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Antique coffee grinders have such appeal that there are organizations for people who collect and preserve them. There are, appropriately, coffee table books on antique coffee grinders and there is even a 10-pound, 1,300 page manual called “ The MacMillan Index of Antique Coffee Mills” by Joseph Edward MacMillan. An antique coffee grinder or mill can be an impressive display piece as well as a functional appliance. There are many collectors who clamor to get certain old mills and have paid a lot for them. Over more than 200 years there have been many makes and models and a couple of the most popular are those made by Arcade Manufacturing – especially the Crystal grinders - and Enterprise Manufacturing.
The Solvang Antique Center in Solvang, Calif. features several coffee mills in the sold section of its website. A Danish Double Hopper Coffee Mill made by Schroder and Jorgensons in 1830, according to the auction house website, went for $3,850.
An American 12-inch coffee mill made by Enterprise Manufacturing Co. in 1915 was sold for $2,150.
If you are interested in antique coffee grinders, you might be interested in joining the Association of Coffee Mill Enthusiasts. The group publishes a quarterly newsletter with photos of and articles antique mills, tips on restoration and want ads.
While most modern coffee grinders are electric, you can still find modern variations of the classic hand crank coffee grinder.
Like electric grinders, you can find both blade and burr varieties, but the major differences are that they are quieter and powered by hand.
Many of the new machines look like they always have, with a crank at the top of the hopper, where you put the beans, and a drawer at the bottom for the grounds.
Zassenhaus makes manual conical burr coffee grinders that look similar to antique models with wooded bases, cast iron hoppers and brass finish domes and accents. The top slides open for the beans and the grinds fall into removable wooden drawer below.
The company also makes Knee Mill Hand Crank Manual Coffee Grinders, with curves to fit between the knees while you are grinding beans. The top has a hinged door that lifts to fill beans, so it is closed during the grinding process.
Manual coffee grinders make you more a part of the grinding process and, u nlike electric grinders, they will work when the power is out and won't add to your electric bill.
Before you grind your beans, check the grind setting to see if it needs to be adjusted. To adjust, locate the cog wheel or nut. You will find it just below the handle. Turn it to the right setting. For finer grounds, move the burrs closer together. For coarser grounds, keep more distance between the burrs.
Once you have the right setting and have placed the beans in the hopper, crank clockwise and soon you will be ready to brew your coffee.
You can buy the best, most expensive coffee beans in the world, and still end up with a horrible cup of coffee. It's extremely important that you grind and brew the coffee well. For a great cup of coffee, you'll need to invest in a grinder and a brewer. The choices you make will have quite an impact on the final quality of your coffee.
To goal of a proper grind is to get the most flavor from your coffee and the grind should match the brewing method. The size of the grind is important to the flavor of the coffee. If you buy whole bean coffee, you will want to grind your beans as
close to brew time as possible - no more than two minutes before.
Drip coffee requires a medium grind, espresso requires a fine grind, a French press and vacuum pot require the largest grind
The rule of thumb is that the finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee should be brewed. For instance, the grounds used in an espresso machine are finer than those that are to be brewed in a drip system.
To become familiar with the sizes of grounds, pick up some grounds and rub them between your fingers.
Once you have the right grind and have brewed a pot, do not reuse the grounds. The desirable flavors will have been extracted during the first brew and all that will be left are the bitter undesirable flavors.
Pros: Usually the least expensive. Easy to maintain and suitable for most coffee makers…French presses, drip type coffee makers. For the budget conscious.
Cons: Grounds lack consistency in size. By chopping the beans the blade is not able to cut the beans into uniform grounds, resulting in larger pieces mixed in with smaller pieces. Blade grinders tend to burn the coffee due to the high heat created during the grinding process. Although more expensive you will notice a big difference in the flavor of your coffee with a burr grinder over a blade grinder.
This is the perfect way to brew for those of you who drink their coffee black, and like it in small quantities. However, it's quite important to drink the coffee immediately after brewing. With the amount of grounds in the liquid coffee, and the micro fine particles fogging up the brew, it can great if consumed immediately, but iniquitous tasting if allowed to just sit there. The other drawback is the rather fast loss of temperature as no heat is applied whatsoever.
One pound of coffee is the maximum for most large personal coffee grinders, but that is the low end for commercial coffee grinders.
Commercial grinders are great for coffee houses, supermarkets and other places must handle a lots of coffee beans daily. A commercial grinder is a bit excessive for most home users.
There are many companies that make commercial grinders and one of the better know is BUNN.
Within the commercial grinder categories there are two main types of grinders: bulk and portion control.
The bulk grinders can hold between 1-3 pounds. They are designed to help sell more for specialty coffee stores and retail coffee sales. On BUNN model can grind a pound of bean in under 30 seconds.
Portion control grinders hold 3-9 pounds. The have a doser hopper, where beans remain, allowing customers choose the right portion of beans. The Rancilio commercial grinders are designed to handle about 6.5 pounds of beans per hour.
The beauty of a commercial grinder is that it can handle a lot of beans and grind them to cut the bean rather than pulverize it to keep the flavor and produce grinds of the right size for a customer's brewing needs. Commercial grinders are also designed to clean much faster than residential models. Of course, all that extra power comes at an extra price.
At some point, you will probably have to replace some of your coffee grinder parts, so it helps to know a little about the important pieces of your electric coffee grinder. Here are a few parts you should be familiar with:
Anti-static: When choosing from coffee grinders, look for an anti-static hopper or bean container.
Blade: Rotates and grinds the beans in a blade grinder.
Burr: The burr is the rough edge on the metal inside your grinder. These grind the beans in a burr grinder.
Cup sensor: This will allow you to choose the number of cups you will make to help you get just the right amount of grounds.
Grind setting indicator: This determines the size of the grounds. For espresso, the grinds should be fine - an average of 351-495 microns.
For a drip coffee maker, you will want medium grinds - an average of 701-1168 microns.
For French press, you will want coarse grinds - 1651-1918 microns.
Some grinders will name settings for the type of brew, removing confusion from deciding which setting to choose.
Ground coffee bin: This holds the grounds after grinding. Some machines will allow you to grind right into a basket or filter that goes into your coffee maker.
Hopper: This is a funnel shaped device or cylinder at the top of electric grinders. It holds the whole beans before they are ground. Small hoppers can hold a couple of ounces, while larger grinders can hold upwards of a pound.
If you choose a grinder with a capacity that far surpasses what you use per average grind, don't fill it up. Use only what you need because you will get the best flavor from freshly ground beans.
Timer: Controls grinding time.
Choose a good quality drip brewer. These are the units that drip water, at the right temperature, through the grounds, through the filter and into your jug or carafe. For a great drip brewer with an insulated carafe and a built-in coffee grinder, consider the Melitta Mill & Brew Coffee Brewer.
A percolator will not brew good tasting coffee. Firstly, the brewing time is far too long. Secondly, there is constant conflict of temperatures: the first blip of the percolator is cold by the time it reaches the grounds, which, in turn, are cold. After a few minutes, the grounds are super saturated with cool water, which starts dripping through the mesh into the cool water below, where temperatures are constantly changing. The whole percolator process is really quite awful, producing an over extracted foul tasting cup of coffee.