During the coffee preparation stage, one of the most overlooked stages is the grinding stage. While it is possible to go to any specialty coffee store or supermarket and purchase pre-ground coffee, having your coffee preground at a store produces a much lower quality coffee flavor than grinding the coffee beans yourself. This is because pre-ground coffee beans tend to produce a stale tasting coffee and that's something that a coffee drinker should not stand for.
As a result, it is highly recommended that you purchase a grinder to ground coffee beans prior to brewing a cup of coffee. The earliest form of coffee grinding was using the simple mortar and pestle approach. In this approach the coffee beans are pounded into fine grounds. The coffee beans are placed in the bottom of a bowl, in which the blunt end of a stick is used to crush the coffee beans along the bottom and sides of the bowl. The coffee grounds are pounded until it is nearly dust. While most coffee drinkers are able to use more contemporary grinding methods, the pounding method of coffee grinding is still used to prepare coffee grounds for Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee requires that coffee grounds are particularly fine, and this method of grinding produces coffee grinds that are too fine for other coffee brewing methods. To learn more about Turkish coffee, make sure that you check out the article titled Turkish Coffee.
When it comes to more commonly used methods of grinding, there are two methods that will produce coffee grounds that are ready for brewing - the grinding method and the chopping method. Both methods can be found in modern coffee grinders. The grinding method uses two revolving elements that crush or tear the coffee beans. The chopping method actually chops the coffee bean into pieces, which produces a similar result to the grinding method. However, coffee purists tend to favor the grinding method over the chopping method because they feel that the chopping method produces less effective results. Additionally the chopping method tends to produce coffee grinds that should not be used in pump espresso machines but are suitable for drip coffee makers. Regardless of which grinding method you feel comfortable with, you are able to purchase top of the line coffee grinders that use either method from such respected manufacturers as Cuisinart small Appliances, Gaggia, or Solis.
While there are numerous coffee grinders that ground coffee beans using the chopping method, the most common type of coffee grinder use the grinding method. Commonly known as burr coffee grinders, this method of grounding coffee beans has the advantage of producing a uniform grind of the beans. This is the great advantage of the burr coffee grinder, as a uniform grind of the coffee beans provides an even surface area for extraction during the coffee brewing process. Additionally, for the person that loves their espresso, the burr coffee grinder produces a uniform grind that makes even wetting and even packing of the coffee grounds in your espresso machine that much easier.
How the burr grinder works is that a coffee bean passes under or in-between two revolving elements that completely crushes the bean into identically-sized pieces. When it comes to obtaining a burr grinder, the issue becomes whether to get a conical burr grinder or a flat-plate burr grinder.
The conical burr grinder is a diverse coffee grinder that produces very fine and very consistent coffee grinds. Featuring an intricate design of the steel burrs, the conical burr grinder allows for high hear reduction to slow down the grinding speed. As the slower the speed of grinding, the more aroma one is able to preserve, the conical burr grinder is the most ideal type of coffee grinder for those that love the flavor in their gourmet coffee. The conical burr grinder is able to produce very fine coffee grinds that can be used in such coffee brewing equipment as the Espresso machine, the automatic drip, percolator, and the French press. The grinding speed of the conical burr grinder tends to be lower than 500 rpm.
The flat-plate burr grinder is the most economic way of getting a consistent grind in a wide range of applications. Particularly well suited to producing coffee grinds that can be used in home pump espresso machines, the flat-plate burr grinder grinds at a faster speed than the conical burr grinder. Containing a grinding speed between 10,000 and 20,000 rpm, the flat-plate burr grinder creates a bit more warmth in the coffee and do not produces as fine a grind as the conical burr grinder.
Now that you know more about the different options in coffee grinders, now seems the right time to discuss how grinding impacts the taste of your coffee. The fineness of the coffee grinds has a huge effect on the flavor that it produces with finer grinding producing a more intense and full flavor. An even grind will produce the best tasting coffee, as it provides for the even extraction of the oils from the coffee. Ill-proportion coffee grinds will lead to an inconsistent cup of coffee as it can cause your coffee to over-extract or under-extract. Over-extracted coffee has a bitter taste and an overly pungent aroma. Under-extracted coffee, on the other hand, will taste both weak and thin.