Do I Really Need A Home Coffee Grinder

Eureka coffee grinders

“Do I really need a home coffee grinder?” It’s a question we get asked often.

Here at Clive we frequently talk about how vital a home coffee grinder is to making great coffee at home. We even say they’re more important than the espresso machine or the coffee maker. We believe this, but if you haven’t had the chance to see the difference yourself it can be hard to believe. Watch the video below to see some side-by-side comparisons so that you can see what a difference it makes.

On the left, we’re pulling a shot with fresh ground coffee and on the right, we’re using 2-day old grounds. We used the same coffee beans ground through the same grinder. You can see that the water is flying through the old, stale grounds and producing quite a mess. The fresh grounds on the left are producing a steady flow rate and pulling a tidy shot. In the end, the shot made with fresh grounds pulled to the precise recipe we wanted where the stale grounds pulled way too fast. Where the fresh-ground shot looks rich, the stale shot is watery and thin.

I don’t think you really need to taste these to know that one is going to be considerably more delicious than the other. Ground coffee goes stale incredibly quickly due to its increased surface area. After being thoroughly exposed to oxygen the tasty compounds inside break down, compromising the flavor.

Next, let’s test an affordable grinder not intended for espresso against an affordable espresso grinder.

On the left, we’ve used grounds from a Baratza Encore and on the right, we used a Eureka Mignon Silenzio.

While all grinders do essentially the same thing, it’s paramount that you have the right one for the job. We love the Encore and use it on a daily basis for pour over and drip coffee, but it simply doesn’t have the power or precision adjustments required to grind for espresso. The Eureka Mignon is purpose-built for espresso and that shows in the shots it pulls.

If I wanted to adjust my brew ratio I could do so easily using the Silenzio by making a small adjustment and changing the shot time by just a second or two. If I wanted to do the same on the Encore, a single adjustment would result in a huge difference in shot time. Precise control is the name of the game for espresso, which is why we recommend grinders that are built to make minute adjustments.

Let’s do a similar test using a coffee maker, the Ratio Eight. Both batches are using the same coffee ground by the Baratza Encore, but the coffee on the left was ground two days ago and the coffee on the right was ground right before brewing. As you can see, the water is flowing through the stale grounds much more quickly. The stale coffee will already have lost flavor through oxygen exposure over two days. Compounding the issue is the fact that, since the water is rushing past the grounds it’ll extract less of what’s in them. This results in thin, watery coffee. In the fresh coffee, you can see we have a steady flow rate and that water is dwelling in the filter, resulting in a more thorough and delicious extraction.

Interesting in learning more on this topic? Check out The Importance of Freshly Ground Coffee to learn a little bit more about the science behind all of this. 

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