Asks any barista -- or coffee bartender -- what the key is to making a perfect cup of Java and it's very likely that he'll say it's the quality of beans. But that criteria is followed closely by how the beans are ground and brewed. Coffee beans stay fresh longer and retain their earthy oils if they're left whole and ground as needed. The best coffee grinder for this purpose depends on your budget and the type of coffee you're brewing.
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Conical Burr Grinders
Conical burr grinders are considered to be the best coffee grinder choice overall because, unlike blade grinders that repeatedly chop beans to size, a burr grinder uses a cone-shaped grinding wheel to crush the beans against a static surface. This makes for a more uniform grind. According to various consumer reports and reviews from Coffee Grinders Reviews (a self-described group of coffee addicts who analyse independent reviews from sources including "Cooks Illustrated" magazine, CoffeeGeek.com and Whole Latte Love), the top-rated conical burr grinders included the Capresso 560 Infinity, the Rancilio Rocky, the Baratza Virtuoso and the Breville BCG450XL.
Best Burr Grinders
Though they don't get the same rave reviews as their conical burr counterparts do, burr grinders still surpass blade grinders, especially when it comes to achieving the fine grind required for espresso. Priced at more £325, the Mazzar Mini has an Italian pedigree and is ranked highly among home-brew enthusiasts and coffee bar owners alike. Fifty-four reviewers on CoffeeGeek.com gave the Mini an average rating of 9.3 out of 10. For less than half the cost -- approximately £130 -- the KitchenAid Pro Line Burr Grinder gets rave reviews, according to Coffee Grinders Reviews, which notes that 70 per cent of owners surveyed gave the grinder a 5 out of 5 rating.
Best Blade Grinders
Blade grinders are considered to be a budget friendly choice, though many coffee geeks turn up their noses at them. That's because blade grinders slice beans, which results in irregular sized grinds and thus, an inferior brew. These grinders get the thumbs up when it comes to grinding beans for drip coffee makers and French presses. They're a budget-friendly choice compared to burr grinders, and a better option than using pre-ground coffee. The Krups Fast Touch 203, DeLonghi DCG39 Coffee Grinder and Mr. Coffee Electric Coffee Grinder with Chamber Maid Cleaning System each consistently rank high in this category, according to Coffee Grinders Reviews.
Best Manual Mill Grinder
Manual mill grinders pulverise coffee beans into a fine powder that's perfect for brewing a cup of thick Turkish coffee, or a coarse grind that's suitable for a French press. The Zassenhaus manual mill is highly rated by Coffee Makers Review, an independent site dedicated to providing consumers with information on more than 30 brands of coffee makers, grinders and accessories. These German-crafted mills have been manufactured by Zassenhaus since 1867 and use the highly touted conical burr grinder.
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- Coffee Grinder Reviews: Let's Discover the Best Coffee Grinder for Your Needs; 2010
- Coffee Makers Review: Reviewing the Zassenhaus Coffee Mill; 2010
- Coffee Cup News: Top 5 Coffee Grinders; October 4, 2010.
- Burr Grinder Guide; 2009
- Bald Mountain Coffee Company: Manual Mills; 2011
- CoffeeGeek.com; Coffee and Espresso Grinder Reviews; 2011