Coffee Grinder Report Card

Coffee Grinder Report Card:

Visitor Report Card Score: 5.00 stars out of 5 (1 votes)
There are two types of coffee grinders: the propeller grinder and the burr (or mill) grinder. The propeller grinder is more common, and consists of a spinning double-edged propeller blade to grind the beans. The burr grinder consists of two chambers -one for the whole beans and one where the ground coffee collects- and two serrated discs set apart from each other depending on what type of grind you want.

Here in the Coffee Grinder Report Card, the focus is on the burr -or mill- grinder. While it is not as fast, it ensures a consistent grind without overheating flavor right out of the coffee, and is the better grinder for making good coffee at home.

Because the burr grinder has a better design, it costs more than a propeller grinder. A good burr grinder starts at $50.

The Report Card Method - Detailed

Coffee grinders were more difficult to evaluate than coffee makers. The grinder is a necessary tool, but serves less function than a coffee maker, and it is a challenge to find as much that is differentiated from grinder to grinder. A burr grinder has to have a motor that spins two serrated discs. The discs are properly arranged so that you can space them closer and further from each other to vary your grind of coffee from coarsest to finest depending on how you plan to brew it. Here are other features they all share equally:

* Position of the second chamber: Each burr grinder reviewed contains its second chamber -where ground coffee collects- at the bottom of the grinder. Coffee grinders can be messy and this design ensures excess coffee falls onto a platform at the bottom of the machine for easier clean-up.

* Number of settings: Each grinder offered between 15-18 different grind styles. That's one grind style for each incremental gap the grinder can move between the two discs.

* Coffee capacity: A grinder that can hold a half-pound of coffee at once is only of value if you're hosting a big party and have a lot of coffee to make. Otherwise, a 7-8 oz capacity is all you need to grind in order to make a full pot of coffee right after grinding. For this reason, capacity didn't figure into our evaluation since coffee should be brewed shortly after it is ground, capacity for one brewed pot is sufficient.

* Controls: There are only two choices to make, and manufacturers have not found many practical or impractical features to add. You choose your grind style and in some cases, the amount of coffee you're grinding. The machine does the rest.

Differentiating Burr Grinders

Here are the characteristics that were evaluated that set burr grinders apart from each other. It's worth noting, especially after reading about Controls above, that coffee grinders are less differentiated than coffee makers. This means there is a greater emphasis on price as long as we're shopping from trusted brand name manufacturers.

* Price: This was less relevant in the Coffee Maker Report Card because there are more ways to differentiate coffee makers and the top five picks covered a wide price range. When it comes to grinders however, among the brand names you trust for their standard of quality, we recommend that you consider the lowest-priced. Each grinder's score is weighted heavily by price, as we considered all grinders reviewed to be from trusted manufacturers of coffee equipment. However, to be sure that the grinder can contain enough value to charge a little more, the third place pick is priced higher than the fourth place pick. Otherwise, first place and second place are respectively the least and second least expensive. Another note about price: Percentage scores are further apart than for coffee makers because unless you like the look of a grinder (which can't be captured objectively in a scorecard), there is less reason to buy second and third place picks because of their higher price but roughly equal value as a grinder. This resulted in third place getting a low score of 50% because of its $50 price difference (or double in price) from the first place pick.

* Wattage: The motor's wattage is an important second feature. A weaker motor means spinning the discs longer to get the desired result, and the heat generated from the discs can burn the coffee. Freshness in coffee is hurt by air and heat.

* Warranty: The least important feature is the warranty, as the worst is one-year which is long enough to know that something is fundamentally wrong with your new grinder.