Great tasting coffee comes from whole coffee beans that have been freshly ground within minutes of brewing. This great taste can be achieved at home by using a coffee grinder.
The coffee drinker today has many choices for coffee. Even grocery stores allocate several shelves for exotic brands and flavors, caffeinated and decaffeinated, whole beans or ground. While many people are content buying ground coffee for its convenience, connoisseurs explain that within 2 minutes of grinding coffee the beans begin to oxidize —- a process referred to as staling -- that changes the flavor. For the best tasting coffee, the sooner you brew your java after grinding, the better.
The way in which beans are ground makes a difference in the flavor of the coffee, because chemical changes take place in the beans depending on the process used to grind them. Flavor is also dependent on the consistency of the grind —- and how coarse or fine —- as different brewing methods have their own requirements. For example, espresso uses very finely ground coffee, virtually powder-like, while drip coffee makers use a medium to coarse particle size.
The blade coffee grinder is the least expensive model. It consists of a simple motorized fan-like blade that spins in a hopper, or enclosed plastic casing into which whole beans have been placed. A disadvantage is that the blade shreds the beans inconsistently and the only control for achieving the right particle size is to allow more time for finer ground coffee, and less time for a coarse grind. Even so the end result is a combination of granulates varying in size, suitable enough for an automatic drip coffee maker, but not recommended for espresso. The advantage to this type of grinder is price at $20 (US dollars) or less.
Most experts agree the best type of coffee grinder is a burr grinder. Burrs are serrated steel parts with conical or flat surfaces that fit together. They crush beans into a uniform consistency that can be further controlled by using one of several settings. Burr grinders, along with fresh coffee beans and cold, spring water ensure the best possible flavor.
Burr mills can be hand-cranked or electric. The hand-cranked grinder is favored by people who like to be a little more involved in the process, but can also be handy when camping or traveling.
A burr coffee grinder can cost anywhere from $70-$400 dollars or more, depending on the manufacturer and features. When selecting a grinder make sure it has the settings you require.
When using a coffee grinder with a drip coffee maker, if the paper filter gets clogged and water backs up, or if sediment is left in the cup, the particle size is too fine. If the coffee isn't flavorful enough (assuming the right amount of coffee was used) the particle size is too coarse. Adjust the settings for a better result, or if using a blade grinder, adjust the length of time the beans are ground.
A coffee grinder is thought to be the missing link in the secret to a great cup of home brewed java. If you enjoy coffee, this little appliance might just become your new best friend.