So you want to know how to grind coffee beans. Well let me tell you it ain’t rocket science. This is one of the easiest and most overlooked steps in making that great espresso.
Don’t forget ground coffee should not be exposed to air any longer than necessary. The beans covering has been removed as part of the roasting process.
It has been ground exposing more of the surface. These factors combined with air exposure cause oxidation. That means the taste of the ground is altered…for the worse.
So, how to grind coffee beans? Grind them at home. This will result in the least exposure to air and the freshest grounds. And you can grind only what you immediately need.
To grind coffee beans you will need a coffee grinder. One word of advice: Pick the best coffee grinder you can afford. Not all grinders are equal.
Learning how to grind coffee beans is as easy as filling the hopper, setting an adjustment knob for the coarseness of bean you want and pushing a button.
There are generally two types of Grinders: Blade Grinders and Burr Grinders.
Let me tell you about both. In the end you will see only one type should be considered as your grinder for espresso.
These grinders don’t actually grind at all. They chop and slice at the beans. A whirling blade slices the beans smaller and smaller. What is left is beans of different sizes. They are also too large for espresso.
Remember for espresso you need an extra fine ground of consistent size. This allows water to flow through the grounds at an even rate and extract the same flavor oils.
Another downfall to the blade grinder is the production of heat often generated. In an attempt to get an extra fine grind, the machine would need to run longer. This can warm the coffee ground and release some of its oils and aromas. It can also burn the ground. Leaving an unpleasant bitter taste.
So in the jouney of how to grind coffee beans for your espresso, leave this type of grinder on the shelf.
The best grinder for espresso!
This type of grinder actually grinds the coffee beans. It has a pair of motor driven plates, one spinning and one stationary. As the beans pass through, a uniform grind is produced. Better models allow you to adjust the size of the grain and the speed of the grinding.
Adjusting the size is important. It allows you to “fine tune” the grounds for espresso. Controlling the speed is also important. We don’t want the beans to become over heated.
Others terms you might come across are doser/doserless. The doserless unit will have a bin which catches the coffee grinds. You then remove the bin and scoop out the coffee.
A doser unit will have a special feature on the machine which will catch the grinds. It can then dispense a predetermined amount of grinds and hold a portion of grounds. Convenient for commercial use.
Stepless/stepped are yet more terms. A stepless grinder means you can fine tune the grind. The adjustment knob is worm gear driven. This lets you grind at precise increments in between the knob settings.
For a stepped grinder, you use only the increments given on the knob. Either is fine and will come down to personal preference.
Let me mention burr grinders also fall into 2 classes: Flat plate and conical. Depending on the model, both types do the job very well. I will give recommendations for each type and let you decide.
Top Picks Conical Espresso Coffee Grinder
A conical espresso coffee grinder with burr blades is a great choice for a grinder.
Well, there aren’t too many conical burr grinders I can recommend. Sure, there are other conical espresso coffee grinders on the market but the reviews are not glowing. Some grinders don’t last long and others don’t do a good job at grinding for espresso.
Flat Plate Burrs
We know the espresso beans coffee grinders will use burrs to grind. This section gives recommendations for flat plate burr grinders.
Some units listed below indicate semi-commercial, commercial grade, etc. Since the units are high quality and reasonably priced, these grinders are routinely used for home use too.
Are Commercial Burr Coffee Grinders Right for You?
How do you know if commercial burr coffee grinders are right for you? Do you grind a high volume of beans daily? Own a coffee shop or espresso cart business? Then you most likely need a commercial unit.
Commercial coffee grinders are a step up from the home and light commercial units in the above links. But if your business uses more volume it may mean you need a commercial grinder. Also, keep in mind most commercial grade espresso machines come with a grinder built in. So you may not need a separate unit after all.
Characteristics of Commercial Grinders:
- Heavy duty
- Large burrs
- Flat plate burrs, almost always
- Large Bean Hopper
- Frame/body of the unit is usually metal (instead of plastic)
- Weight of grinder is heavier and may be less portable
Brew and Grind Coffee Makers Combo
I know you’re here for the espresso. But I want to mention brew and grind coffee makers.
Some days you need an automatic drip coffee maker instead of an espresso machine. Like most days in my house or when I am having a large party. Consider this maker since it has a built-in grinder that uses conical burrs.
Capresso 464.05 CoffeeTeam GS 10-Cup Digital Coffeemaker with Conical Burr Grinder: you add the beans, pour in the water, program the number of cups of coffee you want and the strength.
The machine does the rest! You can even program the machine to brew coffee at a certain time. This is a great feature that lets you have coffee ready when you wake up.
The magic that you are missing at home is fresh ground coffee. You can buy the best coffee maker in the world, but without fresh grinding your coffee, it’s never going to have that aroma and taste. Not all coffee grinders are created equal either. Some are far better than others, but you don’t need to break the bank for a great home grinder. For the price of a few weeks worth of big coffee chain mornings, you can have your very own high end grinder.
What Makes Fresh Ground Coffee Beans That Great?
You wouldn’t think about it when looking into your cup, but the flavor of coffee is very much about oils. A properly roasted coffee bean has a large number of different flavorful oils contained within the bean. Coffee beans are a vegetable after all and we are all familiar with the myriad forms of vegetable oil available on the market. These oils are transformed during the roasting process, similar to the reaction that turns a boring old raw potato stick into a french fry.
Once a coffee bean is crushed, those oils begin to evaporate almost immediately. After 30 minutes, the majority of flavor oils have completely evaporated. You can freeze dry your ground coffee, vacuum seal it, pack it in a can right after grinding and slow down this loss, but nothing you will do will stop this process once the beans have been ground. Other than immediate brewing of course.
Don’t believe it? Try it for yourself. Go to your favorite coffee shop and ask them to grind you some coffee to take home. Take a good whiff of it as you walk out the door. What you smell is your coffee flavor rising into the air, never to see the inside of your cup. Put that coffee in the freezer for a few days. Take it back to the coffee shop and ask them to do another grind. Smell your old coffee vs the one just ground and you will be amazed at the difference.
Even Single Cup Brewers Can Enjoy Fresh Ground
Even if you use a single cup brewer like those made by Keureg, you can enjoy fresh ground coffee too. There are a number of products on the market that match the K-cup size and shape that take fresh ground coffee. Keep those prepackaged cups for when you are in a rush, but grind and fill your own reusable K-cup whenever you have the time for a better single cup of coffee.
How To Choose a Great Coffee Grinder? Know The Types!
There are three main types of coffee grinders available to the home grinder today. If you can’t afford the very best coffee grinders, or even a good grinder, you will still get an amazing taste difference with ANY grinder.
The Burr Grinder – Until recently, a standard burr grinder was the biggest bang for your buck. They are typically priced under $100 and there are a few models available for around $50. The burr grinder uses two similar sized and shaped grinding wheels to crush the beans between them. The grind can be adjusted by changing the distance between the metal wheels. While it is possible to get a good espresso grind from a burr grinder, a conical burr grinder will do a much better job. It will be very difficult to get a decent turkish coffee grind from a regular burr grinder. The largest drawback to a burr grinder is that it needs to be disassembled and cleaned of excess grounds on a regular basis.
The Conical Burr Grinder – The sweet spot for home coffee grinding has recently become the conical burr grinder. Until recently it was hard to find a decent conical burr grinder for less than $150, but recent price breaks have hit the $80 mark for a high end adjustable conical burr grinder. Similar to a regular burr grinder, the conical version has two metal cones of different sizes, one inside the other that grinds the coffee beans. The greater surface area allows for much finer grind precision and the shape of the cones allows for more of the coffee grinds to fall all the way through, requiring much less frequent cleaning. If you want to make your own espresso or lattes at home, this is the grinder for you.
The Blade Grinder – The economy model of the coffee grinding world, the blade grinder is basically a motor that spins a metal chopping blade. More aptly named a coffee chopper, the blade grinder has a number of drawbacks and really only one benefit. The price on a blade grinder can’t be beat, with the most popular models clocking in at under $20. However, it’s impossible to even come close to a good espresso grind with a blade grinder, and it’s extremely difficult to achieve a consistent grind. The speed of the blade and the friction created tend to heat up the grinds, which can affect the flavor. However, all that being said, if you are on a budget the price of a blade grinder simply cannot be beat.