Grinding is quite possibly the most important step in the brewing process.
Whole bean coffee should be ground immediately before the brewing process. As soon as coffee is ground, at record speed oxygen steals all the precious aromas and flavor potential from the coffee. A coffee grinder will grind a bean into thousands of tiny particles. Each one of these particles now has a surface exposed to oxygen and it takes minutes for oxygen to get through the particle's surface. If you grind coffee at the market using the bulk grinder, brew it as soon as possible. If you grind coffee and brew it 24 hours later, expect less than HALF of the flavor you would get from a freshly ground brew.
Two basic types of home grinders are available:
The "blade" grinder has a propeller-type blade inside a chamber and is the most common type found in homes. This is a very inexpensive grinder and it is almost impossible to achieve a proper, uniform grind. Blade grinders produce inconsistent particle size and therefore, inconsistent cup quality. However, most of the time they are better than grinding at the store.
Here are some tips to get the most consistent grind out of your blade grinder.
• Fill the chamber to the top and put the lid on.
• While lightly shaking up and down (no more than 4 inches vertically), depress the "on" button.
• This will move the larger particles toward the blade and the smaller particles toward the top.
• After approximately 10 seconds, keep lid on and turn unit upside down.
• Pull grinder off of the lid to inspect particle size. If size appears too coarse, put grinder back onto lid and turn right side up. Continue grinding in 3-5 second intervals between inspections to achieve best possible particle size.
The "burr" grinder is the preferred device for grinding beans to a consistent particle size. Burr grinders have several individual settings, allowing the operator to choose the desired particle size.
There are two types of burr grinders: conical and disk.
Conical burrs are the best because they produce incredibly consistent grounds and virtually no static. Disk burrs are better than blade grinders, but the very high rotation speed and resulting friction prohibits them from producing as consistent a particle size as the conical grinder.