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Top 5 Grinder Buying Tips

Posted By: Aabree Coffee
Posted At: Nov 25, 2011 at 5:07 PM
Related Categories: Grinder Guides

Brewing a double shot of espressoBuying a coffee grinder seems like a simple enough process, but we've found that when people start doing a little research, they quickly realize that it's a bit more involved than they originally thought. This guide will help you organize what you want – and more importantly, what you need – into a simple list of parameters that will narrow down your selections and lead you to the perfect grinder.

1. Consider what you'll be using your grinder for.

If your main objective is to use your grinder with one machine, then your concern should lie in finding a grinder that will produce a grind coarse or fine enough for your machine. However, nowadays it's fairly common to have a few different brewers at home, be it a French press and a vacuum pot or an espresso machine and drip coffee maker. When you're going to be using your coffee grinder for a range of machines, you'll need a fairly comprehensive range of grind settings as well. Each of our product descriptions states the types of machines the grinder is compatible with, so make sure to verify that the grinder you're researching will be able to handle the full load before making your final decision.

2. Consider each of your brewers' requirements.

A big thing to keep in mind is how much leeway your brewer affords you in the grounds department. For instance, when you're brewing in a drip coffee maker with a paper filter, an even and consistent grind isn't quite as important because the paper filter will prevent any tiny particles from making their way into your cup. In this case, you can even get away with using a blade coffee grinder. However, permanent filters let more of the little stuff through, so you should stay away from blade grinders and go for the consistency that burr coffee grinders provide. You're looking at a similar situation with French presses and vacuum pots as they have permanent filters that let the smaller sediments through, which can lead to a muddier cup.
Different Types of Filters
With espresso machines, you need to consider the type of portafilter that's included. Portafilters will fall into 2 categories: pressurized and non-pressurized/commercial. Although both types require the grind to be consistent to avoid channeling (water finding small paths to flow through instead of saturating the ground coffee evenly), pressurized portafilters are less picky about the fineness of the coffee grinds you're using. There are some coffee grinders that are compatible with pressurized portafilters but don't grind quite fine enough for the commercial style, so check out your espresso coffee maker (or the one you're planning to buy) before choosing the grinder.

3. Consider where you'll be putting your coffee grounds.

The place your coffee grounds are going to end up for brewing is a good way to decide what type of dispensing mechanism will be most appropriate and easiest for you to use. If you're going to be brewing for drip coffee, a French press, or a vacuum pot, you'll probably find it easier to use a grinder that either has a chute on the front of the machine that can dispense your grounds directly into the grounds' final destination (like the filter or carafe) or a grinder that has an internal grounds catcher that can easily be removed, allowing you to dump the grounds where they need to go.

On the other hand, if you're brewing for an espresso machine you may find it easier to use a coffee grinder with a doser – a unit on the front of the grinder that catches the grounds and allows you to dispense them in small, pre-measured doses. This takes the guesswork out of filling your portafilter, ensuring that you brew with the proper amount of coffee every time. However, it is important to note that because of dosers' compatibility with portafilters (they generally have portafilter “forks” that hold the portafilter in place during grinding), it can be a little more difficult to dose into a drip coffee filter or French press.

4. Consider where you'll be putting the grinder.

The #1 thing people forget to take into account when purchasing a coffee grinder is where they're going to put it. Why is this important? It specifically dictates how large a machine you can accommodate. Generally, the dimension of most concern is the grinder's height simply because there are limitations on the amount of space between your countertop and kitchen cabinets, but it is wise to take the width and depth into account as well if you're limited on counter space.

5. Consider the kind of control you want.

Up close view of buttons on a Mazzer Mini grinderOur selection of grinders has a wide range of controls to make the grinding process easy no matter what you're grinding for. Several grinders have simple on/off switches that you press once to start grinding and again to stop. But many models also have built-in timers, so after you start grinding, the machine will automatically stop itself after the selected amount of time.

This decision is mostly a matter of preference, but there are a few options that can be beneficial depending on the type of machine you'll be grinding for. For instance, many of the drip coffee compatible grinders we carry have timers that are labeled with the number of cups you'll be brewing. So if you wanted to brew 4 cups, you'd just turn the dial to the 4-cup selection and you'd get the perfect amount of ground coffee. In addition, we have some grinders that have programmable buttons, which you set to grind and dispense a specific amount of ground coffee and then stop automatically when it's been dispensed.

By considering each of these points when you're in the market for a grinder, you'll easily be able to narrow down the field of choices and find the best machine for you. You can find all of the information you need to know about our grinders in their product descriptions or by comparing them side-by-side with our Compare Products feature. To start shopping now, visit our selection of coffee grinders. Or, return to our buying guides and articles if you'd like to continue researching grinders.
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