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What is a burr coffee grinder?

Updated on September 19, 2013

Why should I invest in a burr coffee grinder?

You may have heard of a burr coffee grinder, but are unsure what it is, why you would use it, and what to expect if you do purchase one. Keep reading to find out all about it.

Burr coffee grinders allow coffee drinkers get the most flavor from freshly ground coffee beans. Burr coffee grinders preserve the flavor and aroma of the original coffee beans, Burr grinders are able to do this because they produce less heat than blade grinders. Burr grinders crush the coffee beans while blade grinders chop the beans (thus creating less heat due to friction).

The benefit of a burr coffee grinder is in precision. It allows you to create your unique and perfect cup of coffee, and once you find it you can easily reproduce it every morning.

Burr Grinders vs. Blade Grinders - So what's the difference anyway?

photo use from Flikr CreativeCommons by Nicholas Lundgaard
photo use from Flikr CreativeCommons by Nicholas Lundgaard

Burr Grinders

Burr grinders feed the coffee beans through a gaps between little toothed wheels, called burrs (pictured above). A Burr Grinder can achieve an even grind because it crushes the beans. It also helps leave the flavor and aroma intact. Burr Grinders are especially important when making espresso, because small differences in grind sizes can cause problems.

Blade Grinders

Blade Grinders work by spinning a little blade in a little cup until the coffee beans are pulverized into identical looking grains. The main limitation of a blade grinder is its ineffectiveness at achieving a consistent grind because the beans are basically getting chopped apart haphazardly. These grinders are also pretty noisy.

What to Look for in a Burr Coffee Grinder

burr grinder
burr grinder

Burrs use motorized plates with teeth that are pyramid in shape, allowing for the perfect grind. Higher end burr grinders allow for various grain sizes because the speed can be adjusted. Speed control keeps the heating of the beans low.

Burrs have two categories: conical (cone shaped) and flat plate (flat grinders). Both flat plate and conical burrs work equally well. Professionals prefer the conical, but they are noisy.

Good burrs can go up to 500 rpm. Top quality ones go up to speeds of 10 thousand rpm, with their blades spinning at about twenty to thirty thousand rpm. This allows for fine grinds for Turkish coffee.

Other things you should look for when purchasing a burr coffee grinder:

- Solid Construction

- Easy to Clean

- Make sure a Cleaning Brush is Included

- Easy to Remove Burrs for Cleaning

- Not Made of Materials that Cause Static Electricity (because the grounds will stick to the blades)

- Ability to Watch Beans During Grinding (otherwise it's hard to see color and decide when grind is ready)

A time and auto switch off are also useful, but not always necessary.

High End Burr Coffee Grinders

With a high end burr coffee grinder you can use precision to achieve your perfect coffee grounds. After you've perfected it, the automatic settings allow you to reproduce your favorite cup whenever you like.

Kitchenaid Pro Line Coffee Grinder-onyx Black
Kitchenaid Pro Line Coffee Grinder-onyx Black

This is a quality burr coffee grinder that isn't made from plastic (it's metal and glass). It's also one of the least expensive burr grinders that's worthwhile (around $200).

what is a burr coffee grinder
what is a burr coffee grinder

How much should you spend on a Burr Coffee Grinder? - What's your opinion?

How much should you spend on a Burr Coffee Grinder and why?

Burr vs Blade Video

Low Cost Burr Coffee Grinders - Why Cheap Blade Grinders are Better

Low cost burr grinders aren't usually recommended because they don't give you the precision and ease of use that burr coffee grinders are known for. If you only have $50 to invest in a coffee grinder, you should just invest in a quality blade grinder until you're ready to make the jump. Below you'll find a high quality blade grinder.

Bodum BISTRO Blade Grinder, Electric Blade Coffee Grinder, Black
Bodum BISTRO Blade Grinder, Electric Blade Coffee Grinder, Black

This blade grinder is around $50 and is easy to clean and use.

Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical Burr, Black
Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical Burr, Black

This is a low cost burr grinder. It is the lowest end burr grinder I would recommend at around $90.


What's your favorite burr coffee grinder?

What is the benefit of a burr coffee grinder for you? - What's the best reason to purchase a burr coffee grinder?

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