Why is a burr grinder better than a blade grinder? This is a common question asked by hobbyists and baristas-in-training alike: blade grinders have a pretty bad reputation, to say the least.
When establishing your home coffee set-up, you might find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place when choosing a grinder. Let’s narrow things down…
Why is a Burr Grinder Better?
Don’t have time to read the full article? Here’s a quick answer to your question:
A burr grinder uses stainless steel or ceramic burrs to crush coffee. They’re preferable to their blade grinder counterparts for delivering more consistent grinds that result in stronger-tasting coffee. Lumpy and irregular coffee grounds create a very uneven extraction process, since large particles soak slower than small ones.
You also get a higher level of control with a burr grinder, able to address the needs of several brewing methods (French Press, pour over, Moka pot, etc). Burr grinders are well-suited to dedicated homebrewers or baristas-in-training. Blade grinders are a more suitable choice for hobbyist coffee drinkers or buyers with a very limited budget.
Why is a Burr Grinder Better Than a Blade Grinder?
The differences between coffee equipment can seem like splitting hairs after a while. Why should you invest in a burr grinder when they seem more expensive and harder to maintain?
The question comes down to quality. Burr grinders are famed in the coffee world for providing a more even grind level, allowing you to create complex and tasty cups of coffee. Uneven coffee grounds are easy to spot at a glance: they’re lumpy, irregular, and appear entirely random.
A proper coffee extraction process can only be done if most of your coffee is interacting with hot water the same way. Missing out on flavor chemicals leaves your cup tasting like bitter water. Taking too long to extract flavor has the opposite effect and results in a sour, acidic cup.
Why Are Blade Grinders Bad?
Blade grinders are a decent entry point into the coffee grinding space, but hold up poorly when you gain experience. Unfortunately, their design makes even coffee grounds difficult to obtain.
Blade grinders use small, thin blades to chop up coffee. This leaves the coffee beans highly irregular, affecting the flavor and aroma of the final cup. Most blade grinders have limited settings, which makes it hard to enjoy different brewing methods.
Does Coffee Taste Better With a Burr Grinder?
Absolutely. Coffee may have a reputation as being bitter, but the truth is quite different. Rich, savory, and even sweet coffee can be attained with a proper grind level (and freshly roasted beans, of course).
The burr grinder -- whether you purchase conical or flat burrs -- will provide you with a very even particle size. Your coffee will be able to pull out all its flavors at an even pace. You’ll even notice a stronger aroma and a more pronounced mouthfeel, such as the coffee feeling creamy or silky.
A poorly extracted cup of coffee will come out in two extremes: very bland or very astringent. A bland cup of coffee likely had too many large pieces, meaning some flavor wasn’t pulled out in time. A sour or astringent cup of coffee likely had too many fines: these are tiny particles that release flavor chemicals too quickly.
What is the Best Grind for Strong Coffee?
This question requires an understanding of what constitutes ‘strong’ coffee. For some, strong coffee refers to the level of caffeine. For others, it refers to flavor.
Grind level is designed to suit the brewing method you’re using. As long as you get that aspect right, any grind will provide you with a very flavorful and/or very caffeinated cup. Dark roasted coffee will provide especially hearty flavors. If you’re a fan of more complex coffee (aka boasting multiple flavors), seek out Colombian or Mexican origins.
This elegantly simple brewing method requires a medium-fine grind. Your coffee should have a soft, sandy texture. It shouldn’t be so soft it looks like flour, which will get clogged in your filter.
This brewing method requires the most coarse grind of all. Your coffee will appear like small, chunky wood chips. Their size difference shouldn’t be too big.
Similar to the French Press, this brewing method requires a very coarse grind. Expect to soak your beans for between fourteen to sixteen hours.
Bearing a design similar to their pour over cousin, the Chemex is best suited to a medium-fine to a medium-coarse grind. Dabble around with different grinds to see which one you like most.
You may be tempted to use an espresso machine grind for the Moka Pot. They both make espresso, right? Wrong! You’ll need a grind level similar to that of the pour over.
A grind level too fine for the Moka Pot will become clogged and will affect your shot.
This brewing method requires the finest grind level. It should appear fluffy and similar to flour.
The espresso machine’s steam and pressure will push out the most concentrated coffee possible, with a thin layer of golden crema on top.
What is a burr grinder? It’s your reliable method of making the most delectable and rich-tasting cups of coffee.
Need help choosing a burr grinder? Reach out to our live chat or send us a message with your coffee-related questions. We’ll be happy to help you pick out a grinder that suits your budget and lifestyle.