While buying coffee grounds can be convenient, it’s not the best way to experience a fresh cup of coffee. The only way to experience a fresh brew is by getting them in whole bean form and then grinding them before the brewing process.
In order to grind the beans you will need a grinder. Making coffee in just about any way requires a consistent grind each and every time no matter how you decide to brew it.
There are two distinct types of coffee grinders that you will have to choose from. They can be classified as either blade or burr grinders. They each have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Below, we will go over the differences between them and ultimately, which is the better option.
True to their name, a blade grinder uses two blades to chop up coffee beans. This means it doesn’t necessary “grind” in the classic sense of the word, but the end result is similar in nature.
With a blade grinder, you are not going to get a consistent grind because of the physics behind the chopping motion. Because of this, it produces grinds that are not uniform in size which can really ruin the entire coffee making process because blooming is affected. You end up having beans that are under-extracted and over-extracted.
Water has a tendency to flow towards the path of least resistance. If you have beans with varying levels of surface area, only certain parts of the grind will be touched. Think of this like the paths in an ant farm.
For this reason, the coffee that is brewed with a blade grinder is almost always going to be indiscriminately inferior to coffee that was ground with a burr grinder. However, there are some noteworthy advantages to consider.
This is the primary selling point of a blade grinder. If you are in the market for a grinder and you’re on a budget, you are not going to be able to find a more affordable option.
Blade grinders can be purchased at a fraction of what a quality burr grinder will cost You can also get a blender that features a “grind” option specifically for coffee. As a dedicated product may take up more counter space.
2. Easy to Use
These grinders typically require minimal effort to use. Normal operation only requires a single button push with no other adjustments required. Because these grinders don’t offer any precision controls, you don’t need to fiddle around with the grind settings to grind your coffee.
This can make this type of grinder a preferred option for those that want something that works quick and easy rather than taking grind quality into consideration.
As mentioned previously, with a blade grinder, you are not going to get a consistent grind. No matter how long you press that button, you will always get inconsistencies with your grind sizes. This can lead to a poor tasting cup of coffee no matter the brew method being used.
2. Cheaper Quality
Due to how cheap they are, they aren’t built to last. It’s possible to find blade grinders made of higher quality materials. However, the higher quality options end up defeating the advantages of affordability. You end up paying more money for an inferior product in terms of grind consistency when you could of just paid more for a burr grinder.
3. Produces Heat
Another major flaw has to do with the heat that it produces. Blade grinders require electricity and because of the chopping motion of the blades they can produce a lot of heat. This heat can cause the beans to heat up prematurely.
Burr grinders utilize two separate, serrated oscillating plates or burrs which work together to crush and grind the beans. This allows for a much more uniform and consistent grind.
There are two main types of grinders available: Conical and wheel.
Conical grinders are typically more expensive and they produce the most consistent grind as well as the least amount of heat. Wheel grinders rotate the burrs at a much higher speed so they tend to produce more heat, but they are also cheaper than conical grinders.
Burr grinders are typically made of either ceramic or stainless steel. This ensures that they are built to last.
Advantages of Burr Grinders
Burr grinders offer a more uniform and consistent grind. This is thanks to dial controls allowing you to manipulate the grind size.
These grinders are made up of higher quality materials and they have fewer moving parts that can fail.
3. Noise Output
In almost all cases, conical burr grinders will generate less noise than blade grinders. Sources indicate that this is because conical burr grinders run at lower RPMs and because gravity typically does most of the work.
Disadvantages of Burr Grinders
Quality always comes at a price. Burr grinders can be significantly more expensive than blade grinders, but will likely last ten times as long. This is due to less moving parts, less heat build-up, and higher quality materials.
No matter the brewing method being applied, in order to get better tasting coffee you need a consistent grind. If this is your end-goal, then use a burr grinder.
However, if you need something that’s quick and easy while sacrificing quality, you should consider a blade option.