Thursday, January 7, 2010

Coffee Anyone - Part 1: Grinders

I love coffee. When my wife and I met, I liked coffee, but it was something that I drank, more often than not, to help keep me alert. Over 16 years have passed, and now I am a confirmed coffeeholic. I still enjoy the pick-me-up that it provides, but I have to say that I can be found, more often than not, with a cup of joe in hand. I have also become a bit of a coffee snob. I must not only have coffee, but it needs to be a well-roasted arabica blend with lots of natural oils and flavor. Coffee aficionados will agree with me. Any coffee can be good, but the "quality stuff" is so much better.

Coffee is good, but espresso, cappuccino, or a latte is even better. For that you need special equipment - enter the espresso machine for home use, and of course, the coffee grinder. Grinding your own beans is the best way to stretch your coffee dollar. The reason for this is that once the beans have been ground, the quality starts to deteriorate - rapidly.

Part 1 of this article is about getting the most out of the beans with a good grinder. The reason I had to get a new grinder was that my old faithful Braun grinder had a bad crack around the bottom of it. You had to hold in down on the counter so it would still grind beans, so I figured that when we purchased our new espresso machine, we NEEDED a new grinder. (Note: I kept the old one for occasional spice grinding...waste not, want not!)

My first trip was to the local Megamart to purchase a grinder. They had 3 models - a Black & Decker Burr Grinder, a Hamilton Beach Coffee Grinder that would do several different grinds, and a Mr. Coffee Grinder.

My first choice was the Hamilton Beach unit. It looked cool, had auto shut off, a safety lock on the cap, and it would grind coarse to espresso grind. It also had a retractable cord - nice! So, out comes the checkbook and I go home with a Hamilton Beach espresso/cappucino maker and coffee grinder.

I got home with my new goodies and proceeded to grind up some coffee beans - after skimming over the instructions, of course. (Note: READING instructions is not a guy thing, but skimming is considered acceptable...) I noticed that even on the finest setting, the coffee wasn't perfect for espresso which should be almost powder-fine, but it was acceptable for drip coffee. I discovered that by running the coffee through the process 3 times, I could get a very good espresso grind. This grinder worked OK until a few days later, the top cracked. The top did seem a bit stiff and it was hard to twist shut - so it cracked when my other half was closing it. After a bit of, uh, discussion, I went to the store to return it and get one of the other grinders.

I came back with the Mr. Coffee grinder. It had similar features, said it had an auto shutoff feature, so I figured this would be the one. Wrong again, even though the grinder did the job, it had a short cord and required you to press and hold the button down until it reached one of the three grind settings - coarse, medium or find. It did do the auto shutoff, you just had to hold the button until it did. So I was in search of yet another replacement...

I was in another store where I noticed a Cuisinart Burr Mill. I looked at it closely and I decided to get it. I finally found a better fit to my needs, even though I was hoping for a super fine grind, this one is still much closer to meeting my needs. It makes a fine grind that is very small and does produce a decent espresso. It is even better if you run the coffee through a couple of extra times to get a finer grind. The extra passes through the grinder are NOT according to manufacturer's specs - just mine - it may void your warranty, so do so at your own risk.

I guess that I am too picky. I do like the burr grinder the best because for everyday use it does produce a grind that is more consistent, and is, even when regrinding the coffee, easier to use. Time will tell as to whether this grinder will remain at my house - but I think it is a better fit. I am too cheap to spend $200 to $300 for a grinder - it is just too much for my budget.

All three grinders are nice and do a good job and produce great coffee - I just need more income and a much larger budget for coffee. I will post an update if I find a better grinder. If you find a better one, please post a comment - I would LOVE to hear about it.

I could have saved myself a lot in gasoline and auto wear and tear by simply buying online, so I have given you links that go to purchase pages for these items.

My next post will be on the espresso/cappuccino maker - it is another INTERESTING story...

Until then, May God Bless You and Yours and Have a Great Day!

No comments:

Post a Comment