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Do I need a coffee grinder?

December 01, 2008

You have heard about coffee grinders. They say it really improves the quality of the cup. But is it indeed that important? Is it worth the expense, the extra space on the counter, and the daily fuss? Well, maybe, but let’s consider a few things first…







The four factors of gourmet coffee



Ascaso I-2 Espresso Grinder

The Italians have four traditional M’s that dictate the ultimate quality of the cup: Macchina — the coffee machine, be it espresso, drip, French Press, etc; Miscela – the coffee blend that requires a fresh high-quality roast with near 100% Arabica beans; La Mano--the experienced hand of the barista, the barman who makes the coffee; and finally Macinino -- the coffee grinder.



 



 



So, do I need a coffee grinder?





If you have any one of these four Ms in bad shape, the coffee will not come out right. If the coffee is not freshly delivered from the roaster (sorry, no shortcuts here), or if the coffee maker is of poor quality, a coffee grinder is a waste of money - a simple case of the “weakest link”. Otherwise, a coffee grinder can elevate your brew to new heights.



 



 



Which coffee grinder should I get?





Basically, there are two grades of coffee grinders. At the entry level are the electric blade and manual grinders. These double also as spice mills and are very popular mainly due to their low cost – typically up to $25. They output an inconsistent grind but they are definitely so much better than buying a pre-ground roast. While whole bean coffee keeps its flavor and aroma for a couple of weeks, ground coffee loses it in a couple of hours!





Next come the electric burr coffee grinders. These little wonders take coffee to the next level. To get homogeneous coffee particles they use two burrs facing each other at a fixed distance that determine a consistent grind size. When it comes to price, there are no short cuts. The basic burr coffee grinders start at $25 and the higher quality ones, called conical burr coffee grinders, start at $75. The higher the price the better the results, as long as we keep in mind our “weakest link”…





Follow these links for our Espresso Machine Buying Guide and accessories store where you can find some of the best coffee grinders.






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