Grinding Coffee Beans Article -
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Grinding Coffee Beans

Learn how to pair grind-type with coffee machine to create the perfect match.

Grinding at Home vs. at the Store

There's no doubt grinders are fun gadgets for coffee-lovers, but do you need a home grinder? That depends.

The upside: they are great if you buy more than two week's worth of beans at a time. The coffee's flavor will last longer if the beans are kept whole, then ground right before brewing.

The downside: it can be messy takes a little longer. 

The bottom line: you can always get it ground where you bought it--coffee will maintain great flavor for up to two weeks. But, there is something to be said for indulging in the ritual of preparing each cup of coffee, beginning to end. "Because it's fun" is as good a reason as any to grind fresh beans each morning.

    The Daily Grind

    To get started with your home grinder, purchase a small amount of beans, ground for your machine, to use at home as a reference point. If you don't have a sample, test by grinding a very small amount of beans (one tablespoon is plenty), then put them in the palm of your hand. Squeeze into a fist, and when you release your hand you'll want to see different results depending on your brewing method:

    • French Press (coarse grind): the grounds should not stick together.
    • Automatic Flat Bottom (medium grind): some of the grounds should stick together, but most should fall away.
    • Automatic Cone, Gold Cone, and Steam-driven Espresso Machine (medium-fine): most should stick together, but you should still be able to see individual particles easily.
    • Pump-driven Espresso Machine (fine): most grounds should stick together, possibly falling away in clumps, but they shouldn't be so fine they appear to completely melt together.

      Choosing a Home Grinder

      There are two types of grinders:

      • Blade Grinder: grinds beans using a blade that twirls like the blade of a blender--best for medium and coarse grinds. You can find a quality one for as little as $20, but the drawback is they don't produce a very consistent grind. The blade rotates, chopping whatever happens to be in its way, making some particles slightly larger than others (which is less of an issue with medium and coarse grinds).
      • Burr Grinder: grinds beans between two horizontal metal burrs, creating a very even, consistent grind. Burr grinders can handle fine to coarse easily, but are especially good for medium-fine to fine grinds, where uniformity in the coffee particles is important. This type of grinder is perfect for someone who is constantly grinding for different types of machines. The biggest drawback is price--most cost between $45-$100.

        Jun. 13, 2009 10:42 am
        I have a coffeemaker/grinder. I put the beans right into the coffeemaker, what is the best grind for this machine?
        Aug. 24, 2009 5:12 pm
        I would think that if there is a grinder in the coffee machine, it should be set to grind for *that* machine. In other words, I actually don't think you need to worry about it. But if you *are* able to change the grind, still use the guidelines above for if you have a flat bottom, cone, etc. Hope that makes sense! :)
        Dec. 1, 2009 2:52 pm
        Concerning your quote above on the blade grinder: "...but the drawback is they don't produce a very consistent grind. The blade rotates, chopping whatever happens to be in its way, making some particles slightly larger than others..." Easy to fix - just hold the grinder in your hand and shake it as it grinds. My grinds are always perfectly uniform in size this way. It's certainly not a big deal, and no reason to knock the fabulous, inexpensive coffee grinder.
        Mar. 22, 2010 4:46 pm
        The best grind for the coffee machine with built in grinder is medium fine grind. It depends on how strong you like it though, which is why you they include an option of what size grind you want.
        Oct. 2, 2010 10:48 am
        I am very fond of coffee and enjoy every cup wether it is a normal American coffee or an Italian espresso. The darker an stonger it is the better it taste. Anyhow I found this article very interesting and I always learn something new like I did this time !!!! Tankyou..........
        Nov. 18, 2010 8:32 pm
        I buy my coffee beans at Kroger (Kroger brand medium blend)usually 8 one lb bags and when I brew a pot (drip maker) I put 4 rounded scoops in the blade grinder and grind it for a 15 second count, then pour it into the brew basket, also add a small pinch of sugar on top if the grounds...Makes a Great tasting cup of coffee..JB
        Nov. 23, 2010 11:15 am
        NEVER store coffee beans in your freezer. I am a manager for a national coffee chain and we suggest that you never do this or store in your refrigerator. Keep the coffee in an air-tight container and store at room temp. Remember, Coffee is grown in temperate climates so never expose the beans to freezing or very cold temps for a long time. The oils from the beans are what make the coffee flavor along with the roasting process. Also, make sure to clean your coffee grinder frequently so that oils from the coffee beans don't become rancid and spoil the taste of freshly brewed coffee.
        Feb. 16, 2011 12:12 pm
        also keep in mind, especially with espresso, that weather can affect the grind. it is always best to keep the beans whole & grind as needed. even throughout the course of a day you may have to adjust the grind.
        Mar. 8, 2011 6:43 pm
        ERROR in this page freezing coffee is the worst thing to do with it. just place in a dark cupboard sealed tight of course. Coffee goes bitter when frozen.
        Mar. 30, 2011 6:37 pm
        If you are going to the trouble of buying a coffee grinder, you obviously like good coffee. The 2 blade grinders (known as whirly chops in the coffee world)are actually best used to grind spices. Every coffee bean grinds differently. If you buy different types of beans, you definitely want a burr grinder. Oh, and the manager above who says not to freeze or refrigerate you coffee beans because they grow in a temperate climate? That's true, they do, but THEY ARE GREEN UNROASTED BEANS. Many experiments have been done on freezing/ refrigerating beans, if you are going to store roasted beans long term, vacuum seal them whole. They will keep their flavor indefinitely. If you go through them quickly, keep them in original packaging and tightly close. You can put them in the frig or freezer and use them the next day with no problem. If you buy ground coffee, it starts going stale and loosing flavor as soon as it's ground. No respectable coffee master would tell you that it is fine to ke
        Apr. 16, 2011 12:50 am
        debi i agree, i've been doing the same for 40 years and not a complaint yet.
        May 27, 2011 4:55 pm
        I love coffee, so I visited the as mentioned above, Yikes! A 100.00 a pound!! Uhmmm, yea, OK then...never
        Apr. 29, 2012 4:25 am
        I have a Whirly Chop Blender - it has a dial on the side for setting the time and then a slide for determining the type of grind. I love coffee and drink too much. So in order to reduce my intake but still have great coffee, I brew no more than 4 cups at a time. This is another way of keeping the coffee fresh. Making 12 cups only if you have company and you expect to finish the whole thing in the course of a meal or get together is a great way to maintain flavor. I have a cone coffee maker - I use fine and grind for 15 to 30 seconds to produce the level of grind I want. I check it before putting in the coffee maker , of not where I want it - I either grind more or add more beans and grind more.
        May 16, 2012 11:14 am
        I buy Kona blend whole beans and grind them at the store where I purchase them. I use to order Gevalia coffee and got spoiled with their ultra fine grind. I simulate their grind by using the Turkish setting on the store grinder. I get an excellent cup of coffee and my beans last a lot longer since I use less coffee for a full bodied cup of coffee.
        Sep. 1, 2013 12:20 pm
        We have a burr-grinder that is great. It has two dials, one for how coarse the grind is and one for how much to grind for how many cups you plan on brewing. It has a hopper ontop that holds enough beans for a few days worth of brewing. I can stumble into the kitchen and push the start button and leave while it grinds just the right amount of beans at my desired consistency. The best thing is that it does not make a shrieking whirring shrill noise that disturbs the whole house first thing on a peaceful morning, like when a blade grinder gets going and then some lunatic is shaking the thing to get an even grind as it gnashes away at the tumbling beans. Just horrible! The burr grinder has a nice subdued even humm as it methodicly and evenly grinds the measured amount to perfection. Blade grinders are not allowed until after I have fired up my two-stroke chainsaw and cut down a tree or two. By then I have my earplugs in.
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