I’m constantly barraged at work with people talking about how they love their Keurig system and how convenient it is… or their other pod type of coffee… or walking around with their Starbucks cup adorned with half a dozen little blurbs of their ‘recipe’ on it… but… do you REALLY love coffee? (I’m going to go on a rant here… buckle up and hold on)
Some of the most important things of coffee if you’re making it at home is good quality beans of course… but knowing when it was roasted can be a huge part of getting a fresh cup. Old beans lose their flavour over time… if you’re buying coffee that has been ground already (ugh… Nooooooooo!!!), then knowing when it was ground is huge again… the fresher the grind, the fresher your coffee. That convenience the pod coffee systems allow, robs you of all that knowledge. Typically you get one figure on them… Best Before. Ok… umm… what do you mean by that. Why not optimally fresh by? Or better yet…. tell me when the coffee was roasted and when it was ground. They don’t, because if you cared about those figures… you’d find they were months and months apart and away.
Ok… back on the focus. Other than the beans… the next part that makes a huge difference in your coffee, and the first part you can directly affect yourself… the grind. A consistent grind that hasn’t altered the structure of the coffee with heat is the part you can control. A slow, slow, slow grind that crushes the beans to a very consistent size is one of the best ways to consistently get a cup of coffee you enjoy. The typical grinder that really isn’t a grinder has two blades that spin around super fast chopping the beans. Hence, I wouldn’t call it a grinder at all… it’s a chopper. It heats up the beans with that fast motor speed… and the size of the pieces are very random. So you have no consistency there in the pieces, and the bean has been ‘cooked’ a bit by the heat… not ideal at all. I’ve owned multiple drip coffee makers, a very nice espresso maker (rarely used), multiple french presses, and a few moka pots (hillbilly espresso, or Italian coffee pots). The wife prefers the convenience of the newest of our drip coffee makers (for a later review… a Bonavita BV1900TS), but I prefer the french press because it preserves the natural oils of the coffee beans without filtering them through paper.
So… back to the beginning again… a great grinder… so important. My longest lasting piece of coffee equipment (it’s even outlasted a kettle or two) is my grinder. The thing is built of solid metal, has a very slow RPM motor, is super easy to clean and has so many subtle little features that make it a great value and bargain in my mind.
Ok… it’s not cheap… but what quality piece usually is? The thing is built like a Kitchenaid stand mixer… the motor has lasted for a long long time. It’s available in a few colours… Black Onyx, Imperial Red, and Silver. I own the silver one, but it seems to be the hardest to find right now. I bought mine around seven years ago… still going. Cleaning is as simple as removing two big screws (accessed by either a large flat head screwdriver, or if you didn’t tighten it very much… your thumbs). Pull either the screws, or the large grind selector knob to remove it. Clean out all the residue from the front plate (attached to the piece you just removed), the back plate, and the bottom. I find that a bean or two gets wedged between some of the burrs from time to time… other than that, it’s just cleaning up very fine coffee dust. Placing the plates back together can be a little tricky… getting it lined up isn’t always the easiest, but you’ll know when you get it right… the plate holding the screws against the machine will line up and press against the body of the machine… tighten the screws, and you’re back in action.
One of the nice ‘subtle’ features of the machine is that the hopper holding the whole beans and the one for the ground coffee are both made of glass. It makes it more fragile, but… importantly, it doesn’t hold a static charge. Plastic pieces will pick up a static charge from the motor spinning…. this makes the finer pieces of coffee (the dust) stick to your container. A deal breaker? No… but annoying in the long run. Making it out of glass keeps things cleaner, and less frustrating.
Control wise… there’s not much to talk about… there’s a knob on the front that allows you to select the fineness of your grind (15 different settings)… and a very old school metal on/off toggle. That is it… so really, not much to go wrong over time.
Again…. this is what I consider to be the most important part of the coffee ritual you can control. Get a good grind, and get a good cup of coffee (beans and water permitting of course).
Link below to buy…. The red one is stupidly priced… the black, a more standard price. If you hunt around, you can find it for anywhere from $250 – $350. The amazon link hits you right in the middle, and it’s just plain easy to shop from Amazon sometimes. It will probably last your lifetime and beyond if you keep it cleaned, and you don’t go around beating it up. I think it’s a great value if you’re into your coffee… $300 isn’t really that many “premium” cups of coffee at a coffee shop.