You’re in the middle of searching for a burr grinder, but can’t pick between conical or flat. What’s the difference and why should you care?
The answer to this question lies in your coffee brewing habits, goals, and personal tastes.
What’s the Difference Between Conical vs Flat Burr Grinder?
Don’t have time for the full article? Here’s a quick answer to your question below:
The conical burr grinder uses cone-shaped burrs to crush coffee. Your whole coffee beans will be filtered through smaller ridges that wrap around the cones, distributing them more evenly into the bottom cup. Conical burr grinders are quiet, reduce heat retention, and are easy to clean.
The flat burr grinder crushes coffee between two flat burrs, each one coated in a rough texture to even out the particle size. Flat burrs produce slightly more even results than conical burrs, but have higher heat retention and are more noisy.
Why is a Conical Burr Grinder Better?
Burr grinders are a great pick for better-tasting coffee. The difference between the conical and the flat burr is small, but could still be worth considering.
The conical burr grinder is heavily favored by both homebrewers and commercial coffee settings. Not only does it grind coffee very evenly, it produces less friction. This results in less heat, keeping the grounds cool before they’ve touched hot water.
Grounds that get hot before they’re extracted will taste more bitter and toasted, which can be unpleasant in the final cup. Conical burrs are also a little quieter when crushing coffee, which is a plus for buyers who want to use their model in a busy home or office setting.
How Long Do Conical Burr Grinders Last?
Conical burr grinders use either stainless steel or ceramic for their burrs. Both are very long-lasting and can be easily cleaned with a dry toothbrush.
Their longevity depends on how often you use your grinder. Regular usage will see your manual conical burr grinder lasting for about four to five years. An electric conical burr grinder can last up to seven years.
How Do You Know When a Burr Is Dull?
Worried about your burr grinder showing its age? You’ll know if your burrs are dull by the coffee they produce. If your coffee keeps coming out irregular or with larger-than-usual pieces, your burrs need to be replaced.
Many burr grinder models provide replacement burrs you can order from the manufacturer. Double-check if this is possible before purchase so you can save some money in the long run. Replacement burrs run between $30 to $50 on average.
Are Flat Burrs Better Than Conical?
For most coffee brewers, conical burrs deliver on all fronts. Some coffee brewers, however, flat burrs are the way to go.
Flat burrs produce some of the most consistent grounds you’ll ever find. This is due to their large and flat surface, mashing the coffee into a very smooth and consistent size. This results in your coffee tasting near-identical from cup-to-cup. If you hate guesswork, this is a major boon.
A downside to flat burrs to keep in mind is the friction they create. Due to their flat surface area and how close they are to one another, they tend to heat up coffee grounds before they touch water. This slightly increases bitter and toasted flavors.
The slightly dynamic results of conical burrs will be favored by those who love complex cups of coffee. If you prefer similar results, go for flat burrs.
Why is a Burr Grinder Better Than a Blade Grinder for Coffee?
The blade grinder is frequently lambasted in the coffee space and for good reason. It’s more similar to a blender than a coffee grinder.
While conical and flat burrs crush coffee as evenly as possible, blade grinders go for a hack-and-slash approach. They use thin blades to slice up the coffee with little care for distribution or heat regulation. This creates coffee grounds that are lumpy and irregular.
While it’s not impossible to create a flavorful cup of coffee with a blade grinder, it’s certainly more difficult.
The conical burr grinder is quiet, cool, and easy to use. The flat burr grinder is extremely consistent and reliable. Whichever one you choose, you’ll be in good hands.
Need help narrowing down your burr grinders? Reach out to our live chat or send us a message with your coffee-related questions. We’re happy to lend our expertise to your next purchasing decision.