KitchenAid® Burr Coffee Grinder with coffee cups and grapefruit halves.

TYPES OF COFFEE GRINDERS: BURR GRINDER VS BLADE GRINDER

Fresh, properly ground coffee beans are key to great coffee. Grinding your beans at home will help ensure that your grounds are at their freshest and the grind-size best suited to the type of coffee you’re brewing. Use this guide to understand the types of coffee grinders available and how the right one can create inspiring new brewing possibilities.

Read on to learn more about burr grinders vs. blade grinders, including how they work, and how these two different grinding methods can impact your beverages.

Interior of a burr coffee grinder.

WHAT IS A BURR COFFEE GRINDER?

A burr grinder is considered the gold standard of coffee grinders. There are two main types of burr grinders, conical and flat plate. They work by crushing the beans, as opposed to chopping them. The advantage of this type of grinder is that it offers more consistent and accurate control over the size of the coffee grounds used for brewing.

Most burr grinders come with a range of settings that let you grind coffee from coarse to very fine, depending on the type of beverage you’re grinding the beans for. For instance, a coffee brewed from a pour over coffee maker will require a semi-coarse grind, while an espresso calls for a grind so fine, it’s almost a powder.

The KitchenAid® Burr Coffee Grinder, with 70 precise settings, achieves exceptionally consistent grind sizes for all brew methods.

HOW DOES A BURR COFFEE GRINDER WORK?

Burr grinders, also called burr mills, use burrs, or sharp cutting instruments, to crush or pulverize your coffee beans to a uniform size. In this type of coffee grinding, the beans are ground between a moving surface and a stationary surface vs. chopped as in a blade grinder.

Burrs can be made from a variety of materials, including ceramic and stainless steel. Stainless steel is the most commonly used material for burrs – and that’s what you’ll find on the KitchenAid® Burr Coffee Grinder – but many manual grinders feature ceramic burrs.

Coffee beans being placed on the base of burr coffee grinder.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BURR COFFEE GRINDERS?

Burr coffee grinders are available in conical and flat plate styles. Both types of coffee grinders use burrs to grind coffee beans and both have the ability to produce expertly ground coffee. You can find burr technology in both manual and electric coffee grinders.

CONICAL VS FLAT BURR GRINDER

There are subtle differences between how conical and flat burr grinders work, as well as the results they produce. A conical grinder has two cone shaped burrs with ridged edges that crush coffee beans. One burr remains stationary while the other is rotated by a motor, grinding the beans. Flat burrs consist of two rings with serrated edges and a hollow center. They operate similarly, with a moving burr grinding beans against a stationary burr.

Both a quality conical or flat plate burr grinder can produce delicious, uniform coffee grounds. Some connoisseurs claim that a flat burr grinder might go through more beans over time because they retain more grounds between their burrs. These trapped grounds have the potential to impact the taste of future batches if they’re left in the grinder over time.

Flat burr grinders also typically run at higher speeds than conical burr grinders, but keep in mind that this extra speed can produce more heat, which can affect the coffee’s taste. In addition, the faster speeds can produce more noise and more static which can lead to messier brewing.

The bottom line is – if you’re using a clean, well-maintained, quality conical or flat burr grinder you’ll be able to brew great coffee with either type of coffee grinder.

Hand placing portafilter under burr coffee grinder.

WHAT IS A BLADE COFFEE GRINDER?

Instead of crushing coffee beans, a blade grinder uses a propeller-like blade, much like the blades found in blenders, to chop beans. On average, blade grinders are less expensive than burr grinders but they are less likely to produce uniform grounds.

You can help improve the consistency of your grounds with a blade grinder by making a simple adjustment to your grinding technique. Simply stop between pulses and shake your grinder because whole beans tend to get pushed up on top of the blade and can fail to get ground as well as the beans below.

The KitchenAid® Blade Coffee Grinder uses one touch operation to grind beans for up to 12 cups of coffee.

Burr coffee grinder interior next to blade grinder interior.

BURR GRINDER VS BLADE GRINDER

Burr grinders and blade grinders both have the ability to create a fresh, delicious brew at home. Burr grinders do generally have the edge over blade grinders when it comes to delivering uniform grounds with less heat and less mess. Most importantly, the crushing and squeezing of the beans in burr grinders helps to release the coffee beans’ oils, making these oils easier to extract in the brewing process, resulting in a rich, smooth brew.

WHY GRIND SIZE MATTERS

Each brewing method uses a different extraction technique including the time and pressure at which grounds are exposed to water. The grind size needs to match the brewing method. For example, coarser grounds have less surface area and should be exposed to water for a longer period of time in order to extract enough flavor – this makes them best for drip or immersion methods like French press or pour over. Finer grounds have more surface area and flavor is extracted quickly from them. This makes them best for fast, high-pressure brewing as used in an espresso machine.

GRIND SIZE RECOMMENDATIONS

EXTRA COARSE GRIND: Use for KitchenAid® cold brew coffee makers
COARSE GRIND: Use for French press
MEDIUM COARSE: Use for French press or KitchenAid® drip coffee makers
MEDIUM: Use for single cup brewers and pour overs
FINE: Use for KitchenAid® espresso makers
EXTRA FINE: Use for espresso and Turkish coffee

KitchenAid® espresso machine with espresso and cappuccino.

WHAT IS A MANUAL COFFEE GRINDER?

A manual grinder uses muscle to turn a crank that grinds coffee beans between its two burrs. This method doesn’t require electricity so if you’re going to be away from an outlet, perhaps on a camping trip – or when the power is out – you can still get freshly ground beans with this type of coffee grinder.

MANUAL VS ELECTRIC COFFEE GRINDER

A manual grinder is great for portability, so if travel is your thing, these smaller cordless grinders might be the perfect option for you. Keep in mind that many manual grinders are lighter, hand-held appliances that can sometimes move or slip around while you’re grinding and affect the quality of your grounds. On the flipside, you can grind coffee at the touch of a button with an electric grinder and many electric grinders come with a variety of grind settings to give you ultimate control.

If you’re looking for quick, consistent results every time you brew, then it’s hard to beat the convenience of an electric coffee grinder.

Croissants and cups of espresso on a tray in front of a bowl of oranges.

HIGH SPEED GRINDER VS LOW SPEED COFFEE GRINDER

Grind speed is measured in rpms. Low speed grinders operate with lower rpms, generally resulting in less static and heat buildup. High speed grinders typically have larger motors and operate at higher rpms which can create more consistent grind size but also can produce more noise and more heat. Heating your coffee beans can create bitter coffee.

Most residential burr coffee grinders are low-speed with conical burrs, including the Burr Coffee Grinder from KitchenAid.

 

HOW TO GRIND COFFEE BEANS WITHOUT A GRINDER?

There are a few ways you can grind coffee beans without a coffee grinder. A mortar and pestle is one method. Or, crushing beans in a plastic bag with a meat mallet or rolling pin is another possibility. These alternative grinding methods won’t produce grounds fine enough for brewing though, so they’re not recommended.

 

GREAT COFFEE BEGINS WITH THE DETAILS

The secret to a great cup of coffee is in the details. Great beans, a great coffee maker, fresh water and a quality coffee grinder are all essential for a superior brewed beverage. The KitchenAid® Coffee Collection has all the tools you need to create delicious barista style beverages, like this Cinnamon Almond Coffee in your own kitchen.

SHOP KITCHENAID® COFFEE GRINDERS FOR GREAT COFFEE

 

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