Grinders: Blade vs. Hario
By Adah Bennion | Mar 5, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen! For your entertainment, with us today are two coffee grinders rivaling for the Title: Best Home-use Coffee Grinder! (Not an actual event.)
Being judged on overall performance as well as taste, these two grinders must out-do each other in every way. But before the competing begins, let's take a moment and get to know the two contestants: a blade grinder and the Hario Grinder.
Blade Grinder: A descendant of a 1920's invention, the blender, the blade grinder is popular for being inexpensive and easy to operate, making it the most commonly found coffee grinder in the average kitchen.
However, the blade "grinder" actually is not a grinder at all! To grind something means to reduce it to small particles by pounding or crushing, where the blade "grinder" is simply spinning its blade to chop the coffee into bits.
The Hario Grinder, true to the definition of grinding, uses its conical burrs to crush coffee beans into smaller particles. Conical Burrs are two cone shaped pieces of ceramic (in Hario) or steel that sit inside one another (see red arrow on left). The outer burr is stationary and notched, while the inside burr resembles a large revolving screw, which pulls beans down, forcing them to break (or be crushed) to fit through gap between the two.
Set Up: With the grinders as the only variable and keeping all other aspects of the process (brew method/time, coffee/dose) the same, both grinders start at zero.
Coffee ground by each grinder will be brewed using Clever Drippers, and then evaluated taste to determine: 1) If the grinder used can effect the taste of a cup of coffee. 2) If so, how? 3) If one is superior. Ready Grinders?! GO!
Had this been a race, the blade grinder would be the victor, hands down! With just the touch of a button, the coffee was ground in no time! But despite all efforts, an even grind was unattainable, leaving us with coffee pieces of all sizes.
Slow, but steady, the hand powered Hario grinder didn't take more than a minute to grind its coffee. And by thoroughly crushing only a few beans at a time, was able to produce a perfectly uniform particle size!
The coffee being used is the delightful Kenya Gatomboya. Already having a soft spot for Kenyan coffees, I love Gatomboya for it's sassy citrus-bounce, swimming in a big ol' pot of fluffy-satin and savory-sweet stewed tomatoes! Wowsaz!
The Results: Coffee made using the Hario grinder was just as I knew it: Fresh pineapples, syrupy roasted apricots, and my favorite, stewed tomatoes!
However, coffee made using the blade grinder was not so pleasant: Not entirely undrinkable, this great coffee was masked by harsh metallic flavors, like wet pennies green with rust! That bangin' citrus had all become too sour, like unripe fruit, and the stewed tomatoes had turned to gamy meat.
Why is that? Turns out that a coffee's grind, or particle size, is one of the more important parts in brewing good coffee. How quickly coffee will be extracted by hot water is completely contingent on the particle size. Meaning, small coffee particles extract quickly, and begin to over-extract, while a large particle may never fully extract in the given time. Which explains why things didn't fare so well for the blade grinder and its mishmash of particle sizes!
Lastly: The Clean Up. By violently chopping up coffee, the blade grinder creates a lot of "dust", or particles so tiny they feel velvety, and stick to everything! Not to mention how bitter and over-extracted these micro-particles will make your coffee in brewing, they also stick to the inside of the grinder, holing up in cracks, making it nearly impossible to fully clean.
Where as with the Hario grinder, you can simply blow on it to remove most of the debris!
So by creating a delicious cup of coffee, plus being fun and easy to clean, I think the winner is pretty obvious. Not to mention the Hario grinder's other qualities, such as: Grinding quietly enough to have a conversation over, making it social! Requiring no electricity, so you can take it anywhere! And perhaps best of all, grinding all that coffee is going to give you some mighty big arms!
Oh! Hario Grinder! You've won me over, once again! I would be honored to make you my Home Coffee Grinder! ♥