If you are looking at this page, then you are on the right path to a better tasting cup of coffee. A lot of people have found that while they have invested in various brewing accessories/ equipment, they still could not brew a consistent, evenly extracted coffee, and the problem could well stem from their grinder.
At h.u.e coffee we understand that not everyone has a coffee grinder at home or is ready to invest in one, that is why we offer ground coffee options for our coffee experiences. However, ground coffee is more vulnerable to the elements that cause it to spoil and will go stale more quickly than whole beans. Therefore, having a grinder and only grinding your coffee just before brewing is still the best option.
There are two main types of grinders on the market: Blade vs Burr.
These are usually cheaper in price. However, you have no precise control in terms of grind size, and the "grinding" process is by random chance of the blade hitting the beans to break it apart so you will end up with plenty of boulders and fines, resulting in a cup that is potentially both over and under extracted.
Advantages: Affordable, low investment for beginner brewers.
Disadvantages: Lack of control on the grind size, produce an uneven grind.
These have two burrs, one stay still and the other attached to a motor and rotates. When you adjust the grind size, you are adjusting the gap between the two burrs where the beans will be crushed, resulting in a much more consistent ground coffee.
Advantages: Better precision and consistency compare to blade grinder.
Disadvantages: Price and size, in general burr grinders are more expensive than blade grinders and has a larger footprint on your countertop.
Now that we have established the burr grinder is capable of producing a better result, let's dive deeper into the details.
Burr types: Flat burrs vs Conical burrs
Flat burrs use centrifugal force to propel the beans towards the burr teeth. The grind size is adjusted by moving the disks. In general, flat burrs are cheaper than conical burrs but has a lower lifespan, and will need replacing after ~250 - 600 kg of coffee.
Conical burrs are believed to be more precise because it can be adjusted by degrees and has a longer lifespan which only need replacing after ~750 - 1,000 kg of coffee.
Burr materials: Steel vs Ceramic
The main concerns over burr material is thermal conductivity and lifespan. Steel is a good thermal conductor and will heat up and cool down quicker, whereas ceramic burrs have a lower thermal conductivity and will take longer to heat up but also longer to cool down.
Although ceramic has a longer lifespan, it is also more brittle, it might break if you are not careful and introduce foreign object that is not coffee in your grinder.
Other points to consider:
If you brew coffee with more than one method (e.g.: espresso and pour over), then pay attention to the grinder's grind size spectrum. Not all grinders are built with the capabilities to produce the full range of grind size. Grinder such as the Baratza Encore is able to produce grind size from Turkish coffee (extra fine) all the way to cold brew (Extra coarse).
Another alternative you can consider is hand burr grinder. It is cheaper than an electric hand grinder but it takes longer to grind enough coffee for one serving. The difference could be 20 seconds with an electric burr grinder vs 3 minutes of hand grinding, however some find this as a good daily mediation opportunity.
There is a wide range of grinders on the market offering a different capabilities. Research, think about your specific needs and choose the grinder that is best for your coffee experience.