Coffee Grinders

Burr vs Blade Coffee Grinders: What’s the Better Choice?

When buying a burr or blade coffee grinder you need to consider the three main factors of price, time, and consistency when deciding which one is best for you.

A Coffee Grinder is essential to a great cup of coffee and both blade and burr grinders have alot to offer. However, when it comes to deciding which grinder to get, the top pick is an easy on to make even though there are many options out there.

There are two different types that you can choose from. You can get a blade grinder or a burr grinder.

Both of these can work depending on your particular wants and needs but you will want to understand the difference between them so that you can make an effective choice.

Here we will take a look at the key differences between these two types of grinders to give you a better understanding of each.

What Are Blade Grinders?

Why Not to use a Blade Grinder

To a small degree, these will appear to be similar to a food processor in that it has a blade that looks like an airplane rotor. Typically you will find this type of grinder to be less expensive than the others. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get decent grinding, it is simply that it will work differently than the burr grinder does.

There are some that would suggest that this is not a grinder at all because of the way that it works. Because the blades turn similar to a plane rotary they tend to cut, break and bash the beans as the blades spin. This action is in opposition to truly grinding them.

The beans are poured on top of the blades and then there will either be a button that begins turning the blade or, if it is mechanically operated, then there may be a way in which you would turn the blades with a mechanical lever.

As the blade begins to spin it will break and cut the beans into smaller pieces. The action of the blades also creates an effect that naturally pulls uncut beans and larger bits into the blades.

Depending on your preference you may want finer or courser coffee grain. To have the coffee grain finer you will simply need to allow the blades to turn for a longer period of time.

An example of when you might make this choice would be if you want coffee grounds suitable for a French press or pot brew. For those situations, you would want something that is more course.

If, on the other hand, you are preparing the coffee grains for a drip coffee maker then you would want it to be finer. This would mean that you would grind it longer.

It is important when using this type of grinder that you use a pulsing action rather than a consistent churning of the blade. The reason for this is if you just simply push the button or turn the lever to create a constant turning of the blades without any breaks it will generate a certain amount of heat which could damage the coffee grain. It will also decrease the overall consistency of the coffee grain.

Some of the good points you might want to consider about blade grinders is the fact that they are very inexpensive compared to burr grinders. It is also faster to prepare your coffee grounds with this type of grinder.

Those who want a decent but not great tasting cup of coffee and also want the convenience of being able to prepare it fairly quickly might want to go with this choice but I would not recommend this type of grinder if you have the ability to get a burr grinder.

Often these type of grinders can be purchased from places like Amazon for as little as $20 up to around $100.

What are Burr Grinders?

The advantage of Burr Grinders

There is a reason why people who brew their own coffee will think of this type of grinder as being the best. For one thing, they are the most common type found in fine coffee shops.

That alone is an endorsement that’s hard to overlook when trying to decide which of these type of grinders are the best. It is also common to find this type of grinder used in the homes of true coffee aficionado’s.

These coffee lovers commonly call this type of grinder a burr mill.

A burr grinder grinds the coffee beans by rubbing the beans in between abrasive surfaces. This process breaks the pieces with the burrs. The process starts with the larger burrs and then the grains make their way to ever smaller burrs as the coffee grain gets finer.

Larger pieces of coffee bean cannot get to the smaller burrs and must first be reduced in size. This process ensures a very consistent grind.

Which Type of Grinder is Best?

Burr grinders are far and away the better choice when deciding which type of grinder to buy. You may be tempted to buy a blade grinder due to it being less expensive but will have a poorer tasting coffee.

I would highly recommend that you wait until you can afford buying a burr grinder and more specifically from the Baratza line. I would go with either the Encore or the Virtuoso which can be found on Amazon.

In the end, Price, time, and consistency are the three main criteria, when looking at grinders, that you will want to consider when deciding which of these you want to buy and a burr grinder is going to do this much better then a blade grinder

Are All Coffee Burr Grinders the Same?

If you decide on a burr grinder you will then need to select between the different types. There are flat burrs and conical burrs. A flat burr will use discs that then have the burrs in between them.

A conical burr grinder uses rings that are cone-shaped and they sit inside each other. Not everyone likes the flat burr grinder because some of the coffee grains can get stuck in the burrs meaning you lose some of it in the process.

The conical burr grinders are said to be much more forgiving when you need to make an adjustment to get the coffee grounds just right. The main thing that you want to keep in mind is that these are fairly minor differences and the overall result is very similar one to another.

Steel vs Ceramic Coffee Grinders

Anyone shopping for a burr grinder will find that they will have to choose between those made of steel and those made of ceramic. Again, both of these will do a very good job.

Even so, there are some who feel that the steel burrs are engineered more finally. Those who feel the steel blades produce better results say that it’s able to produce more even particle distribution.

It is important to realize that for the average user this is more an intellectual debate than an absolute fact. The ceramic burrs are equally durable and for most users will do a job that is essentially identical.

Some say that they are especially good for blends made for espresso whereas the steel is said by some to be better for pour overs.

Which one of these will be best for you is really your preference. Overall they will do very close to a similar job. The average person will notice little if any difference between them.