Everyone knows we're coffee geeks here at The Captain's Coffee, so our family and friends always want to ask us about their home coffee set up. There's nothing like geeking out with a friend about their new French Press or helping them figure out how to get the most out of their old percolator. I love handing them a bag of my coffee and hearing about their reactions when they try it the next morning. But you know what really grinds my gears? When I ask about their grinder and find out they use a cheap blade grinder, or worse yet, get it ground at the grocery store!
So you picked your favorite coffee, freshly roasted it in your awesome home roaster and you're all ready to go with your favorite brewing method. If you're tossing those lovely beans in a cheap blade grinder (or mill as they're sometimes called), you're missing so much of the flavor that coffee has to offer. Sure, a blade grinder is a huge step up since it's freshly ground, but there's nothing that will bring out the flavor of those beans like a good coffee grinder. In fact, I'd rather have a cheap drip brewer and a good coffee grinder than the other way around. Why?
Blade grinders don't cut it for several reasons. For one thing, they chop the beans up unevenly so that some of the coffee ends up as large particles and some of it turns into powdery dust. This greatly effects the flavor of your brew since optimal brew flavor depends on even extraction of the coffee. The larger particles will be underextracted (thin and weak) and the powder will be overextracted (bitter). Secondly, blade grinders have to work really hard to grind coffee into small particles so they get really hot. This heat is transfered to your vulnerable freshly ground coffee which can actually scorch the coffee and ruin it .
The answer? Burr grinders, especially conical (as opposed to flat) burr grinders. Burr grinders slowly crush the coffee rather than chopping it, which results in cool, even grinding. Even grinding ensures even extraction which means you'll finally be able to taste all the subtle hints and flavors you've been missing in your carefully roasted coffee.
So now you're ready to upgrade your home coffee experience. We've got ya covered right here! We carry (and use at home) Baratza grinders. They feature conical burrs, which are better than flat burrs for more even grind and for burr longevity as well as a hardy gearbox for handling all your grinding needs. So which grinder is right for you? If you stick to typical brewing methods such as Aeropress, French Press, Chemex and automatic drip, then the Baratza Encore will suit your needs just fine. If you have a home espresso machine and prefer a grinder that grinds a little faster, then you'll want to spring for the Baratza Virtuoso. You really can't go wrong with either.
Now you've got your grinder picked out but don't know where to set it for your brew method of choice! Baratza has a very helpful chart for determining the optimal setting for each brew method according to your grinder. We suggest starting with these recommendations and experimenting with your settings from there. Prefer a stronger cup? Move the grind a little more towards fine. French Press getting a little too sludgy? Set the grind a bit more coarse.
So there you have it, the long and short on grinders. Just remember, if you've got great coffee and pretty good brew method, nothing is going to make that coffee shine like a great grinder.