Coffee beans are jam-packed with volatile aromas, flavours and natural oils. As with any grain, the best way to get at these is to break them up into small chunks and dissolve them in water. However, as soon as you’ve opened that coffee bean, these complex flavours begin to dissipate.
It doesn’t matter how skilled your barista, or how wonderful your coffee making machine is, if you aren’t grinding your beans fresh, you’re already several rungs down the ladder of flavour. Fortunately, a coffee grinder is an affordable and compact piece of commercial kitchen equipment and can be squeezed in alongside most coffee-making set-ups.
Blades And Burrs
Most coffee grinders break up the beans in one of two ways. Generally more affordable, a flat blade may be used by some machines to chop the beans. Rather like a food processor, this is a quick way to grind beans, and while the best brands do an excellent and consistent job, there is the danger that when grinding beans quickly there will be a mix of different sized grains, making your end product inconsistent and, if the resulting powder is too grainy, weak tasting. Worse still it can cause problems in your espresso machine by clogging up the system or trickling into the end product.
Coffee aficionados will almost always opt for conical blades or burrs that crush the coffee beans into a consistent particle size. The aim when grinding coffee is always for consistency and your machine needs to deliver that and have the kind of build quality that will prevent overheating, distribute the grains evenly into your hopper and keep the motor and beans cool. After all, if you’re going to grind your beans fresh for every customer, your coffee grinder will come in for heavy usage.
The final espresso powder should clump in the centre when pinched between your thumb and forefinger. If your fingers leave a print, the grind is too fine. If the grains clump too readily, the grind is too coarse. For coffee bars that serve different roasts and blends of coffee, you should adjust the grind for each type of bean and you might also want to bear in mind how easy it is to clean your grinder between uses so that those distinct flavours come through.
The Brands Behind the Beans
Café Ideas stocks the biggest brands in coffee making equipment and as these companies are committed to creating a great cup of coffee, they produce grinders that work both on their own and with the rest of their kitchen ranges.
Mazzer offer a great range of simple-to-use coffee grinders to suit any budget, with basic models coming in at under $900. German company Mahlkoenig offer superb design, great cleaning and total control of the grind, while Boema is the barista’s choice with standalone grinders and compact versions built in to some of their espresso machines.
View our full range online, or call into our showroom to see some of our most popular models up close.