I can’t believe I had the audacity to call myself a “coffee snob” in an earlier post in which I gave instructions on how make cafe-style frothy milk. How could I have been so bold, for one cannot call themselves a “coffee snob” and not even own a coffee grinder! It’s true, I bought my coffee pre-ground because I didn’t have a coffee grinder. And I still called myself a “coffee snob”. I shake my head in shame.
This situation was remedied, however, when I accidentally bought a bag of whole coffee beans instead of ground. Obviously, I wasn’t paying much attention to which I was buying; I was too engrossed in reading about the coffee to check if it was coffee grounds or whole beans. When I got home and prepared to make myself a cup of this new coffee, I was disappointed to find I had ended up with whole beans. I asked everyone I knew if they had a coffee grinder to grind just this one little bag of beans, but no one did. Seriously, what kind of friends do I have! 😉
A couple of days later, I was browsing Kitchenware Direct to compare coffee grinders, as I figured it was the time to invest in one. Just in the middle of my comparisons, Brad Russell, who I’ve been working with for a few years now to bring you these reviews, emailed me about checking out one last product before he leaves Kitchenware Direct to pursue other projects. I asked him about the Cuisinart Fine Coffee Burr Mill and in a few days, this sleek-looking machine was sitting in my kitchen, ready to grind some coffee.
I was impressed with the size of the grinder – it’s actually much smaller than I imagined, but can still grind up to 240g of coffee beans at once. Sitting next to the grinder is the new and tiny Nespresso Inissia (sent to me on loan for my next post), for size comparison.
The Cuisinart grinder has an easy-to-use display panel, allowing you to choose anywhere from 1-14 cups at the touch of a button, which is displayed as the first number. The second number, which displays the size of the grind, is chosen by twisting the bean hopper (the bowl on top that holds the whole beans) to the desired grind size, 1-18; the smaller the number, the finer the grind.
In the other above photo, I’ve shown you the conical burr grinder located under the hopper. For true coffee connoisseurs, nothing beats a conical burr grinder. Burr grinders grind coffee beans more gently, and produce a more even grind than a blade grinder. Blade grinders will also often heat the beans while grinding, which will destroy the beans’ delicate oils.
After having now won first place for how many times I can say “grind” in a paragraph, I can tell you that grinding that bag of whole beans that I accidentally bought was a completely new learning experience for me. First of all, the instructions for the burr grinder are not very detailed and only tell you the very basics. I had to figure out for myself how much of the whole beans would equal a cup; I knew a rounded tablespoon of ground coffee is about enough for 1 cup, but how does that equate to whole beans? I tested out a level tablespoon of whole beans per cup, and decided to grind enough for 4 cups in order to last me through the next day.
Obviously, the amount of ground coffee per cup varies per individual, so if you like your coffee a bit stronger, maybe grind enough for 2 cups.
Just a side note – the coffee beans you see in the below photos do not come from the bag I accidentally purchased (as I ended up not liking that coffee!); I bought a bag of quality coffee beans from Bay Coffee for photography (and personal enjoyment) purposes!
The next obstacle came in deciding which grind number to use. I use a coffee press, so I knew I had to use somewhere between 13 and 18 for a coarser grind. I knew I wouldn’t want the grind too large, so I decided to go with 15.
I pushed the “start” button. The machine is much quieter than I expected, which is great. The beans quickly made their way down the burr grinder and down into the collection chamber. I noted that the level tablespoon of whole beans per cup seemed to work out right, as I’ve since found out that if I don’t add enough beans for the cup amount I’ve selected, the grinder will just keep going, even though there are no beans in it. It does stop automatically, once its ground the amount of cups you’ve selected; the cup number in the display panel will count down the number of cups the machine has to go before it switches off. There is an option to manually grind the beans, as well.
I guarantee you’ll instantly be transported to coffee heaven as the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans wafts around your kitchen during (and well after) the grinding process. It’s simply amazing; there are not many things that smell better than this.
One of the minor cons with this machine, and the only con I actually can think of, is that the ground coffee dust is rather annoying and seems to fly everywhere. I call it a “minor con” because I think it’s a rather small thing to have to deal with in order to brew a delicious cup of freshly ground quality coffee.
As you can see, the grind is quite even. As mentioned above, I used a different type of coffee for these photos; the grind number in the photo above is 13, which worked out better for me than 15. It basically has to do with individual taste, but do keep in mind you’ll need to have the right grind size to match how you’re making your coffee (espresso, drip, press, etc.) because you may end up with a bitter cup if you choose the wrong grind size. Grind in small batches in case this happens! I also recommend to grind in small batches as the best flavor comes when the beans are freshly ground, and not having been sitting around for a few weeks.
A brief word on clean-up – the parts of the machine are quite easy to clean. The bean hopper, bean hopper lid, chamber and chamber lid, can all be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher. The burr grinder can be dusted off with the supplied brush, or hand-washed. All parts must be absolutely dry before reassembling and using; if any parts are wet, the ground coffee will get wet and may clog the machine.
As I mentioned earlier, I did not like the coffee I had accidentally purchased. I’m not sure if it was because the grind size I chose was too large, but I haven’t tried to grind any more of that coffee since! I loved Bay Coffee so much that I’m now using that instead.
I can now truthfully call myself a “coffee snob” with this little, yet powerful, burr grinder. I highly recommend it if you’re in pursuit of the perfect cup. If you’re interested in how I brew my coffee, check out this post in which I explain the use of a coffee press. And to top it off, you may want to read how I make my frothy milk. Enjoy!