I recently got a stove top espresso maker, a Bialetti Moka Express. It’s a great little gadget. Inexpensive, and brews a nice espresso. Now I understand the purists out there may disagree that this doesn’t actually make espresso, it makes coffee from espresso grounds. “True” espresso is made under high pressure, like 8 or 9 bars… this just uses steam pressure generated in a sealed environment which probably tops out at about 1.5 bars.While this may be true, it still brews under higher pressure than a drip brewer. For the record, I’ve never worked in a coffee shop, I’m not a barista, or a certified coffee taster (if there is such a thing)… but I do know what I enjoy. I happen to enjoy the coffee that this little pot brews. Buying espresso ground coffee isn’t hard, nor is it hard to buy whole beans and run them through the mill at the grocery store, the same grinder that everyone uses for their butter toffee and Irish creme bulk coffees.
The hard part is getting a good quality grind on your beans at home, and doing it without spending a fortune. The better quality grinders are burr grinders (the lesser being blade grinders). This isn’t a debate over which method is better, nor is it a comparison between the two. If you want to know some more, feel free to ask in the comments section below. This is a mini-review of my new burr grinder.
I’ve only had experience with two electric burr grinders at home. Both were President’s Choice brand (read: affordable). The first one I still have. It does a decent job for medium to coarse grinds, but it’s loud, a little inconsistent in the grind, and takes up more counter space than I’m willing to give up right now. The second one I got specifically to do espresso grind, hoping it would be better than the first generation one. It was also loud, and on the finest setting it spit out a mix of ultra coarse French Press mixed with ultra fine dust. That one went back to the store quickly. I set out to look for a well reviewed grinder that wouldn’t set me back hundreds of dollars. This is what I found.
Pros: Does a nice fine to medium grind
easy to adjust grind setting
glass collector jar eliminates the static horrors of other grinders
collector jar has a separate lid so you can store your ground coffee in it
Cons: Doesn’t do a coarse grind very well
the finer the grind setting, the longer it takes to grind
no hopper cover, so when the hopper is almost empty, bean bits tend to jump out
requires more work than pressing a button
A few of the cons aren’t so bad though. I don’t have a French Press, so a coarse grind doesn’t matter to me. The hopper doesn’t have a cover, but as long as you turn the crank a little slower, you don’t get the beans jumping around. Besides, you could pretty easily fashion a small lid out of any light plastic. Just cut a small hole in it to fit over the centre bolt. Voila.
As mentioned, this is a very affordable grinder. It was only about $34, plus taxes. Shipping was free, and fast! Thank you Amazon!
Note: Depending on the country you live in, the same grinder may be marketed as a Hario Skerton. Same grinder, different name. Don’t ask me why.