hat’s the most important piece of coffee equipment you own? If your answer was anything other than, “My grinder,” you should probably reconsider. The quality and consistency of the ground beans is the foundation of any great cup of coffee. For that, you need a good grinder.
“The grinder sets the stage for what you’re about to brew,” says Steve Rhinehart, brand lead at online retailer . “If you have an inconsistent grind, it’s going to throw off your extraction.
網路通路品牌先進Prima Coffee的Steve Rhinehart說：「磨豆機是沖煮一杯好咖啡的基礎工具」。磨豆機品牌Baratza的製造商Kyra Kennedy則說：「如果研磨不均勻，你就可以不用萃取咖啡了。沒有人因為想要磨豆機就買它，大家要的只是更好風味的咖啡，而磨豆機則在好風味咖啡中擔任至關重要的角色。」
“Nobody buys a grinder because they want a grinder. What they want is a better tasting cup,” she says. “The grinder is extremely important to get that great tasting cup.”
It’s well known that burr grinders are better than blade grinders, but from there it’s complicated. Not all burrs are created equal. The size, shape, and material of the burr can make significant impacts on the quality of the grind. “Every burr has its own particle size distribution,” says Kennedy. That, in turn, affects your control during brewing. When choosing the best grinders for your café or restaurant you should consider a number of factors, especially this one: what brew method are you grinding for?
Espresso requires the finest grind of any brew method besides Turkish coffee, which means your espresso grinder is working a lot harder than your filter grinder to process the same amount of coffee. When you consider that most specialty coffee shops go through more espresso than filter, it’s clear who your workhorse is. You need an espresso grinder that can take some abuse. Espresso grinders can be divided into two camps: conical burr grinders and flat burr grinders. Just like Ford vs. Chevy or Tupac vs. Biggie, both camps have their advocates and detractors.
Conical burr grinders, like the ubiquitous Mazzer Robur E and Compak K10, have been the industry standard for years. As the name implies, conical burrs are cone-shaped, with a male and female piece. This allows more efficient, faster grinding than with flat burrs.
錐刀型磨豆機多年來就像是咖啡的業界標準：無處不在的Mazzer Robur和Compak K10。錐刀型顧名思義就是錐狀、以一公一母的形式組成，這讓錐刀型的磨豆速率比平刀型更高。
Conical burr grinders produce what is called a bimodal particle size distribution. This means if you looked at the coffee grounds under a microscope and grouped like-sized particles together, you would be predominately left with two groups: one composed of smaller particles; and one, larger. The smaller particles restrict the flow of water through the coffee bed, giving the larger particles more time to saturate. A conventional espresso recipe is dependent on this slower flow rate.
A bimodal grind from conical burrs tends to produce a stronger shot of espresso with more body, something their advocates appreciate. Proponents of flat burr grinders point to the uneven extraction that comes from having two different groups of particle sizes. Different particle sizes will saturate at different rates, leading to differences in extraction percentages between the various particles.
Recent years have seen a decided shift toward flat burr grinders. True to their name, flat burrs feature two matching burrs that set flush against each other. This creates a more uniform particle size distribution, allowing the barista to extract more of the coffee without worrying about bitter, dry flavors drawn from finer particles. The lack of flow restriction with flat burr grinders, because there are fewer fine grinds, however, forces the baristas to either grind finer (which has its limits) or pull longer shots. The move to much larger shots was made possible by these grinders, and if you’re hoping to break out of SCAA parameters for your espressos, you’ll need a flat burr grinder to do it.
The popularization of flat burr grinders can be attributed to Matt Perger’s 2013 World Barista Championship routine, in which he shocked the coffee world by preparing all of his beverages with a Mahlkönig EK 43. Originally designed as a spice grinder, the EK 43 features gigantic ninety-eight millimeter steel burrs (Mazzer’s flat-burr machines have eighty-three millimeter burrs, for comparison). Those giant burrs help the EK 43 create its unrivaled tight particle size distribution.
平刀型磨豆機的發揚，源自於Matt Perger在2013年世界咖啡師大賽時，使用Mahlkönig EK 43磨豆機製作他的飲品（可參考Come True Coffee翻譯的EK43文章）。一開始EK43是發明用作香料研磨，98釐米的巨大鋼刀盤（Mazzer的平刀型磨豆機磨盤則為83釐米）。這巨大的刀盤幫助EK43創造出無出其右的粒徑分布。
Whether you opt for a fan or a heater, make sure your house espresso grinder has some sort of temperature regulation.
Espresso preparation with the EK 43, however, is cumbersome to say the least, which has opened the door for a new generation of espresso grinders to mimic the EK 43’s larger burrs but in a machine built for espresso preparation. One of the first companies to respond to this new demand was Nuova Simonelli with their Mythos series. Last year, Mahlkönig released the Peak, named for the visualization of a unimodal grind distribution, accomplished here with an eighty millimeter steel burr.
Whether or not you choose conical or flat burrs, practically all models of espresso grinders have two obstacles to overcome: temperature fluctuations and grind retention.
Friction generates heat, and grinding for espresso creates a lot of friction as the bean is broken down to a finer and finer size. As any barista in the middle of a rush can tell you, the fluctuating temperature of a busy espresso grinder can wreak havoc on espresso parameters. Shot times will speed up as the temperature increases in the machine during the morning rush, only to slow to a crawl once the line dies down and the machine cools.
Previously, a popular explanation was that the temperature fluctuation was causing the burrs to expand and contract. This theory has been soundly rejected. Even the hottest grinders don’t reach the necessary temperature to cause steel or titanium to expand. More recently, theorists have proposed it’s the coffee’s changing temperature that produces the difference. Cooler coffee is more brittle, causing more fines to be produced during grinding. Conversely, at higher temperatures coffee beans are more malleable, reducing the production of fines. Fewer fines result in a faster flow rate, thus explaining the change in shot times.
Because an ideal grind for filter coffee includes minimal fines, all three companies use flat burrs in their grinders.
Most higher-end espresso grinders try to compensate for temperature issues by using a fan. As temperatures rise, the fan will turn on to cool the grinding chamber. In the case of the Mahlkönig Peak, the barista has the option to turn the fan on constantly. Nuova Simonelli took an unprecedented move by adding a heater in their Mythos Clima Pro One. “It actively heats the grind chamber to between thirty and forty degrees Celsius,” explains Rhinehart. “It will then heat or cool it throughout the day to keep it in that range. Because it holds the temperature stable you don’t see as much variation throughout the day.”
最高級的義式磨豆機會利用風扇來解決溫度的問題，當溫度上升時，風扇會啟動來降低磨床的溫度。在Mahlkönig Peak的案例中，咖啡師讓風扇持續運轉。Nuova Simonelli則在Mythos Clima Pro One這台機器加上加熱器。Rhinehar說：「這可讓磨床溫度保持在30到40度間，透過增溫或降溫以維持溫度範圍，為維持溫度的穩定，我們將不會看到太多的變化。
Whether you opt for a fan or a heater, make sure your house espresso grinder has some sort of temperature regulation. Cheaper espresso grinders without it might pass as your decaf grinder, but you don’t want to depend on them for any sort of volume.
An even bigger headache for baristas trying to dial in espresso is the grinder’s retention of grinds. Some of the ground espresso will always stay in the chute and between the burrs. This means whenever you grind coffee, at least some of the coffee that comes out of the grinder was ground previously.
“I think grinder technology has a long, long way to go in improvements in the core ability to grind coffee,” says Mark Prince, senior editor of coffeegeek.com. “My main concern is stale coffee. Far too many grinders leave up to ten grams of ground coffee inside their chutes, channels, and burr sweep areas between grinding sessions. Freshness of the grind is 100 percent more important, in my opinion, than the slight differences between what a quality flat burr grinder can produce compared to a conical burr grinder.”
Beyond freshness issues, grind retention is also a problem when adjusting settings. Even if you purge two to three doses, you can not be completely sure all of the previously retained coffee has been expunged. As a result, future shots might be a mixture of multiple particle sizes, leading to uneven extraction and increasing the chances of channeling.
Although expresso grinders present the greatest challenges, equal thought should be put into choosing and maintaining your filter grinder. Filter grinders grind larger, coarser batches, which requires components built to withstand higher volumes while still providing a precise particle size distribution.
“Volume is a big thing,” says Rhinehart. “If you’re brewing a two-gallon Fetco, and you’re brewing a fresh one every hour or more, you need a grinder that can keep up with that volume.” Reinhart suggests checking the manufacturer’s recommended usage, and then erring on the cautious side. “You don’t want to be stuck with a grinder that’s going to break down faster because you’re putting undue stress on it,” he says.
For bulk filter grinders, three companies dominate the market: Mahlkönig, Ditting, and Bunn. Because an ideal grind for filter coffee includes minimal fines, all three companies use flat burrs in their grinders. “You can’t go wrong with any of them,” says Rhinehart, who does admit to a preference for Mahlkönig products.
For cafés that serve both batch brew and by-the-cup offerings, Rhinehart recommends having a designated coffee grinder for pour-overs. “It’s a wise investment path,” he says. “If you have to take your grinder down to replace the burrs you still have another grinder.”
At the end of each day, grinders should be vacuumed out and the hoppers should be wiped clean.
One grinder custom-tailored for manual brew methods is the Baratza Forté. This flat-burr grinder features innovative grind-by-weight technology that allows the barista to program the grinder to grind a precise amount of coffee. “It reduces the amount of labor time,” explains Kennedy. “And it reduces one thing they have to think about.” Kennedy also sees another use for grind-by-weight grinders. “It’s a great coffee grinder to be used in restaurants and offices. It gives the coffee shop control over how their coffee is being brewed,” she says.
After you select the right grinders for your café, proper care and maintenance is essential for proper function and product longevity.
At the end of each day, grinders should be vacuumed out and the hoppers should be wiped clean. Periodically, espresso grinders should be disassembled and deep cleaned, as fines and oils will accumulate over time. Be sure to read the manual and contact the manufacturer before disassembling.
Café managers should also keep a record of how many pounds of coffee passes through a grinder each year. Different burrs have different life spans, but most busy cafés should plan on changing the burrs of their main grinders annually.咖啡店的經理則必須記錄每年磨豆機磨了多少磅重的咖啡，不同的刀盤有不同的生命週期，但生意好的咖啡店必須每年定期更換主磨豆機的刀盤。
作者Michael Butterworth是Louisville Quills Coffee的咖啡師兼員工訓練者，他也是Coffee Compass的創辦人。