Coffee grinders for home - which coffee grinder is the best for espresso, filter coffee & co.? A comparison
The aroma of freshly ground coffee not only creates a good atmosphere in your home, but also ensures the best taste in your coffee cup. The fresher your coffee is ground, the more aromas you can elicit from it during preparation. We would therefore like to give you a few tips on what to look for when buying a coffee grinder, so that you are not fighting windmills when preparing your favorite coffee.
Table of contents
Why is it important to grind your coffee as fresh as possible?
Shortly after grinding, many of the aromas of your coffee evaporate. This process is accelerated by contact with oxygen. Ground coffee has more surface area than whole coffee beans and is therefore more susceptible to flavor loss. So as an important basic rule, grind your coffee beans as close as possible before brewing.
Each preparation method also requires its own degree of grinding. With your own grinder, you are flexible and can easily choose between the different preparation methods.
Yes, there are definitely coffee grinders that are more suitable for filter coffee, while others are more suitable for espresso preparation. This is because some grinders produce a more homogeneous grind in coarser ranges, others in finer ranges. Since we want to offer you a supplement to your portafilter machine with this article, we will focus on the preparation of espresso and the matching grinder for it.
How do you recognize a good coffee grinder?
A uniform grist speaks for the quality of your mill
Optimally, all your coffee particles should be ground to the same, homogeneous size and, if possible, for all grinds and preparation methods. Irregular grinds lead to insufficient extraction. Your coffee may be under- or over-extracted and taste too sour or bitter. When adjusting your grinder, you should therefore pay attention to the infinitely variable fine adjustment function, with which you can set the grind very precisely and readjust it at any time.
Low heat generation during grinding
If your motor generates too much heat when grinding the beans, the coffee beans will become very hot and your coffee will taste bitter and burnt. Therefore, when buying, make sure that the motor is sufficiently ventilated so that it does not generate unnecessary heat during the grinding process. The type of grinder you use can also influence the amount of heat generated.
Cone grinder, disc grinder or impact grinder: Which grinder is best for your coffee beans?
One thing right up front: We would not recommend impact grinding for your beans. You can imagine it similar to throwing herbs into a blender. The beans or herbs are more crushed than ground and get a very bitter taste. In addition, you get only a very uneven grinding result, because not all beans are caught equally well, so: Hands off the impact grinder.
The cone grinder
With a cone grinder, the beans are ground between the internal cone and the wall of your coffee grinder. This happens step by step. The further they move down, the finer they are ground. The set grinding degree is reached when they fit through the defined opening. So you adjust your grind with this distance. The ground coffee then falls down into the collection container. This method grinds the coffee very gently and evenly.
The disc mill
The disc grinder is the most common grinder in coffee grinders. The coffee beans are ground between two grinding discs that lie on top of each other. One disc is driven by a motor, the other disc is fixed. The beans are placed between the two discs on the inside. There, the distance is somewhat greater and they are coarsely pre-ground. The centrifugal forces gradually move the beans to the outside, where the discs are closer together and the coffee beans are therefore ground finer. This is also where the adjustment of your grind comes in. By varying this distance, you determine how finely the beans are ground. The grinding discs are usually made of ceramic or steel and are therefore particularly durable and robust.
Cone grinder or disc grinder?
Cone grinders operate at a lower speed. This means that they do not heat up as much and grind the coffee beans very gently. However, disc grinders are already catching up here and working on this problem. They try to compensate for the higher speed with larger discs. The larger the diameter of the discs, the more surface area they offer for cooling.
The following therefore applies: make sure that the speed of cone grinders is as low as possible and that large discs are used for disc grinders in order to avoid excessive heat development.
The dead space
Dead space is the amount of ground coffee that remains in the grinder or ejector after grinding. This dead space should be as small as possible, as the stuck coffee grounds will be mixed with your fresh coffee powder during the next process. In the worst case, this ground coffee has already been in the grinder for several hours and has completely smoked out.
Why does the ground coffee get stuck on the way to the ejector?
Many grinders have a slanted ejector in which the ground coffee can easily get stuck. The straighter the coffee powder falls down after grinding, the less dead space your grinder has. High-quality grinders therefore optimize their design in this respect.
Hand grinders also deliver very good results in terms of grind quality. However, we recommend hand grinders more for filter coffee and coffee preparation on the go and outdoors, as they are ready for use everywhere, but can only grind very small portions at a time. The homogeneity of the grind is very important, especially when extracting with a portafilter. Therefore, only a handful of hand grinders that grind the grounds accurately and evenly enough are suitable for making espresso. These include, for example, the Comandante C40 MK3 and the Porlex Tall.
Here you will find the advantages and disadvantages of a hand coffee grinder at a glance:
- Relatively simple handling
- Change between different beans at any time without problems and quickly possible
- Easy cleaning
- Do not require electricity and can therefore be used flexibly
- Can only prepare small quantities at a time
- Are partly very expensive
- Do not always deliver a homogeneous regrind
Adjusting the grinding degree
It is important that you always adjust your grind while the machine is running. This means that you grind your beans in the portafilter while adjusting the grind. This is important so that no beans get stuck in the disc or cone and block your grinder.
Good things take time
It takes several beverages until the new setting is completely adopted and the changes are noticeable. So you need to be patient, adjust the settings, down a few espressos and don't immediately turn the dial again, but wait and see. Also, work in very fine steps, as these often already have a great impact on the result.
And daily greets the groundhog
At this point, the bad news for you is that you have to keep readjusting your grinder. If you thought that you had found the setting of your life and that it would remain in your coffee grinder for all time, you were wrong. In principle, adjusting your grinder is an ongoing process that starts over and over again. Nice, isn't it? At least you won't get bored.
Cleaning and care of coffee grinders
Oils from the coffee beans settle in your grinder during the grinding process and leave a rancid aftertaste on the ground coffee over time. There are basically 2 ways to clean your coffee grinder:
Cleaning with cleaning granules or cleaning beans:
Sounds very funny, but in principle it is very simple. Instead of your coffee beans, you put the specified amount of granules or cleaning beans into your grinder and let it run through completely once. More expensive than variant 2, but you save yourself some steps.
Disassemble and clean:
With this somewhat more elaborate variant applies as with everything you disassemble: Remember how you did it😉! Once you have disassembled the grinder according to the instructions, you can simply use a hand vacuum cleaner to carefully remove coffee dust and debris from the parts. A hand toothbrush can help remove any small stuck debris.
We recommend a mixture of both to ensure the longevity of your grinder. In addition to your grinder, you should also regularly clean the bean hopper, as well as the grinder itself. For the bean hopper, make sure it is completely dry before you start trickling beans again.