Sorry for the long title, but that is the conclusion that I came to after reading this New York Times article, Better Coffee Depends On Good Grinding. The article notes that the first critical step in making a good cup of coffee is grinding the beans just before brewing. If you break this cardinal rule, you are “never going to taste everything a top-shelf coffee has to offer.” Those magic beans are packed with flavor that’s released as soon as they are crushed. If you grind them even 10 minutes before brewing, you lose a considerable amount of flavor. And if you try to save time and grind the beans the night before, “you throw in the towel before you step in the ring.” <~~Guilty as charged. I’m also guilty of having my coffee beans ground at the market because the romantic foodie in me gets delighted when I carry home a bag of grounds still warm from the blades.
I can get over that and just grind in the morning before my first cup, but upon further reading I learned that the quality of the grinder is just as critical. A solid burr grinder is ideal because it grinds the beans into pieces that are consistent in size. Your typical grinder, like the one sitting on my kitchen counter, crushes some beans to a fine powder, while leaving others rather large and chunky. Warning, this next paragraph is where you may experience sticker shock.
A decent grinder starts at $100, though it’s not uncommon for one to cost as much as $250. Recommended brands include Baratza, Breville and Capresso. So yeah, a genuinely good cup of coffee can be expensive, but not as much as buying from Starbucks 5 days a week. Let’s look at it as an investment, shall we? And wasn’t I just waxing poetic about buying good things…
Are you a coffee drinker? Would you invest in a solid burr grinder?
Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times