Coffee - burr grinder and all of that

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Joined Jan 8, 2010
Is this a hype?
Can you really taste the difference between coffee ground with a burr grinder as opposed to a blade grinder?
Or is it just a select few that have accurate enough taste buds?
I can sort of understand that blade grinders create heat that would be detrimental to the beans (but is it?) And if you pulse a small batch, there can't be that much heat?
I'm a black coffee drinker, mainly filter coffee or French press.
Opinions?
Facts?
Let us know ;)
 
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More consistent grind from burr grinder. In French press that means less “mud” in the results.

i understand and subscribe to the heat argument... heat releases oil in spices so why not coffee. Truth be told, however, I can’t say I really notice a difference in smoothness.
 
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But does that have an effect on the taste?
Or just aestetics and maybe easier cleaning?
 
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A burr grind gives a more even grind, generates less heat. Using my French press it means I don't end up with fine grounds that clog the mesh on the press. I have an inexpensive one that works fine for light duty. The only drawback is it is loud.
 
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My first go to advice is to do a side by side test and determine for yourself and your taste. To me the effects on taste from method of grinding coffee is due more to the size of the grind than heat produced.

Different grinds work better with some brewing methods than they do with other methods, but then again it comes down to personal preference in what you are looking for in the end result.

For grinding, I have been known to use an electric blade grinder, an electric burr, a manual coffee mill, and a mortar and pestle.

For brewing, I have been known to use a percolator, a drip, a French press, cold brew, and a coffee sock (method I picked up on living and traveling in Caribbean/Central America.

For a few years now my go to method that works for my taste preferences is a combo/variation on the coffee sock and French press method. I use a manual coffee mill, Put ground coffee into a coffee pot. Bring a different pot of water to 200 degrees on stove top and then pour over ground coffee. Steep for 4 minutes. Strain through coffee sock into insulated carafe.
 
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Its a rabbit hole but yes a burr grinder will give you more opportunity for graduating the taste you prefer along with the many other factors that effect taste, viscosity etc. Have at it.
 
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I've been a coffee junkie for the last 50-years. For all the different ideas that I've gone through It always comes down to a few very simple ideas.

CLEAN equipment.
Fresh high quality coffee.
Highly filtered water.

I've played with all different grinds ... different coffee makers ... different brands ... all sorts of stuff. At the end of the cup it all comes down to those 3 points I've given you.

I like French press. I like a nice new Mr.Coffee*. I like clean Bunn* coffee makers. I really like the old-fashioned percolators. I'm using a Moka-pot a lot lately. I pour my coffee over a lemon skin
(zest) with some turbinado sugar.

Everything I know goes to the 3 ideas.

I hope that helps.
 
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Thanks all...
I still haven't figured out if I should buy one or just stick with my blade grinder.
I have seen a couple decent hand grinders with good reviews. Ah, decissions

I mainly use a french press at the moment. Sometimes filter coffee.
Water is very clean, but not filtered. Equipment is always clean, coffee beans is just whatever is available. Its local produce.
I'm actually more of a tea, than coffee, drinker ;)
 
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I also drink my coffee black, so there's no masking of off flavors with cream or sweeteners.

I'd say that yes, a decent burr grinder is definitely worth it. For me, the biggest advantage is controlling the grind size for the level of extraction you want. Too coarse and you don't extract all of the 'good' flavors; too fine and you over-extract and start getting too much bitterness and astringency. Blade grinders tend to create an uneven mix of both too-big and too-fine grinds, so decent burr grinders have the consistency advantage. I've been using Baratza grinders for close to 20 yrs. My current Encore grinder I bought from their refurbished stock about 12 yrs ago, and 2 yrs ago I bought one of their refurb Sette espresso grinders. Obviously, I'd recommend saving ~30% by getting a Baratza refurb. :lol:

But, for me, getting a simple solid-block carbon water filter was an equally important step in better coffee and tea. You can pick up good ones at Lowes/DIY stores for around $20-$30 that take $10 replaceable 2"x10" solid-block carbon filters. If you're on municipal water then it's treated, and solid carbon block will remove all of the organic compounds (like chlorine and ammonia pre-treats) and most/all particulates.
 
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If you are brewing specialty coffee you never want to waster the coffee, which is what a blade chopper does. In brewing coffee you need consistency of grounds size no matter what brewing method you are using. Smaller grounds have a much different ideal extraction time than larger grounds, so you definitely do not want them both in the same brew. Half of your brew will be either over-extracted or under-extracted, and never properly extracted. One malady leads to excess bitterness and the other to excess sourness just to name two of many problems.

I use a conical burr but will switch to a flat burr when I can afford it. For now the conical burr is OK, though incapable of rendering the consistency of grind for the ideal pour-over. But even if I always have a conical burr, It will still be consistent enough to make a great cup.

A blade chopper should never be used for coffee. You are much better off getting a hand grinder that actually grinds the coffee. Even a cheap quality hand grinder is better than a blade chopper. If you use a French Press a blade chopper will always render way more fines than useful grounds, so you can expect tons of tiny coffee particles bypassing its rudimentary filter; a filter that demands large grounds.

If you want great coffee or even just decent, never use a blade chopper. The flat burr grinder I have my sights on costs about $900, so it could be a while before I get it. I am using a conical burr that is not of great quality but is satisfactory for the time being. I would make a better cup using any of several reasonably priced hand grinders.

In fact, I am lazily shopping for a high quality hand grinder to tide me over on certain occasions, like now, when I need to make a batch of perfectly ground beans. I just got in a few pounds of Gesha that costs $30 for 120 grams. That is about as expensive as I ever go. With a high quality hand grinder I can labor through enough beans to make my day's worth of fantastic Gesha.

Conical burrs put out grounds that are less consistent in size than flat burrs render, but if you are making espresso then you want a conical burr for the limited inconsistency of grind size which assists in the pressurized brew through the puck. The slight inconsistency allows the fine grinds to fall into place among the larger grounds so that it packs perfectly, something that cannot be done if all if the grounds are the same size. But I do pour-overs and consistency is essential to the ideal brew.
 
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If you are brewing specialty coffee you never want to waster the coffee, which is what a blade chopper does. In brewing coffee you need consistency of grounds size no matter what brewing method you are using. Smaller grounds have a much different ideal extraction time than larger grounds, so you definitely do not want them both in the same brew. Half of your brew will be either over-extracted or under-extracted, and never properly extracted. One malady leads to excess bitterness and the other to excess sourness just to name two of many problems.

I use a conical burr but will switch to a flat burr when I can afford it. For now the conical burr is OK, though incapable of rendering the consistency of grind for the ideal pour-over. But even if I always have a conical burr, It will still be consistent enough to make a great cup.

A blade chopper should never be used for coffee. You are much better off getting a hand grinder that actually grinds the coffee. Even a cheap quality hand grinder is better than a blade chopper. If you use a French Press a blade chopper will always render way more fines than useful grounds, so you can expect tons of tiny coffee particles bypassing its rudimentary filter; a filter that demands large grounds.

If you want great coffee or even just decent, never use a blade chopper. The flat burr grinder I have my sights on costs about $900, so it could be a while before I get it. I am using a conical burr that is not of great quality but is satisfactory for the time being. I would make a better cup using any of several reasonably priced hand grinders.

In fact, I am lazily shopping for a high quality hand grinder to tide me over on certain occasions, like now, when I need to make a batch of perfectly ground beans. I just got in a few pounds of Gesha that costs $30 for 120 grams. That is about as expensive as I ever go. With a high quality hand grinder I can labor through enough beans to make my day's worth of fantastic Gesha.

Conical burrs put out grounds that are less consistent in size than flat burrs render, but if you are making espresso then you want a conical burr for the limited inconsistency of grind size which assists in the pressurized brew through the puck. The slight inconsistency allows the fine grinds to fall into place among the larger grounds so that it packs perfectly, something that cannot be done if all if the grounds are the same size. But I do pour-overs and consistency is essential to the ideal brew.
You are right!
 
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The idea was for all of you to tell me that I would be OK without ;)
So I could save some money.
I have ordered one. Just a handgrinder. We'll find out if I can taste the difference
 
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If you use a French Press a blade chopper will always render way more fines than useful grounds, so you can expect tons of tiny coffee particles bypassing its rudimentary filter; a filter that demands large grounds.

So one day I am buying some whole bean coffee at the shop down the street. The young lady asks me if I want it ground. I say yes, and hand her the bag. She asks me how I am brewing it and I say French press. She hands me the bag back.

We laugh, and she does give me a nice course grind.

mjb.
 
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
The idea was for all of you to tell me that I would be OK without ;)
So I could save some money.
I have ordered one. Just a handgrinder. We'll find out if I can taste the difference
Sorry... once it’s paid you’ll forget all about buying it. You won’t regret this purchase!
 
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I have a simple rule:

blade grinder = excellent for grinding spices, useless for coffee
burr grinder = excellent for grinding coffee beans, useless for spices

So now you'll have both, right? And the May challenge topic is spicy food, so what better time to buy a burr grinder and thus gain an excellent spice grinder by repurposing your old coffee grinder?
 
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:)
Blade grinder is already used for spices, same as my pestle and mortar.
Burr grinder has been ordered.
I also ordered auch bigger pestle and mortar, but thats slightly off topic and will be too late for the spice challenge (although pestle/mortar might be an idea for a future challenge)
 
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The Hario Skerton Pro is the one to get for French Press.

Hario went through some growing pains with the Skerton line, that was a fail on coarse grind, they added a stabilizer bar in the Skerton Plus, but it still fell a bit short on the coarse grind, and finally, they went even further for the Skerton Pro, which successfully handled the coarse grind issue.

This only is a matter for users of French Press and other coarse grind brewing. The original Skerton and the Plus handle pour-over and other drip brewing methods well. Hopefully, your knock-off captured the virtues of the Hario Skerton Pro if you're doing French Press.

French Press and other coarse brewing methods do not make the most efficient use of the coffee bean. The coarse grind leaves the least amount of bean area exposed for extraction so a lot of each bean contains a lot of material that goes unextracted.

The finer you go the more extraction surface areas are rendered. The happy medium is a medium grind, perfect for all drip methods. When the grind is too fine, then you need a brewing method that can deal with such tiny particles, which means Espresso, and even finer, Turkish.

Oddly, the coarse grind puts grinders through some work to get the grind consistent. You don't want some of the grinds coarse and some fine in your French Press, even if the finer grounds are large enough to be handled by the large openings of the filter. The different sized grounds require different extraction times, so while your finer grinds are reaching perfection, your coarser grinds are under-extracted and producing sour coffee; OR if you wait long enough during the immersion for the coarse grounds to reach perfection, the finer grinds have long since passed their time and are putting out bitter extractions, over-extracted.

The grind issues with the Hario Skerton original and Plus models were not doing well in rendering consistent grind size at the coarse settings, which creates the aforementioned problem; bitter or sour depending on which sized grounds were being favored during the brew. Not good to have to choose between the two evils. The Pro took care of that. So if your knock-off is patterned after the Pro (or another Hario line that handles coarse grind well) then it will be great.

I use my French Press for the Double Whammy. Instead of hot water, I use freshly brewed coffee from my pour-over in my French Press. Sometimes I use the same varietal of bean for both, sometimes a different one, which means also sometimes a slightly different roast as well. I have a bean roasted for Espresso, which gives it smoky notes. I will coarse grind that and use that in the French Press. It is coffee brewed in coffee rather than in hot water.

Speaking of water, you do use specially filtered water for your brew, right? I use a Clearly Filtered pitcher to take all of the bad stuff out of the tap water and retain all of the good trace elements. No matter how well you have done your grinding, if your water is not good your brew will be affected by it. But we were talking grind here, not water; but without good water, there is not much sense in grinding and brewing any good beans.
 

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