An essential part of a coffee brewing ensemble is a good grinder. But coffee grinders can sometimes be expensive, so can you use a spice grinder instead? In this post, we’ll compare spice grinders vs coffee grinders and see how they stack up against one another.
Spice grinders vs Coffee grinders
Spice grinders usually use blades to grind spices and herbs into small pieces, whereas coffee grinders usually use conical burrs to grind coffee beans into grounds.
Burr grinders are better
Generally speaking, it’s much better to use a dedicated coffee grinder for grinding coffee beans. Burr grinders grind much more evenly and you end up with a much more consistent grind.
Getting the grind right is an essential part of brewing good coffee, so if you can, you should definitely invest in a good burr grinder for grinding your coffee beans.
Manual or electric?
Burr grinders can be a little expensive, but that’s not always the case. Electric burr grinders with automatic settings are a little bit pricey, but good manual grinders can be found for less than $20 online.
My first burr grinder was a manual grinder because I did not want to drop a chunk of money, and I am really happy with it. It’s been a long time since I bought it and it is still going strong.
Really, the only disadvantage of manual grinders is the time it takes to grind. To make one shot of espresso(around 12 grams of coffee beans), it takes me about 2 to 3 minutes to grind.
Granted, it’s good forearm exercise!
One disadvantage with manual grinders is that you have to calibrate them a little to get the grind consistency correct. You can do that by tightening or loosening the set screw on the bottom of the grinder. The tighter the screw is, the closer the the bottom burr is to the grinder, and the finer the grind.
This is because there is less room for the coffee to come out, so the only way grounds can make it through is if they’re fine enough.
On manual grinders, there are rarely any notches that indicate how far the screw has to be for a particular grind, so you’ll have to play around with it until you get the desired consistency.
This is fine if you just brew one kind of coffee, but if you like to switch it up, you may find that recalibrating every single time is a pain.
If you’re willing to shell out for an automatic grinder, you won’t have this issue. Automatic burr grinders have a little dial with varying degrees of fineness or coarseness that you can simply turn and the machine will make the adjustments by itself.
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Alright, so what if you already have a blade grinder? What then? Is there any way you can get away with using a blade grinder?
While a coffee connoisseur may wince at the idea of using a blade grinder, you can certainly use one, though the results will not be as consistent as with a burr grinder.
Whether you want that degree of consistency is totally up to you. You need to develop your palate to be able to pick up on the subtle flavor changes in coffee, and if you feel that one kind of coffee is pretty much the same as another(this is totally a matter of personal preference), use your blade grinder.
To use a blade grinder, you’ll need to rely on time. The longer you grind, the finer the grounds will be.
As you saw with manual burr grinders above, it’ll take a bit of trial and error to get the grind right, and if you’re brewing cold brew or french press, it is always safer to err on the side of bigger grounds.
Extra fine grounds can ruin cold brew or french press.
Drip is more forgiving, so you have a bit of leeway there.
- COMPACT countertop electric coffee grinder (3 oz capacity) quickly turns whole-bean into fresh grounded coffee right from your home or kitchen.
- FRESH COFFEE! Grinds whole coffee beans to fine grounds in seconds for quality home brewing using a French press, coffee percolator or other drip coffee makers.
- EASY TO USE on/off button positioned on safety lid: grinder won’t operate without cover. Transparent lid lets you monitor grinding.
- MULTI-PURPOSE: Use it to grind nuts and spices or coffee beans. CLEANING BRUSH INCLUDED!
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Grinding herbs with coffee grinders
Finally, one point I feel that blade grinders win at against burr grinders is that you can grind nuts and spices with blade grinders much better than you can with burr grinders.
Place a few tablespoons of the herbs into the grinder and grind them in short, 15 second intervals. Taking a break is super important because it allows the herbs to cool down a bit. Otherwise, the fast moving blades generate a lot of friction and heat, and that can cause undesirable changes in the herbs’ aroma and flavor.
Last update on 2019-12-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API