Espresso Grinders

"It's the grinder, stupid!"

We don't mean to call anyone stupid, but when people complain that they just can't pull a shot of good espresso from their expensive high-quality espresso machine, the response is often "It's the grinder, stupid."

True coffee aficionados know that the grinder is a critical element of pulling good-testing espresso drinks. The fineness of the grinds, the consistency, the ability to grind finely without overheating and scalding the bean ... these are all critically important factors in producing top-quality espresso and espresso-based drinks.

If you truly care about extracting good-tasting espresso, you won't skimp on the grinder. Many baristas will tell you that they can pull a better espresso with a $200 espresso machine and a $500 grinder than they can with a $2,000 espresso machine and a poor quality grinder.

Be sure to look for a burr grinder — flat burr grinders are often considered to produce more consistent grinds than conical burr grinders, but both can produce perfectly acceptable grinds. Stay away from blade grinders; the blades produce inconsistently sized particles, plus the blades create friction heat that scalds the beans as it grinds, ruining the taste of the resulting espresso.

You can't really go wrong with a Rancilio, Baratza or Mazzer grinder. If you can afford it, you may wish to consider a Mahlkonig or Compak grinder. Quality grinders are also offered by Gaggia, Breville, Makap, Anfim and others.

Yes, good quality grinders are expensive. But if you find yourself tempted to skimp on the grinder in order to purchase a more expensive espresso machine, just remind yourself, "It's the grinder, stupid!"

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