Design & Make

About the Burr Coffee Grinder

by Dani Howell January 24, 2019
ReadAbout the Burr Coffee Grinder Photo by Nathan Dumlao

When I started getting into coffee a few years ago, a barista told me the first piece of equipment I needed to invest in was a quality burr grinder (sometimes called a burr mill). Let me tell you, that was money well spent.

Making the switch from a blade grinder to a burr, I could actually taste the difference. And, when you’re investing in quality beans, you want to get the best flavor out of them.

What makes burr grinders so effective?

It all comes down to the way they work. There are two burrs, and, as one of the burs moves, the coffee beans are ground between the two cutting surfaces. The distance between the two burrs determines the size of your grind. If they’re farther apart, you’ll get a coarse grind that’s great for a French press. If they’re closer together, you’ll get a fine espresso grind. And, with a setting somewhere in the middle, you’ll get a good grind for a drip coffee.

Best yet, burr coffee grinders give you a more consistent grind—and you get to set the grind size yourself. Gone are the days with a blade grinder of trying to guess the proper grind and ending up with some large pieces and others nearly dust. And, thankfully, gone too is the bitter taste this inconsistency creates. The uniform result means each ground brews evenly, giving you the best cup.

A few more points to keep in mind

There are different types of burr grinders. There’s the electric and the manual—the difference is exactly what it sounds like. One is powered by electricity; the other typically powered by hand.

There are conical and flat burrs. The first are two cone-shaped burrs that nest together. The second made from discs with burrs between them. While I can only personally speak to conical burrs, both are supposed to work effectively.

And, you also have a choice between steel and ceramic burrs. Both are dependable and give a consistent grind. The difference mainly comes down to preference. But, you can’t really go wrong with either.

Now, with my manual burr grinder, I’m able to get the full flavor out of my Madcap Coffee beans every morning. I prefer grinding by hand. Yes, it’s a slower process, but that’s part of the reason I enjoy it. It lets me slow down in the morning and appreciate every step of the coffee-making process. And, it’s easy to travel with so I never have to be far from a great, flavorful cup.

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