What’s the difference between a burr grinder and a blade grinder? Choosing the right one will provide a solid foundation for your evolving brewing skills.
Finely-ground coffee is the essential middleman between hot water and a coffee brewing device. Sadly, the blade grinder doesn’t have a great reputation in coffee spaces, whether you prefer to brew at home or regularly visit cafes. Take a look below to learn why this is…
What’s the Difference Between a Burr Grinder and Blade Grinder?
Don’t have time for the entire article? We have a quick answer to your question right here:
While all grinders will provide you with coffee grounds, they’re not made equal. Burr grinders use stainless steel or ceramic burrs to crush your coffee. To compare, blade grinders use small blades to slice up your coffee.
Burr grinders are favored for producing more even coffee grounds, with less lumps and fines. This is essential for providing flavorful and consistently produced coffee, taking out the guesswork in favor of a great tasting cup every time. Blade grinders produce very uneven coffee, crafting coffee that can taste bland or over extracted.
Burr grinders are better suited to experienced homebrewers, baristas-in-training, or coffee drinkers who want to step up their brewing game. Blade grinders are a good choice for beginner homebrewers or drinkers who focus more on caffeine than flavor.
Why are Blade Grinders Bad?
You’re likely already familiar with the poor reputation of blade grinders in the coffee world. While it’s tempting to write this attitude off as typical coffee snobbery, blade grinders have earned their lackluster image.
Blade grinders produce notoriously uneven coffee grounds due to their design. Similar to a blender, the inner machinations of a blade grinder chop and hack coffee up indistinctly. This means your coffee grounds will pull flavor irregularly during the steeping process.
Is a Burr Grinder Really Worth It?
If you’re just starting out with brewing coffee -- or focus more on the caffeine -- a blade grinder is a perfectly fine pick. If you are more experienced or want better tasting coffee, a burr grinder is essential.
Burr grinders provide you with several key features that make your coffee brewing habits extra enjoyable. Both conical and flat burrs provide very even coffee grounds, ensuring your cup is properly extracted. Even coffee grounds drastically reduce bitter, sour, and bland flavors. When a single 12 oz bag of roasted coffee can go as high as $30, you want to get your money’s worth, right?
What Type of Grinder is Best for Espresso?
The answer to this question depends on the kind of espresso you’re talking about.
Moka pot espresso is thick and flavorful, though it lacks the iconic crema of its machine counterpart.
A manual burr grinder (also known as a hand grinder) works fine for the Moka pot, since its grind level is comparable to that of the pour over. Medium-fine to medium-coarse works well.
The espresso machine is famed for its hyper-specific grind requirements. Nothing less than the finest grind will do.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a fine grind with a manual burr grinder. You’re better off purchasing an electric burr grinder.
“Wait, there’s more?”, you might be saying. Sadly, the coffee industry can be a little convoluted with its terminology.
Espresso roast is a term to refer to dark-roasted coffee beans. This is due to how dark-roasted beans bring out more chocolately, tart flavors in the espresso extraction process. Espresso roast beans can’t make espresso on their own, however. You have to either use a Moka pot or an espresso machine.
For example: if you grind espresso roast beans and put them into a coffeemaker, you’ll still end up with drip coffee.
How Long Does a Burr Grinder Last?
It might be worth shelling out a little more money for a high-quality burr grinders. Both conical burr and flat burr grinders have a good lifespan if you take care of them properly.
A manual burr grinder can last you around five years, even with daily usage. An electric burr grinder can go as high as seven or eight years. Proper upkeep means cleaning off the burrs a few times per week (or daily, if you drink frequently). You also need to use the machine in accordance with manufacturing requirements.
The difference between the blade and burr grinder is pretty much night and day. Which one will suit you best depends on your experience level and what you hope to get out of your coffee.
Want to find the best grinder for your needs? Reach out to our live chat or send us a message with your coffee-related questions. We’re happy to help.