In order to brew the perfect coffee, you need to turn the coffee beans into coffee grounds.
There are two main ways to do this, you can either use an electric or manual grinder, and in both of these types, you can select from a burr grinder or a blade grinder.
What is a burr grinder and how does it work?
To put it simply, a burr coffee grinder grinds the coffee beans using ‘burrs’ which crush the coffee beans, instead of chopping them.
A burr coffee grinder can either be manual; where you turn a handle, or electric; where you press a button or turn a dial.
Coffee aficionados claim that a burr grinders produce better quality grounds and a superior coffee taste because more flavour is released through the crushing process than from chopping with a blade.
There are two types of burr grinder, heres how they work:
Conical Burr Grinder
A conical burr grinder has exactly what you would image, two cone shaped burrs inside, they have ridges, which grind the coffee beans as they pass through.
It looks something like the grinder pictured and behaves a little like a pepper mill.
You can achieve a very fine grind from a conical burr grinder, they are the most favoured method by coffee lovers for creating the perfect espresso.
Advantages of using a conical burr grinder:
They are usually cheaper than flat plate burr grinders and do an excellent job. They are also more economical as you typically do not lose many coffee beans during the grinding process.
Flat Burr Grinder
A flat disc burr grinder has two disc plates that spin at a very high speed to grind the coffee beans into a very fine powder.
The coffee sounds from a flat burr grinder are more consistent and controlled than with a conical burr grinder.
Flat burr gridners are usually quicker at grinding, thanks to their higher speed, however, the downside to this is that they tend to be noisier.
When using a flat burr grinder, occasionally, beans will get stuck and not pass through the discs, the either get caught on the next grind or have to be taken out.
A flat burr grinder operates in a similar way to how a disc chopper works on a food processor, (except that on a grinder there are two blades.)
How are Blade Coffee Grinders Different to Burr Grinders?
A blade coffee grinder uses one or two blades, (usually two) which spin a high speeds to finely chop the coffee beans into a powder ready to brew.
The control over the fine or coarseness of the coffee grounds is usually manually controlled by how long you press the button for, on cheaper coffee grinders.
On the more premium blade coffee grinder, there is usually a setting or a dial, which allows you to set how much coffee you are grinding and the level of fineness you require, the the machine does it all for you.
Bladed coffee grinders are easy to clean and tend to be quite small and portable.