Like all coffee equipment, not all grinders are created equal. However, we believe there is a solid grinder out there for any budget if the user is willing to understand how it works and the detailed maintenance and parts replacement required to keep it running smoothly. Grinding coffee is obviously one part of brewing–whether it is manual, automatic, or espresso, so it's important to understand a grinder’s role in taste and overall drink quality and consistency.
Read below for tips on making a grinder purchase, cleaning your grinder, and dialing in your grinder for brewing. We hope this sparks some ideas and/or questions you might have regarding grinders, and that you use it daily to help dial in the quality you’re known for with your customer base. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Choosing the right espresso grinder can make or break the function, flow, and performance of an espresso bar. It is a common mistake to over-invest in an espresso machine and under-invest in the accompanying grinder. It is akin to buying a sporty track car and kitting it out with bargain tires.
Here is a quick look at some traits that differentiate grinders and their benefits.Flat or Conical burrs?
- First, burrs (instead of blades) allow more control over ground particle size, and with espresso, particle size is the key.
- Flat burrs tend to highlight delicate flavor notes.
- Conical burrs help produce more texture in espresso.
- Flat burrs can be less expensive to replace, but conical burrs tend to last a lot longer.
Larger burrs grind more coffee faster while generating less heat. Small burrs are less expensive to replace but dull more quickly and generate more heat, impacting the espresso. As a general rule: buy the biggest burr set you can afford for your main espresso. Decaf and special coffees can get away with smaller burr sets.
Consider the volume of coffee that you will need to grind. If anticipated service is less than two pounds daily, a smaller (and less expensive) grinder can be the right choice. As volume increases, so should the size and investment of the grinder.
In the hands of a skilled barista, all can be great options.
With the manual dosing grinder, the barista turns the grinder on and off and uses the paddle lever to dose grounds into the portafilter. The benefits are their low entry price and simple operation. They require more attention to dose consistently and without excessive waste or loss of freshness.
Grind-on-Demand grinders grind directly into the portafilter, eliminating stores of pre-ground coffee. They operate by grinding for a specific duration (some are programable to the hundredths of a second) to regulate the amount of coffee ground. These can help improve consistency, speed production, reduce waste, and help keep coffee fresh, but comes at a higher price point.
Self-tamping grinders have their place in the right venue, but they need special care. That is an entirely different conversation.
After performance considerations, look to usability. Adjustments to grind size should be easy. Programming should be quick and intuitive. Cleaning should be easy and require a few simple tools. On some grinders, the only consumable part is the burr set. Others have proprietary anti-clumping or anti-static bits that need frequent replacing.
Not all grinders are equal, and it can get complicated. Before you invest in a grinder, please feel free to consult with our sales or training team. We are happy to help!
When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your grinder? If you cannot remember, you are long overdue! Cleaning your grinder to remove stale oils and fine coffee particles will improve your grinder’s performance and make your coffee taste better.
There are two ways to clean your grinder:
1) Using a grinder cleaner product
2) Take the grinder apart for manual deep cleaning
Urnex Grindz is a product made from plant-based ingredients shaped like coffee beans. You remove your coffee from the grinder, then place the recommended amount of Grindz in and grind it through (on a medium setting). As it moves through the grinder, it absorbs rancid oils and scrapes away fine coffee particles to give a solid cleaning without needing to disassemble the grinder. It is an easy and quick process! Just follow the instructions on the label or look up their video on YouTube.
The busier your shop is, the more often you should be cleaning your grinders. A good starting point might be to do weekly cleanings with Grindz, then schedule a deep cleaning with your technician once every six months or annually. Or, if you take on learning how to deep-clean a grinder yourself, do the deep cleaning monthly or quarterly.
If you have never had your grinder cleaned, doing any cleaning at all will be a massive improvement. Your grinders, baristas, and customers will all be very grateful!
Have you ever tasted a cup of batch-brewed coffee only to find it thin, weak, and uninspiring? Or is it too strong, bitter, and muddy? Well, fret not! The good news is that you can tweak your batch brews, just as you might alter your espressos.
The goal of brewing coffee is to extract the perfect amount of flavor. If you extract too little (under-extracted), only the organic acids are pulled from the ground coffee, leaving you with a sour, thin cup. If you extract too much (over-extracted), all of the bitter flavors (at the end of extraction) will get into that cup. If you hit it just right, you can achieve those super-tasty caramelized sugars without the off-flavors!
Take that first example — if your coffee is watery and even a bit sour, try brewing it again but with a click or two finer on your grind adjustment dial. By making the grind finer, you will increase the surface area of the coffee, making it easier for the water to permeate the grounds and extract all that tasty goodness. And vice versa with a cup which is too bitter — try a click or so coarser. It will make it harder for the water to extract those bitter flavors at the end.
Also, think about what kind of coffee you are using. Lighter roasted single origins might require a finer grind than a darker blend; less dense coffees from relatively lower elevations might require a coarser grind than more dense coffees from higher elevations; decaf coffees tend to get a finer grind. Keep in mind that there are many different variables to try to balance. If your coffee does not taste quite right, make another change!
Remember that your grind setting for batch brews is fluid— don’t just set it and forget it! The small changes to your grind setting can have huge effects on how your cup tastes. Tasting your coffee regularly and making little adjustments will help keep that coffee tasting great!