I’m fairly agnostic when it comes to brewing styles. Whether you drink it in a cheap and cheerful cafetiere or a £5000 espresso machine, the most important thing is that you find what works for you from a budget, time, and taste perspective. However whatever your brewing style, there is one one piece of equipment that no coffee lover should be without and that is a grinder.
If you’re looking to up your coffee game, a coffee grinder will give you a much greater improvement on flavour and quality of brew than any other piece of equipment. And with the exception of the humble cafetiere or moka pot, it’s often a cheaper investment. You can get an electric burr grinder for around £50 (you can also spend way more if you really want to!). Grinding your coffee fresh from whole bean just before you brew will give you a gorgeous fresh coffee aroma hit, and as most of the oils and volatile flavour compounds are locked up inside the bean until you grind it, you’ll be getting much more flavour in your cup. When you buy pre-ground coffee, many of those volatile flavour compounds are already gone by the time you brew.
Which grinder should you buy?
Whatever your budget, be it small or large, a burr grinder is the best choice. These crush the beans, whereas a blade ‘grinder’ chops them. The crushing releases much more aroma and flavour, and gives a more consistent grind which is essential for brewing methods like filter, espresso, moka pot etc. They also tend to offer a wider range of grinds, so if you do have multiple methods of brewing that you like to switch between then you’ll be able to grind for whatever you’re using currently.
For an entry level grinder, we love the DeLonghi KG79. There’s also the newer KG80 but we haven’t had a chance to try it yet but the reviews online look good. The KG79 is available for around £50.
Hand grinders are cheaper and tend to offer much more fine tune control over the grind, but the downside is it can take a while to grind enough for a cup and you might wish you had an electric grinder when you’re making the first brew of the day or when you have guests over and you have to grind even more. If you do opt for manual, the Hario Coffee Mill is a great choice as it allows lots of control over the grind, is easy to use, and the grinding chamber comes with a lid so you can keep any remaining ground coffee sealed for next time (although we’d recommend weighing out the right amount of coffee and just grinding when you need over grinding in bulk).