Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Daily Grind (Blade vs. Burr)

I just love a gorgeous cappuccino, especially one with dark smooth flavors and creamy foam. It's one of the small things that completes my day, and the one thing that makes it even better is when I make it myself!

In my pursuit to be self proficient in cappuccino making has taken me on quite a learning curve, from coffee beans, levels of roast, espresso machines and coffee grinders. The one thing that has become the most clear is most important part is the grind quality.

There is not doubt that for the best flavor from any bean is for it to be as freshly ground as possible when making coffee. 

Using the same espresso machine, my first attempt to grind my own beans was disappointing to say the least. I had a bought some beautiful beans from Truth coffee, and tried to grind them with a food processor grinding attachment. The second time was with a bladed coffee specific grinder, which was a bit better with some of the flavor coming through a bit better but still not perfect. Finally I used a burr coffee grinder... the result was amazing, the flavor came through perfectly. So it comes down to Burr vs. Blade grinder.

Blade Grinder
Burr Grinder

The blade grinder consists of one or two blades spinning at high speed and chopping up the beans. The longer you leave the blades spin, the finer the beans are chopped. The problem is that it is impossible to get an even cut, and to get a grind that is fine enough for espresso means that you might burn (friction) the coffee by running the blades for too long.

The burr grinder works by two burrs (cutting/grinding gears) rotating at a relatively slow speed, they crush the beans as they are fed into them. The size of the grind is controlled by adjusting the space between the burrs. The issue with burr grinders is they are the more expensive option.

There are many options available for grinders, bladed and burr. The bladed grinder being the cheaper option with prices starting as low as R150, and burr grinders starting at about R525. There are beautiful manual burr coffee grinders available that add to the poetry of making your coffee, but this is not the cheapest option starting around the R1000 mark.

Krups Burr Grinder
Even though the the burr grinders are more costly, there are affordable burr grinders that will give a superior result that will not disappoint...  thus the burr is greater than the blade!

Zassenhaus Manual Burr Grinder

Russell Hobbs Blade Grinder
Bodum Burr Grinder

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