There’s something rather satisfying about doing it yourself, isn’t there?
Whether it’s hand-cranked or electrically stimulated, this pleasurable process of creating the perfect grind can be done in the privacy of your own home whenever you feel like it. Using coffee grinders to grind your coffee beans is one of the best ways to enjoy the full sensory experience of coffee, and we can’t recommend it enough.
In our guide to precision grinds, we answer these pressing questions:
Why do people use coffee grinders to grind coffee?
Let’s go back to basics first. Why do we grind coffee beans in the first place? Why not just put the beans in hot water and wait for the magic to happen?
Well, it’s to help get what’s inside the bean (the oils and flavour compounds) out of it, by increasing the total surface area that they can be extracted from.
Imagine chopping a coffee bean in half. You’ve now increased the total amount of surface available to extract coffee from. Now chop those halves into halves and so on, until they’re in tiny pieces. Making more surface area for extracting coffee is exactly why we grind the beans.
As well as making the extraction process more efficient by taking less time and energy than using whole beans, it also means more flavours are brought out in the drink.
Pros and cons of whole bean and ground coffee
Pros of pre-ground
Like other roasteries, we proudly sell ground coffee for each of our varieties. These are best suited to people who either don’t have a grinder at home or simply don’t want to deal with the extra effort when making their morning joe. You don’t have to worry about freshness when using pre-ground coffee beans, as long as you keep them in the right environment.
Cons of pre-ground
Most supermarket coffees are sold pre-ground, so it’s a perfectly valid form. However, you don’t know how long it’s been sitting on the shelves, or how long it’s been travelling through the distribution chain. This is another advantage of buying straight from the roastery.
If you’re storing ground coffee beans at home, you just need to take some simple precautions to avoid quality degradation. Ideally, you’d vacuum-seal it or keep it in an air-tight container at room temperature. Don’t be tempted to refrigerate as it’ll cause condensation of moisture in the air which will permeate the coffee. You should be wary of aroma contamination. Prolonged exposure to air is going to damage the coffee flavour by absorbing moisture and contaminants.
Pros of whole bean coffee
The main benefit of whole bean coffee is enhanced freshness. A roasted coffee bean keeps the oils and flavours packed in until they’re ready to be extracted. A high quality, freshly-ground coffee bean releases a delicious aroma which will immediately put anyone nearby in the mood. When you’re releasing those flavours and getting them directly into the drink, it’s going to taste fantastic.
Cons of whole bean coffee
Possibly the most off-putting thing about whole bean coffee is having to grind it yourself. Sometimes the convenience of having the right grind ready and waiting is exactly what you need. But, you really can’t beat the fresh burst of flavour that comes from grinding the coffee beans yourself, right before making your morning coffee.
The different types of coffee grinders
There’s a wide range of grinding equipment you can get for home use, from the simple manual cranks to motor-powered behemoths that’ll have your neighbours thinking you’re building a kitchen extension.
On the simple end, you’ll find manual coffee grinders, which use the power of leverage (remember physics GCSE?) to crank a knob around an axle attached to some rigid gears, applying force to grind beans down into a coarse coffee powder. This then drops down into a cylinder that can then be emptied into your coffee-maker of choice.
We’re big fans of the Hario Skerton hand grinder (conveniently available at our online shop). You’ll know Hario as the Japanese glassmaker responsible for some of the world’s best coffee filter jugs, cold brew pots, and all sorts of other gizmos. The Skerton is a small but perfectly formed ceramic and glass construction that serves as a great introduction to the joy of the home grind.
If you’re looking to expend less energy for each cup, it might be worth looking at an electric grinder. These can range in price from a tenner in catalogue stores (for a rather plasticky variety, liable to break at any moment) to hundreds and even thousands for complicated stainless steel contraptions.
These will do the work for you at the press of a button, often with options to change between coarse and fine grind coffee beans. Some of these grinders can even be used to grind herbs, but you run the risk of flavouring your next espresso with pepper if you don’t clean them through – not ideal. One of the advantages of an expensive electric grinder is that they’re likely to have a consistent grind, so you won’t find coarse bits in your fine grind, and vice versa. But they can be rather noisy and take up lots of space on the kitchen counter.
The different types of coffee grind
It’s not just a case of ground coffee beans or not. There are different levels of grinding, as you’ll see from the drop-down grind options on each of our product pages.
The reason for this variety is that different grinds go with different equipment and brewing methods.
The scale goes from coarse to medium grind to fine grind. Coarse grind has bigger coffee particles, which are better for cafetieres and fine grounds suit espresso-style methods.
- Cafetiere grind is the most commonly found grind type and is coarse enough to get caught by the filter plunger in a French Press.
- Filter grind is finer, which can be used in filter gadgets such as Chemex or drip coffee makers.
- Aeropress is also a fine grind for a specific type of brewing gadget.
- Espresso grind (also known as Turkish) is even finer, a powdery variety that’s designed for espresso machines and moka pots.
How to grind coffee beans
Ideally, the best way to grind coffee beans is with a coffee grinder. You may choose a hand grinder or an electric grinder and whatever grinder you choose may lead to slightly different results. The main types of coffee grinders are the burr-grinder and the blade grinder. The burr grinder uses two flat or conical discs to create an even, uniformed grind whereas a blade grinder spins around at a high speed and is often less precise.
Conical burr grinders are usually the preferred choice by professionals and coffee connoisseurs, while blade grinders are often a cheaper alternative. In many cases, if people don’t have a coffee grinder they may use an ordinary food processor that produces a coarse grind and is much less refined. So while it may seem like a cheap way to grind coffee beans for gaining freshly ground coffee, it can certainly taste cheap too. We don’t recommend blade grinders!
Once you know how to grind coffee and you’ve got your grounds, it’s time to enjoy a great cup of coffee. Add a few tablespoons of coffee to your coffee maker and brew coffee to taste. With so many beans and flavours to choose from, you can’t go wrong with coffee from Neighbourhood Coffee Roasters.