How To Make A Great Cup Of Coffee - Part 2 - Why Burrs are Best
Speedgoat Coffee Roasting Co. is new on the scene and what we do here is a little different from what most folks around here have seen before. Lately I’ve been asked a single question from curious friends and customers: “Why is grinding my own coffee important?” This got me to thinking about how to orient people who are new to specialty coffee practices so that they too may enjoy their coffee at home as much as possible. Every practice and profession can lead to obsessive refinement, but here we’ll touch on the basics of how to make a great cup of coffee.
Blades Are for Chopping, Burrs Are for Grinding
We’ve all seen them: that innocent, whirring coffee chopping pod many know as a home coffee grinder. Lots of people use them because they value fresh-ground coffee and that’s what’s on the shelves at the store. And they’re cheap… er, very affordable! Sure, using a blade grinder for your whole beans is better than buying pre-ground coffee, but you might be surprised at the difference in brew quality when you make the switch to using a burr grinder. Right alongside with high-quality coffee, the grinder is arguably the most important piece of equipment in any coffee drinker’s setup.
If you’re thinking about taking the first step into even more delicious coffee at home a conical burr grinder is the best option. Much like professional grinders found in cafes, a conical burr grinder pulverizes roasted coffee beans to a determined grind size. The result is an evenly-sized grind that lends to even extraction during the brew. On the other hand, when coffee is ground (read: chopped) in a blade grinder, it’s reduced to larger chunks of beans and super-fine powder (aka “boulders & sand”) which brew unevenly. The boulders are under-extracted which lends to lackluster body, and the sand is over-extracted, causing excessive bitterness. When coffee is ground with a burr grinder, the flavor compounds, caffeine, antioxidants, and phenols are more thoroughly and evenly extracted from your ground coffee giving you a fuller, richer, more flavorful cup.
What’s more? You now have a tool to adjust for personal taste preference no matter how you like to brew your coffee.
When making the choice of which burr grinder to use at home price is often a major deciding factor and for the specialty coffee initiate. While a grocery store brand blade grinder usually can be purchased for under $20, an entry-level conical burr grinder starts around $35 through big retailers. Exclusive coffee equipment brands like Capresso and Bodum have units that start around $45, like this Capresso 16 Step Burr Grinder. High-end brands like Baratza start at $145 for home-use models. For good consistency, the Baratza Encore is a great investment. With units available from recognizable home kitchen brands and specialty coffee brands alike you’re sure to find something that suits the budget. Some of the things you can expect from higher-priced grinders are features like fine step-adjustment for grind size, easy cleaning and servicing, and quieter, more solid designs with better motors.