When choosing between espresso machines would you opt for one with a convenient built-in coffee grinder? It’s a tempting feature but here’s why we would normally recommend a separate grinder.
Learning to brew the perfect coffee for your palate is an ongoing experiment. The more factors that are under your control as a barista, the easier it will be to develop your skills.
Although your espresso machine will allow you to adjust the extraction time, you can also fine tune the flavour of your shots by adjusting the grind size. If your coffee tastes too sour and acidic, a finer grind can help to extract those deeper, more mellow notes.
If you’re finding the flavour is too muted or bitter, a coarser grind will bring the balance back. By adjusting both the extraction time and grind size, you will have complete control over your end product.
A cooler process
The three ‘coffee killers’ are oxygen, cold and heat. If your coffee beans get hot, they will start losing flavour even before you grind them. Built-in grinders often hold the beans too close to the boiler which can cause them to heat up. A standalone grinder will keep the beans cool during grinding.
Another great advantage with a separate grinder is that you can use it with different types of coffee machine. If you are away on holiday, for example, it doesn’t matter what type of coffee machine you have access to. Whether you are using an espresso machine or a French Press, you will be able to grind your beans to size.
The barista experience
Finally, what better start to a precious day off than inhaling those delicious subtle aromas as you grind your first batch of beans. If savouring the coffee-grinding process is an important part of the whole experience, a separate grinder could be the way to go.
Built-in grinders may save you some time but they also take away part of the richness of the home barista experience.
Which type of coffee grinder is best?
So you’ve decided to go for a separate grinder but which type is best? You will want to avoid blade-type grinders because they will never give you the consistent grind size you need. Burr grinders are much better for this purpose.
Most grinders will use ceramic burrs but there are some with steel burrs. Both do a great job but steel burrs can dull over time. This can create extra heat that could impair flavour. Coffee grinders with steel burrs also tend to be more expensive.
Whether you use a manual or electric grinder is a matter of preference and budget. Manual grinders are more affordable and you will be able to purchase a decent unit for less than £50. A manual grinder will also give you that unique sensory experience mentioned earlier. Electric grinders are noisier and a decent quality model will cost over £300. However, they are more convenient so often preferred by people with busy lives.
Mastering the art of the coffee grinder is all part and parcel of the journey to become the best home barista you can be. Check out our range of hand and electric coffee grinders.