If you’re a coffee lover, you must have heard about the superiority of Burr grinders over blade grinders. But do you know burr grinders are further categorized into Conical and Flat grinders.
But there’s one small catch – what’s your thing? Conical or Flat? Let’s dive into the conical vs flat burr grinder debate to get the right answer. So, stick with me and learn the differences, pros, and cons of picking the right one.
Conical vs Flat Burr Grinders: Which is Better?
Before exploring the core difference between Conical and Burr grinders, let’s consider why to choose a burr grinder? The Burr grinder has abrasive surfaces called burrs or burr mills. These Burrs grind the beans fast, quickly, and with consistency.
And these burrs can be either conical or flat in shape, and each type offers unique advantages and disadvantages. Now here’s the deal: Conical vs Burr Grinders.
Conical Burr Grinders
A conical burr grinder has two cone-shaped burrs, one stationary and the other rotating. When coffee beans enter the grinder, these burrs gradually crush them into uniform particles.
Conical burr grinders have several edges over their flat counterparts. Conical grinders offer a more consistent grinding which results in better flavor and aroma extraction for your cup of coffee.
Another fantastic feature of Conical grinders is their slower rotation during grinding. What’s that mean?
When the burrs rotate at a slower speed, they generate less heat. This process preserves the taste and aroma of fresh whole beans. Further, conical burr grinders are often quieter and more durable than Flat grinders.
This feature makes them more suitable for home brewing and a long-lasting investment for coffee lovers. However, one drawback of conical burr grinders is their relatively slow speed compared to flat burr grinders.
Pros and Cons Of Conical Grinders
Flat Burr Grinders
Flat burr grinders have two flat, parallel burrs to crush the coffee beans. You can adjust the grind size according to your brewing preferences by adjusting the distance between these burrs.
How Does a Flat Burr Grinder Work?
When coffee beans pass through the grinder, flat burrs grind them into consistent particles suitable for your desired drinks. Two donut-shaped burrs with sharp edges grind the beans more precisely and with consistency.
Since the flat grinders need more force to crush the whole beans, they use a more powerful motor to move or spin the blades. However, Flat burrs produce louder noise as compared to Conical grinders.
Advantages of Flat Burr Grinders
One of the standout advantages of flat burr grinders is their uniform grind size for each coffee bean. Moreover, flat grinders are less likely to clog, even when grinding oily beans. That’s why a professional barista always goes for Flat Burr grinders.
Flat grinders use a strong motor for grinding; therefore they are generally used for commercial-grade coffee brewing.
One potential downside of flat burr grinders is they tend to generate more heat while smashing the beans. Due to this heat, the flavor and aroma of coffee beans can be slightly changed.
However, this is often a minimal concern among coffee geeks, and flat grinders still give excellent and consistent results for brewing a perfect espresso shot.
Pros and Cons of Flat Grinders
Conical vs Flat Burr Grinders: Comparison
Let’s draw a comparison between Conical and Flat grinders.
How do Conical Burr grinders work?
Grind consistency plays a vital role in even extraction of flavor and aroma from coffee beans. And this even extraction produces a rich mouthfeel of coffee. So, the first consideration for a good grinder is, how uniform and consistent grounds it produces.
As the operating mechanism of flat and conical grinders is different, the result also varies. Conical burr grinders produce a bimodal distribution of grounds. This means when you examine the grounds carefully, you’ll see two different grind particles: small and large, even in the fine grounds.
What does happen? – when beans are crushed between two cone-shaped burrs, they’re divided into small and large particles, which results in a classic espresso shot.
The small particles clog in the screen or basket, which stops the larger particles to extract more flavor to produce rich and think espresso shots.
While on the other hand, the small particles get over-extracted which adds a bitter taste to an espresso shot. And finally, you enjoy a balanced rich cup of espresso in your mornings.
How do Flat grinders work?
Flat grinders produce unimodal grounds, which means there is only particle size when you grind coffee beans. Flat grinders spin at higher speed with a powerful electric motor, so the beans don’t clog up and are being crushed at the same force.
Therefore, Flat grinders produce more even extraction at a faster pace. However, one drawback of this process is heat generation which may affect the taste and aroma of beans.
Noise is something that you noises first as the grinder starts grinding. And of course, everyone likes a quieter and smoother grinder. Noise is determined by the build and structure of the grinder.
Flat burrs use a powerful motor to crush the beans at a higher rate: approximately 700 PRM (Revolutions Per Minute) which produce more noise. On the other hand, a conical grinder doesn’t use higher PRM and as a result produces less noise. However, the noise of the motor can be reduced with outer body material.
Grind retention can impact the consistency and freshness of the coffee. Grind retention refers to the amount of ground coffee that remains inside the grinder after the grinding process.
It’s a common issue for burr grinders when some residue is left inside the burrs. These old grounds mix with freshly ground coffee which affects the taste and quality of the brew.
That being said retention is less in conical grinders due to their vertical burr shape. Beans are forced from the bottom rather than the sides, so there’s less chance of ground clogging in the teeth of the grinding chamber.
Flat grinders on the other hand grind faster due to their horizontal placement. A powerful motor pushes the grinds from the sides and as a result, more particles are left behind the burr chamber.
Flat grinders use a powerful and expensive motor, making them pricer than conical burr grinders. However, you can find good conical burr grinders for under $50.
Final Thoughts: Conical vs Flat Grinders
To sum up the ever-green debate about conical vs flat burr grinders, both grinders have their own specification, pros, and cons. Flat grinders are more powerful and deliver more consistent grounds. While conical grinders are affordable and offer thick and rich espresso shots. In short, if you’re a professional barista or want more consistency, go for the flat grinder. On the other hand, if you’re a home barista and want to enjoy quieter, cooler, and cheaper grinding, a conical grinder can be a good option for you.