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Coffee Grinders

Monday, 10 September 2012 | Tags: , ,

If you're picky about your cup of Joe, you'll no doubt want as much control over its production as possible, and the coffee grinder is an essential tool for connoisseurs. We find out which grinder creates the best results in an A&K Test Lab grind-off.

THE BASICS

  • The way coffee is ground is a key factor affecting taste. It should be matched to the method of brewing for best results. For example, a coarser grind works well if the brewing method has the grinds steeping in the water (e.g. a Bodum). For most drip coffee makers, a finer grind is required.

  • If the grind is too fine for the brewing method, the resulting coffee flavour is bitter.

  • If the grind is too coarse for the brewing method, the resulting coffee will be weak.

  • When it comes to grinders, uniformity of the grind is an important part of creating the perfect cup of Joe.

Buying Tips

  • Coffee grinders (or mills) are available in electric or manual. Electric is most popular.

  • Grinders come in two different mechanical styles: blade or burr.

    • Blade (or disc) grinders are usually less expensive, but they also give you less control over the grind texture.

    • Burr (or conical) grinders are quieter, more precise, and less likely to clog. They also don’t heat up the coffee beans as much during grinding, which helps to preserve maximum flavour and aroma.

  • If you use different brewing methods or prefer to have control over the grind texture, you’ll want to find a grinder that allows you to adjust the grind settings. If you only use one brewing method typically, this may not be a deal breaker.

  • Power vs. cost: more powerful grinders usually cost more, but they also won’t clog (or burn out) as much as less powerful grinders.  

  • Bean capacity: for typical home use (e.g. one pot/day), you won’t need a large bean capacity. If you are buying for an office or large group use, or you like to grind several days’ worth of beans at a time, then you’ll a larger capacity hopper.

  • Some larger grinders are hands-free, which means you’ll want be sure to check for an auto-off feature to save on wear & tear.

  • Don’t assume all grinders come with a container to capture the grinds. Check the features if a container is important to you.

TEST CRITERIA

Because we already know we prefer burr-style grinders over blade, we tested 5 burr machines against each other for ease of use, grind quality, power, size, and price. We tested:

Black & Decker Home Electric Coffee Grinder: $39.99

 : Amazon.ca
CanadianTire.ca
  Amazon.com

Krups GVX2 Expert Burr Grinder: $99

Amazon.ca
The Bay
  Amazon.com

Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder: $129.95

: Espressotec
  Amazon.com

Breville Smart Grinder BCG800XL: $239.99

Amazon.ca   Amazon.com

Baratza Vario: $469.00

: Espressotec   Amazon.com

Grind Test

Consistency is key. We tested the fine grind setting on all of our products.

  • The Baratza Vario and the Breville had the most consistent fine grind out of them all.

  • The Black & Decker left quite a few large chunks un-ground.

Cleaning Test

  • The Capresso was the easiest to clean, allowing us to easily brush it off without too much trouble.

  • The Black & Decker and Krups had the most nooks and crannies left undusted. 

Features & Usability Test

  • Both the Baratza Vario and the Breville allow you to control the shot amount, with the Breville having the most “tweakable” taste options (25 settings!)

  • The Capresso was nice and compact on the counter top. It also has the slowest grinding speed in its class, which is desirable to reduce friction and heat build-up. Also has a pulse-grinding feature.

  • The Baratza Vario‘s grinding burrs are ceramic, which means they stay sharper longer. They’re also easy to remove if needed, no tools required.

  • The Krups allows you to choose a grind quantity from 2-12 cups, has 17 grind settings, and a large capacity hopper.

  • The Black & Decker’s grind settings range from fine to coarse, has removable parts for easy clean-up (which we didn’t find so easy), and a locking lid.

OUR TOP PICK

For its consistent grind, setting selection, and ease of use, the Baratza Vario was our top pick. It is also the top price! If you’re looking for a less expensive option, the Breville or Capresso might suit your budget.

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