And the winner is- the Baratza Virtuoso Precioso
Two weeks ago at the crack of dawn I found my way to my pantry. I pressed the button on my electric coffee grinder, anticipating the nerve-addling crunching and whirring that precedes the beautiful fragrance of freshly ground Kenyan coffee beans hitting my nose. I heard little more than a struggling grunt- the coffee grinder version of a car-engine turning over and over without starting.
I tried in vain to figure out what the problem was for the next twenty minutes- neglecting the breakfast and lunches that needed making. However, I knew instinctively what the problem was- I was the owner of a mediocre coffee grinder that had just hit its expiration date.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a totally cheap coffee grinder. Rather, it was a $50 Capresso burr grinder. Importantly, it was my second purchase of this same model. Each one lasted 2-3 years of daily use before it crapped out on me. Don’t tell me I should have cleaned it more often or shied away from oily beans or whatever. I don’t want a grinder that I have to coddle. I want one that works. I learned this lesson in my epic pursuit of a great blender. You gotta pony up the big bucks for appliances that work excellently and consistently.
So I set off to do some research. I posed the question to my Facebook and Twitter friends and found out you all don’t know jack about grinders either. So I’m gonna tell you what I’ve learned.
Your coffee grind is at least as important as your choice of beans and brewing technique. This is often overlooked. The ideal grind:
- Is absolutely uniform: No boulders and sand in the same pot.
- Is accomplished with little heat: Heat generated in the grinding process meaningfully alters the flavor of the coffee. Think of it like defrosting meat in the microwave, you kind of ruin the meat because the process starts the cooking too soon.
- Gives you the perfect size for your brewing method: I read online discussions about how people adjust their espresso grind fineness according to humidity readings. I’m not getting that crazy, but I pay about $14/lb for my Kenyan beans, and I want to enjoy their flavor as much as possible.