Burr Coffee Grinders

burr coffee grinderBurr coffee grinders work like old fashioned grain mills. The coffee is ground between two abrasive surfaces, much as wheat was ground between millstones to produce flour. In comparison, a blade grinder in more of a “chopper”, while burr grinders are true grinders.

The space between the grinding surfaces determines the fineness of the grind. Which brings up a major advantage of burr grinders: you can accurately adjust the grind. You get consistent results every time.

Another advantage is the fact that the grinding wheels turn slowly, at least compared to a blade grinder. This translates into much less chance of heat damage during the grinding process.

Types of Burr Coffee Grinders

Within the realm burr grinders there are two sub-types: flat wheel and conical.

coffee grinder bladesThe design of flat wheel coffee grinders resembles that of traditional grain mills.

As the name implies, conical coffee grinders have a cone-shaped grinding surface.


The cone shape increases the surface area and allow the mill to turn at a slower speed. This in turn reduces the chance of excessive heat damaging the coffee.

One of the big advantages of burr grinders is that ability to precisely and consistently control the fineness of the grind. As I discuss on _______________ different brewing methods yield the best cup of coffee (which is, after all, what we are after) when you use the grind best suited for the method.

Better yet, burr mills let you experiment to find the grind you like best for a given method. You may well find that you prefer coffee brewed from a grind a little finer or coarser than the usually recommended average. Once you find your preference, it’s easy to reproduce it using a burr grinder. That’s essentially impossible with a blade grinder.

Both types of burr grinders are premium products with conical grinders being “super premium.” Both are an improvement over blade grinders. In terms of the quality of the resulting cup of coffee, the differences are likely to be minimal.

If price is a concern, you’ll probably get the best performance-to-price ratio with a wheel burr grinder. If you consider a great cup of coffee one life’s more accessible luxuries and you want to consistently get the best possible results then you may want to consider a conical grinder.

You might also want to consider the cost per use. Since any coffee drinker reading this will use the grinder just about every day, the cost per use of even a conical grinder is quite reasonable.

The electric crepe maker I bought years ago spends most of its time on the back of the top shelf in my pantry. That has turned out to cost a lot more per use than my grinder. And I certainly get a lot more enjoyment from the grinder.

So I think if you really enjoy coffee it's worth considering investing in a burr grinder. If finances are tight, make do with a blade grinder while you save enough for the upgrade.


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