Friday, June 28, 2013

Manual Burr Grinder vs Electric: Which Is Best?

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I've made it no secret that I'm not a "pro" coffee guy. I've had a long time love affair with coffee but I've never truly geeeked out on it until recently.

For a number of years I've had a very cheap electric blade grinder similar to this one but not exactly that I've used on my coffee beans from time to time. In the past I never really bought good beans either - just picked up bags of supermarket brand beans from time to time if I saw a good sale and was in the mood to grind myself.

Honestly though, until I started this blog a month ago I had only used that blade grinder once in the past year when my dad came to town with a bag of beans in hand. Over the past month I've instead relied upon my local coffee roaster Quackenbush Coffee Roasters and my local supermarket to grind my beans for me.

Needless to say I am in the market for a good conical burr coffee grinder to get the job done myself in the kitchen and I'm now looking into the benefits and disadvantages of getting a manual grinder as opposed to an electric. Let me summarize my thoughts.

  • Manual grinders are nostaligic and can look pretty decorative in the kitchen.
  • Manual grinders do not heat beans during the grinding processes which can have a minimal negative impact on flavor.
  • Manual burr coffee grinders are notable cheaper than their electric peers.
  • Manual coffee grinders tend to be easier to clean than electric models.
  • A manual coffee grinder can be expected to last longer than an electric model - they tend to be more durable.
  • Manual grinders encourage you to grind only what you need in the moment instead of grinding a bunch of beans ahead of time.
  • Manual coffee grinders are much more quiet than even the quietest electric burr grinders.
  • Electric burr coffee grinders are much faster to grind.
  • It takes a lot longer time and more effort to fully clean out an electric grinder.
Looking at the list above I think it's clear I'll be adding a manual burr coffee grinder to my budding collection of coffee equipment in the near future. I know they take a lot longer to grind but I like simple pieces of equipment that are durable and effective.

Because both manual and electric grinders basically work the same way the quality of the grind is usually consistent between the two. You aren't really giving up quality of grind by opting for one grinder over the other.

The one major thing to look for seems to be the stability of the conical burrs. Meaning, you don't want to get a cheap grinder where the grind size can slip. You want a solid spring or thread to hold the ceramic (or steel) burrs in place securely.

So far I'm mostly looking a lot at the Hario mini hand-crank grinder based on product size, cost, and reviews and the Melitta Electric Burr Coffee Grinder (mostly due to it's low price and positive reviews) in case I decide to just go for the grinder that doesn't require manual labor.

In the next few days I'll be crafting a page outlining many of the better hand-held burr grinders and probably electric too and then I'll be taking a more in depth look at the one I ultimately choose for my kitchen.


Alfred W. said...

I find it satisfying to feel the resistance of a manual grinder.


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