What's new

Amateur Grinder Question

Background: This might be blasphemy but I typically use a Keurig. I don't really have a refined tongue when it comes to coffees and espressos I just know I like it dark. At starbucks I typically get an Americano and put nothing in it. I purchased the Holiday blend in the Espresso roast thinking I could brew it and it would be nice and strong. I get decent results when using the French press but I really prefer to use the Keurig on the weekdays simply because I'm usually pretty rushed. When I put the grinds in the "My K-Cup" the results were disastrous. I tried a few times in different ways even trying to pack in the grinds but to no avail. The "coffee" was watery and disgusting.

Grinder: I have been grinding the beans in a cheap grinder I got at T.J. Maxx for 10$ made by Capresso. Similar in style to this:


I read that I should grind it too fine so I left it kind of... chunky. It was mostly ground but still a couple half beans in there. I feel like the grind is pretty uneven and I didn't know if this is affecting it. Any tips or advice? Should I consider investing in a new grinder? If so what are some relatively cheap options(I don't mind a manual grinder or something.)

the problem with "whirly blade" grinders is consistency. For press you need consistency otherwise you get fines and dust which equates to mud in the bottom of your cup.

An "good" electric burr grinder is going to cost you a minimum of $100. Sure you can buy one for less but bottom line is, one that will grind consistently for press is going to cost you $100 (refurbished Baratza Encore is $85 + $15 shipping which is $100 directly from Baratza).

A good hand grinder that is consistent for press is going to cost you around $60-70 +/- for a Kyocera CM-50 or Hario Skerton plus a Orphan Espresso PFP bottom bearing kit that you will install yourself.

As suggested with your whirly blade. Pulse, shake, bounce, in VERY short bursts (to avoid heating). You will still have fines and dust which will equate to mud in the bottom of your cup but without spending some dinero this is the trade off you will have to live with.
Hmm I might have to rethink my investment into a grinder. I was hoping to spend about 20$ but I also don't want to have to keep buying something and in the end spend more. Might even have to bump up to the electric burr grinder. What are a couple that you'd suggest other than the Baratza Encore?

As for the grinds... when they say "coarse grind" for the french press, what does that look like? Just not a fine powder? kind of like sand? or kind of like sea salt chunks?
These would be pour over (fine), drip (med), and press (coarse) grinds.

Last edited:
Having half bean sized chunks is too large and wasting coffee as you already know. This type of grinder works better for drip or pour over brewing where there is paper to filter out the small particles. It can work for french press in a pinch.

A hand grinder like the Hario Skerton along with the Orphan Espresso PFP (performs for press) bearing modification would be a better choice. There was some discussion of this combination in the recent "New French Press" message thread.
Can't go wrong with a Hario Mini Mill: http://www.amazon.com/Hario-Coffee-Mill-Slim-Grinder/dp/B001804CLY

Much more even grind (uses burr grinders instead of whirling blades) and very customizable. It's a good way to get hands-on with your coffee with a reasonably low price point.

Upgrading your beans by ordering from a great local roaster (if there's one near you) or online from a famous roaster (Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia are both great options, but there are lots out there and YMMV) makes a big difference. You may find, as I did, that you like strong coffee with more flavor. When the beans are expertly roasted and not over roasted, you tend to get more flavor and just as much strength.

Have you looked into the Aeropress as a fast alternative to French Press? It's cheap ($25), easy to clean, and very quick. It produces a very smooth cup and there are quite a few brewing options.

Happy brewing!
With a bit of practice blade grinders work just fine, just keep grinding a little finer each time until you get the desired result. I usually shoot for a fine sand type feel to the grounds that clumps together when pinched
Thank you all, especially that picture which made me realize my grinds were not nearly fine enough. I'll work with the blade grinder for now but I'll be on the look out for a nicer one. I might check some prices after the holidays are over.
I'm quite happy with my blade grinder and agree with the taste testers from Americas Test Kitchen's (quote below). Of course I am probably considered a average coffee drinker. We like good coffee and I enjoy making coffee for my wife and I each morning so we can have a few cups before the day starts. "We were surprised to discover that the coffee brewed with blade-ground beans was less likely to turn out bitter. The tasters did note that coffee from blade-ground beans had less body than coffee from burr-ground beans, but we were happy to sacrifice a little body for the reduced risk of brewing bitter coffee. We also learned that we could improve the body of the coffee somewhat by defying the blade grinders’ instructions and grinding the beans for a little longer, 20 to 25 seconds, rather than the recommended 10 to 15, without overheating the beans or jeopardizing smooth flavor in the coffee." I also pulse my grinder and shake it while I am grinding the beans.
If you are making automatic drip or pour over using a paper filter (American style coffee) there should be little difference between a blade grinder and a burr grinder as far as the quality of the brewed coffee. The difference shows up in non filtered brewing methods such as glass rod filtered siphon and french press where the finer "bits" can go through into the cup.

I used a Braun whirlie blade for decades rather than buy pre-ground "fresh in the can" big name coffee. I still have my Braun but I don't use it any more.
I use a magic bullet to grind my beans. I pulse and bounce the beans in the cup till they are nice and finely ground. I fill my k-cup almost full but enough to cover the screen. Then I brew a small cup, wait 5 min while doing other nonsense, then in the same cup, same beans, brew another small or medium cup worth for my specific mug. This gives me strong strong brew from the keurig. I also have a fancy french press and the keurig this way is good for me. I just dont want a bunch of clutter of electronic devices that has one major use and several not so common everyday uses. Also, I found that "san francisco coffee company" makes fresh ground cups with filters instead of the whole creamer looking cup. A way better tasting cup of coffee.
Last edited:
I used a blade grinder with a Mr Coffee Espresso machine in college. It worked fine once I learned how to grind coffee! I made some pretty good cappuccinos as I recall... and saved myself a load of cash doing so!

I prefer my Hario Skerton with the Orphan Espresso PFP bearing mod. Easy to use, quiet, and perfect for french press, drip, and I think I could still get it fine enough for espresso, it looks like it would allow for that!
Keep in mind that "pretty good" will vary with taste preference and experience. I thought I was getting pretty good results with grinding my beans for espresso with a blade grinder to load into a Krups steam toy over a decade ago. These days I wouldn't consider a blade grinder for anything other than grinding spices. YMMV.

I get decent results when using the French press but I really prefer to use the Keurig on the weekdays simply because I'm usually pretty rushed. When I put the grinds in the "My K-Cup" the results were disastrous.
As a rule of thumb grind should be finer as extraction time decreases. FP and Keurig have very different extraction times. It's minutes versus seconds. I'd expect grind for a Keurig to need to be much finer.

I feel like the grind is pretty uneven and I didn't know if this is affecting it.
Consistency is always desirable. Fines tend to extract quicker (we're back to the whole "finer for shorter extraction times" guideline). If you have boulders and fines then you can easily overextract the fines and underextract the boulders which probably won't result in a tasty cup unless you have extremely lenient tolerances.
Last edited:
Top Bottom