Getting in on the home barista culture and making great coffee at home will, at some point, sooner or later, involve you making the decision on which grinder to invest in.
You will have a number of minefields to navigate and burr battles to choose from: conical Vs flat burr grinders or ceramic vs steel grinders, manual Vs electric grinders to name just a few.
By the time you have read this article, you will know about both types of grinders and which is best for you and meets your own personal requirements.
Pull up a chair, keep reading and let’s grind out the facts!
What Is A Conical Burr Grinder?
This type of coffee grinder can be made of two main types of material, ceramic and metal. A metal conical burr grinder is mainly made from stainless steel, but other metals like copper can also be used.
As the name “‘conical” suggests, there are two cone-shaped burrs which have ridges. This type of device grinds your coffee beans by using a crushing action which is provided by means of a low speed gear reduction type of electric motor.
The crushing action can also be provided manually via a hand crank in a manual non-electric version.
Like a flat burr it is distinguishable by its shape.
Read: Ceramic vs steel burr grinder
What Is A Flat Burr Grinder?
This type of grinder is also made of both metal and ceramic. The metal used is most commonly stainless steel. The metal version can involve the use of other metals, but by far the best metal and most commonly found is stainless steel.
The best description of a flat burr grinder is that of having a flat serrated twin plates that are facing each other. The flat burrs grind your coffee beans by means of a crushing action to a preselected size.
A flat burr grinder can be connected to a high speed motor and functions at a higher spin speed than a conical burr. Like a conical burr grinder, they too can be hand powered with manual versions also available.
Other Types Of Burr Grinders
The only other types of burr grinder worthy of mention here in the context of conical vs flat burr grinders involve the construction material.
Copper, stone, cast iron, wood, titanium and carbide are alternative materials used in the construction of burr grinders. Ceramic and stainless steel are by far the two most common.
In another article I debated and detailed Ceramic Vs Steel burr grinders.
Conical vs Flat Burr Taste
Conical grinders offer a better and greater distribution of coffee particles, which leads to easier and better tamping and a better coffee puck. This is great for smaller particles and the brewing of an espresso shot and espresso-based drinks.
A conical burr grinder offers better consistency when grinding and much greater grind size control for a range of coffee particle sizes, from the very fine powder like espresso grind to a coarse sized grind for cold brew, French press or percolator coffee.
A top quality grinder is not going to make too much of a difference or have too great an impact on the taste of your coffee on its own.
Conical burr grinders will help to separate the complex fruity tastes of specialty coffee beans from the Pacific islands and Africa.
This is a plus point for conical burrs when and if you drink a lot of African coffee or Pacific coffee.
Flat burr grinders work best for, and bring out the better flavors from South American and Central American specialty beans.
One thing you must keep in mind is the heat dissipation of a grinder. This is not too much of an issue when it comes to the burr shape. It is more of a concern when it comes to the material used where extra heat is produced by metal than ceramic.
Does Burr Shape Affect Your Coffee?
The burr shape affects the consistency, temperature and retention of your grind. These variables have an effect on the quality of your end cup of coffee to one degree or another, be it an espresso shot or another type of coffee that you are brewing.
The Pros And Cons Of Conical Burrs
Everything has its upsides and downsides. Let’s talk about those in relation to conical burr grinders.
The Advantages Of Conical Burrs
- Low heat dissipation.
- Low cost.
- Low speed and low noise.
- Energy efficiency.
- You have a high level of control.
They are good for a rich flavor and heavy body.
The Disadvantages Of Conical Burrs
- May lead to imbalanced flavor
- Very limited in their use.
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Flat Burr Grinders
Let’s now detail the benefits of a flat burr grinder.
The Benefits Of A Flat Burr Grinder
- Even distribution of grinds.
- A Higher extraction rate.
- Better for espresso shots.
The Disadvantages Of A Flat Burr Grinder
- Use a lot more energy.
- High speed grinding
- Greater heat dissipation.
Which Is Most Efficient – Flat Or Conical Burr?
Efficiency is, for me, something that has to be taken into consideration as I want to lose and waste less grounds as possible. Over time, this will end up costing you a lot of money for buying whole beans more frequently.
Every ground counts in my book. Plus, more wasted grounds means a dirtier grinder. A conical burr grinder is much more efficient than a flat burr grinder in this aspect.
For this very reason, as well as a few others, a conical burr is much easier to clean and maintain. This is a plus point, as it is easier to keep clean, which leads to a better quality cup of coffee.
The reason a flat burr grinder is less efficient is due to the shape, which causes more grounds to get trapped in your grinder.
This leads to a dirtier grinder which can contaminate your coffee and result in a less than perfect Cuppa Joe.
Manual Grinder Or Automatic Grinder?
Both burr types have the option of a manual hand grinder and an electric grinder.
There is no harm, if you are a serious coffee lover and enthusiast, to owning both. Hand grinders are cheap enough to own as a second grinder and the more modern ones can make for a good alternative to an electric grinder.
An automatic grinder is an obvious plus for convenience and grinding of larger quantities.
Which Is Best For Me A Flat Or Conical Burr Grinder?
Which of the two is better for you will depend on your own coffee needs and requirements. You need to look at the information provided, and which is most suitable for you.
For me, it is a conical burr every single time due to being less likely to heat up, less problem with heat retention. Plus, they are easier to clean and keep clean. I am all for the quality of my coffee, and I own two coffee shops.
Conical burr grinders are said to be best as a basic home grinder – and not for a gourmet coffee shop. I tend to disagree, and I have both types and still I swear I get a better shot of espresso from a conical burr than a flat burr.
I also get greater coffee for larger grounds and all roasted coffee variations with this type of grinder, thanks to the greater grind consistency.
Your next choice – which material should your burr be made from. You have two choices: ceramic or metal.
Frequently Asked Questions About Conical Vs Flat Burr Grinders
Why Is A Conical Burr Grinder Better?
A ceramic conical burr grinder is better due to getting you a good even grinding with a top-notch level of grind size control. The ceramic material also helps with reducing heat transfer from the burr to the beans to literally zero, which results in fresher coffee.
Due to the efficient shape, they are lower-RPM grinders. The benefit of this is less heat and less noise.
Are Conical Burr Grinders Worth It?
Yes, without a doubt conical burr grinders are worth it. Simply put, they produce a far better quality of grind than a flat burrs and blade grinders.
They are also much easier to clean and maintain. You will get a more delicious coffee with this type of grinder, and especially if you have a ceramic grinder.
What Type Of Burr Grinder Is Best?
It is in my opinion that ceramic conical burr grinder is best type of grinder that you will find.
What Type Of Coffee Grinder Is Best?
The best type of grinder in my opinion and experience is a ceramic conical grinder. They produce a much better quality of grind, the most important part, and have less (no) heat transfer from the burr to the coffee beans.
They are also easier to clean.
How Long Do Conical Burrs Last?
If you take good care of your grinder and with normal use your ceramic conical burrs should last at least 2 years. The burrs are easily sharpened and replaced. Your grinder is well taken care of should last you at least 5 years.
Does A Better Grinder Make Better Coffee?
Yes, a better grinder will help you to make a much better quality coffee due to less heat “cooking” your beans while they are being ground.
getting a more consistent and even grind size leads to a more even extraction as all the grind will extract at the same rate.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – Conical Vs Flat Burr Grinders
When it comes down to an analysis for grinders and grinder types, please do remember we have covered in this article only half the story covering flat burr Vs Conical grinders.
Before you jump in and buy a grinder, be it a blade grinder or a conical burr grinder, look for and read my article detailing the material debate about ceramic vs steel burr grinders.
When you buy your grinder, you will be stuck with it for a long time. Make sure you get the right burr and the right material.
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