FINDING THE RIGHT GRINDER
The importance of grinding your beans fresh.
If you've browsed around our shop a bit you would have noticed that we only sell whole coffee beans, your local roaster might probably also refuse to grind your beans for you.
We know this is a source of great frustration for some people, but in another blog post I made a reference to how, not optimally brewing your fresh coffee, is the equivalent to maybe boiling a great steak in a pot of water or ruining an expensive whiskey by drowning it in cheap mix.
At WAKE UP.BREW we believe that the single most important thing you can do to elevate your coffee game is grinding your coffee with a good grinder (the best you can afford) and grinding your coffee fresh.
If you are new to speciality coffee you might feel like this piece of advice is over-exaggerated but let us explain.
Coffee becomes extremely delicate and volatile after it is roasted, roasting green beans creates a whole chain of chemical reactions; a lot of moisture and density is lost, sugars and acids break apart, CO2 and aromas are formed and released.
That wonderful aroma coming from the coffee is in fact vital, positive aromas escaping the beans.
This process, along with destructive oxidation, means that after the coffee has been roasted, it is inevitably deteriorating in flavor week by week. This is also why most people would advise you to check the roast date on your coffee and not buy or drink coffee with a roast date older than 6 weeks. Of course this is another lengthy subject entirely, some coffees already start tasting a bit stale after 4 weeks, some coffees are still good after 8, but I think 6 weeks is a good general guide.
Okay , so now, think about grinding in the most basic sense. What does grinding do to the coffee?
Soaking whole beans in water won’t give you a lot of flavor because of the limited exposed surface area of the bean. Grinding your coffee breaks it into smaller pieces that allows for the water to extract flavor from the exposed surface of the roasted beans.
Coffee is already in a constant state of deterioration, grinding your coffee makes the beans even more porous and volatile.
Studies have shown that coffee loses about 60% of its aroma after just 15 min of being ground.
Investing in a really good grinder and grinding your coffee fresh is the best investment you can make towards your home brewing kit. You can have the most expensive, proper commercial espresso machine, but if you use pre-ground coffee or a poor grinder, the results will be just that, poor.
Choosing the correct grinder
Okay so now that we've hopefully convinced you of buying your first grinder there are a few pointers we have on choosing the right one.
Blade grinders are similar to what you would find in smoothie blenders, the big problem with these are that they cut the beans into random, uneven and inconsistent sized pieces. This becomes a problem when trying to extract an even amount of coffee during the brewing process, some pieces will under-extract, others might over-extract and you will get some really unwanted bitter or sour notes in the end cup.
Burr grinders are specifically designed for grinding coffee, unlike the blade grinders, they shave the coffee into more even sized particles, this results in a more uniformed extraction. It is really as simple as that and to be honest, they differ in price to the blade grinders but not by much, trust us, it will be worth the extra spend.
Manual or electric?
This is up to personal choice, there are pros and cons to each method and we will give you a few points to consider.
Manual hand grinder
1. You get some really great quality manual Burr grinders and they are really great for a low-key approach, they make fantastic travel buddies, especially something like the Porlex mini grinder which fits right into the Aeropress and saves you a ton of space.
2.The manual hand grinders are also great if you love taking your time and enjoying the ritual like process of making coffee. Manual grinders are almost hypnotizing and immensely satisfying.
- Manual burr grinders are more affordable, but in the end do the same job.
1. Really the only negative thing when it comes to a Hand grinder is, that it becomes a little tedious if you need to grind a large volume of coffee. If you are making coffee for a large family every morning, a manual grinder will definitely sucks the fun right of it.
- Very quick, easy and convenient to use. Although a small home electric burr grinder isn't made for grinding commercial volumes of coffee, it will grind a whole bunch of it at the click of a button. Perfect if you are a large family or just lazy.
- If you buy a good quality grinder it should last you many years
- Electric grinders are more expensive than manual grinders but you can pick up some great entry level electrical Burr grinders at a surprisingly affordable price like our Baratza Encore Grinder
- Not as easy to travel with and can’t be used in places with no electricity.
Some extra pointers
- Look for grinders that are manufactured by trusted brands like HARIO, BARATZA, RHINOWARE, PORLEX, Mahlkonig, Severin and KRUPS
- Look for grinders that have a heavy, overall weight, this is almost always a sign of good sturdy materials being used in the manufacturing process.
- Don’t be fooled by a powerful motor or high rpm, this will heat up the coffee while grinding.
- Lastly, a grinder with a lot of flexibility in terms of grind size settings is always your first choice.