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What makes a perfect coffee grinder? Is it the ability to perform a uniform grind or is having a wide variety of size options, from coarse to fine, simply the winning trait?
We’re going to delve into two immensely talented grinders and discuss what qualities you should value in your perfect grinder. Get ready for some solid coffee engineering.
Though we have covered the Baratza Encore coffee grinder before, we have only done so by comparing it to another device by the same name brand.
Another option available on the market, besides Baratza, is the Capresso brand. The word itself is a combination of “cappuccino” and “espresso”, which can be a pretty good indicator if we want to know what this brand (and consequently, their products) is about.
Both products can be directly purchased through their respective company’s website and both cost about the same, so the difference between them (if we find there is any) will rest in their technical capabilities rather than their price.
The Capresso Grinder
Capresso was founded in 1994 and since its beginnings this company has strived for perfection when it comes to domestic coffee related devices. These guys were basically developed to bring the high-end european-style coffee devices to the American public. They offer a wide range of coffee grinders, coffee makers, espresso machines and automatic water kettles, among several other kitchen appliances.
The company itself is quite groundbreaking in the coffee world, creating the first programable coffee maker, with built-in grinder. They also developed the first burr grinder for home use with completely vertical grinding which allowed for a significant drop in decibels. This surely aided to quite coffee making for early mornings and the convenience of an all in one machine.
One major factor of their machines is the lack of noise, so keep that in mind throughout the review as well if you’re not one to wakeup the whole home when preparing your morning coffee.
The Capresso Infinity grinder is equipped with 16 settings in total that go from a super fine Turkish grind to coarse. The burrs are conical and made from durable steel, and the resulting grinding is high-precision. This might be an entry level grinder but the fact remains that this is a high end machine.
The Capresso also features hand-assembled burrs. The reason a machine doesn’t take on this task is because the Infinity is about precision. Hand crafting this aspect of the grinder allows for a uniform ground that, as we know, is very important for various coffee making tasks, including cupping or french press.
Since the Infinity features such precise conical burr grinders and the multiple gear motor produces slow grinding action, the resulting grounds are in no danger of being wasted to burns or falling to the wayside with the grinding chamber.
Of course the machine boasts sixteen settings, four each per category: the fine, extra fine, coarse and extra coarse. Quite simple but accurate nonetheless.
This machine is even offered to businesses for commercial use. While the application is untested, it does make one think that it could take a bit of wear and tear. Additionally, these can process a lot of beans. Even if you’re not one to grind a weeks worth of beans and store them in an airtight container, this is a good option.
Among other settings, this grinder includes the following: safety lock system, reduced noise option, and different grinding speeds (the lowest will reduce heat and friction and will be the best choice when it comes to preserving aroma and flavor in any grind size).
As the Capresso history would suggest, automation is surely a part of their game. There is a grind timer to help multi-taskers, which can be set to grind from 5 to 60 seconds. Lastly, a cleaning brush and measuring cup are included to aid the OCD among us.
Although the Infinity is designed to be a clean machine, there can be a buildup of dust in any conical burr grinder. While the grinder itself comes apart easily enough, one could be encouraged to use the cleaning brush accessory or even power of static cling to their advantage with an electric blower duster.
As we can see from the previous description, the Capresso Infinity is definitely a versatile device with a lot of options to choose from. Its capabilities are remarkable, even more so when it’s competitive pricing is added to the discussion. So, what happens with the Baratza Encore?
The Baratza Encore
We previously discussed this product and noted that it is known as the best option for those coffee lovers out there that are still getting comfortable with the brewing process and its quirks and whims.
With a lot of options to choose from itself, the Baratza Encore is a high precision grinder that works best with medium to coarse grounds, resulting in the perfect coffee ground size to brew a beverage in those devices that are most common in households around the globe: automatic drip machines and pour over methods.
Overall this is a great home coffee grinder. When discussing the possibility of long grind sessions, like you’d perform at a cafe, this thing could really step up to the plate and knock it out of the park. This is because the DC motor remains cool during the grind, so burning up beans isn’t really a possibility.
This is especially true because the circuitry contains a thermal cutoff switch that automatically resets itself. If the grind session ever did get to hot, this safety mechanism would protect your investments, the beans and the grinder itself. Additionally the DC motor lends itself to reduced noise, heat, and static.
A very unique feature of the Encore is the speed control. The Encore uses a combination of gear and DC motor speed reduction to control the rotation of the burr to 450 RPM. This adjustable speed means that you can optimize burr rotation for different kinds of grinding jobs, just depending on the amount you’re processing.
Of course, the slow speed reduces heat, noise, and static generation in the grinder, but if you just want a few beans for a quick press, this will get you there faster.
Why Go With Conical Grinders?
You might be thinking that a lot goes into the conical grinders. This is exceptionally true. The reason for such ingenuity is that the coffee bean has a lot to yield.
Like splitting the atom, there’s something supremely powerful waiting within the bean. Blade grinders, though effective at slicing through beans, are missing out on creating a coffee product that lives up to the beans potential.
Blade grinders, while they are usually quite affordable and make quick work of the beans, are not the grinders preferred by pro baristas under any circumstances.
Creation of static charge is a common result, which adds to waste, and uniformity is not their forte. This leaves the barista with a sliced and diced creation of varying degrees, with oils lost to the process and the grinder itself unkempt.
Conical burr grinders are meant to deliver certain grinds of coffee to serve different style. For instance, a French press grind requires consistent coarse grinds. your blade grinder isn’t going to deliver this result, and additionally the oils of the coffee (now lost all over the place) will create a sticky mess for an Aeropress or French press.
This method of grinding, or slicing, still yields a flavorful grind, but its not as flavorful as with conical burr grinders. Also, this process is begins with a startlingly loud sound whereas conical burrs tend to be on the quieter side.
So what separates the Conical burr grinder from the regular burr grinder. Well, both of the grinders we have reviewed today are conical. This means two things. First, the beans are able to fall downward to the burrs and use gravity to “mill” them through the process.
With a flat burr grinder there are significantly different physics at work. Instead of relying on gravity to process the beans, the centrifugal force in a flat burr grinder require much more energy from a motor. More energy means more heat. Heat, that is responsible for the evaporation, and possibly burning, of your precious beans.
While a flat burr grinder makes quick work of the bean the conical grinder will, as we used the term earlier, mill the beans. This implies that the bean is being ground in stages rather than all at once. That’s a great protection from the buildup of oils and grinds, and lends it’s hand to uniformity.
Since we’re not trying to completely vaporize our beans here, it’s important that the burr work slowly and efficiently.
Static Cling and Coffee
As previously mentioned, static cling can give coffee preppers a bit of a headache. Especially if this becomes your daily routine (we recommend fresh ground coffee daily, of course).
The creation of static cling while grinding of coffee in a burr grinder is unavoidable. This is because the nature of grinding with metal burrs creates friction between the beans and their resultant grinds and within the components of the machine itself.
Add friction to a low humidity climate and your kitchen becomes overrun with coffee particulates, acting on their own accord, like tiny caffeine-ridden ghosts. As coffee beans themselves contain slight degrees of moisture their splitting and coming contact with residue from previously brewed coffee or drying dishes, we create a mess.
Whether this is the fault of the coffee grinder or the beans, we might never know, because the fact of the matter is, you need one to have the other. So the enthusiasts of the bean everywhere have developed work around methods to ensure less mess and a more optimized coffee making experience.
- Through all the fancy talk, making coffee is a culinary practice, and despite all the Alton Browns out there, simple prep is thought to hinder the beans (or the grinder) from releasing as much static charge. I’m talking about simply acquiring a spray bottle and giving your beans a light misting just prior to entering the hopper. This won’t clog up the machine, and will help alleviate some of the factors involved in static discharge.
- Perhaps you’re a little bothered by misting the precious beans you just acquired from the craft roasters. We wouldn’t want to incur any loss of flavor from the coffee! One solution is to simply dampen a paper towel and wipe out the dust from your grinders input and output bins. Similar to adding a bit of humidity, but also as a means to clean out static particulates from the machine.
- There are of course accessories you can add to the grinder, and if we’re going to put those lab coats back on, a static-less material is of course, glass. A glass carafe-style hopper can be attached in place of the plastic that traditionally adorns your grinder.
- If you’re the type that prefers setting up coffee the night before, it’s in good practice to spray a bit of cooking oil on a cloth and wipe down the hopper. This is thought to neutralize static by allowing compounds with moisture soak into the material (typically the problematic plastic) which generates the problem. It’s best to do this procedure the night before, as it allows the moisture to set and doesn’t impart any of the flavor of the spray into the grind easily.
While we can’t control all the variables that add to static in the coffee grinding process: Varietal of bean, roast, freshness, and climate, perhaps some of these techniques will alleviate the trouble involved with grinding your daily coffee dosage.
If you do encounter static, even after applying some of these tricks it’s best to wait roughly thirty seconds after the grind has completed to allow the charge to bleed away, then retrieve the grounds. They should fall into the bin with relative ease.
Static can only hold a charge for sol long without a source to keep it active. Okay, let’s hang up those lab coats now so we don’t get any coffee stains on them.
The main disadvantage when choosing and buying a grinder is hidden in plain view: an investment must be made. At this price point you wouldn’t want to be stuck with the wrong device, right?
Even if we take into account that there are grinders far pricier than these, we are talking about commitment. This is not a case, like we usually say, of trying what is best for you because both grinders cost the same and what they have to offer is incredibly similar.
The answer is quite simple, in my opinion. There are many grinders out there that boast domestic use but have the commercial price tag. These are not in that category.
If you are looking into buying a grinder for domestic use, any of these will be a perfect choice. When time passes and you feel you are ready for a more complicated device, remember our review of the Baratza Virtuoso.