Home > Uncategorized > The Espresso Grinder – The unsung Hero Part 1

The Espresso Grinder – The unsung Hero Part 1

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

By John Ryan Ting


Mazzer RoburSo you love espresso? So do we, the guys and gals at Oriole! Many of you might think that the espresso machine is the single key piece of equipment to a great shot of espresso, but that’s not exactly true.  The humble and inconspicuous, over-worked and oft over-looked grinder is just as important.  Many purists argue that the most important piece of equipment in any coffee brewing situation would be the grinder simply because it allows for the freshest possible coffee to be brewed, giving you control of extraction of flavour and soluble solids from the beans.

True freshness in coffee can only be achieved by complementing freshly roasted coffee with ‘Grind-On-Demand’ – grinding only what you need just prior to brewing. The grinder intricately controls the rate at which coffee & water come together to create the ‘black gold’ in any brewing method.

The milling of the coffee beans between the blades breaks down & fractures the cell walls so as to increase the surface area for hot water to mix with the soluble materials in coffee. Why are grinders important in this equation? It controls the individual size (more about uniformity later) of each coffee particle, and thus, determines how much time and how much surface area is made available to the brewing water.Coffee distribution

The sizing of coffee grinds is commonly known as a grind setting. Grind size directly affects the contact time between coffee & water.  Quite simply: the longer the brewing method, the coarser the grind, the shorter the brewing method, the finer the grinds. (A point to note is grind setting varies between coffee to coffee, roast to roast. There is only a guideline, but no definite grind setting that works for all coffee on any single brew method.) Espresso is the shortest and most intense of coffee brewing processes. Therefore grind sizing greatly affects the final quality of the espresso brew.

Some key points below before you jump into buying your next grinder.


Fact: roasted coffee is very delicate and sensitive to heat. Heat makes the coffee swell and affects the consistency of the grind size for a given setting. This results in uncontrolled variations in extraction results which affect flavour and the list goes on.

Coffee grinders generate heat through 1) the friction caused by the blades as they cut through the coffee beans, 2) Heat generated by rotation of the grinder motor.  These factors contribute to exposing coffee to unnecessary heat even before brewing the coffee. Good grinders generate less heat and can cope with higher volumes.

In the next part of this blog, we will discuss on Doser Or Doserless?  Flat Burr vs Conical Burr.

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