Want Better Coffee? Use a Quality Coffee Grinder

What is a Burr Grinder?
A good quality burr grinder will bring out the best in your favorite beans as they’re brewed via your favorite method.

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When you’re ready to move up to a better cup of coffee, one of your first considerations is probably going to be upgrading the type of beans you use. Maybe even start looking for a specialty roaster.

Want to know a secret?

What you really should do is consider buying a good coffee grinder.

Why Use a Coffee Grinder?

For the best coffee, it’s important that the beans be freshly ground before making the coffee.  Pre-ground coffee, whether it’s in a can or any other container like a pod, K cup or capsule is at risk for going stale.

A great grinder gives you the fresh grounds that are important for that best cup.

Trust me, stale coffee does not make for a good cup of coffee.

And the best way to get fresh grounds? Grind the coffee beans yourself.

Even better, you can choose the kind of grind that you want to get. Depending on the kind of coffee you like to drink, you may prefer a coarse grind for your drip coffee and a fine grind for espresso.

By doing the grinding yourself, you can choose those two and anything in between for lattes, cappuccinos and any other kind of coffee drink.


So you’re going to be looking for a grinder of some sort. There are many brands but really only a few types on the market. I’m going to cover them in this article and, in the process, answer your questions on which type to buy.

What’s the Difference Between a Burr Coffee Grinder Versus Blade Grinder?

The two types of coffee grinders that you’re going to run into are the blade type and the burr type.

Let’s start with the most common and work to the better type.

What Is a Blade Grinder?

The most common would be the blade grinder. This grinder chops up the beans into grounds using one or two blades. The only real advantage of having this type of grinder is that they can be pretty cheap and portable.

You can buy them at Amazon in the small compact size for under $30 – these can fit into a little nook or cranny of your kitchen – all the way up to a counter top model for something under hundred dollars.

You can grind enough for a single cup or for a full pot of coffee if you prefer. They’re reasonably quick, but like any grinder, relatively loud.

One issue with the compact blade grinder is that you control the grind by hand. That makes it very hard to know when to stop at the perfect pile of grounds. If you grind too long, the grounds can get over heated or scorched. This results in a burnt taste to your coffee.

Heat in the grinding process is a real enemy to great coffee.

What Is a Burr Grinder?

The other type is a burr grinder. This style of grinder crushes the beans until the particles fall through a pre-determined gap between the two burrs. This helps achieve the consistent results that are so desirable for a great coffee drink.

Burr grinders come in the conical and flat burr style with some manufacturers offering both types. There is a question as to which one is better, but there isn’t a consensus. For our purposes, either is perfectly fine.

Flat Burr

A flat burr grinder operates by using two flat plates that crush the beans in between them. One plate is stationary while the other revolves. As the beans are crushed, they travel toward the outside of the plates to the point they’re at the size that’s been set. They then drop through that gap to the chute.

Typical flat burr grinder models are the Baratza Vario-W and the Forte Brew Grinder.

Conical Burr

The conical burr grinder works by using a cone-shaped burr that moves up or down crushing the beans between it and a turning collar shaped burr. Once the bean is crushed to the appropriate size, it drops the rest the way down into the chute.

Typical conical grinders are models like the Baratza Virtuoso and Preciso.

Are we agreed?

You want a good grinder if you want great coffee.


What Kind of Grinder Should You Get?

There is a distinct disadvantage with the blade type grinder regardless of whether it’s a compact unit or a countertop model.

And that is that they are inconsistent in the grounds that they produce. The blade mechanism, as it’s running, does two things to a varying degree that almost guarantees it’s going to wreck the taste of your pile of grounds.

The blade, on one extreme, chops some of the bean fragments over and over again until they’re dust. On the other extreme, it doesn’t chop others enough and leaves them in big chunks. So now you have a pile that’s dust through chunks.

This mixture doesn’t make great coffee.

The reason why you grind your coffee beans in the first place is to allow water to come in contact with a lot of the bean surface area. By doing this, the water can extract the most flavor from the coffee bean.

If it’s too fine, it just gets dissolved into the water. If it’s too chunky, the water just washes around the chunks never really being absorbed to get any flavor out.

Reliable and consistently ground beans are the secret.

With a burr grinder, that’s just what you get. This is important because now the majority of your grounds are revealing more surface area for the water to come in contact with. This way, you extract more of the coffee flavor.

This style of grinder also has different settings which allow you to choose from a course grind to a fine grind depending on your coffee choice. As you can see from above, not a choice you have with the blade grinder.

My recommendation is a burr grinder, whether conical or flat, as your best move to make.


Are There Coffee Machines with a Grinder?

Short on counter space and you can’t add another machine? You can also buy a super automatic coffee maker, or bean to cup as they’re also called, that has an integrated grinder. Most use the conical type burr grinder. An example would be the Jura Capresso Impressa F7.

What Is the Best Burr Coffee Grinder?

Burr grinders come in manual crank or twist type and counter top electric models. Advantages of manual grinders are that they are quiet, less expensive and small. You’re less likely to overheat the beans as you grind them, so no burnt taste.

These would be fine for most of your typical drip coffee uses or if you travel. But for drinks like espresso that need a finer grind of coffee, a manual machine is just too slow.

One of the secrets of great espresso is getting the fresh ground coffee immediately exposed to water. An electric burr grinder can grind in a matter of seconds but hand grinding can take up to 45 seconds or more. For espresso, that’s way too long. If that’s your drink, you need an electric burr grinder.

The Verdict

A good coffee grinder is a must for the best coffee. You want freshly ground coffee for every cup or pot, not the stuff in a can.

Since a reliably consistent grind is what we’re looking for, blade grinders just don’t cut the mustard if you want to get the best out of your beans.

My recommendation for you, if you’re ready to step up your coffee game, is to make your move to a good quality burr grinder. Remember, either flat or conical is fine.

Don’t let a lesser expensive blade grinder mess up your beans.

See our review of the 5 Best Coffee Grinders to find your match.

You’ll then enjoy the very best of those great beans you buy from your favorite roaster.

Getting a great cup of coffee isn’t
hard. You just need the right equipment.
And it’s not necessarily the pricey coffee
maker that you need…

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3 Responses

    • Meredith

      Thanks Karrie, glad you liked it. Since Bob and I started learning more about coffee, we haven’t darkened Starbucks’ door in ages! LOL

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