Coffee Grinders
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Burr vs. Blade Grinder

There are two kinds of coffee grinders: blade and burr. Between them, burr grinders are much preferred over blade grinders, because burr ones provide a more consistent grind.

Blade Grinders Provide Inconsistent Grinds

Blade grinders are like food processors or blenders designed for coffee beans. They have sharp blades (hence their name) that chop up beans.

These grinders provide minimal control and inconsistent results. They don’t have any settings for fine, medium or coarse grinds. You can only control how long beans are ground for, which gives you a little control over the grind’s fineness.

No matter how long you grind beans for, though, they will never be a uniform size. Because beans remain in one chamber and are chopped multiple times, some beans will be ground more finely than others. For instance, one bean might be chopped 100 times, but another bean might only come into contact with a blade 15 times. There’s no way to compensate for this with a blade grinder.

Burr Grinders Provide Consistent Grinds

Burr grinders, in contrast, provide consistent grinds. They have an upper chamber, a lower chamber, and two burrs, which are abrasive, hard surfaces that grate against each other. As beans pass from the upper to the lower chamber, they are ground by the burrs. Because each bean passes through only once, every coffee bean is ground to the same size.

With a burr grinder, you can select how fine or coarse you’d like your grounds. As the grind setting is changed from fine to coarse, the burrs are moved further apart so that larger grinds can pass through them. On a finer grind setting, the burrs are kept close together, and only small grinds will drop to the lower chamber. Until the beans are the correct size, they’ll keep getting ground by the burrs, but as soon as the beans are ground to the proper size, they’ll drop to the lower chamber

With a burr grinder, you will not only have freshly ground coffee, but it will also be uniformly ground. This will provide even extraction during the brew process and produce the best cup of coffee.

Author Scott

Scott is a professional writer for Driftaway Coffee. He worked as a barista for eight years, but today prefers to enjoy his beverages from the other side of the counter. When not drinking Driftaway Coffee, Scott usually has a mug of his own roasted coffee nearby.

More posts by Scott
  • Stephan Braun

    I just found this article when looking for some information for a new coffee grinder. I realize that I got to go with a burr grinder because otherwise there is no quality and consistency of the grind. Although it clarified some of the things, I still have to decide which one to buy. According to http://www.coffeegrinderworld.com/best-coffee-grinder/best-burr-coffee-grinder/ I should look at variable of choices like burrs, loudness, etc. But I wonder also about your opinion. Which factors are the most important?

    • Driftaway Coffee

      Hi Stephan – if you are just getting started, I would recommend getting an automatic, conical burr grinder within your budget (Baratza has some great options starting at $130 or so). Other factors are also important but Baratza does a generally good job at all of them.