A Better Burr! I need a new grinder.
April 26, 2009 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Coffeefilter!: Help me find a better grinder! I'm going to buy a burr grinder this time, but I need your help finding the right one.

Each morning, I grind coffee beans to make a small pot of coffee. I drink two cups. Mmmmm... tasty.

Most of the burr grinders I'm finding are like this, with a container for beans in the top and a reservoir for grinds a the bottom. I don't understand this approach... don't beans get stale sitting out like that, at the top? And you're guaranteed some of yesterday's grinds in tomorrow's coffee as they get flung everywhere... right?

I like grinders like this because they're easy to clean.

Is there a happy middle ground for a neat freak who craves a burr grinder?

Oh, and by the way... I have two coffee makers. I use my drip coffeemaker most of the time (but never use it's super-messy built-in grinder!), and I also have a Santos vacuum coffee pot, which I love.
posted by 2oh1 to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Just don't put more beans in the hopper than you need ground. Measure your coffee, put the beans in the hopper and grind until no more comes out. Yeah a tiny bit of stale coffee grinds may be missed, but if you are making coffee regularly that isn't going to matter.
posted by aspo at 12:27 PM on April 26, 2009

Hehheh. I made the same mistake as esmerelda. That said, no matter which grinder you get, ignore in-grinder bean storage and only grind what you need.
posted by zerokey at 12:34 PM on April 26, 2009

Coffeegeek discusses ginders on their espresso machine buying guide.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:42 PM on April 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have previously recommended the Capresso Infinity on here...it works well for drip grind, not so great for espresso but you don't need that, so it should be good for you. You have to take the burr out and brush it off periodically as well as clean the plastic parts, but not every day...maybe once a week if you're a stickler about such things.

I nth the recommendation of just scooping in the beans every morning and grinding them. What I like is that the dial has numbers that don't correspond directly to minutes/seconds, but do seem to correspond to a standard coffee measure, so if you have 5 scoops you turn it to the 5.
posted by cabingirl at 12:47 PM on April 26, 2009

On the lower end, I also recommend against cuisinart's burr grinder (though I bet it is better than the black and decker one).

With respect to the hopper, as aspo says, nothing forces you to store coffee in there (I don't). With respect to the picture you link, I believe that must be part of a negative review of that particular grinder -- you really shouldn't get that much (1T according to the caption) accumulating on a single grind in the burrs (Even my somewhat problematic cuisinart isn't that bad). That said, I think any burr grinder will need a bit more work to clean. There is no way to have the simple mechanism involved in a blade grinder like the one you link, where the grinding mechanism and beans stay in the same chamber. This is because beans need to pass through the burrs exactly once in order to ensure an even ground; there is not really any way around having two chambers with an annoying-to-clean burr section in the middle.
posted by advil at 12:51 PM on April 26, 2009

There's no need to store gobs of beans in the chamber if you won't be using them soon ... but then, you shouldn't be keeping your beans around for much more than a week anyway. I'd only worry about it if your coffee area is high-humidity or if you'll be cooking a lot of things that the beans could pick up flavors from. Otherwise, just buy what you'll need and use it quickly.

Every grinder (even the commercial-class ones) leaves a bit of residue on the burrs that needs to be cleaned out regularly. Just how much will depend on things like how oily your beans are, the design of your burrs/grinder, ambient humidity, and whether you're wearing pink socks that day. The easy solution is to buy a small natural-bristle brush from the hardware store or art supply store and brush off the burrs wher you're done grinding. If you don't clean your grinder on a regular basis, those oils will accumulate and go rancid (yum!) which means that no matter what beans you put in, they'll come out tasting like ass.

(Disclaimer: IAABarista, but IANYBarista)
posted by fracas at 1:29 PM on April 26, 2009

Response by poster: I realize I only need to put the amount of beans I'll use into that top container... it just seems like these burr grinders I'm seeing are more wasteful with the grinds than what I' used to. Lots of grinds seem like they'll be lost in the parts, ending up in the sink during clean-up... and clean up seems like much more of a hassle.

I guess I was hoping someone figured out how to design a burr grinder that overcomes those issues for people like me who only brew a small pot once a day.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:30 PM on April 26, 2009

Response by poster: "There is no way to have the simple mechanism involved in a blade grinder like the one you link, where the grinding mechanism and beans stay in the same chamber. This is because beans need to pass through the burrs exactly once in order to ensure an even ground; there is not really any way around having two chambers with an annoying-to-clean burr section in the middle."

Ahhh! Now I understand.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:33 PM on April 26, 2009

+1 for the Capresso Infinity (the one you linked to in the OP.)

Don't ever use the hopper up top. It is stupid, you're right. All it will do is make your coffee stale.

Take the lid off, scoop in however many scoops you need (I use three for my french press), replace the lid, and grind until ground. Simple as that.

Personally, I "pulse" the dial a few times before I use it, to clear out the loose grounds that are settled in, but other than that, it isn't possible to have a perfectly clean surface *and* a good grinder without cleaning the entire beast every single time. It just cannot be done. Give it a dusting once a week, you'll be fine. Trust me, compared to the Mr Coffee whirley-blade affair, you will be blown away, even if there is a tiny bit of old stuff in there.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:11 PM on April 26, 2009

This is the grinder I got. I like it a lot. Before buying this grinder I went to various coffeefreak websites for info. Most of the real coffee snobs said the Breville was barely functional and recommended units costing three times as much. I like the Breville fine. Incidentally, you can pretty well dismantle the grinding area for cleaning.
posted by CCBC at 2:17 PM on April 26, 2009

I have this Solis burr grinder and have no problems with it after two+ years of daily use. Not too hard to clean, I usually just swipe it with a sponge every week or so, usually when I buy new coffee.
posted by rokusan at 2:19 PM on April 26, 2009

Here's coffeegeek on the Breville. And the geek reviews. Consensus seems to be that this is a good "starter" grinder. Whatever. It makes espresso to my standards, too, though you can read in the reviews that some geeks disagree.
posted by CCBC at 2:24 PM on April 26, 2009

I have the same Solis as rokusan has it, and am also happy with it.
posted by bink at 2:38 PM on April 26, 2009

nth the Capresso Infinity. And I've used it to grind beans for my 2x daily espresso shots (made in my La Pavoni Europiccola) for the last 3 years, so contrary to popular belief it does espresso grind just fine.

Also nth the "just don't leave excess beans in the hopper and clean the thing once in awhile" sentiment.
posted by jtfowl0 at 3:50 PM on April 26, 2009

(n+1)thing the Capresso, and highly recommending buying it at Costco if you (or a friend) are a member. It works quite well.
posted by JMOZ at 4:43 PM on April 26, 2009

Not sure if you've been reassured yet on the wasteful angle, but the models recommended are not particularly lossy. When you take it apart there are some left over grounds to be brushed out, as people mention. However, at least on the Capresso, there aren't alot of hidey holes that would catch the grounds and cause you to lose significant output. I would categorize the loss as negligible.
posted by cabingirl at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2009

Sorry, hit post too soon...I meant to say that the pics you link to are not at all what I've experienced with the Capresso. No idea why that guy was losing a tablespoon on each grind.
posted by cabingirl at 7:31 PM on April 26, 2009

Happy user of the Breville here. It's fast, surprisingly quiet, cleans easy and produces good grounds (not that I'm a particularly high-end user). A final nice touch is the catching bucket thingy seems to be made of some static-resistant plastic, really helps to minimize mess.
posted by Mundungus at 8:21 AM on April 27, 2009

+1 for the breville. Aside from the power cord holder's plastic moulding that broke during a transpacific move, it is a nice cheap burr grinder (at least for anything with grounds bigger than espresso- i use it for french press so ymmv)
posted by mezamashii at 8:00 AM on April 28, 2009

Response by poster: I've decided I'm going to go with either the Breville or the Capresson Infinity. I'm leaning towards the Capresso - mostly because I can buy it for $87 from a local store that I like to support.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:24 AM on April 28, 2009

Response by poster: Aaaaand the Capresso it is! Thanks all for the help. Cheers!
posted by 2oh1 at 12:33 AM on May 3, 2009

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