I think anyone who enjoys drinking coffee on a regular basis has heard that it is better to have freshly ground beans compared to pre ground beans when you are brewing coffee. There are a whole host of reasons for this, which would take up the whole article, so we won’t get into it now. Essentially, coffee degrades after it has been ground, so fresh is best.
There are two options if you want to drink freshly ground coffee. Your first option is to buy all of your coffee in a coffee shop. Considering the average American drinks 3 cups of coffee per day, this option gets expensive really quickly. Option two is grinding your beans at home. If this sounds like a better and more economic option to you, you are going to need a grinder.
Knowing what grinder to buy and how much to spend can be very intimidating. It is likely the reason that a lot of us buy pre-ground coffee – so we don’t have to deal with the hassle!
Well, today we’ve got you covered. We are going to talk about some of our best grinder picks that are of great quality but aren’t going to break the bank.
How To Choose a Domestic Coffee Grinder
Burr vs blade
This is a common conundrum for people in the market for a grinder. My parents had a blade grinder when I was growing up. They used this for nuts as well as coffee. Need I say more? As you have probably worked out from the title, we recommend buying a conical burr grinder.
Blade grinders are very inexpensive but there is a reason for that. With a blade grinder, it is impossible to get a uniform grind.
Imagine a blade grinder in action. The beans are tossed around and a blade slices randomly through them. Therefore, the grind size is naturally going to vary greatly.
A burr grinder, on the other hand, feeds the beans evenly between two burrs to grind them. This action is similar to a bread mill if you can imagine that. The two stones, or in this case burrs, are a specific distance apart, so when the coffee beans are fed through them, the grind is always going to be the same size.
A uniform grind is extremely important for good coffee extraction. No matter how cheap a blade grinder is, you are still throwing your money away. Go for a burr grinder every time.
Why We Need a Uniform Grind
Any Barista worth their salt will tell you that a good grinder is the most important piece of equipment in your coffee arsenal.
Grinding your coffee is the first step you take when you brew coffee, (after buying good quality beans of course). If your first step is wrong, it doesn’t matter how good your coffee machine or your recipe is, you are never going to get well-extracted coffee.
Imagine you are driving an excellent car but you put the wrong gas in it. The car would be useless to you, no matter how expensive it was.
The same is true for coffee. If the grind is wrong, the water is going to pass through it unevenly and your extraction won’t be even, regardless of the price of your machine.
Different types of brewing all require specific grind sizes:
• Filter coffee requires a coarser grind than espresso because there is no added pressure to help with extraction. Anyone who has tried to use finely ground coffee when making filter coffee can attest to the fact that the water takes forever to make its way through the grinds, and the result is horrible, over-extracted coffee.
• French press coffee requires an even courser grind because the filter holes are so large. Using even a medium-coarse grind in a French press would result in lots of sediment in your cup.
• Espresso, on the other hand, brews coffee using high pressure. This added ‘push’ increases the speed that the water travels through the ground coffee. If you put coarsely ground coffee in an espresso machine, the extraction process will last about two seconds and you will be left with a watery, under-extracted mess in your coffee cup.
You can see how having ground coffee that isn’t the same size is a massive problem when brewing coffee. A decent grinder, therefore, is so important.
If you buy a proper grinder you can actually make good coffee with a cheap espresso machine. Investing in a grinder will save you lots of money, hassle and bad coffee in the long run.
Conical vs Flat Burrs
The argument here isn’t as clear cut. Both types of burr grinder grind excellent coffee. It largely comes down to preference, and the quantity of coffee we grind. Our preference, for home use, is for the conical burr grinder and here’s why:
• Flat burr grinders retain more beans due to their shape. Conical grinders naturally guide the ground coffee down and out of the grinder. This means that flat grinders have to be cleaned more regularly. It also means that you have more ground coffee that is stuck in the machine. That ground coffee will get in your cup the next morning, and you’ll wonder why your cup doesn’t have the same oomph.
• Conical grinders are easier to dial in. If you are still a relative beginner in your coffee brewing journey, you will find conical burr grinders a lot easier to adjust and you’ll get to that perfect extraction sweet spot a lot quicker.
The Best Domestic Conical Burr Grinders
Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder
The Bodum Bistro wins the day as the best affordable coffee grinder. At the moment, you can pick up one of these machines for around $60. This is an excellent price for a decent, entry-level, conical burr grinder that delivers a lot of the same features and results of a more expensive grinder.
• The beans chamber and the ground coffee chamber are made of an anti-static, odorless, borosilicate glass. Brewing into the anti-static glass makes a nice change. Borosilicate glass doesn’t expand or contract with changing temperatures, like other types of glass do, so you won’t get any dodgy cracks or breakages.
• The Bodum Bistro is a stepless grinder. You could consider this an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your preference. A stepless grinder has no set grind settings, so you find that sweet spot by making slight adjustments and tweaks, rather than picking a standard grind setting. I used to work with a (particularly snobby) barista who swore by stepless grinders and wouldn’t use anything else.
Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder
The Capresso Infinity is a level up from the Bodum Bistro, both in price and in quality. This machine will cost you around $100. The burr grinder from Capresso produces a much more consistent grind, which will satisfy all but the most particular coffee hipsters. It is a good quality, lightweight machine that boasts some impressive features:
• The Capresso Infinity grinds at a slower speed. This reduces the amount of heat and friction that the grinder produces. This means the grinder will last longer and produce better quality coffee.
• It features a safety lock system. This means you don’t have to remember to close the bean hopper when you are cleaning your grinder, so no more coffee beans all over the kitchen floor!
Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
This entry-level grinder from Baratza has received quite a bit of hype from the coffee community. It is the coffee grinder in vogue and for good reason. This grinder will deliver almost commercial level ground coffee at a great price. It retails at around $140.
• The Baratza Encore also grinds slowly for better heat consistency. On top of this, the Encore also comes with Thermal Overload Cutout technology so that if the grinder is by some chance running a little hot, it will cut out automatically rather than damaging the burrs.
• This grinder allows for automatic timed or “dosed” grinding. This is ideal if you are grinding individual espresso shots. You can program your shot to be the same every time (a feature normally reserved for grinders that are far more expensive!). If you are looking to top up your shot manually, the grinder also has a pulse function.
Hopefully, you’re convinced that an electric, conical, burr grinder is the way to go. If you are in any way serious about your coffee, I can’t recommend buying one enough. A burr grinder will drastically improve your coffee drinking experience and it will cost you the price of five or six bags of specialty coffee. More to the point, you will be amazed by how good those Ethiopian beans can actually taste!
Coffee quotes are something that I see and read regularly. Some are funny while others are inspirational quotes. Many quotes about coffee have loads of truth in them but also remind me why I am such a coffee enthusiast. Today I am going to share eighteen amazing coffee quotes I have come across.
Coffee, It’s the life blood that fuels the dreams of champions!
-Mike Ditka (Kicking and Screaming Movie)
Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised.
-Star Trek: Voyager
Kaldi and his goat are my heros!
If it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.
Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis – a good hot cup of coffee.
Coffee is a beverage that puts one to sleep when not drank.
Coffee. Creative lighter fluid.
Sleeping is a symptom of caffeine deprivation. -Unknown Author
I would stop drinking coffee but I am no quitter!
Do I like my coffee black? Are there other colors?
Coffee literally makes the world go round.
I judge a restaurant by the bread and the coffee.
It is by Specialty Coffee alone I set my mind in motion.
I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.
Life is too short for bad coffee.
Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.
-Jesse Lane Adams
Caffeine-The other Vitamin C
Coffee makes us severe and grave and philosophical.
This article was written with the intent of helping people both choose a home coffee shop based on some basic things that create an amazing environment and to give those who own/manage a coffee shop help in creating and maintaining an environment enabling them to be that home coffee shop for their customers.
I will also use this Review System in upcoming articles as a way to “rank” local coffee shops.
Good music is a must if I am going to spend more than a few minutes in a coffee shop. It can be mellow or upbeat but needs to be a back-round noise rather than the main event. Worse than bad music is music turned up so loud that you cannot hear yourself think let alone have a decent conversation with someone. If you have to compete with the music that gets a negative point.
Color scheme is important because it helps build the environment visually. Certain colors make people feel on edge and others are calming. I find that neutral colors are the best in created this atmosphere for people but this does not mean you have to stay away from bright colors just that you want to be careful with how to use them. Maybe a nice accent wall in a dark corner, this is also where lighting comes into play.
If it’s to dark I can’t get anything done and it feels dreary. If it’s to light I don’t want to stay long and it gives me a headache. Reflected light mixed with direct overhead lighting is the best with bulbs that are more of a natural light than a yellow one. Also colored shades help create the correct lighting balance as well.
A good set up helps make a store both easy to navigate and visually pleasing. Making sure to keep a clear aisle from the door to the register and keeping the condiment bar out of this path to the register will be two big points, especially during a rush.
This comes into play with the chairs, table height, and can be a combination of different factors like lighting, music, cleanliness and so on.
No one likes to see a huge mess behind the counter when they know their drink is being made in such conditions. Everything comes into play with this one: behind the bar, under cabinets, the bathrooms, the walls (one of the most missed places), the trash cans not being full, etc… Cleanliness puts the final touches on Environment, the sugar on top if you will. Without the sugar it makes everything a little less sweet.
I don’t think I can overstate how HUGE this is to making a Good Coffee Shop. A smiling face, a genuine question, someone to listen, a brief compliment. There are so many things that play into friendly customer service but when we receive it we know it! Hire good people and you are Well on your way to having a Good Coffee Shop!
Most times people are on the go when they come to a coffee shop, grabbing a coffee and breakfast before work or a mid-day treat in the middle of a stressful workday. If you can get me out fast in these conditions, I am a happy camper. Though I realize this is not always true we all can appreciate getting that precious cup in our hands a little soon even if it means talking with our barista while we sip our tasty beverage.
If the above to conditions of Customer Service are met than most people are happy. But if I want my experience to be more than just good, I want it to be great! If my barista can make my visit fun then I probably won’t notice a little bit of a longer wait and I might be willing to overlook such things as cleanliness. I think this is the key to many people finding their home coffee shop.
Variety in today’s coffee world is a must. Whether it be from hot to iced to blended or flavors to quality of flavors it is what people expect when they enter the doors of a prospective home coffee shop. But if all else fails if they have good black coffee and killer espresso than I can make it work but obviously it’s not ideal.
Choices in what it eat is becoming more and more relevant in coffee shops. Whether it be pastries or lunch items this is more peripheral to me but still matters enough to mention.
Accuracy of Order – Quality, Quality Quality! This comes into play in a coffee shops training program. There are three things I will mention here that come into play:
1. Steaming milk – if milk is not steamed properly then the drink will taste sour instead of the sweetness your have come to enjoy.
2. Pulling good shots – if shots are to short then the drink will be bland and stale tasting, if the shots are to long it will taste to bitter and if the shot sit for more than 10 seconds before being added to the drink it will just plain out taste gross.
3. Sticking to the recipe – If one barista makes it one way and another enjoys it another your never know what your going to get. Consistency is HUGE. I hear people over and over say they return to a shop because of it’s consistency. There is so much more to this that it deserves it’s own post.
Fast but more importantly Free
As you can see Customer Service is weighted very heavily in what makes a Coffee Shop Good/Great! If you are a customer or a business owner this is/should be the most valued/focused on thing in this entire experience.
Yup you heard right coffee was first discovered by a goat! More specifically a young goat herder by the name of Kaldi in the 9th-century. He noticed his goats acting strange when they ate the cherries from the coffee tree so he tried it for himself. This story does not show up in writings until the 16th-century but I like the story and it sounds very plausible.
#2 – Isn’t just at Starbucks
In today’s pop coffee culture the brand Starbucks has become synonymous with the word coffee in many circles and has become iconic in some peoples mind to the point of insanity. Maybe I am being a little over dramatic but the fact is that some of the best coffee I have ever tasted in my life comes from small coffee roasters that you may have never heard of in your life. So with that in mind the next time you’re looking for coffee in an area you are not familiar with try searching the word ‘coffee’ on your smart phone map instead of the brand ‘Starbucks’.
#3 – Light has more Caffeine than Dark
Contrary to popular belief light roast coffee actually has more caffeine than dark roast coffee. The reason for this is that the longer coffee is roasted the more caffeine cooked out of the bean. I think of it like cooking with wine or alcohol. A good example of this is fondue.
#4 – Espresso is NOT a Bean
Espresso is not referring to a particular type of bean, it is a drink. More specifically it is a type of coffee brewing method. I think a lot of the misconception surrounding espresso developed with products like chocolate coffee espresso beans and espresso blend coffees. People would see those labels and come to the conclusion that espresso was a bean when it reality it’s just marketing.
#5 – Comes from a Cherry
Coffee comes from a tree or bush that bears cherry fruit. The coffee bean is the seed that resides within the cherry. If the coffee itself wasn’t such a valuable and tasty commodity I think we would see coffee cherries in the grocery store. The coffee cherrie’s taste is one of a very delicious tart fruit that some describe as light, honey, sweet, peachy and watermelon.
#6 – It was Illegal
Coffee was declared illegal 3 times by 3 different cultures. The first was in Mecca during the 16th century and the prohibition was lifted after 30 years of debate among scholars and jurists. The second was Charles the II in Europe banning coffee houses trying to quell the ongoing rebellion yet it backfired and was never enforced. (People need their coffee!) The third was Fredrick the Great who banned the beverage in Germany in 1677 because he were concerned with the economic implications of money leaving the country on this new popular beverage. (There are many other examples of religions prohibiting coffee consumption not mentioned here, that still go on today.)
#7 – Over 50 Species
There are over 50 species of coffee world wide. Though only 2, arabica and robusta, are commonly used in commercial coffee production. We have tasted many of the different varieties here at Coffee Cup News and suggest that you try the different varietals and species whenever you get the chance.
#8 – 500 Billion Cups Drunk
Over 500 Billion Cups of coffee are drunk each year and over half of those are drunk at breakfast. (or should I say for breakfast?)
#9 – Fuel Source
Coffee can actually be used to fuel a car. Though maybe not very efficiently at the moment it is nice to know that there is an alternative out there that can not only fuel our bodies but our vehicles too. Here is some info on the coffee fuel test car
#10 – Second Most Traded Commodity
Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world second to only oil and now that we know it can be used as a source of fuel it probably won’t be to long until it’s number 1. Do you know something about coffee that we didn’t list?
The best place to start with the beans. When you go to the grocery store pre ground may sound easier but once coffee is ground it looses 90% of its flavor in the first 20 minutes. Starting with whole-bean increases the coffee’s ability to hold on to its flavor by well over 14,000%. Yes that is a real number, crazy huh?
Tip 2: Fresh Ground
Now that you have started with whole-bean it’s time to grind fresh! When I say fresh ground I mean fresh. Don’t start grinding the coffee until right before, making it the last step you take before you brew. Otherwise every second the coffee sits in its ground form it is exposed to oxygen which is the biggest flavor destroyer of coffee.
A blade grinder is the most common way to grind coffee at home. The problem is a blade grind doesn’t provide for a consistent grind. A burr grinder grades the beans all to the same size. This allows the water to saturate the coffee evenly providing for a more even, smooth and true cup of coffee.
Tip 4: Filtered Water
Filtered water is one of the most important tips in brewing the best coffee ever. Any impurities in the water will affect the flavor of the finished cup. Since coffee is 98 % water it will be obvious if the water wasn’t filtered.
Tip 5: Air Tight Storage
Like I mentioned earlier oxygen is the biggest destroyer of coffee’s awesome flavor. The longer it stays in direct contact with it the more flavor breaks down. Using an air tight storage container will help preserve the coffee’s flavor.
Bonus Coffee Tip
Do not store coffee in the freezer or fridge.
Tip 6: No Sugar
If you have to add sugar to your coffee it’s because the coffee isn’t good. So before you put sugar in your coffee give the coffee a sip. If what your tasting is good don’t add sugar. Sugar covers your taste buds and prevents you from enjoying the true flavor. If you coffee tastes bad, remember that moment and get a different whole-bean coffee time.
Tip 7: Try New Things
The only way to really know what you like is to try new coffees constantly. This is something I practice religiously and it has helped me find some really amazing coffees!
Tip 8: Clean Coffee Maker
Calcium deposits will ruin the flavor of your coffee. This happens over time as you brew coffee and using unfiltered water only makes it worse. Declassifying works wonders and I recommend doing it at least once a month.
Tip 9: Water Temperature
When you brew coffee the perfect water temperature is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure the proper extraction of the flavor from the coffee.
Proportion of coffee to water is equally important. I recommend starting with a ratio of 4 oz of water to 7 grams of coffee and adjusting to taste.
Tip 10: Coffee Diary
Keeping a coffee diary might sound like the final geek step but it’s really helpful in tracking how to brew the best tasting cup of coffee ever in the future. When you track things like proportions, grind setting, water temperature and brew style it really helps give you a clear indication of what to do next time to get that perfect cup.