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“Espresso—noun—a rich concentrated shot of goodness from Italy. Often considered the only way to start a day!” —Anonymous.
Espresso is considered heavenly when brewed correctly, but a lot goes into brewing the perfect shot.
As a coffee enthusiast, we know just how serious you take your coffee, and in this article, we’ll explain the best coffee grind for espresso.
What is the optimal grind to brew Espresso?
Theoretically, the optimal grind for brewing express is fine-finest coffee beans’ ground.
Too bold (finest) of grind will bitter the taste of your coffee, too coarse will brew sour coffee, and an uneven extraction will taste bitter-sour together.
Every coffee grinder comes with factory-set default settings. So, as starters, choose a coffee grinder that’s exclusively designed for espressos and other fine-coffee grounds.
These grinders will often offer various sub-categories in fineness. In fact, Breville offers a 60+ grind size setting and is set on default fineness.
To decide which fineness works best with your flavors and beans, brew two to three shots with different grind size settings.
Coffee beans that are to coarse will run fast and brew without registering the 25 seconds. They will taste under-extracted.
Too fine coffee grounds will over-extract and surpass the 25 seconds limit. This results in over-extraction.
Too coarse coffee grounds run watery, and too fine coffee grounds extract too dense coffee. You MUST find an intermediate between these two settings that run for exactly 25-30 seconds and has rich, aromatic, complex flavors with a thick golden-brown body.
How to achieve the perfect grind size for your espresso coffee grinder?
As home baristas, we are allowed to experiment just as much as we’d like. If your coffee grinder is new and comes with a default setting for fineness, try and brew with the same setting. This first shot can tell a lot about your grinder and its capabilities.
If the shot brewed is too bitter, increase the coarseness of your grind. If it’s too thin and watery, increase the fineness.
While experimenting with the correct grind size settings, please note the observations:
- Is it too dense and almost completely concentrated? It’s over-extracted.
- Is it too weak and watery? Under-extracted
- Does it taste bitter? Over-extracted.
- Does it taste sour? Under-extracted.
A good rule of thumb is your fine grounds should have a similar appearance to talcum powder.
Not only this, the coffee grounds should be uniformly ground.
Uneven coffee grounds (different sized coffee grounds in a coffee puck) will result in uneven extraction. Invest in a quality espresso grinder that’s equipped with conical burrs for consistent grinding.
How do you grind for espresso?
This particular question can depend on the type of coffee grinder you are using.
Are you using a super-automatic espresso machine that comes with a built-in grinder, or are you using a separate coffee grinder? Built-in grinders have a slightly different mechanism than separate coffee machines.
Super-automatic espresso machines with built-in grinder have two different designed footprints and models—portafilter espresso machines and portafilter-less machines.
Portafilter-less espresso machines have integrated bean hopper and closeted grinding, tamping, and brewing.
After selecting the grind size, grind strength in the machine, you cannot watch the other grinding process that goes in and around the machine. Once you start the grinding, the machine will brew instantly.
Espresso machines with a portafilter have a commercial appearance, and they sometimes allow you to dose and tamp. Super-automatic espresso machines will tamp and grind for you when you attach the portafilter in the closeted cradle.
Semi-and fully automatic have open portafilter cradles where you can directly grind in the portafilter, but you have the liberty to dose and tamp according to you.
Separate coffee grinders can grind directly in the ground container it comes with, differently-sized portafilters, Hario, etc. Once you select the grind size, grind strength, and volume, the machine starts its business.
General universal steps for grinding:
- If it’s an electric coffee grinder, plug in the cable and turn on the switch.
- Fill the bean hopper with the amount of coffee beans you wish to grind.
- Select and choose your preferred grind size, strength (optional), and volume (2-12 cups). It will start automatically.
Grinding with a manual coffee grinder:
- Fill in the coffee beans in the ground container.
- Select the grind size settings present inside the grinder.
- Rotate the manual handle as referred.
Please note: It’s best to change the grind size setting when the grinder runs to avoid breakdown or damage, especially in super-automatic espresso machines. The machine cannot detect the changes when it’s out of service or not grinding, and it might build conflicts between preset and manual settings and might lead to damage.
Can I use pre-ground coffee to make espresso?
Yes, but you will permanently destroy your relationship with the coffee gods and will never enjoy a delicious shot of espresso again!
As you must have heard, pre-ground coffee beans lose most of their essential oils, freshness, and flavors at their state.
Coffee beans envelop most of these oils and flavors inside to protect the inner content from being oxidized. Oxidation occurs when coffee’s content comes in contact with oxygen.
Pre-ground coffee has its contents completely outside, thus leading to unintentional dispersal of flavors and oils. Even when it’s completely sealed, it will start to oxidize
Pre-ground coffee delivers a stale tasting coffee and has zero-to-negligible essential oils. On the other hand, whole coffee beans preserve the content inside for a longer period, and fresh grinding pours all the content directly for brewing.
Thus, it’s always advised to choose whole coffee beans for fresh, aromatic, and flavorful coffee.
However, for whatever means, you can still use pre-ground coffee beans in almost every espresso machine. Individuals mainly use pre-ground coffee beans for decaf and flavored coffees.
- Super-automatic espresso machine with portafilter: Directly scoop pre-ground coffee in the portafilter and tamp it. Don’t operate the built-in grinder. (Don’t purchase a built-in grinder espresso machine if you are going to brew pre-ground coffee, it will save you hundreds)
- Super-automatic espresso machine without portafilter: Such espresso machines come with a separate bypass doser that allows you to scoop in pre-ground coffee. It’s present right beside the integrated bean hopper. (Most of the machines allow only a single scoop at a time)
Apart from packaged pre-ground coffee, a better option would be investing in Nespresso espresso machines or ESE pods. This pre-ground coffee comes in packaged aluminum containers or paper pods that directly open inside the machine.
Nespresso pods come in aluminum-sealed cups. You can insert it directly into the espresso machine’s outlet, and the machine will unseal it for you. Please note: you will have to purchase a separate Nespresso espresso machine to brew with Nespresso pods.
On the other hand, ESE pods (Easy-serving espresso) are flat disc-like paper coffee bags inserted in the portafilter with a pod basket. Pods basket is compulsory to brew ESE pods, but most of the machines offer them.
Please note: Every machine will have a differently-sized ESE pod and baskets. So, you probably cannot brew different company ESE pods with a different company’s machine.
What exactly is espresso?
Espresso is supreme decadence. It’s composed of the top flavors, oils, complexity, and density of the beans that are unattainable by any other brewing method.
Espresso’s dense body and silky texture and rich crema separate its superiority from the rest of the diluted coffee beverages.
By definition, espressos are two-ounce shots brewed using finely ground coffee and 9-Bars of pressure. Unlike other coffee beverages, espresso’s learning curve is more complex and requires skillful operation.
There’s a high technicality behind building espresso machines to maintain temperature, atomization, pressure build-up pump, and other modern techniques, which isn’t seen in any other brewers.
Depending on the coffee beans used, you can brew many flavors with espressos. They can be sweet, tangy, chocolatey, slightly bitter, and spicy.
Espresso originally has a silky and dense body with exotic aromas, rich flavor, oily crema, and the most diverse range of flavors..
Espresso is the only beverage that can extract the complete flavor profile out from the beans. You can taste every distinct flavor, under notes, and oils in the body because the brewing method doesn’t dilute the beverage with water.
The brewed beverage has two components— the soluble liquid composed of rich coffee beans and the insoluble oily crema present at the top. The crema present at the top of the beverage is composed of the oils present inside and at the top layer of the beans.
Espressos are brewed by pressuring boiling water through the tightly-compact coffee puck at 9-Bars of pressure for 25 seconds.
- Espressos brewing method: After grinding and tamping, lock in the portafilter in the group head and select the number of shots you’d like to brew. Place two cups above the drip tray and allow the water to heat up and the pressure to build.
- Espresso’s optimal conditions: Brewing period: 25 seconds (8 seconds of pre-infusion included), brewing temperature: 190-205 degrees Fahrenheit, milk steaming temperature: 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Coffee to extracted beverage ratio: 1:2 (1 gram of coffee extracts 2 grams of espresso shots)
Espresso has many milk-based espresso beverages, popularly known as Latte, Cappuccino, flat white, etc. So, you probably have vast varieties for different flavor profiles.
Reasons why grind size matters
Have you ever brewed an espresso thinking you followed every guideline possible and still end up with a dull, bitter, watery, too thick, drink?
It could be the wrong grind size or the following steps that you failed to master.
The accurate grind size can make or break your espresso shots or milk-based beverages. It also might be the sole reason why your beverage doesn’t taste as good as the ones sold in cafes.
Contrarily, it simply isn’t the only mistake that can go wrong. To brew espresso shots, you must have a strong base of quality coffee beans and a precise grinder that can grind uniformly and finely for espressos.
Low-quality coffee beans and a terrible grinder can both result in a bad coffee ground. So, before you go ahead and blame the grind size, invest in quality coffee beans and a high-quality coffee grinder.
after grinding, you must tamp the ground beans to ensure that your coffee puck is tight to allow the correct extraction. The correct grind size—fine grounds—will provide a bigger surface area for flavor extraction, crema production, and wilder flavors.
Espresso’s taste is almost foreign compared to other filtered beverages you must be used to—it’s dark, dense, robust, and mouthful.
The brewing method espresso uses ensures a unique flavor; its credit goes to the finely ground coffee beans that provide full exposure for complete extractions.
The wide variety of these flavors include—caramel, fruity undertones, tangy syrups, intoxicating spices, chocolate, slight bitterness, classic maple syrup, toffee, coffee, earthy tones, etc.
Coffee beans’ inner content constitutes coffee’s flavor profile and oils. Finely ground coffee gives you the surface area needed inside the portafilter for proper pressurization and uniform extraction.
Other coffee brewing methods cannot come close to the flavors and oils of espresso because they use coarser coffee ground that resists complete extraction.
Other brewing methods that use fine coffee grounds have a slower, zero-pressurized, and lengthy brewing process that cuts down the flavors over dilution.
Espressos use the ratio of 1:2 (1gm of coffee ground produces 2ml of espresso shot). Oppositely, other filtered coffee uses a ratio of 1:15, which is much diluter and coarser to experience the true flavors and body of the coffee.
Do you always drink espresso with milk?
For a change, pull your espresso shot in a transparent espresso cup and witness the beautiful silky fluid with its golden brown + dark brown stripes coupled with the airy caramel-like crema on top.
In fact, if you observe this through a naked portafilter, the dense fluid, and golden-brown+dark brown stripes will hypnotize you as it pours into your shot glass.
The small espresso glass will first be filled with dark-brown to dense black espresso; the center layer is an intermediate between brown and the caramel color of the crema.
The top layer—crema—has a rich golden-caramel color tone and creamy body, accompanied by small bubbles trapped in the fluid.
The fine grinds easily dissolve most of their content in the water when under pressure and create a dense fluid.
This interaction between coffee grounds and water makes it possible to create a rich textured coffee with more crema.
Finely ground coffee beans also expose and offer most of the creamy-oily content while brewing, giving your coffee’s body a creamy, oily taste and appearance.
Espresso has a unique brewing process and takes about 25 seconds; that’s a concise period compared to other brewing techniques.
With coarser grounds, it takes longer to extract most of the flavors since they are still trapped inside the bigger pieces of coffee.
For instance, the french press takes 5 minutes to extract out flavors from coarse coffee beans completely. Likewise, water takes time to reach the coffee chunks, penetrate inside, soak the content, and extract the flavor out.
That’s not the case with finely ground coffee beans. Instead, they have their content fully exposed for instant extraction. With accurate pressure and water temperature, an espresso shot only takes 25 seconds to brew.
Now, 25 seconds is the optimal period for brewing espressos. Anything below or above this period can ruin your coffee through over or under-extraction.
Thus, the extraction period actually tells you a lot about your grind size and how it should be tweaked.
Too fine of ground will result in less coffee (denser than you can imagine) and an increased extraction period (30-35 seconds.) Too coarse coffee will result in more water coffee and will extract out in less than 20 seconds.
Too fine ground doesn’t leave much space for extraction and allows too much collision that makes it taste almost muddy.
Too coarse coffee doesn’t have enough time to collide with water and expose flavors in such a short period; it’s thus mostly water than coffee.
As discussed, crema is the top layer that rests above the espresso shot and consumes 1/10 spacing in the shot glass. Rich crema gives away the creamy, mouthful experience espresso lovers enjoy the most! Without the crema, you would experience a completely different flavor profile.
Crema is dense and a mix between air bubbles and insoluble oils of the beans’ content. These insoluble oils separate from the fluid and trap air bubbles, giving it a bubbly yet creamy appearance.
Crema is only possible when all the oils present inside the coffee beans are exposed for saturation. The only way to expose these oils is through grinding the coffee beans fine.
Fine grind size allows the water and air bubbles to collide with the oils present inside. In short, when you fine grind your coffee beans, you expose the entire content of the bean, including oils which results in cream production.
Please note: Crema is only possible when the coffee beans are roasted dark-medium or dark. Coffee beans should be slow-roasted for a longer period to cook the oils out.
The darker the roast, the creamier your espresso will be. Also, the darkest roasts that are close to burnt have a thick sheen layer of oils at the outer surface. If you enjoy robust coffee with a dark, bitter taste and double crema, go with that. If you want medium to little crema, choose dark medium-roasted beans.
What is over-extraction?
It’s normal for espressos to be slightly bitter with chocolate and woody under notes; unless it’s extremely bitter and is unbearable to drink.
Often we are terribly surprised with the awful bitter shots we pull and are left to question our barista skills. Sometimes, over-extraction is the cause behind this overly-bitter coffee.
Unlike naturally bitter coffee that adds to the overall texture and taste of your espresso shots, overly bitter coffee overrides and suppresses the real taste of your beverage.
Surprisingly, over-extraction is a typical brewing mistake, and a professional barista can also profusely make them every now and then. We can surely learn how to undo them, though.
Coffees are made by colliding water with grounds. When water is pressurized or poured over coffee, it extracts flavors out to create the beverage. There’s a hierarchy as to how water absorbs these flavors and chemicals present inside the coffee.
The sweet and tangy chemicals that sum up the overall taste and content of coffee are absorbed readily faster than any other content present inside the ground.
Next, the water absorbs most of the insoluble chemicals and oils, which adds to the crema and creamy taste of coffee. Finally, the least favorable taste—bitter tannins (a chemical present inside the coffee grounds)—is absorbed last.
To avoid that from happening, you must stop the extraction process once all the oils are readily absorbed. Thus 25 seconds is the average extraction period recommended to avoid the extraction of tannins.
What causes over-extraction?
- Over extraction can be caused by pulling the shot for too long. When you brew your espresso shots for more than 25 seconds, you allow tannins to get absorbed.
- When you grind your coffee beans too fine: Too fine coffee beans will allow a higher and faster rate of absorption. All the content gets absorbed fast and allows additional time for tannins to get involved.
- When you allow water to run for too long.
Limit your brewing time to 25 seconds and try grind sizes that brew decent espresso shots in that given period.
Avoid these mistakes, and you will be saved from over-extraction and utterly bitter coffee.
What is under-extraction?
Just like over-extraction, under extraction can also ruin your beverage’s taste and potential.
An under-extracted espresso shot tastes sour, dull with sharp after-effects and thin flavors, and salty. Under-extraction happens when you don’t allow water to extract a balanced taste and flavors to the coffee.
Brewing a shot too quickly will burn your insides out and will have you question your existence (just kidding, but not really).
Fortunately, under-extraction can be easily monitored and resolved.
We often consider acidity to be the real culprit behind sourness, but there’s a little truth and years of misconception.
Acidity is coffee’s main characteristic. Acidic content inside coffee beans gives you those tangy, fruitful undernotes that you often witness in high-quality cafes. The taste is highly complimentary.
You must have found people actually complimenting their coffee’s acidity because it’s balanced and extracted enough for the flavorful profile. On the other hand, sourness is a completely different taste. It tastes dull, empty, too watery, and salty.
Over-extraction is when you don’t allow your beverage to brew properly and pull the shot too short or below the threshold of 25 seconds. Please note: Your coffee won’t taste amazing until you allow it to extract most of the complimenting flavors.
What causes under-extraction?
- Under-extraction can be caused when you pull the shots too quickly and don’t allow water to extract most of the balanced flavors from the coffee. Don’t fear over-extraction; choose a fine espresso grind and allow it to run for 25 seconds completely.
- Too coarse of grind will not allow water to extract most of the flavors in the given time. To enhance the flavor, try out a finer grind size for better and faster extraction.
Different types of coffee grinder
Discussions and debates over grind size setting and their importance while brewing is very accurate. Without a consistent grind size, you cannot brew delicious espressos. Accurate and uniform grounds can only be obtained with a high-quality coffee grinder.
There’s a wide variety of coffee grinders in the market, and it’s almost difficult to choose the product that will suit your demands the best. If you are anything like me, making choices amongst various possibilities can be scary.
However, we have discussed the multiple types of coffee grinders, their qualities, their cons to give you in-depth knowledge about all the products.
Every brewing method will require a high-quality coffee grinder. For instance, an espresso coffee grinder will have default fine settings and variability of fineness. Oppositely, the french press will have a coarser grind size setting.
If you are interested in brewing different beverages every day, all grinders will have multiple selections from fineness to coarseness.
Coffee grinders have two major sub-categories—electric and manual coffee grinders.
Electric grinders are faster and grind large amounts of coffee at once but are typically more expensive. On the other hand, manual grinders are small, slower, require manual actions, and grind small dosage at a time but are affordable and aesthetically pleasing.
Furthermore, coffee grinders are divided depending on the blades/burrs they use to grind. These categories include blade and burr grinders that we’ll discuss in detail shortly.
Burr grinders are the more popular option in the coffee world but are often under-appreciated.
Grinders are important, but the burrs used inside actually predict their quality. When burrs grinders weren’t available people used to use blade grinders as your blender has.
However, the incompetence of blade grinders to produce uniform coffee grounds led to the invention of burrs and their use in coffee grinders.
Unlike blade grinders that are usually supported with two slicing blades, burrs are like two gears that crush the content inside completely, resulting in a finer grind. There are specifically two widely used burrs—conical burrs and flat burrs.
As the name suggests, conical burrs are two gears shaped and fitted conically. The lower rotating burr has sharp 5-axis edges, and the upper burr manages the spacing towards the lower for different grind sizes.
These burrs have sharp edges throughout their body to crush coffee beans at the junction.
Flat burrs grinders:
Flat burr grinders are often used for commercial purposes and finer grind sizes because they are faster, quicker, and finer.
However, are flat burrs appropriate for home-barista espresso models?
Needless to say, both the burrs (conical and flat) are durable, and reliable. They are both exceedingly good, but the choice can depend on your personal preference.
Flat burrs are not curved and coned like conical burrs and have a rather shorter distance between them.
From the outside, these two separate burrs might seem one, but the insides of the burrs have spacing to allow beans to enter and get crushed. The insides of flat burrs are hastened with multiple diagonal sharp cuts to allow perfect grinding.
Flat burr grinders produce finer grounds due to the spacing between their mechanism and their high speed.
- Flat grinders need higher speed to rotate and grind. Thus, they need bigger motors than conical grinders. Bigger motors will increase the overall cost of your machine.
- Due to bigger motors, the machine will be louder than its counterparts.
- Also, higher friction, big motors, and speed will result in a lot of heat emission compared to conical burrs. The machine will heat faster.
If your ideal choice is something cheaper, finer (not too fine), and quieter—conical burrs would be the correct choice for you. Unless you want something faster, finer, and of bigger volume. If so is the case, then a flat grinder would be the opt choice.
Conical Burr grinder
As discussed, conical burr grinders are quieter, use smaller motors, are cheaper, and grind more uniformly. Although conical burrs don’t grind as finely as flat burrs, they are still fine enough for espressos.
They have a different geometry than flat burrs and larger spacing than their counterpart.
The upper burr covers the lower burr. The lower burr rotates to crush the beans inside. Unlike flat burrs that only allow the coffee ground to exit through horizontal edges, conical burrs allow the complete open base for the grounds to exit.
Conical burrs are slower but more consistent. Once the grinder initiates, the beans are thrown inside them. The upper burr has a hole that allows coffee beans to enter inside. Next, the lower burr rotates closer to the upper burr and crushes the beans.
There’s a higher margin between both the burrs that allow various ground sizes from fineness and coarseness. It can be difficult for flat grinders to allow a bigger difference between the grind size.
- Conical burr grinders are less expensive than flat burrs.
- They produce moderately fine coffee grounds, perfect for espressos.
- They use smaller motors and are quieter than their counterparts.
- Conical burr grinders are ideal for home-barista espresso machines.
Blade coffee grinders
Blade coffee grinders were highly used before the invention of burr grinders. They are the cheapest versions of coffee grinders and readily available. Blade grinders are purposely used to grind fruits, vegetables for shakes and juices.
However, none of those mentioned above items required uniform distribution of the content, but coffee does!
Thus, most of these blade grinders aren’t ideal for grinding coffee. Nonetheless, if blade grinders are the only item you can afford at the moment, it would still be better than pre-ground coffee.
Blade grinders don’t have a complex mechanism. These usually have a combination of two blades that rotates very fast to blend the content.
`Once you scoop down coffee beans in these containers, the sharp blades will start to slice coffee beans until the maximum level of splitting. There’s no accuracy in such systems. Some beans are ground too fine, and others are left too coarse.
Blade grinders result in the uneven ground that further results in uneven extraction. Uneven extraction lacks flavors and consistency throughout. Some parts of the coffee will taste dull, others will taste overly concentrated, some would be bitter, and others would be sour.
However, sometimes blade grinders may grind uniformly enough, may not be as consistent as burr grinders but enough to brew adequate espressos. Please note: blade grinders are faster but will take longer to have acceptable ground.
Manual coffee grinders
The next best affordable option for any coffee enthusiast would be manual coffee grinders as long as you wish to grind smaller batches. A manual coffee grinder doesn’t use electricity but rather manual hand operation for grinding.
Despite the rumors, these grinders can grind fine enough for espressos and still coarse enough for the french press.
High-quality manual grinders not only look lavish and a piece of compliment for your kitchen, but they are also equipped with real burrs for enhanced performance.
Most of these manual coffee grinders have a cylindrical or hourglass body and a large handle for manual action. These manual grinders can only grind for 2-3 shots of espressos and 5-6 filtered coffees.
They have small bean hoppers and ground containers that can hold 25-30 ml of coffee beans and ground coffee. These grinders have high-quality installments, including burrs, metallic frames, and multiple grind size options.
Manual coffee grinders are highly customary and will grind for one-two brewing methods only. You can either purchase a manual grinder for espressos or french press. The highest count of these grind size settings is 9-10 (sometimes more).
- Manual coffee grinders have a stylish body and stainless steel framing (mostly).
- These grinders are cheaper and still have outshining features and quality.
- You can travel with these grinders without having to worry about electricity.
- Small frame for easy storage.
What’s the difference between ceramic and stainless steel grinders?
The essential equipment of a coffee grinder remains its conical/flat burrs. Most certainly, their competency depends on the material used to build those burrs and the sharpening edge they execute to grind beans to perfection.
Stainless steel and ceramic are two highly used and praised materials to build coffee grinder burrs. The question stands—which one’s better than its counterpart?
Stainless steel and ceramic are both equally excellent materials. However, there’s a slight benefit for ceramic burrs, but it’s minor.
For a little introduction, stainless steel is an edgy metal with sharp cuts to crush the beans. Ceramic is a non-metallic component that helps you avoid metallic/burnt taste in your coffee.
Again, these differences are minor but still worth mentioning to help you choose the best coffee grinder for yourself.
Please note: Every coffee grinder, including blade and manual machines, is equipped with either stainless steel burrs/blades or ceramic burrs. So, even if you choose a manual coffee grinder, the efficiency remains the same.
The stainless steel burr grinder
There’s a widespread misconception about stainless steel burrs and thermal conductivity. The myth is popular amongst many coffee lovers who are convinced to this day, but there’s no truth behind it, only baseless arguments.
Kylie Anderson, the owner of the famous Baratza company that produces some of the best home-barista coffee grinders, said, “The sharper the stainless steel burrs, the less heat is created in the cutting of the bean.”
Furthermore, she explains, “the higher thermal conductivity of steel burrs can actually decrease the heat of the ground coffee in small batches. This is because the heat is created IN the bean and is then transferred to the burrs.”
So, stainless steel doesn’t conduct thermal electricity towards the beans but rather away from it! Moving ahead, stainless steel creates some of the best burr grinders as long as it’s being built with high-quality technicians and skilled engineers. It’s the low-quality coffee grinders that conduct heat and result in burnt coffee.
- Stainless steel has sharp edges, something that cannot be attained with ceramic burrs at the initial phase. These sharp edges result in a better and more powerful grind.
- Stainless steel is more likely to remain unaffected if a stone is pushed between the burrs along with coffee beans. However, there are still possibilities of chipping. Always purchase quality coffee beans to avoid having stones in the combination.
- These burrs are easily accessible.
- Sturdy but still breakable.
- They don’t rust because of chromium in their composition.
- Stainless steel burrs are faster.
- Although these burrs start sharp, they usually get blunt with time.
- Stainless steel has a smaller life expectancy than ceramic (half the age)
- Comparatively, stainless steel still conducts more heat than ceramic and burns the next batch after back-to-back grinding. Back-to-back grinding allows no time for the steel burrs to cool down.
Ceramic burr grinders
Another authentic addition to your coffee cabinet would be a high-quality commercial-level ceramic coffee grinder. Compared to stainless steel, ceramic burrs are now being used more boastfully than their counterparts.
The reasons could be many, but please know ceramic burr grinders are rarer to find than stainless steel.
Ceramic burrs are non-metallic and probably more sustainable and long-lasting if not ruined by a stone or a bad fall. Ceramic burrs are meant to keep the machine cooler for a longer grind without hurting the taste of your coffee and neither the state of your grinder.
For starters, ceramic burrs are rarer because they need an exclusive mold to build them. Not every company will offer you ceramics because those custom molds are an expensive addition to the company.
It’s the taste and life expectancy that made ceramic burrs so famous. Ceramic heightens the different authentic tastes of the coffee.
Unlike stainless steel that sometimes gives off a metallic or rustic taste, ceramics don’t disturb the original taste of coffee and rather enhance it with the earthy nature it possesses.
Furthermore, ceramic ages like wine. Unlike stainless steel that turns blunt after prolonged use, ceramic burrs sharpen with their aging time making them last longer and provide better results even after several years of usage.
- Ceramic burrs are cooler and don’t add additional heat to the overall machine or the coffee beans.
- These burrs grind fine and are never harsh on the beans.
- Ceramic burrs are more brittle and customary.
- They are cheaper than stainless steel.
- These burrs have a high probability of chipping or completely breaking down when a stone is introduced amongst the coffee beans while the machine is operating.
- Ceramic burrs don’t have as sharp edges as stainless steel burrs. However, they do get edgy and sharp with time. On the other hand, stainless steel blunts away.
- They are not easy to find.
Recommended coffee grinders for espressos
These high-quality yet affordable grinders are top-notch for your barista skills. In this detailed section, we’ll review the three best espresso coffee grinders, their pros, cons, and their overall impression to help you choose the best for yourself.
Please note: These are home-barista coffee grinder models and are meant to grind for home purposes or 3-4 shots at a time. Two of these machines are electric, serving big volume purposes and a single high-quality manual coffee grinder for more personalized shots without the crowd.
As a novice at brewing coffee and especially espressos, it’s best to invest in an entry-level coffee grinder that still allows quality coffee ground. Baratza encore is one such entry-level coffee grinder that will grind fine enough for espresso and course for french press.
Baratza encore comes in two finishes now—black model and matte-white finish model. It has a rather simple yet elegant geometry and overall structure. A conical bean hopper rests at the top, sealed with a dark lid to keep UVs away from the coffee beans.
The rest of the body is a long-elongated, curvaceous cuboid that holds the motors, the wiring, the conical burrs, and the ground container. Its ground container is quite massive and has a transparent framing to show quantity.
Baratza encore grinds very uniformly, and the coffee puck is consistent thoroughly. However, is it the best product for espresso machines? Yes, as long as you are using pressurized baskets to brew these shots. Baratza encore does a fine job for entry-level pressurized machines.
What are pressurized baskets? These baskets increase the additional pressure while extracting. This mechanism allows you to get away with a bad or not-to-fine ground and still brew delicious beverages.
- Baratza is equipped with 40mm stainless steel conical burrs.
- Two simple switches on/off allow you to grind for whatever amount you’d want.
- Another button present at the center allows you to clear out the chute from coffee grounds.
- It has a simple body and lavish look.
- It comes in two colors—black and white.
- The machine has 40 grind size settings, and you can rotate the bean hopper to change these settings for coarseness or fineness.
- The machine is affordable.
- 12 ounces bean hopper.
- The material used to build the coffee grinder is plastic.
- It makes significant noise. So, keep away from kids and sensitive ears.
- There are not many options to program the volume or time in this machine.
- It’s basic.
OXO company is known for creating some of the best coffee grinders, and OXO brew conical grinder is one such specialty. The machine costs somewhere below $100 and still offers volume/time programmability, multiple grind size settings, stainless steel accents, conical burrs, and whatnot.
The 12-ounce hopper has a cylindrical shape and sits at the top tightly with a plastic seal. The hopper has a lock to trap the beans inside when removing them. OXO has a long frame for the motors to adjust properly and a stainless steel ground container at the bottom.
The machine offers over 15 macro settings and includes micro settings for espresso and french press.
This machine is equipped with 40mm conical burrs that produce the most uniform grinds. Please note: the upper burr of this conical grinder is removable for easy cleaning.
It has a rather simple interface with black plastic and silver-brushed metal. The center buttons inside the time dialer allow you to turn on and off the grinding easily.
- OXO has a moderate footprint.
- One-touch start and easy interface.
- Big bean hopper and ground container. The ground container is made of stainless steel. You can use the container to preserve the coffee beans.
- 40mm conical burrs for faster grinding.
- It has a max of 30 seconds timer.
- It comes with a complimentary scoop and cleaning brush.
- The machine has many plastic wares, and the complete structure is quite long.
- Not many programmable options either.
Timemore has created some of the best and lavish-looking manual grinders with exceptionally large handles for easy brewing. Chestnut C2 is no less and equally serves many features. It’s a small hand grinder made of aluminum, stainless steel, and bits of plastic.
The outer body of this coffee grinder has grids for easy gripping while grinding. Furthermore, the device is equipped with a horizontal handle with a plastic joystick for easier motion while grinding, a bean hopper that can hold 25 grams of coffee beans, a 25g ground container, and high-quality conical burrs.
These conical burrs are made of stainless steel, have 5-axis CNC machines, and 36 grind size clicks for fine to coarse grinds. The Z-model of the handle allows more flexible grinds than the rest of the counterparts.
This chestnut C2 is very small and easily portable. Perfect for camping.
It doesn’t need electricity or batteries to run. Timemore chestnut C2 is built to serve single shots for 1 or 2 people.
Please note: It will be harder to grind by manually rotating the handle and will take more time (5-10 minutes) to grind the content inside fine enough for espressos.
- 38mm conical stainless steel burrs.
- Aluminum ground containers can be used as small storage for coffee beans or ground coffee. It preserves your coffee longer.
- Grid pattern for gripping.
- It’s a great antic for your coffee machine collection.
- It doesn’t consume any space at all on your kitchen counter.
- You can use it when out of electricity or while traveling.
- The ground container is screwable.
- It’s small and doesn’t grind large amounts at a time.
Espresso has a deep learning curve, but with a little practice, quality equipment, and the correct knowledge, you can pull identical shots like your favorite cafes.
If you have finally decided to rid yourself of the expense at cafes; it’s time you save money and serve yourself delicious coffee with healthy investments.
These coffee grinders might seem expensive at the start, but trust me, it’s a way better deal when compared to the higher-level models.
You must keep in mind the important factors while brewing tasteful espressos—the grind size, extraction time, quality grinder and quality machine, over-extraction, under-extraction, and the value of balanced extraction.
How was your initial experience while brewing your first shot at home? Did you exceed your expectations, or was your mind blown at how bitter your coffee was? Tell us about your first personal espresso experience in the comment section down below.