Things to Look For When Shopping For Grinders
Timers, dosing, auto-stop, catch bins, burr types, oh my! There’s so many features and specs on brew grinders despite their relatively simple purpose. But what features really matter? We’re here to help with that so that you can make a more informed decision when it comes to purchasing your next coffee grinder! We should note, today we’re talking about slow brew grinders for drip, pour over, press, etc. We’ll talk more about espresso grinders in a later post.
The inside of your brew grinder doesn’t need to be too complex. You’ll want your grinder to have burrs, if that wasn’t obvious, but the kind isn’t incredibly important for brew grinding. Conical burrs can offer a better grind path with less retention for coarse grinding, and are generally what you’ll find in most brew grinders anyway. That said, flat burrs are just fine as well. Material is also not particularly important for a home brew grinder. Burrs in a home grinder should last over a decade regardless of material.
One thing to watch out for is a grinder designed for brew grinding specifically. These grinders will often have a grind path that works better for the grind levels used in slow brewing rather than a finer espresso grind. This, however, will also have a very minor impact on the overall performance of the grinder.
The first thing you might think about with the outside of the grinder is case material. While a solid, metal case is certainly nice to have, plastic casing is quite standard and absolutely not a marker of a cheap grinder. Instead, a better focus is on the control interfaces for the grinder, and on how that will affect your workflow. Does the grinder feature a timer? Digital display? Where’s the on/off switch? How is the grind adjusted? All of these things will affect how you use the grinder, but there’s not necessarily a right answer to what is “best.”
Instead, you’ll want to think about how these things will fit into the way you brew. Do you dose only the beans you need? If so, you could set a timer to grind it all while you prep your filters. Or maybe you grind just enough for a single cup so a manual push button wouldn’t be so bad. Keep in mind that timers almost never allow for a truly consistent volume for brew grinding due to the coarser grind and larger volumes compared to espresso. This is especially true when working with a dial timer that you can’t leave in a precise spot. Weight based grinders can also be quick finicky, but if you can get them dialed in they can be a boon for your morning grinding prep.
Stepped or stepless grind adjust also matters, with a stepless adjust giving you a lot of precision to dial in a pour over grind, or a stepped grinder allowing you to easily adjust your settings for different brew methods. Which one works best is down to your preferences!
The Biggest Factor
Bigger than all of the feature factors is the question of performance. Does the grinder you’ve picked out offer consistent, quality grinds. This is hard to measure based on features, so if you can find video of the grinder and its grinds, that’s the best way to understand this.
If this performance is in place, and the grinder has features that you feel will benefit your workflow, you may have found the perfect one for you!