I was talking with a new friend I made a few weeks back about coffee – you know, good coffee, and he reiterated to me what I already know. Even if you are making drip coffee you do indeed need a good burr coffee grinder in the home. Why? It makes things so much easier. It actually makes it easy to make some of the best coffee possible every time no matter what coffee maker you want to use.
What got me talking to this guy (other than the fact that many of my friends know this guy) is that I made an offhand comment to someone at a party that the stovetop espresso maker makes the best coffee possible. I wasn’t talking to him but he heard and chimed in saying that they make some of the best coffee possible. I obviously took the bait and asked him what his opinion was and he told me that although he loves his Bialetti moka pot he loves his Aeropress even more.
Funny, I’ve known about the Aeropress for a long time now but haven’t gone out and bought one. I did pick up an inexpensive Chemex pour-over coffee maker at a yard sale about a month ago to give a try but the Aeropress hasn’t been on my shopping list.
In any event we continued talking coffee and although I will have to join him for a blind cupping to test my preferences between his Aeropress and my Moka Express we did agree on the grinder.
As any well versed coffee drinker will advise, you have to buy whole beans and grind them with a burr grinder immediately before brewing coffee no matter how you plan on brewing it.
If you are using a drip coffee maker freshly ground beans that were ground in a burr grinder will leave you with a better flavor. Blade grinders produce fine powder, large particles, and all sizes in between. This causes some of the grind to extract partly while some of the grind over extracts.
Burr grinders produce a more uniform grind size that is creates a better flavor – you can taste the difference. When it comes to french press you have to use a good grinder to minimize the dust (mud) in your cup. And with espresso your cup will not even come close to it’s potential without a good burr coffee grinder.
Luckily, grinding coffee beans in the home doesn’t have to be wildly expensive – although it certainly can be if you choose to open your wallet all the way. The grinders I have decided to buy for my own kitchen are quite modest although they do require a bit of muscle and time to use them.
I’ve been an advocate for Hario hand coffee grinders since the summer of this year. They feature spring loaded movable burrs so that you can fine tune the grind size without worrying about the burrs slipping while you are grind your beans in the morning. Burrs that aren’t spring loaded tend to produce slightly inconsistent grind sizes, at least in lower cost manual units.
I know I tend to make french press or stovetop espresso but when I make drip coffee I still think the burr grinder is a must have. The low end Hario grinders work very well and they are not even any more expensive than the low end blade grinders. The only difference is the manual labor you will have to use to make them work.
See my earlier post on the best hand coffee grinders for more details on why I like the Hario models better than all others.