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Saturday, December 12, 2015

New Burr Grinder

I like coffee.

I mean I'm not one of those crazytown home barista hipsters... but I appreciate a good brew... and I am willing to put in some small effort if it will improve my day-to-day cup of coffee.

My latest in this adventure, is my finally getting around to replacing my blade grinder with a burr grinder.

I resisted this change for years, simply because I thought I couldn't afford the best ceramic burr grinders out there, so why bother.  I do that.  A lot.  I get discouraged because I can't get the best of something and then the resultant apathy means I miss out.

Well, although this isn't the best burr grinder, and it's a stainless steel one rather than ceramic, it's purportedly quite good.

In addition to reading many positive reviews online, I had the fortune of a direct recommendation from a friend of mine (shout out to Silent Node) for this product.

The product is the Cuisinart Supreme Grind Auto Burr Mill (DBM-8C).

And I like it.

It is certainly an improvement over my last grinder, a blade grinder, which I will still keep for nut and seed grinding.


If you're in the know, I won't need to explain to you why I wanted a burr grinder.  I will just say that so far this <$100 grinder is doing its job quite well actually, and that I am quite pleased with its performance.

For those of you who are like, 'what the eff?  What's wrong with that other grinder? And what the eff is a 'burr grinder anyhoo?'  Well... I'll try to explain.

There are a couple large reasons that a burr grinder is better than a blade grinder.  

The first, and arguably most important, is that it makes for a truly uniform grind.

See, a blade grinder just keeps pushing the beans around, chopping them up until you stop it.  This means that you are going to end up with some pieces being larger than others.  And an ideal brew is one that uses all the same consistency of grounds.  Makes sense, right?  You want each chunk o' bean to receive the same exposure, and thusly to excrete the same amount flavour (and other things) as every other chunk o' bean.

A burr grinder operates instead by pushing the beans through an elaborate set of 'burred' cogs which can be set to specific sizes.  Once set, however, you're sure of every bean being ground to the same size.

The second, less important (though many people swear by this) reason for a burr grinder, is that it has been said that the extremely fast, and harsh, chopping motion of the blade can impart a distinct flavour to the beans.  The idea being the friction actually causes some heat scorch or burn to the beans.  Although this seems entirely plausible to me, I can't say I ever noticed a whole lot of flavour difference.

For me, the main reason was the uniformity of the grind, and the ability to customize the grind.

It used to be that, in order to grind a coarse grind (for a french press, say) I'd have to just 'pulse' my blade grinder once, shake it a bit, pulse again, shake, repeat a few times until I'd had a relatively uniform but still rather large, grind.

Making a fine grind (for espresso, cappuccino, etc.) was a touch easier, being able to just hold down the button for a long time, but that is hardly precision work.

So, the adjustable dial is awesome.

Most of the time I leave it somewhere around the medium setting as I predominantly brew in my drip pot... but I have tried it both at its finest and its coarsest settings and have been quite impressed.

Sure it isn't the nicest burr grinder, but it's pretty decent, especially for its price point.

The grind is great, customizable, and can support a large amount.

This are arguably the most important things... so when I list the following negative aspects, know that they are relatively minor in the grand scheme.


It's loud.  Like hella loud.  Like I worry my neighbours are going to complain.

It's slow.  Maybe I'm just counting the milliseconds it takes to grind because it's so hella loud... but it seems to take forever sometimes!  And—interestingly enough—the speed doesn't seem to be influenced by the grind coarseness i.e. a coarse grind seems to take just as long as a fine grind of the same amount.

It's messy.  The little grounds container regularly needs to be 'swept' out using the included brush, but whatever, that's no biggie.  I probably should have cleaned my old blade grinder more often, and in-between grinds too... but for some reason it seemed less imperative.

It's not air-tight.  The storage compartment at the top for the whole beans seems like it would be a great idea.  Just dump your beans in there and they're ready to be ground whenever you want... but I don't love how the (really cheap feeling) lid sort of just 'sits' on top without creating a seal.  Now... this raises an interesting debate on whether beans should be stored hermetically or not in the first place.  If so, why do most coffee bags have an 'air seal' built in to them?  Oh, you've never noticed those?  Check your bag of beans next time, and chances are there's a little pressure release valve (that's a nice way of saying it... really it's just a plastic hole kinda dealie) built right in.  So... maybe it's not a big deal.  Myself, I go through coffee quickly enough that those beans are likely not going stale in there.

So yah, a few minor issues to what is otherwise a great entry level burr grinder, and the latest worthy addition to my ever-improving coffee making experience.

A nice coarse grind in my bodum french press, with some perfectly-heated filtered water, steeped for the perfect amount of time, is still my favourite way to make coffee at home, and rivals the vast majority of coffees I've had out in the world.

Although a fine espresso or almond milk latte is also quite delightful.  Especially as a treat on a cold wintry afternoon.

Anyway... it's a good addition, and looks quite nice next on my coffee counter if I do say so myself.