too many words by laura lemay

coffee grinder shootout

You can’t make coffee without a coffee grinder. Well, OK, you can, but then how could you live with yourself. Coffee grinder: essential to life. Electricity, running water, coffee grinder. I recently had to purchase yet another coffee grinder, and I found myself this morning thinking about coffee grinders I had known as I made a big cup of coffee this morning. Now, see, this is why weblogs are so important. Without a weblog, I would have to actually go outside and do something of value with my life rather than sit here in front of the computer and share all my knowledge about coffee grinder design with you.

Pros and cons of various coffee grinders I have known:

Various Krups/Braun cheapo coffee grinders. Cost: $15-20.

The best thing about the seemingly interchangeable Krups and Brains, er, Brauns (brains! Braiiins!! ahem) is that they are way cheap and they work well. They grind quickly and evenly, although it helps to pulse them if you grind for espresso.

There are also a bunch of problems with the cheapos, though. The most annoying one is that they cannot be easily cleaned, leading to lax behavior and buildup of yucky coffee goo on interior surfaces. More troubling: they break after a year or two, either by burning out the motor or by shredding small bits of plastic into your coffee. Mmmm. Of course they are so cheap that if they break you just throw them out and buy another one.

Gaggia Burr Grinder. Cost: $90.

Burr grinders are supposedly better for coffee because they don’t heat the beans when they grind them. I can’t taste the difference. But the price: ouch. If you can taste the difference, perhaps this will be more important to you and worth the investment. I recommend a burr grinder other than THIS one, though. What this particular grinder does very well is it charges all the grinds with static electricity, which means that when you pull the coffee ground container away from the grinder, all the coffee grounds go poof into the air and stick to your skin, the counter, your spoon, the grinder, the sides of the container etc, everywhere but stay in the pot or the filter where they belong. And you are left angry and uncaffienated and $90 poorer.

Also: Cannot be cleaned, which means there is usually a strange stale coffee smell in the hopper at all times. Also: chute leading from grinder to grounds container is poorly designed and ground coffee builds up there. Have you noticed: I really dislike this coffee grinder.

KitchenAid Blade Coffee grinder Cost: $30.

Bought this one last week when the last Krups died. Comes in fetching colors. Is kind of slow to grind compared to the Krups; it’ll take 20-30 seconds as opposed to 10-15 for the same amount of beans. Its louder, too. Will frighten pets. The cover fits loosely, which means there’s usually a bit of a mess to clean up. Buy a dark one.

But the really nice thing about this model: the metal grinder part with the blade is detachable from the motor so it can be cleaned easily — it can be tossed in the dishwasher or just run under the faucet. Its much easier to get into the habit of cleaning the thing when it can actually be easily cleaned. I like this one a lot and I have had good luck with other kitchenaid appliances (mixers, blenders, food processors), so I am hopeful that it will last. Plus: colors.

In summary: Cheap == good. Cleanable == good. Colors == good. Coffee == good. Thank you.