The first step to making a great cup of espresso starts not with an espresso machine, but with a top notch espresso coffee grinder. If you are constantly on the go like me, your espresso usually comes from the skilled hands of your local coffee shop barista. Having a home grinder and a little patience for practice, however, might make having your own home equipment well worth it (not to mention all the cost savings!). While you will need other pieces of equipment to transform your grinds into a finished product, this article will focus on this first step by giving you the low down on basic features to consider when looking for an espresso grinder. This will help you choose the best espresso machine for your home.
The purpose of the grinder is to pulverize whole espresso beans into manageable coffee grinds. Some machines contain a doser, which, for the home user, is primarily a holding unit for grinds. Turn a crank and those grinds are released into the unit for grinding. Some grinders have a doser and others don’t—it’s up to you to decide what your preference is (doser models tend to be a lower maintenance).
The burr size of a grinder will affect the speed of the appliance; the larger the burr size, the faster and more powerful the grinder will be. The adjustment mechanism, which allows you to change the level of coarseness of the grinds, will also vary. Some grinders will offer a stepless adjustment versus others that offer an incremental/stepped adjustment. Stepless adjustment models may be better for those who aren’t adjusting widely from courser to finer grinds on a regular basis. Motor speed is also something to be considered, especially in relation to burr size.
The best espresso machine models come in many shapes and sizes. Other features are cosmetic. Grinders vary in height. If you think you will use your grinder so much that it can sit on the counter all the time, then you can go for a taller model. If you want to save counter space, though, they now make grinders that can fit within the dimensions of standard cabinet sizes. If you love the whirring noises of a coffee shop, there are some models where grinding will be audible. Other models are designed for a quieter home environment.
If you do choose to buy an espresso coffee grinder, the price ranges just as widely as the quality, with some being as cheap as $50 but others being as expensive as $1,000. Whichever model you choose keep in mind the characteristics mentioned above and decide what’s most important to you. Happy sipping!