How to Choose a Coffee Bean Grinder
Coffee grinders are a make-or-break part of what makes a great (or terrible) cup of coffee, so you should never overlook the quality of your bean grinder in pursuit of the perfect cup.
That’s not as simple as just buying the best coffee bean grinder and using it as-is. Because each type of coffee bean is unique, good commercial coffee grinders can be fine-tuned so that you get the best out of every bean.
Fully trained and experienced baristas know this, and will adjust their grinder to suit the bean they are working with.
What is a Coffee Bean Grinder?
This is one example of when the name tells you most of what you need to know – a coffee bean grinder is a device that grinds coffee beans. But why is this important?
By grinding whole coffee beans to a smaller size, you increase the surface contact area with the water and make it easier to penetrate the bean during brewing.
Crushing the bean in this way is a critical step when using a commercial espresso machine, and poor-quality coffee grounds will make poor coffee, no matter how good the coffee machine and barista may be.
Types of Commercial Coffee Bean Grinders
Different types of commercial bean grinders mean you can choose equipment that you find easy to use, that works well alongside your professional coffee machine, and which meets your needs in terms of output for a busy kitchen.
A doser grinder normally outputs into a container, and the barista then turns a handle or lever to dose the ground coffee into the group handle.
The process is automatic, timed or manual – allowing you to grind beans constantly, at certain times of day, or only on-demand.
Doser grinders can be useful as they keep ground coffee in good supply, which is perfect for busy kitchens; however, the ground beans can lose their freshness if they are not used soon enough.
Perfect for: Busy kitchens and high throughput locations e.g. train station coffee shops.
This is one of the most direct ways to grind coffee beans, and is used on an ad hoc basis to dispense fresh ground coffee directly into the group handle.
It means ground coffee is not stored – it’s ground directly from the beans immediately before making the coffee.
Every cup is fresh, but this takes a little longer in preparation time, and there’s more chance of error if the barista does not properly align the group handle.
Perfect for: Quality over quantity e.g. 5-star hotels and VIP lounges.
Which coffee grinder should I choose?
The type of business you run will probably have the biggest influence on choosing a coffee grinder, and there are some models that are a good fit for certain types of venues:
Busy coffee shop
You have a constant stream of customers e.g. in a busy food court or train station and want consistently good output from a single high-end automatic bean grinder.
Consider this: Mazzer Major V Automatic
Quality over quantity
You serve multiple types of beans and want every cup to be of a high standard, using multiple mid-range grinders programmed to different settings.
You are a small business with a minimal budget and not much space. Your decision is influenced by total cost, lifespan and footprint of the machine.
Consider this: Super Jolly Electronic or (for the tightest budgets) Doser
Factors to consider when choosing your coffee grinder
Now we know what a commercial coffee grinder is and the different types of coffee bean grinder that are available, let’s look at some of the ways you can choose which is the perfect coffee grinder for you.
There’s always a trade-off between the fastest coffee grinders and the quality of the coffee they produce.
Commercial coffee bean grinders are designed to be fast, but beware of low-end grinders where you may have to pause the process at busy times, to avoid the machine overheating.
The quality of a cup of freshly made coffee can be affected by factors including heat and the size of the ground bean particles.
Because of this, it’s important to get a coffee grinder that delivers consistently sized fine coffee grounds, without getting hot enough to scorch the ground beans and impair the flavour.
Capacity is not just linked with how fast the grinder can grind beans. It can also depend on the size of the burrs and the ability to operate the bean grinder constantly without overheating.
For obvious reasons, commercial coffee grinders tend to offer higher capacity, so if you’re a small, quiet venue or you’re installing a professional coffee machine in a domestic kitchen, opt for a smaller bean grinder if appropriate.
The ‘burr’ is the grinding head inside the machine, and will have an influence on the output regardless of all the other factors listed here.
- Larger burrs grind more coffee in less time
- Flat burrs can offer better flavour but are prone to overheating
- Conical burrs reduce noise and heat, and use less energy
Burrs come in different materials. Hardened steel burrs offer good strength, but will eventually wear down. Titanium coatings cost more upfront but reduce wear over the long term.
There are still a few more factors to consider:
- Usability: Choose a coffee grinder that feels easy to use, both for yourself and for any new staff during training
- Footprint: Find a coffee grinder that fits practically within your workspace. If your kitchen is small, you may need to opt for a smaller grinder
- Aesthetic: Some commercial coffee grinders can be customised, allowing you to make them match your espresso machine and branding
What does a commercial coffee grinder cost?
Finally, we come to the question of commercial coffee grinder prices, and there’s a lot to factor in:
- Upfront purchase price
- Running costs/energy use
If you serve different types of coffee bean and don’t want to adjust your grinder settings as you go along, it might be better to have multiple grinders, one for each bean type.
All of this affects the total cost of a commercial coffee grinder ‘fleet’, so make sure you choose equipment that’s suitable for your budget overall.
Find out more
If you're not sure of the best commercial coffee grinder for your establishment or you'd like to know more about installing a professional coffee machine and grinder in your own home, speak to Mulmar today and we will be happy to help.