Are you overwhelmed by the coffee grinder choices? Our burr grinder vs. blade comparison will help determine which is right for your brewing needs.
Many coffee lovers have learned that freshly ground coffee is a game changer. However, one of the challenges of grinding at home is finding the best coffee grinder for the job. As different brewing methods need different-sized grounds, the right grinder is vital to ensuring you get a quality cup of Joe.
A burr coffee grinder uses two abrasive surfaces to crush and grind beans into coffee grounds. There are two primary types of burr grinders – conical and flat. Conical grinders are more affordable, but they don’t get the same consistency as a flat grinder.
Generally, a flat grinder is the best option available, but it can be pretty expensive and hard to maintain. Blade grinders have a spinning blade that breaks down the coffee beans and is a fast, convenient approach to making fresh coffee.
Let’s explore both options further. And when you are done here, check out our coffee grinder coarse vs. fine comparison.
What Is A Coffee Grinder?
A coffee grinder is exactly what it sounds like; something that grinds coffee.
You can technically make coffee from whole beans, but it’s a long process and is wasteful, as you would need a lot of beans to get the same flavors. This is because grinding coffee beans increases the surface area, allowing more of the coffee to be extracted. You might also be interested in our explainer on grinding coffee beans in a blender.
Understanding Burr Grinders
As mentioned earlier, there are two types of burr grinders. With a flat burr grinder, small amounts of coffee beans are crushed at a time between two rings that lay on top of each other. Once the coffee is ground, it is moved into a storage container.
With a conical grinder, there is a burr shaped like a cone in the middle, surrounded by a serrated burr. When the burr in the center spins, it pulls the coffee in to grind it.
A burr grinder offers a greater consistency of coffee grinds and is generally considered the superior product. However, if you’re looking for a more affordable option, conical grinders can also work wonders.
Understanding Blade Grinders
A blade grinder has a motorized blade in the center that chops up coffee beans.
You can’t control the speed or the consistency you get when using most blade grinders. You simply place your coffee grounds in the grinder and push a button, but you can grind your coffee longer to try to get finer grounds.
All coffee grinders are loud, but blade grinders tend to be slightly louder. Because the blade spins so fast, it can create a lot of secondary noise as the beans rattle around and bounce off the interior sides of the machine.
Blade coffee grinders are almost always faster than burr models because they use a single spinning device instead of two. Burr grinders must work slower to ensure better quality and consistency with each new batch. So, if you like fresh ground coffee but don’t have a lot of time in the morning, a blade grinder will be the best option.
Burr Grinder Vs. Blade Grinder
Burr grinders have different settings, so you can get the perfect grind size for your coffee of choice. Blade grinders do not offer this option.
The heat generated by coffee grinders will partially cook the grounds during the grinding process and can give your coffee an unpleasant, burnt, smokey taste. This is especially true for blade grinders, as the faster-moving blade generates more heat.
When it comes to flavor, burr grinders are the best choice. As previously discussed, blade grinders heat the grounds, are inconsistent, and are less precise.
Overall, a blade grinder is the cheapest option, and a flat burr grinder is the most expensive. There is no set cost for either of these grinders, as several things can influence the price, such as brand name and materials.
It will also depend on whether you want a manual or electric grinder. Manual grinders are generally more affordable than electric ones.
Importance Of Grind Size And Consistency
You will get a poor cup of coffee by brewing with the wrong grind size. For example, brewing espresso with large grounds will result in a weak, under-extracted shot.
Likewise, if you brewed French press coffee with fine grinds, not only would the grounds escape through the mesh into your cup of Joe, but it would be over-extracted. Overextracted coffee is sour and bitter.
Inconsistency will also impact the taste. As different-sized grinds would brew at different paces, your coffee could end up tasting funny as it’s both under and over-extracted.
How To Choose The Right Grinder For You
If you don’t take coffee seriously and just want a quick cup in the morning, then a blade grinder will probably be suitable for you. It still allows you to enjoy fresher, more flavorful coffee compared to pre-ground beans, but it won’t eat into your budget and time as much.
If you consider yourself a true coffee connoisseur, then you won’t settle for less than a burr grinder, as it allows you to get perfect grinds for any brew.
The immediate cost of a blade grinder is more affordable than burr grinders, but both succumb to wear and tear. The blades in a blade grinder do become blunt in time. With burr grinders, flat grinders can wear down quicker than conical ones because they experience more pressure and grind for longer times.
If you intend on using your grinder often, consider whether investing in a higher-quality grinder will save money in the long term.
One of the reasons blade grinders are cheaper is that they are less durable. If you drop the grinder, the blade may pop out.
A grinder with a plastic exterior is also more likely to break than a metal one, regardless of the type. As for the blades, most grinders are made with sturdy steel blades. You can find ceramic blades, but they are more brittle.
Cleaning And Maintenance
All coffee grinders need maintenance, but blade grinders are easier to maintain than burr grinders. This is because the coffee always stays in one place, whereas the grounds move through burr grinders into a storage area.
Burr Grinder Maintenance
For day-to-day cleaning, you can remove the hopper and wipe away any remaining coffee grounds after grinding.
You should deep clean your burr grinder once a month if you use it every day. To do this, remove the hopper and storage container and wash them with warm soapy water. Then, unscrew the blades and wipe away any coffee grounds you find.
Blade Grinder Maintenance
Some blade grinders will come with a small brush you can use to get rid of any remaining coffee grounds. If you don’t have one, you can wipe them away with dry kitchen paper. Do not shake the grinder upside down in an attempt to dislodge the coffee grounds, as the blade can come loose.
If you want to dislodge old coffee grounds or spices, grind white rice for a minute. The rice will also absorb lingering aromas.
You should never put liquid in a coffee grinder. If you need to disinfect your coffee grinder, there are dry capsules you can use in place of rice, such as Urnex’s cleaning tablets.
For the more casual coffee drinker, a blade grinder will do the job. At the beginning of my coffee journey, I got a blade grinder that kept me happy for a few years. Once I knew I was hooked, it was time to take things to the next level and go for a burr grinder.