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Many people have a spice grinder in their kitchens, and those looking to enhance their coffee experience may want to make the spice grinder work for their coffee beans. However, you should rethink that. This article will discuss whether your spice grinder and a different coffee grinder are the same and if you should invest in a coffee grinder instead.
Ultimately, Coffee grinders and spice grinders are not the same, as spice grinders use blades, while coffee grinders utilize burrs to make consistent grinds. You can use a spice grinder to grind the coffee; however, it will be inconsistent and just not as good as a dedicated burr coffee grinder.
I will be discussing spice grinders with the lens of being used for coffee. Spice grinders are fantastic for spices, but I kept descriptions consistent with coffee.
Coffee Grinder vs. Spice Grinder: The significant differences
The significant difference between a coffee and a spice grinder is that while a spice grinder is less expensive, it will shatter coffee beans into different-sized pieces. In contrast, a burr coffee grinder will crush (not shatter) coffee beans into uniform grounds, perfect for a great-tasting cup of coffee.
- Grinds (or crushes) coffee uniformly
- Easily adjust the grind size
- Built to withstand the hardness of coffee beans
- It tends to be more expensive
- It chops via a blade rather than a burr
- Difficult to get all coffee beans chopped
- Inexpensive option
What is a spice grinder?
Spice grinders are built to chop rather than grind. This type of grinder utilizes spinning, stainless steel blades that shatter or cut through anything it comes in contact with. This is a fantastic and less expensive way to take more prominent spices (generally in the form of dried leaves) down to smaller components you can use for cooking.
However, the lens of coffee beans shatters rather than grinds the hard beans. When the stainless steel blade hits the bean, it cracks and breaks into uneven pieces. These pieces then find their way below where the blade can reach or even sit above the blade. This results in either overly ground coffee below the blade or larger pieces above the blade.
Beans that are unevenly ground will cause channeling in your brew. Channeling is where water finds the path of least resistance in the grounds and only flows through that path rather than evenly saturating the coffee. This leaves the cup of coffee without the sweet oils and results in a sour taste of the coffee.
What is a coffee grinder?
Unlike spice grinders, utilize a spinning burr to grind up the coffee. Rather than a blade that shatters the coffee bean, it uses two components that rub up against the beans, and it will only allow the bean past this point once it is a specific size.
This burr makes it so that every bean component is precisely the same size. Burr grinders allow adjustments to the grind size to make it suitable for different coffee types.
Espresso requires finer grounds to allow for more surface area under pressure. Cold brew requires very coarse coffee grounds, as it will be saturating for twelve hours or more. Pour over requires a medium ground. A good and even inexpensive burr grinder will allow for these adjustments.
Quick Note: Blade grinders exist; I have owned my fair share of them. However, these act like spice grinders (and essentially are just re-marketed versions) and will result in an inconsistent grind. If you care about your cup of coffee, you will save up to purchase a better inexpensive burr grinder.
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Can you grind spices in your coffee grinder?
Please, for all things good, do not use your burr coffee grinder to grind spices. Not only will it not achieve what you are hoping for (that is why spice grinders exist), but herbs will be lodged inside your grinder for the rest of its existence.
This will change the flavor of every cup of coffee from then on out, and you will need to purchase a new one to fix this concern.
Which coffee grinders do we recommend?
We always recommend having a spice grinder for spices and a coffee grinder for coffee. While these two grinders do the same thing, their differences are enough to mean you should use each for its intended purpose. Thankfully, you can purchase either one on a budget or splurge and get one of the best. To get the best cup of coffee, get a burr coffee specific grinder!