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Burr Grinder: Advice?

posted by xscot mcknight

We’re interested in purchasing a burr grinder for our coffee beans. I need some expert advice.



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Jason

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:23 am


http://www.epinions.com/Cuisinart_Supreme_Grind_DBM_8_Electric_Burr_Grinder
I use a Cuisinart burr grinder I got at Kohls. It is by far the most economical. I grind a pound at a time and it allows me to grind very coarsely which is necessary for cold brewing. I am no expert but it has served me well.



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Benjamin Sternke

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:38 am


I second Jason’s advice: I have the Cuisinart and it has done very well for me. I grind beans twice a day, too, so it’s gotten a lot of use.



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matt

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:43 am


It all depends on your budget, but the Rancilio Rocky is great. I’ve had mine for about 5 years. It’s meant for espresso grinding, but it comes in a doserless version which works well if you are grinding into a regular filter. It has 40 levels, and is built like a tank. A bit expensive, but should last a lifetime.
http://coffeegeek.com/reviews/grinders/rockydoserless



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kent

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:58 am


A what?



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kent

posted October 11, 2007 at 11:00 am


I looked it up. Dude, I mean really, go to 7-11 they have pots of coffee, fresh all of the time. All kinds fo flavors. Cups of every size. Seriously it is so easy.



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Marie

posted October 11, 2007 at 11:47 am


Burr grinders are rated number one actually. I have only used them for my coffee years. I have one now that has the perfect grind and in turn makes the perfect cup of coffee :)
-get one, they actually have them on sale at linen and things ;)



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Mike

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:00 pm


Scot,
I had to go in the kitchen to see the brand I use! I’m using Krups, one of the manual kind: just cap on, and push. Variable pressure results in variable grinding speeds, which leads to my next comment.
How are you brewing your coffee these days? Drip? What became of that French Press? :)
My suggestion here is two-fold: 1) get a Krups or some manual grinder because you can control the outcome of the grind, and 2) head over to the coffee store/bar you trust, have them grind a half-pound of some beans you like for a drip(?), then grind another half pound of a different roast that you like.
Take home the other half-pounds of the respective beans. Load in a couple of scoops of beans in the grinder: try to grind it into the texture of the grind from the coffee shop…you are experimenting, so no more than a couple of scoops at a time…then brew the beans you think looked like the grind from the shop…how’s it taste?
Second-to-last comment: you’ll find that in order to get the kind of flavor you want, different roasts grind differently to achieve that flavor. It’s art, but some basics still apply: one level coffee scoop to 6 oz of water…
Last comment: I recall that you hosted an ardent conversation once on storage: freezer, refrigerator, or kitchen counter? Of course, my way is the correct way…freezer (!)…but, once you figure out the correct grinding speed and length of time for the grind you want: every cup you brew from the top of the bag to emptying it will taste perfect. Period: take it from a stingy, fussy, and inveterate Peets drinker…



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Thom

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:25 pm


Scott,
As a home roaster, I may classify as more of the expert that you are seeking advice from.
I would like to say that you are on the right path; a burr grinder is the only grinding option of coffee afficianatos.
There are two types of burr grinders; manual and automatic, or electric. The Zassenhaus grinders are by far the greatest grinders made. Beyond the pure nostalgic factor, hand grinders are more efficient that their electric counter parts, and are easier to clean. Hand grinders do not experience the troubles an electric grinder, namely mechanical failure. Zassenhaus, as the name implies, is a German company, so rest assured that they are built with precision. You will not find plastic on a Zassenhaus, or most hand grinders.
Though, I assume that you are seeking advice on an electric grinder, for they are more convenient, or otherwise thought as modern.
I encourage you to take a look at the Cuisinart. It is a spend worth while – seriously nothing else comes close to the quality grind of a manual grinder than a Cuisinart. I got my Cuisinart from Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% coupon.
Happy grinding,
Thom



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J.D. Hollis

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:44 pm


I use an old Zassenhaus Mahogany Knee Mill, and I love it. Sure, a manual grinder takes a bit more work, but it’s as much about the ritual as anything else. They used to be hard to come by in the US (I got mine used on eBay), but it looks like Sweet Maria’s actually has them in stock now.



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Thom

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:46 pm


…don’t be deceived by those that believe that they can freeze more life out of there beens. Cryogenics and coffee beans are not compatible.
The sad truth is Scott, and other readers, coffee goes stale – no different than bread.
Fresh coffee tastes like no other! Coffee has a lifespan of 3-5 days – after your fresh coffee is more than 5 days old, it becomes as stale as store-bought coffee!
If you want fresh coffee you have to go to a coffee shop that has a roaster on premises, or home roast your own. Coffee beans that are freshly packaged at a plant take days or weeks to get to a distribution center, then longer to get to a store or shop, then even longer until you are drinking it…
Sure gusset valves look cool and allegedly do not let any air into a sealed bag… and I wish there was a way to freeze in the freshness of a bean, without dehydrating the flavor…
The best way to store FRESH coffee beans are in vacuumed containers, in a cool dark place – at room temperature. Of course if you buy coffee from a grocery store or a coffee shop that does not roast their own beans – it is a mute point.
Thom



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Benjamin Sternke

posted October 11, 2007 at 1:14 pm


I have to say I am with Thom on the freshness factor. Beans become stale very quickly after they have been roasted. Once you’ve tasted fresh-roasted beans, it’s very easy to tell if coffee is stale (and most coffee is, sadly). I find it difficult, actually, to find decent coffee when I am away from my beloved local roaster (Old Crown Coffee Roasters in Fort Wayne, Indiana).



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Mark Grapengater

posted October 11, 2007 at 1:27 pm


My votes for the cuisinart too. Have it and it’s great, though quite loud and, being that I grind coarsely, I do get some finer sediment that gets through my gold filter. But the bulk of the “dust” is easy to scrape out of the grind receptacle. Ask Chris R. about it, he seems to like it.



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Kevin

posted October 11, 2007 at 1:28 pm


My wife bought the kitchen Aid burr grinder for me a couple of years ago. It has a glass hopper on the top and a dial to adjust the coarseness of the grind. It looks like they have changed the model look based on a google search I just did. Price isn’t cheap either – but it does make a very nice grind.



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J.D. Hollis

posted October 11, 2007 at 1:28 pm


I’m in Elkhart, and I have similar troubles (though I’ve had success in ordering from Intelligentsia in Chicago?they usually get the coffee to you only a day or two after it has been roasted).
For the most part, I roast my own now. It doesn’t get any fresher than that :)



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Rick

posted October 11, 2007 at 2:33 pm


I’d highly recommend the Solis Maestro PLUS Coffee Grinder Black – G385. You can find them at many outlets on the web. The price is reasonable (reasonable being relative), you get a wide range of grinds and it has been reliable for me for over 2 years now.



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John W Frye

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:09 pm


Scot,
Julie and I bought a refurbished SOLIS MASTER 5000 and it *crushes* the beans rather than grinds them, creates the puck and shoots the hot water through. It has a frother stem, etc. A covenant pastor, Howard Burgoyne, in the Seattle area at the time, recommended the machine to us. It’s reasonably priced with reasonably being a relative term (comment #15).



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John W Frye

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:11 pm


P.S. The only minor downside is that the SOLIS MASTER 5000 machine is noisy as it goes through its functions.



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Tony Stiff

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:19 pm


Hmm I think Thom has hit the nail on the head, coffee grinder won’t add to your taste as much as the freshness of the beans roast…but since you’re in the market :)
For a commercial sized grinder that will really last a lifetime and gives the look and feel of authentic, first class burr grinding I think the Nouva Simonelli’s is a great pick…I don’t have one because I can’t afford it (300$).
La Pavoni is about a hundred bucks cheaper and its got a much more realistic size and look to it for a kitchen cabnet and hey it affords the coffee expert the hopes of dreaming that someday under the xmas tree there may be a La Pavoni Pisa expresso machine waiting to be used :)
Scot, http://www.coffeegeek.com has the goods on it all…



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Mike

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:57 pm


For Thom and Benjamin:
With all due respect: no. Any one of us can use our freezers to store our beans without fear of dehydration using a well-sealed container. No: I don’t roast my beans at home or shop at the local roaster: I’m a chemical engineer who also worked with biological tissues. No aim to deceive from here: just reliable experience…
So, for the rest of us: keep your beans well sealed (those gusset valves are really more show than go, amen), in the dark, and in your freezer. Grind as much as you intend to drink: and put the beans away promptly in your freezer. You won’t be just fine with what you drink: no, you’ll be intensely satisfied with your faithful efforts.
And, for Thom and Benjamin: you are totally right. If you drink coffee from beans that were roasted within 3 to 5 days of brewing: you’re getting as great a coffee as one could possibly taste. No doubt or argument there.



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Anakainosis

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:01 pm


Hi, Scot. Just so you know, my girlfriend bought me the red Kitchen-Aid one and it works exceptionally well. I’m not sure if I could tell the difference between that and another, cheaper burr grinder, but I know for a fact that the one I’ve got does a magnificent job.



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mike kerns

posted October 11, 2007 at 7:15 pm


I guess I will state the obvious…WWJD? hand grind of course, until the winter comes and then he would most assuredly have used a burrrrrrr grinder…LOL



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marko

posted October 11, 2007 at 8:33 pm


i agree with the first few comments — after a few lousy grinders, we bought the cuisinart, and have been extremely happy with it!



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ScriptureZealot

posted October 11, 2007 at 9:28 pm


I’m not sure if there are any left, but Starbucks was selling out a grinder similar to the Bodum Antigua, I believe it’s called the Barista, if you can’t afford the Rocky, which would be preferable. You may want to check around.
http://www.coffeegeek.com/reviews/grinders/bodum_antigua_grinder
There is a new company selling grinders similar to the Bodums but for the life of me I can’t think of it right now. Somebody help me out.



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Mike

posted October 11, 2007 at 9:46 pm


A couple of serious coffee friends recommended a Capresso machine, and we love it.



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ScriptureZealot

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:08 pm


Me again. The Baratza (formerly Solis) Maestro Plus Conical Burr is the other grinder I was trying to think of.



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brett jordan

posted October 12, 2007 at 2:47 am


re. 8, ‘Bed Bath and Beyond’? that’s a made-up name, right? (if my daughter was typing this it would be followed by a ‘rofl’ or at least a ‘lol’)



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discokvn

posted October 12, 2007 at 6:49 am


i would second the krups (#7) my wife had one before we were married (back when you were at trinity) and we just bought a second one (the top broke when our son dropped it and it was about the same to replace as to buy a new top using that %20 off coupon from bed bath and beyond which can also be used at linens and things and vice versa)



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Justin

posted October 12, 2007 at 7:47 am


I could be wrong, but my understanding of the reason to avoid keeping coffee in the freezer has to do with the moisture it would experience as you take it out to use and then put it back in the freezer. Essentially you’re exposing it to moisture via condensation without realizing it. The difference it really makes, I’m not sure, but my coffee is not in the freezer.



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Benjamin Sternke

posted October 12, 2007 at 9:04 am


I believe Justin is right about coffee beans and the freezer. I was told by my local coffee roaster that sometimes the oils in the coffee do not re-constitute fully/correctly after being frozen, and this is the reason not to put beans in the freezer. It’s also the reason coffee from a French press tastes so good (oils don’t get soaked up by the filter). It’s also the reason I use a gold filter – it’s the oils!



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happytheman

posted October 12, 2007 at 9:43 am


uh would we be having this discussion if it wasn’t for coffee houses…I remember when we would add water to a five pound can of coffee and cook it over the stove until it became like syrup (low heat) then we would place it all in a plastic bag and freeze it. When we wanted a cup of coffee we would ice pick off a chunk and add it to hot water….now that was great coffee and how we learned it on the plains..



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Matt S

posted October 12, 2007 at 11:35 am


Scot and all,
Please don’t buy just any burr grinder. There are big differences.
The Cuisinart and similar grinders use a dull set of flat disks and use sheer speed to reduce beans to grounds, though not very evenly and with a lot of generated static electricity. (my apologies to those recommending the cuisinart!!!)
One solution is to buy a grinder like the Rancilio Rocky. This burr set is sharp and slices the beans in slow mo for a much more consistent result.
BUT, I don’t recommend the Rocky for drip coffee unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket.
So, please look at this link – This grinder uses a conical (not flat) burr set that is sharp and rotates at reasonable speeds. The result is consistent, the unit is solid and reliable and i believe this unit represents the best grinder per dollar value out there for the past couple of years.
Baratza
Several people have already mentioned this grinder under the name of Solis – I have used them and recommended them and never regretted it.
Oh – and yes, you get the most out of your coffee when its freshest – within a week to 10 days from being roasted – packaging that excludes light and oxygen help tremendously in maximizing freshness and freezing can play a helpful role too if you just can’t buy it in small enough quantities to use it fresh without freezing it.
I’m so happy to see so many people knowledgeable and enthusiastic about fresh coffee! Like my faith, coffee seems to be something about which I often feel like a voice crying in the wilderness. A wilderness of canned coffee and stale “gourmet” beans in acrylic bins.



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Matt S

posted October 12, 2007 at 11:42 am


By the way, if anyone wanted to know more about freezing coffee beans – here is a link to a rediculously intensive study:
Coffee: To Freeze or Not to Freeze



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Russell

posted October 12, 2007 at 9:59 pm


Rancilio Rocky, like commenter #3 said. I have one and love it. Does all preparations (i.e. grind settings) well… espresso, drip, press, you name it.
Much better grind consistency and more rugged construction than the Macy’s brands (Cuisinart, Krups, etc.), but not as pricey as full-on professional grinders (Mazzer, Macap, etc.).
Being #33, I may be too late, but I feel pretty strongly about good ol Rocky. Look into it.
Blessings-
RPD



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