If you’re going to brew a great cup of coffee, you need to start with fresh beans and grind them yourself. But how Walking into a kitchen where coffee beans have just been ground, stops you in your tracks. You breathe in the wonderful aroma, think about special moments, then, in a wistful voice, you declare “it smells great in here.” But how do you grind coffee beans? You can grind them using a coffee grinder, or by hand, and this post will take a look at both methods.
Let’s get some science out of the way. Oxygen is the enemy of coffee. When coffee beans are roasted, carbon dioxide is released and stored inside the beans. Carbon Dioxide slows down oxidation. As soon as you grind the beans, the Carbon Dioxide is released, and so is sixty percent of the flavor and aroma. A fine grind exposes the bean surface by up to ten thousand times, allowing oxygen to attack the coffee. The point here is, the more time between grinding coffee beans and brewing, the faster the flavor will decrease.
So, now you understand why it's so important to grind coffee beans right before brewing. But there is another important issue: How to grind coffee beans. Each method of brewing coffee has its requirement for grind size. For instance, a coarse grind is preferred for a French Press, while a fine grind is used to brew espresso. Generally, the longer coffee grounds are exposed to water, the larger the grind size. The size of the coffee grounds needs to be consistent for the best possible extraction. Using a power coffee grinder is the best way to achieve consistency.
Types of coffee grinders
There are three types of coffee grinders; blade, burr, and manual. Each one has its features, advantages, and disadvantages. Before choosing a grinder, there are a few questions to ask yourself.
- How much money do I want to spend?
- How much time do I want to dedicate to grinding and brewing coffee?
- Will I be using several brewing methods?
- How important is coffee flavor to me?
- Am I passionate about coffee?
- How important is coffee flavor to me?
- How passionate am I about coffee?
Buying the right coffee grinder to meet your needs can be confusing, but we’ve got you covered. We’ve tried all three types of grinders, so we can share what we know, what we think, and what we prefer.
As the name would imply, a blade grinder uses a spinning blade to grind the beans. If you have a food processor or blender, the concept is the same. As the blade rotates. It chops
The beans into grounds. The longer you grind, the finer the grounds.
If you don’t want to spend much money, then a blade grinder is the way to go. The grinder can be tucked into a cupboard and pulled out when you need it. Also, you can use it to grind spices, nuts, and herbs. The coffee grounds remaining in the chamber along with the blade, making the grinder a snap to clean. The motor is pretty fast, so it takes seconds to grind the beans.
The problem with blade grinders is the difficulty in achieving consistent grind size. The blade will push some beans to the side and slice them less than other beans. The grind size is controlled by the length of time you let the grinder run, making it difficult to get the same sized grounds every time. As the blade spins, it creates heat which can produce a poorer cup of coffee. One final point, if someone in the house is trying to sleep, forget it. Blade grinders are noisy.
While a burr grinder is more expensive than a blade grinder, most coffee lovers agree a burr grinder is a key to a better cup of coffee. With a burr grinder, the coffee beans are crushed between two revolving burrs against a static surface. The size of the grounds is determined by the closeness of the burrs, making it easy to adjust the grind size for specific brewing methods.
Lower-cost burr grinders use a rotating grinding wheel. The wheel turns at high speed, generating noise. Also, burr grinders that use a grinding wheel are a bit messy.
Higher-priced burr grinders use a conical grinding wheel and operate at a lower speed, generating less heat. The shape of the wheel reduces the chance of clogging even when the beans are a bit oily. This type of grinder is the quietest of all other types of grinders and is the best type of grinder to make the perfect cup of coffee.
The price range of burr grinders varies according to type, quality, the precision of grind, and added features such as grind settings and dose timers. If you're considering this type of grinder, check out the burr grinders on Amazon.
It doesn’t get any simpler than a manual grinder. Blade and burr grinders require a power source, but manual grinders use good old elbow grease. You can buy a fancy stainless-steel grinder or even a vintage one that looks like it came out of your great grandmother's cupboard. And, manual grinders do a fair job of evenly grinding coffee beans.
Manual grinders don't require power or batteries. They're perfect for taking on vacation or any outdoor event. You can buy a single-serve manual grinder or one that will grind enough coffee for the entire group. In our view, even if you own a blade or burr grinder, you ought to have a manual grinder as well. It might take some time to grind the beans, but the smell is awesome and the portability is great. There are a wide variety of manual grinders on Amazon
How to grind coffee beans without a grinder
Using a coffee grinder is the best way to grind your coffee beans. First of all, grinders make it a quick task, and whether a blade or a burr grinder, you have some level of consistency and control over grind size. But, if you still want fresh ground coffee and you don't have a coffee grinder, all is not lost. We've got some great ideas to help you grinding coffee beans without a grinder, and most of them work surprisingly well.
Grinding with a blender
Have you got a blender in the kitchen? If you do, you can use it to grind coffee beans and here is how to grind coffee beans with a blender. You will sacrifice consistency, but it’s not bad in a pinch. A blender creates some heat, so be careful how you do the grinding. Set the blender on a medium to high speed and then pour in the beans. Smaller batches work best, so don’t try to grind a batch in one go. In a blender, beans fly, so put the lid on the blender. To control the heat, use a pulsing technique. Pulse for around three seconds and stop. Wait three seconds before you pulse again. This method helps the beans to cool before grinding continues.
Using a blender, you won’t get a uniform grind size, but it will do if you want to grind coffee beans without a grinder. It works best if you are making cold brew or brewing with a French Press. Trying to create a fine grind will clog the blades and create nothing but a hopeless mess. A food processor is an alternative, but you need a setting allowing the blade to go as low as possible.
Mortar and pestle
You can use a mortar and pestle to grind coffee beans. It’s going to take time and effort, but the results are worth it. The trick here is to fill the mortar about one-third full preventing the beans from jumping around. First, crush the beans by using the pestle like a hammer. Once most of the beans are crushed, start using the pestle like a spoon as if you were mixing batter in a mixing bowl. The size of the grind will change the longer you continue stirring the grounds. Hold the pestle tight and use as much pressure as needed to grind the beans to the desired size. Once you get the hang of it, a mortar and pestle are quite flexible and creates grounds of a uniform size.
Grinding coffee beans with a hammer
Everyone has a hammer lying around, and it’s a handy way to grind coffee beans. Put your coffee beans in a sealable bag that is thick enough not to split open. Stop! You don’t want to pound the beans. Your mot making a deck. Use the hammer like a pestle. Take the head of the hammer and press it down on the beans to crush them. You'll need to use some pressure but resist the temptation to give the beans a good smack. Grinding with a hammer will result in coarse grounds, so using a hammer is best reserved for French Press or cold brew.
Grinding beans with a rolling pin
This method is easy, and if you don't have a rolling pin, a wine bottle works just as well, you can use any jar, but we don't mind a glass of wine as we grind. Take a good helping of beans and put them in a thick, sealable bag. Lay a dishcloth over the bag and use the rolling pin just like you would when rolling out dough. Press hard enough to crush the beans. The longer you move the rolling pin back and forth, the finer the grind. As with many of these methods, the grounds won't be of uniform size, but it will get you by.
Alternatives to grinding beans yourself
The most obvious way to avoid grinding coffee beans yourself is to buy pre-ground coffee But, when you purchase pre-ground coffee, freshness ought to be a priority. Buying pre-ground coffee from the grocery store is anything but fresh. It is packaged in bulk, just like any other food product. The beans used are of medium quality at best. What you are after is coffee that is freshly roasted and ground right before you buy it. Our Chamberlain Coffee Bags guarantee freshness and even grind size. All of our coffee is USDA organic and eco-friendly package. So, you're getting fantastic pre-ground coffee and saving the planet at the same time.
The best way to get a great cup of coffee without having to grind the beans yourself is to use single serve coffee bags. If you know how to make a cup of tea, you know how to make coffee with a single serve coffee bag. It’s as easy as steeping the bag in a cup of hot water and waiting a few minutes. Check out our Chamberlain single serve coffee bags. All of our blends are available in single serve coffee bags, and we've done the grinding, measuring, and packaging for you. When it comes to an alternative to grinding beans yourself, single serve coffee bags are the way to go.
Mind the grind
There’s no way to avoid it, a wonderful cup of coffee with great flavor and aroma means grinding fresh coffee beans right before you brew. Each person will have different preferences on how to grind coffee beans. Whether we do it for you, or you do it yourself, it’s the key to successful brewing. Specialty coffee can have complex layers of flavor, but get the grinding wrong, and your cup of coffee can be ruined. Pre-ground coffee or single serve coffee bags are easier then grinding the beans yourself, but nothing compares to the soothing aroma and taste of freshly ground beans.
So, what grinder do we recommend? By far, our choice is a burr grinder and one with a conical blade if you can afford to splurge. Even if you don’t have a pocket of cash, you can find a burr grinder to fit your budget. We also recommend you get your hands on a manual grinder. They’re not expensive, and their portability makes them a must for a terrific cup of coffee next to the campfire. That being said there are plenty of options to grind coffee beans without a grinder. Even if you don’t have a grinder, there’s never an excuse for not grinding beans yourself. There is plenty of ways to grind coffee beans without a grinder. A blender, mortar, and pestle, rolling pin, or hammer will serve well in a pinch.
Now you know everything there is to know about how to grind coffee beans. So, get you're grinding on and enjoy the brew!