Back when I began making coffee, there were a few different pieces of equipment I had to get familiar with. My knowledge has increased over the years, but I always come back to the grinder.
I’ve seen and worked with many different kinds of grinders in my years in the industry, and every iteration is a bit more refined and improved than its predecessor. Let’s take a look back now into the past of the grinder.
The deli grinder is the template and the simplest form of grinder used in food making. These kinds of grinders are used for cutting up coffee beans as well. Many deli uses these grinders for coffee bean grinding, and they get the job done, but not very elegantly. You can still see grinders like this in cafes today, but they have a lot more bells and whistles and are more refined.
There’s another kind of grinder that’s used- the upright hopper. This has an attached chamber where you can see the coffee beans. It’s probably the most common type of grinder used for coffee, and you can find both manual and electronic versions of it.
It’s really important to grind fresh beans for each cup of coffee you drink. We have used both manual and electronic grinders ad Yellowish Café, and they have their own distinct nuances. Just think of the normal sounds you would hear in a café. One of the most familiar ones is that of a grinder tapping respectively. What you are hearing is the dosing mechanism on the grinder being pulled like a trigger by the barista. I believe manual dosing belongs in the past for a simple reason:
We have seen the attitudes toward coffee change considerably over the years. One of the biggest changes to the industry as a well is the advent of third wave or specialty coffee. This is an attitude toward coffee that treats it less like a commodity and more like a specialized beverage, similar to wine.
Most cafes will still use the manual grinders, and that’s mostly due to how cheap they are as well as how far many cafes are from being artisanal coffee houses.
These grinders may be phased out in the future- at least, that’s my hope. I’m still amazed at the kind of work some baristas can do with these manual grinders, and it takes a lot of skill to get a fine cup of coffee from them. However, electronic grinders let any barista, no matter how experienced they are, produce great tasting coffee with minimal effort. I think it will be a great day when we see all cafes uses those grinders, because it means more consistently great cups of coffee.