Whalechaser's Musings

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Really Good Cup of Coffee

Since I enjoy a good cup of coffee so much and I was forced to get a new coffee grinder, I thought I would share what I learned from the experience. I don’t consider myself a ‘coffee snob’ but I like a full bodied cup of freshly brewed coffee and it if comes from freshly ground beans then it is the best that it can be.

For quite a number of years I have used an oval burr Krups grinder and it met all my needs. It died when I least expected it to. I tried to fix it, but as you can see it was way beyond my ability!

What I was not crazy about is that no matter how I ran it, I always got ground coffee on the counter when grinding enough for a fresh pot of coffee. I detested the clean-up. So when the thing finally died, I did my research to find the perfect grinder that would not only give me a perfect cup of coffee but would do so without the daily dusting of coffee on the counter.

I almost went for the Cuisinart, since it seemed to have all the qualities that I was looking for, but fortunately two things happened. First, the store(s) seemed to be out of them and second, several reviews indicated that they were messy. Well that was enough for me.

I kept searching and found a new model of Krups and decided to take a chance. While some reviews have said this one is noisy; it is not nearly as loud as the old one that died.

The good news is that the counter is spotless after running it through a grind process. Absolutely spotless. I was amazed and very pleased. Yes, this one is a good one, I don’t care what the reviewers say!

I ran a search for coffee grinders and found this one that rates the top 5 grinders

You would think that after going through the entire process of brewing a decent cup of coffee that the top five would at least include all burr grinders, since everything that I have read about brewing coffee insists that you start with a burr grinder. I guess I should not be too disappointed, my new grinder is 5 on the list that includes blade grinders.

According to www.ineedcoffee.com it cannot be emphasized more that grinding coffee immediately before brewing makes a huge different in the freshness of your coffee. The effective life of ground coffee is only a few days after grinding. Oxygen and moisture in the air quickly deteriorates ground coffee as it oxidizes and looses its flavor. After deterioration expect to taste stale coffee with a reduction of flavor.

Grinding beans at home is very easy to do. There are a larger variety of bean grinders available on the market that can either look as a nice appliance in your kitchen or can be quickly put away.

The oldest bean grinders are the mortar and pestle. This takes a while to use and the grind is not consistent. But since we are in living in the electronic age there are simpler and faster methods.

Electric motor grinders can either have blades or two crushing burr plates. The blade grinders are the least expensive and can be found at places such as Wal-Mart for under $15. The burr grinders are little more expensive. An attractive burr grinder can be found at finer food or kitchen appliance stores for $50 and above. Check out place such as Williams-Sonoma, Bed Bath and Beyond or Linens and Things.

Burr vs. Blades

The extra expense of a burr grinder will translate into a better grind. A blade does not really grind but slashes the beans into smaller and smaller particles. The blade particles are inconsistent; around the edges are fine powder and larger chunks in the center.

Blade Grinder

The blade grinder is the best option as someone's first grinder. It is the least expensive and can be quickly put away after use. The two major draw backs are that they are messy as the grounds spill from the container when you open it and the inconsistent grind mentioned above. Still, having a blade grinder will cause a major difference in the flavor your experience from your gourmet coffee beans if you are currently buying ground coffee.

How to Use a Blade Grinder

When you use a blade grinder do not hold your finger on the button the entire time but push it in intervals. Grind in quick bursts of 2-5 seconds so that it prevents the beans from heating up too much. Also hold it with two hands with one over the top container and shake it up and down as you grind to mix up the contents and to give it a better consistency.

For a course grind spin your blade grinder for 7-10 seconds, a medium grind will take 10-14 seconds and a finer grind will take 15-20 seconds. If you drink espresso you will need one of the more expensive burr grinders, a blade version will not produce the consistently fine grind that is required for espresso.

One of the latest developments is a drip coffee machine with a built-in blade grinder. It has a timer you can set so in the morning the beans are automatically ground then pushed into the coffee filter and the brewing will start automatically. All you have to do is add the beans and water in the morning. This is perfect for people on the go. One of the most popular models is the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Grind & Brew, which retails for around $120. The only drawback is that a burr grinder is not available but we have hope for the future.

Burr Grinders

If you are looking for the best method for grinding your gourmet coffee beans go straight for a Burr grinder. The grind is consistent and most of the machines have various grind settings. Many include a bean hopper on top where you can store your beans with an airtight lid. Some have a setting to set how many cups you want to grind and include a receptacle where your coffee grounds are deposited. After grinding you simply pour your coffee grounds from the receptacle into your coffee maker. This type of burr grinder not only produces a great and consistent grind, it also keeps your ground coffee well contained with little spillage.

1 comment:

Goldenrod said...

TMI. :) However, if you're happy, I'm happy, Whale. I'll stick with Folger's. I understand that freshly ground coffee beans are the 'ultimate'. And certainly, the route you took is cheaper (and handier) than Starbucks! I might just decide to recommend your post to another blogger friend of mine who is a real stickler and devotee of facts like these. He'd love it, I think!