When it comes to coffee bean grinders there are five (5) basic types. Three (3) that are electric, the blade coffee grinder, the burr coffee grinder and the conical burr coffee grinder and two (2) that are non-electric, the hand mill and the Turkish coffee grinder.
Non-Electric Coffee Grinders
The Turkish coffee grinder is used when you want to make Turkish coffee. This grinder is the only one that can achieve such a fine grind required when making Turkish coffee. The Turkish grinder is required to achieve such an extremely fine grind used in Turkish coffee, as the other domestic grinders are simply unable to achieve this.
The hand mill has changed very little since its creation; they are of a box shape with an adjustable grind feature. While they are still available on the market they only grind a small amount of coffee at a time. These are quite inexpensive but are very time consuming and unable to grind a fine grind used for making espresso.
Electric Coffee Grinders
Blade coffee grinders are the least expensive on the market, however they are also the least effective in producing “ideal” coffee grounds for brewing. The blade grinder (imagine the blades in your blender) chops the beans resulting in non-uniform particles. And in the process heats the beans, which can negatively affect the flavor of the coffee. You should never use a blade grinder for making espresso or in espresso machines. The “coffee dust” can clog up the sieves in the espresso machines. The blade coffee grinder is a suitable coffee grinder if you are only grinding a small amount of coffee at a time for a drip machine and do not want to pay more for a burr or conical burr grinder, they get the job done but at a cost of quality.
Burr coffee grinders use two revolving abrasive wheels to crush the coffee beans. This process releases the beans natural oils making them much more easily extracted during the brewing process resulting in a smoother richer cup of coffee. They do heat the beans while grinding, however the heat produced is minimal compared to the blade grinder. These grinders make the particles of coffee much more uniform and can be used to brew most of coffee in most of machines, Turkish excluded. Both electric and non-electric models are available on the market and are a bit more expensive than blade coffee grinders, but in my opinion are well worth the cost, they do their job effectively without sacrificing too much of the quality of your coffee.
Conical burr grinders are the “cream of the mixer grinder crop” when it comes to home coffee grinding machines. They have two rotating discs like the burr grinder but are conical shaped, hence the name. They grind the coffee very effectively with the least amount of heat produced ensuring the aroma stays until brewing time.
They are quieter than the other two grinders, but for an increased cost. Because of the conical shape they produce the most uniform particle for brewing, resulting in a fuller flavor, abundant aroma and reduce the amount of clogs in your machines. They are usually the most expensive machines but are fully worth the cost if you grind exclusively at home and ensure that the quality of your coffee remains intact.
Although the visual differences in the electric grinders may be subtle the differences in their performance is astounding. When deciding what kind to buy for your home, weigh all the issues at hand like price, size, loudness, quality of the grinds and what you want your machine to be able to do. All of these points will help you decide what machine you decide on.