thing is certain; whether you have flat or conical burrs, it is better for grinding than blades.
The burrs are usually made of either steel or ceramic material. Ceramic is harder and will hold it’s sharpness longer. Besides that it does not fail by erosive wear and does not transmit or absorb heat very well and cost much more than steel burrs. They also come in very few designs so there is a limited selection. Metal burrs on the other hand absorb some of the heat if beans are getting hot and they also come in many sizes and shapes. Selection is therefore bigger. The ceramic burrs produce traditional espresso flavor profile. The steel burrs on the other hand produce a more even particle distribution and less fines. So espresso tastes different, due to the lack of fines. It is not easy to say which one is better – it depends on personal preferences.
What to consider when buying a burr coffee grinder
As mentioned before, there is a difference between flat and conical burr. There is also a difference between burr materials (metal and ceramic). With that in mind it is good to look at other factors as well; that is if the grinder has removable upper burr. If it has, that enables you easier access to the burrs and the chute and therefore easier cleaning. Cleaning is always a problem with grinders; they have to be cleaned in order to maintain grinding quality and grinder’s durability. So another thing to look at when buying you favorite burr coffee grinder is messiness. You do not want your grinder to be too messy as that will cause you more cleaning problems.
Electrical and manual grinders
Although the focus of this page is on electrical burr grinders, there also exist manual burr coffee grinders. They are usually cheaper and with manual coffee grinder you have to grind the coffee by yourself. This can take time and effort and when doing that in the morning, it might not be the most exciting thing to do. However if you do not have problems with that, some of these grinders could be good for you. They are also not the best grinders for commercial use.
Number of step adjustments
Some electrical grinders are “stepped” meaning that they are fixed by the factory into a set series of adjustments while “stepless” varieties use a worm drive or other mechanisms to offer an infinite number of adjustments within their grind range. Number of step adjustments is, of course an important criteria when choosing the coffee grinder. The more, the better as it allows you to adjust your final grind to your desired needs. Stepless grinders have very small increments between grinding settings. However grinders with a lot of step adjustments also have relatively small increments between different settings.
It holds for every grinder that loudness of grinding will be a problem to some extent. Nobody wants a grinder which will wake up everybody in the house and all the neighbors. So it is definitely good to choose a grinder that has reduced noise. Different grinders perform differently in this category; usually you will have to pay more in order to get a quitter grinder.
Other things to take into account
Other standard things to pay attention to when choosing a burr grinder are doser, timer and bean hopper capacity. Also design and weight of the grinder might play a role. Its exterior material might also reduce some noise, so this is another thing to pay attention to. Those are pretty standard things to take into account. A timer is a good feature, doser is not really a good thing if you are grinding espresso and you want large bean hopper capacity in case you are grinding a lot. But you do not want to leave the beans in the bean hopper for too long since most bean hoppers are not airtight and therefore will damage the quality of your beans. It is good if your favorite burr grinder is not too heavy. Design depends again on your personal preferences and what you like. Also functions that the grinder has can be a good guidance of what you want to buy.
At the end of course, price is one of the most important things to consider when buying a burr coffee grinder. It really depends on your budget how much you will pay for the grinder. In general it holds that more expensive coffee grinder is better. Your budget for the grinder should be similar or a little smaller than for your coffee machine (unless you have a large budget, 1000$+, then you might want to pay a little more for machine than for the grinder).
Which is the best burr coffee grinder?
The answer to that question is not really easy since it depends on many factors which we have to take into account. Since burr coffee grinders are better than blade grinders, this question is essentially the same as which is the best coffee grinder?
Burr coffee grinders exist for almost a thousand years. Although a long time ago they were not as quality as they are now, the burr grinding is happening for quite a long time now. There are different kinds of burr coffee grinders. There flat and conical burr coffee grinders. One are not necessarily better than the other. Burrs can be made of ceramic or metal. Also here it is not easy to say which is better. When choosing your best burr coffee grinder you have to pay attention to a variety of different factors. In the end it really depends what are your needs and what is your budget. Hopefully this guide will help you choose your favorite burr coffee grinder.
Coffee grinder world has also made a comparison table of some most popular burr coffee grinders currently on a market. Some of them have been reviewed on this site as well. Bellow you can find a table with some relevant factors to be compared.
|Coffee grinder||Price||Amazon rating/Cofee grinder world rating||Burr type||Number of grind adjustments||Bean hopper capacity (in ounces)||Timer||Housing material||Our review|
|Ascaso I-Mini||220-270$||None. / 8.2||Conical burrs (38mm)||infinite||8||NO||Plastic. But also available in aluminum||Read here|
|Ascaso 2CSdb I-2||250-300$||None/8.7||Conical burrs (54mm)||infinite||21||NO||Aluminium||Read here|
|Baratza Preciso||270-320$||3.4 / 8.6||Conical steel burrs (40 mm)||40||8||YES||Plastic||Read here|
|Baratza Virtuoso||200-250$||4 / 8.7||40 mm hardened steel conical burr (ML2)||40||8||YES||Plastic||Read here|
|Breville BCG600SIL||150-200$||3 / 8.7||Stainless steel conical burrs (40 mm)||60||12||YES||ABS plastic||Read here|
|Breville smart grinder BCG800XL||180-230$||4.1 / 5.7||Stainless steel conical burrs (40mm)||25||16||NO||Stainless steel with plastic||Read here|
Smart Grinder PRO
|200-250$||4.1 / 8.7||Stainless steel conical burrs||60||16||YES||Stainless steel with plastic||Read here|
|Tre Spade il Macinino||220-270$||2.5 / 7.4||Tempered-steel burrs||9||8||NO||Chromed plastic||Read here|
|Gaggia 8002 MDF||200-250$||4 / 9.0||Tempered-steel burrs (50mm)||34||10||NO||Plastic||Read here|
|Capresso Infinity||100$||4.2/8||Conical steel||16||8.8||YES||Plastic||Read here|