The Secret to Grinding Coffee by Kenneth Dickson
If you decide to start making your own coffee at home, you'll be tempted to buy the fanciest coffee equipment on offer. Everyone always is! Just yesterday a sales assistant in Sogo offered me a 'great deal' on a grinder and coffee maker from a reputable brand. Over NT$4000!
I'll share a secret with you: the secret of good coffee lies in the careful purchase of coffee beans, nothing less, nothing more. Then treat the coffee with respect when you grind it, brew it, and drink it. That's all! This is part 2 of 3 parts!
#2 Gently Ground - PurelyCoffeeBeans' Secret to Grinding Coffee
Grind at the time
Most coffee shops sell small bags, between 200g and 250g. So asking the retailer to grind your coffee is a smart move, if you don't have a machine at home to do it for you. It won't make much of a difference if you use the coffee quickly.
But nothing says fresh coffee more than when it's made just after grinding. So buying a grinder is essential if you really want to make the most of your coffee. Of course, you'll also need to learn how to grind coffee and maintain your grinder, but it's worth it.
No, not the blades
Let's get it out of the way: the only kind of grinder you shouldn't buy is a blade grinder. They're electrically powered grinders that mash your gentle, fragrant coffee to smithereens. For many people, it's the grinder of first choice because it's available everywhere and at a cheap price. For me, it's best kept for grinding spices.
But the real issue is that the beans aren't ground properly: some kernels remain quite large, others get ground to a superfine level. To even out the grinding, many users tend to grind for a longer time, which impairs the flavor because of the heat generated by the high speed of the blades.
Burrs, burrs, burrs
Focus on a ceramic burr grinder of some vintage: they're available in hand-powered models, which you manually grind the beans in the grinder by rotating an external handle. It's a novelty for a while, but not the best solution for those in a hurry to get to work in the morning. Oh, and don't let water into the grinding unit or you risk rusting the mechanism.
There are many models in the market place now, including some portable units, so you can make fresh coffee anywhere. The Hario Coffee Hand Grinder Skerton won't go wrong with its variable settings for grinding coffee from coarse to espresso grade. It retails from about NT$1000+. You'll also find other models from competitors at good prices, too.
Electric, of course
The electric burr grinder is probably the best model for most people. Set and forget operations mean that you can use it daily without hours of tweaking. Truth be told, there is no upper limit on how much you can spend on a coffee grinder.
Some of the Baratza coffee grinders retail from about NT$7000 upwards, though you can find good deals. The Flying Horse Brand (飛馬牌) which is well-recognized here starts from about NT$3000 to NT$18000. One of their models has been sold in Costco for a while now. The Capresso Infinity Grinder is a good choice, comes with hard-wearing steel burrs, and looks good in any kitchen. It retails from about NT$4000.
Most of the coffee grinders mentioned here won't be found in the coffee roasters, so you might need a little help from a Chinese-speaking friend to track them down from a better department store or online store.
For those exploring grinding options, it's worth remembering that it's the coffee beans that make the coffee. So it's not necessary to spend a lot of dollars at the outset. Just focus on the best beans and a good quality grinder. That's it.
Kenneth Dickson started drinking cappuccino at Luvian's Coffee Shop thirty years ago, and hasn't stopped drinking, making and writing about coffee ever since. Taipei is his coffee heaven. Now he writes at PurelyCoffeeBeans. com about his love of coffee.
My latest coffee article has been published. If you’d like to find out the secrets to making your coffee great, check out the article on pg. 27 of the Community Center’s Centered Magazine. Enjoy! But don’t forget to make some great coffee!
Looking for new equipment, check out the coffee makers, coffee grinders, and bean roasters page.