A guide to choosing your first grinder.

A guide to choosing your first grinder.

David Kemble

Choosing a coffee grinder can be a bit of a minefield. Some would argue that it is even more important than your coffee machine. It can certainly be just as expensive.

For this article we will be focussing on choosing a grinder to pair with an espresso machine. When budgeting for your first set up it is recommended that you divide your money as such:






















Assuming at this point that you’ve read the previous article about how to choose an espresso machine we can see that an entry level set up budget would be around the £500 figure.

Not all grinders are created equal.

The market for coffee grinders is flooded with equipment at the bottom end. Heck you can even pick up a grinder in your local catalogue store. The problem with cheaper grinders is that they do not offer a consistent grind. They will produce particle sizes that are a mixture of boulders, fines and some about the size you selected. This makes for a super uneven extraction and ultimately disappointing coffee. You could be doing everything else right but a poor grinder can scupper your dreams of a god shot!

Types of grinder.

Blade Grinder

This is the type of grinder you will likely find on the high street. It has a small rotating blade that chops the coffee like a food processor. It produces a very inconsistent grind and does not make for good coffee. Prices are usually around £20-£30. I would suggest that you avoid these grinders.

Conical Burr

A big step up from a blade grinder that produces a far more consistent grind. You can pick up grinders from around £60. At this price point you are likely to get a reasonable home machine that can produce decent quality grind for filter, french press and pour over. It is unlikely to be able to produce fine enough grind for espresso and even if it can it is likely to be very inconsistent. If you only drink filter then this type of grinder may be ok but for espresso I would suggest you look elsewhere.

You can buy more expensive conical burr grinders in the region of £200 which are very capable of producing espresso however, at this price you can also buy a good flat burr grinder which has advantages over conical so I would suggest going straight in for a flat burr machine.

Flat Burr

Flat burr grinders are generally regarded as the top of the tree. They provide the most consistent grind, produce minimal heat, are relatively quiet and are built to last. A good flat burr grinder starts off around the £250 mark and can produce super espresso and will keep you in coffee for many years. Flat burr grinders often tend to be aimed at professional and as such tend to be fairly sizeable! A great machine to kick off with at the price point is the Fracino Tranquilo at around £225. Going up on price from there you start to see major improvements in volume, build quality and automatic dosing capabilities. An excellent choice for the more serious set up would be the K3 Touch Advanced at around £350.

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