Blade and Burr Grinders side by side

Burr vs Blade Coffee Grinder

Blade and Burr Grinders side by sideIf you are beginning to brew at home, and are looking for a good coffee grinder, or you are looking to replace the old cheap blade grinder, you find the right page. We will help you understand how the two compare, when you need to pay the premium for a burr grinder, and when is OK to stick with your blade grinder.

Chances are, you probably heard people saying that a blade mill is no match to a burr counterpart, and for most part it’s true; if you are serious about brewing at home you need a good quality, relatively expensive grinder. We’ll show you why you need an expensive one, and what can you do if you can’t afford the expensive grinders.

Oh, while we are talking about coffee grinding, if you thought about buying ground coffee from the store, don’t do it. While this is the cheapest and most convenient solution, the final result in your cup is going to be the poorest. Ground coffee degrades a few times faster than the beans, because there is more surface to interact with the air, and there is no shell anymore to retain the aromas and flavors.

Burr vs Blade – Why Is Burr Better

Blade grinders have a few disadvantages, and besides the inconvenience of having to press a button, and the loud noise, there are limitations that will affect the taste of your coffee.

Here is a comparison side by side of the burr vs blade grinders.

  • Blade grinders use a blade that rotates at a high speed, and chops off the beans, whereas burr mills use either flat or conical burrs to crush the beans.
  • This technology difference will dictate the superiority of burr mills, flat or conical burrs.
  • The technology for blade grinders is very simple, which makes them less expensive.
  • Burr grinders will give you a uniform grind, which is an imperative for most of the brewing methods; on the other hand, blade grinders will not.
  • Overheating coffee during grinding diminishes aroma and flavor. Blade grinders exert a lot of friction, and use a very high speed to grind, and this causes the coffee beans to overheat during grinding. Burr mills use a very slow speed, and a lot less friction, therefore coffee doesn’t get heated at all.
  • With bade grinders you can’t adjust the grind size, or you can try but the results will be very poor, unless you grind for a Turkish coffee. Any decent burr grinder has at least 8-10 step grinding adjustments, from coarse to espresso. The more fancy ones have continuous grind size adjustment, for absolute precision.
  • If you want to prepare Turkish coffee, a blade grinder will be better than most of the home burr coffee grinders, which don’t have a Turkish setting, and even if they have it, it’s not really fine enough.
  • With burr grinders, you cannot use pre-ground coffee, whereas with blade machines you can. This is probably not needed very often, but occasionally I do need it.

Ground CoffeeIf we were to say these in a few words, we would resume it to these:

  • Blade grinders are inexpensive, but rudimentary, and not for a coffee lover.
  • Burr grinders are more expensive, but you can adjust the grind size, get an even grind, and preserve coffee’s aroma.
  • Most of the blade grinders require manual intervention from the operator, with burr mills you just press a button and wait a few seconds.

Blade Grinder – How Can We Improve?

If you are the frugal type that can resist the temptation to buy a new, better grinder, or maybe for you coffee is just the pretext to get some caffeine into your system, you probably don’t care much about how your daily cup of joe tastes and smells. So, if you are that person, but you would still like to improve the taste of your coffee, there are a few tricks you can try. But, remember, these tricks only work for simpler coffee brewing methods, such as drip, pour over, or Turkish. Do not try these with espresso, or French press, where the ground coffee needs to be a certain size, and uniformly ground.

The blade machines will push the ground coffee on the walls, because of the centrifuge force. As a result, the grounds in the center will be ground over, and over again, until it becomes a powder, and the coffee on the walls will be coarse. To avoid this, stop from time to time, and shake the grinder, or even better, take a spoon and mix the grinds in the machine.

Now when you stop from time to time for the above operation, you will allow the beans to cool off, and this is a secondary benefit. This will prevent coffee from overheating during grinding.

For the size adjusting you can try these two things. Time your grinding, and note various grind sizes. Make sure you use mix often, and you use the same number of times, to obtain consistent results.

Krups Blade Coffee Grinder

This is a blade grinder, which will work fine for any type of grind. The trick is to stop from time to time to mix the ground beans so you get a more even grind. This helps the coffee beans to cool down. A common problem with blade grinders is the beans’ overheating. The friction from the high speeds in the blade grinder will create heat and the beans will lose some of the aromatic oils. 

The Krups blade grinder is a sturdy, and reliable simple machine. Because of the simple mechanism it will not break, and it will last you forever. I have one that I use for grinding when brewing Turkish coffee.

Burr Grinders Are Not Equal

When I bought my first burr grinder, I tried to go cheap, and I bought one of the less expensive machines on the market, I believe it was around 30-40$. I brought it home, proud of my new upgrade, and tried my first batch. It was a total disaster. The grounds were uneven, it was worse than with my blade machine. I called the support line, hoping that they could help me fix it, looked on the Internet, until I realized that cheap grinders are just that – cheap. So, do not try to buy a cheap burr grinder, it’s not worth. A blade one is even cheaper, and will work better.

 Conical-Burr-Set

What Is A Burr Grinder?

Burr grinders use steel pieces, with a special shape to crush the beans. The position between the two milling burrs is adjustable, and it permits the grind size adjustment. Some modern coffee grinders are made with ceramic burrs, which are very hard, hence are very durable in time, and they produce less heat.

There are flat burr grinders, and conical grinders. As a general rule, conical burr grinding machines are built with lower grinding speeds, which can help retain more of the aromas and flavors.

Flat Coffee Grinder BurrsA grinder affects the coffee taste in many ways, and the most important factors are:

  • The speed of the burrs because at high grinding speeds coffee overheats losing flavor.
  • How uniform the ground coffee is, depends on the burrs, and the machine’s design.
  • Static charged grinds are annoying, but it’s not only that, this usually means that the speed of grinding is a little too high.
  • Espresso brewing needs more grind size adjustments than drip and French press, because brewing espresso requires precision.

If you want to get a decent grinding machine, get one that you know other people have used with success, and don’t be a “beta tester”, especially if you are a beginner. Buy recognized brand, with good reviews. Here are my recommendations:

Capresso 560.01 Infinity Burr Grinder

Capresso Infinity is a non-expensive burr grinder, and it is probably one of the best grinders for people on a small budget. The grinder from Capresso is conceived to help you get the most flavorful coffee. The conical burrs help retain the aroma and the flavor, the motor speed is reduced through a set of gears to avoid overheating the grinds, and it has a total of 16 grind stepped settings.

The burrs are very durable, and with a regular home use, they would last you forever. The rest of the machine is built for reliability and durability, a rare attribute in our days. The grinding machine from Capresso-Jura also features:

  • 100-watt motor
  • Commercial-grade conical burrs
  • 16 grind settings from Turkish to coarse
  • Built-in timer
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Transparent bean container hold up to 8.8 oz
  • Solid zinc die-cast housing

On the minus side, their Turkish size is not really a Turkish, is rather a very fine espresso. But, to be honest, I have seen very few home grinders to produce real Turkish ground coffee.

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