5 Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Coffee Grinder
With such a wide range of coffee grinders out there in the market for the every day coffee shop; ranging from as little as AED1k up to a hefty AED18k, one can't help but ask - what's makes up this massive difference?
By default, the average perception of many soon-to-be cafe owners is that the Espresso Machine is king and the espresso grinder is a simple tool that forms a part of the coffee bar. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Well, other than the fact that it is a tool, the grinder is in fact a vital competent of the coffee preparation procedure.
Whether you’re brewing as espresso or a filter coffee, it can mean the difference between a below-average cup and an extraordinary cup.
The strength of any coffee grinder is, in the first instance, it’s ability to maintain the smallest deviation between the coarsest and the finest particles of a dose. The most efficient grinder is able to deliver very precise and accurate grind size.
The ‘Grind’ itself is a key component to any epic brew. The grinder’s ‘consistency’ is often overlooked when diagnosing a flawed Coffee.
Here is a short list of key points to keep in mind before purchasing your next Coffee grinder.
- On Demand or Volumetric?
The first thing to consider is that, according to studies well known by now, after just 15 minutes from grinding, Coffee can lose its characteristic aromas to 60%. This means one thing: that only those Coffee shops with an extremely high volume of Coffee cups consumed every day can afford a volumetric Coffee grinder. Those shops are grinding continuously, and Coffee will remain ground in the grind dispenser only a few moments. Even then, that Coffee will not have the aromatic richness of freshly ground Coffee. That is why on demand grinders remain the only possible choice, if you want to serve your customers a full aromatic cup of Coffee. “But my customers can’t wait!” you will say. The real question is: can’t you really convince a person to wait 3 seconds more (three seconds!) that is the average time needed to grind, to drink a quality Coffee? Three seconds is the time for the customer to pick up the sugar packet, are we really discussing about this?
What can prevent your customers from going to the Coffee shop on the other side of the road, if you are unable to make them perceive the added value of your product or service? It is difficult to hear, but the truth is that customers should be educated, in all types of business! In your specific case, an excellent strategy if you want to make quality in your Coffee shop, would be to explain to them what they are drinking and what they might be able to perceive on a sensorial level. You should transmit them all the passion that led you to the choice of that particular blend or single origin, making them understand the difference between your Coffee and what they can find in other shops, even if it costs a few cents more. Do you know another thing? If you are good at your job, no customer will ever complain about spending more!
- Why Grinding by Weight and Not by Time?
If you love your work and you’re particularly attentive to always offer a great Coffee to your customers, you will know well that sometimes the result in the cup will be different from expectations, even if you correctly set the particle size of your Coffee grinder. It will certainly have happened to you to serve dozens of excellent espressos in the morning, then return from your lunch break and obtain over-extracted or under-extracted Coffees without having modified anything in the meantime. This is because the granulometry must be adjusted several times a day to allow the ground Coffee to adapt to changes in environmental conditions.
If you agree, or you have been knowing for a long time the advantage of grinding Coffee now and maybe you already use an on demand in your shop, you know that every time you adjust the grain size you also need to change the grinding time. And then, scale at hand, the empirical tests begin during which it is likely that you must throw some “wrong” Coffees. Maybe you are using a mathematical proportion (and therefore scale + calculator) to compute the correct grinding time based on the dose obtained. If you do it every morning, as we hope, the operation will take you at least ten minutes. And it will take several minutes every time you will change the grain size during the day.
Making top quality Coffee also means having a precision scale always at your fingertips! If granulometry is yet important
variable to consider, in order to obtain a textbook espresso, the dose is in fact a parameter that should be always scrupulously measured, and elementally modified only when you actually want to get a different Coffee, enhancing other areas of the aromatic bouquet. For years, baristas from all over the world have weighed every single dose after grinding it, adjusting it from time to time by removing Coffee from the filter holder with a teaspoon, or by adding a few tenth of grams with a quick shot of free dose of the grinder; sometimes alternating the two operations several times to make a single Coffee, until the perfect dose was reached. Imagine how much easier life would be with a Coffee grinder that does all the work by itself! Thanks to a wave of innovation that has recently invested the world of Coffee grinders, there are now on demand grinders that grind by weight too. All you must do is figure out which one is right for you.
- The Importance of Temperature Control
Here is an especially important factor to consider, when choosing a coffee grinder. Roasted beans contain a significant oily component, and the oil, as we know, is overly sensitive to temperature variations, which modify its viscosity. The burrs, turning and grinding, heat up and, consequently, heat the Coffee that passes through them. The engine, turning, produces heat (a lot of heat!), which warms the grinding chamber. Even the electrical components inside the Coffee grinder body affect the temperature increase.
All this heat, we know, affects the aromatic bouquet of Coffee. Studies done so far have shown how Coffee, during grinding, should remain within a temperature range that does not exceed 45°; within this temperature in fact its aromatic bouquet is not subjected to alteration (not to mention a real burn). The wisest thing to do from you is to choose a Coffee grinder that manages, as much as possible, to keep under control the heat that inevitably is released during the grinder’s work. Otherwise you will see all your efforts frustrated in choosing a quality blend and in serving quality Coffee.
Few grinders in the market like the Anfim – Practica and Solo has a good ventilation system to avoid reaching exceeding temperature level. This allows the ground coffee to remain in the optimal temperature range. Not all customers are able to perceive and distinguish empyreumatic profiles, of course… but I assure you that most of them will be able to feel the burn, or more simply to understand that your Coffee is not good.
- Grind Channeling in Espresso Grind
Sometimes, despite having found the right Coffee particle size, it is not possible to obtain constancy in the body of the espresso from one cup to another. In fact, we are often used to see the ground Coffee agglomerated in the Porta filter … ” cause then I’ll level the surface and it becomes uniform”.
But what’s underneath?
Obviously, there’s Coffee powder with higher density in correspondence with the clumps we had noticed before pressing,
and that were only pressed but not “broken”. We all know that water always looks for a “free” way to go: how do you think the percolation of water will occur during extraction, then? The water will flow more quickly through the channels created by less pressed powder, generating a Coffee with little body, if not exactly under extracted.
Today on the market there are several solutions to channeling, not always effective. There are also small and incisive devices such as the Twister, which redistributes the ground Coffee powder in the portafilter, making the surface uniform, breaking the clumping and increasing TDS of one point per centum. The time required however to perform the procedure can be annoying, and the space occupied by the portafilter on the bracket is increased too.
The only real solution is buying a Coffee grinder designed to deposit a dose of ground Coffee in the portafilter without clumping. Before buying a Coffee grinder, it is always advisable to see how it grinds, and pay attention to the size of the ground Coffee agglomerates. If clumps are completely absent, so much the better.
The problem of clumping varies in intensity, depending on the type of ground Coffee and the environmental conditions of the moment (temperature and degree of humidity), therefore the empirical proof will not necessarily be definitive, but will give you a good element to decide the purchase or not of a grinder.
- Investing in a Quality Grinder
By now you have understood: the elements to judge a Coffee grinder before buying it are quite numerous, since there are several variables that contribute to the realization of a good grinding. Fortunately, the role of the grinder in the world of Coffee is gaining the importance it deserves, and there are increasingly efficient grinders on the market.
The most important thing to reiterate here is the futility of spending money on a good Coffee machine, if its performance can be completely cancelled by a bad grinder! We will never repeat it enough: Coffee quality, grinder and coffee machine (as well as the water used, to be honest) have the same importance if we want to get a good result in cup. So why insist on treating the grinder as a secondary actor?