Is it worth investing in an espresso grinder?

Coffee users often invest a lot of money in home espresso machines. They spend from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand, but they forget one of the most critical parts of this process: buying a good espresso grinder.

Investing in a conical burr grinder will allow you to get that perfect espresso you want. If you use pre-ground coffee from the supermarket, your favorite coffee shop, or online, you will never achieve the desired balance in your coffee and settle for weak, acidic, bitter, or even burnt flavors.

You should invest at least $200 in a basic grinder to get the maximum performance out of your espresso coffee maker since a grinder capable of grinding espresso coffee is as or more important than the coffee maker itself.

Should a blade grinder or a burr grinder be used?

However, not all grinders are suitable for making good espresso. It is common to see in every house in the world the typical blade grinders that our mothers and grandmothers used to grind coffee (or anything else).

However, over the years, we have learned that the more uniform the grind, the better espresso we can extract. Not only that, but the more control we have when it comes to varying the grind, the better we will be able to synchronize any coffee bean with our coffee maker.

How does a blade grinder work?

Here we have a blade grinder, where we see how the coffee beans sit while the blades rotate around, cutting them into unequal pieces. Some beans are chopped to powder, while some seem to escape the blades, remaining almost intact miraculously.

Blade grinder
Blade grinder

Therefore, we cannot achieve a uniform or consistent grind when we use a blade grinder. Neither can we increase or reduce the degree of grinding according to the needs of our coffee.

How does a burr grinder work?

Here we have a conical burr grinder, which comes integrated with two burrs that rotate in different directions, causing the beans to be crushed into pieces of the same size instead of being cut into irregular pieces.

Grinding wheel grinder
Burr wheel grinder

The middle grinding burr forces the grains toward its edge, crushing them between the central and outer grinding burrs to achieve a consistent grind. With this grinder, we have control over the distance between the grinding burrs, and in this way, we also control the grinding size.

In the following image, you can see a diagram of how both the flat and conical grinding burrs work:

Flat vs. conical grinding burrs
Flat vs. conical grinding burrs

With these grinders, we achieve a very consistent grind. It is important to know that everything affects coffee: heat, light, cold, humidity, and freshness, which is why coffee should be ground fresh for each cup.

If when you start to extract the coffee, it comes out too fast, you will have to adjust the grind finer, but if it only drips slowly, you will have to adjust it a little coarser until you get that perfect uniform flow.

Can pre-ground coffee be used to prepare espresso?

Using pre-ground coffee in a domestic espresso machine is not recommended, as this coffee has been generically ground. This product will not have the specifications and elements your particular machine needs to achieve a perfect result. On the contrary, you will obtain inconsistencies in your cup every time you prepare an espresso.

You can try grinding your coffee using a recipe that works well. Store it in an airtight container and a dark cupboard; you will see how it will still be affected after a week.

Suppose we add the effects of temperature, humidity, and other factors that deteriorate the coffee when preparing your espresso with pre-ground coffee. In that case, you will see how it comes out too dark or black and too liquid. This occurs when the oils in the coffee have already turned into gases and have left the grind.

We want and are looking for a slow extraction as if it were honey falling from the portafilter. To achieve this, investing in a specific espresso grinder is best.

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