For many of us, coffee is a ritual – the smell of the beans, the twirl of the teaspoon, the sweet, life-sustaining caffeine hit. Grinding the beans yourself can take this ritual to a whole new level – a fresher, tastier level.
If you like taking your time to tinker, entertain regularly or simply prefer the taste of fresh beans (or can’t stand instant!), then a coffee grinder is for you. Having a grinder means you can sample local beans and find your favourite blend – you might even end up creating your own, especially if you have a roaster as well.
Drink coffee, save money?
Good coffee isn't cheap, and we addicts can pay up to $5 a pop for something we could be making at home. Grinding and brewing your own coffee could help save you money in the long run – imagine bringing a thermos full of fresh coffee to work every day! And imagine the bragging rights in the office: "Yeah, this is my own blend."
This coffee grinder is going to change my life! What do I need to know before I buy one?
Blade grinders vs burr grinders
Blade grinders may cost less and be able to handle other products such as spices, but they'll give your coffee an uneven, sometimes powdery consistency, which could damage your coffee maker. Burr grinders are worth the extra money because they produce an even grind and therefor a superior flavour.
A doser allows you to fill the filter basket with ground coffee by pulling a lever.
Definite fineness settings
You'll want to be able to adjust the fineness of your grind to suit different beans or coffee makers.
Group handle rest
You want your group handle (coffee grinds receptacle) to sit directly in a group handle rest, reducing grind spillover.
If the beans run out, the grinder will stop automatically after a short period of time, which means you don't have to constantly keep an eye on it.
A portion control function can dispense the ground coffee in measured amounts.
A shutter stops the beans falling out when removed.
It's a good idea to keep the power cord away from children's hands, as some of these machines are very heavy and could cause injury if they were to fall off the kitchen bench.
More grinding tips for aspiring baristas
- The jury is still out on the best way to store your beans; some experts recommend storing them in the freezer, others say the fridge is better. You should at least keep your beans in an airtight container and away from direct light.
- Ground coffee deteriorates quickly – grind only as much as you need. Some perfectionist baristas recommend discarding coffee that is more than half an hour old.
- You may need to play around with the grind settings to suit your particular machine. If your grind is too coarse you'll get a poor flavour and crema (the foamy layer on top of the coffee), and if the grind is too fine it can block the filter. Start with a grind size that is the consistency of table salt when rubbed between finger and thumb.
- Coarse grinds suit percolators; medium grinds are good for plungers; fine is for filter and espresso, while extra fine is best for Turkish coffee.
- Clean the hopper and the ground coffee container regularly, as coffee is an oily substance and can go rancid after a while.
From $30 to $499 (burr grinders start at about $100).