Grinding to a Halt
I have failed you. But I cannot go on. Officially, tasting week has eaten my lunch.
After coming home last night, overstuffed for a second night in a row, an ice cream tasting would have been unwise. I also couldn’t bring myself to do a soda tasting. Truth be told I don’t even have all the materials at home I would require to do the tasting right. The good folks at Snow who sent me a bunch of their sodas will hopefully be patient while I assemble a set of similar products for comparative purposes.
Hey dad, speaking of grinding… I’m also delinquent on my review of the Cuisinart coffee grinder I’ve been trying out complements of CSN Stores. It has been so long, maybe you had forgotten. Since I’m not tasting anything right now, let me take a moment and tell you about it.
The story begins much like another more famous one, with a bag of magical beans.
When I was visiting Rhode Island, my mother gave me a pound of coffee from a local roaster, New Harvest Coffee. Specifically, it was their Kilimanjaro Blend which is described in the marketing materials as a “Hearty blend with cherry and chocolate aromas up front, with a full body haunted by hints of blueberry, whisky and a little smoke.”
How could you say no? But here’s the problem.
At home we drink more than our fair share of coffee. Mrs. Fussy wakes up really early and I stay up really late. We are both tired in the morning, but for different reasons. Our kids have been taught that coffee makes adults go.
Given our volume of coffee consumption, we can go through pre-ground coffee pretty quickly. Plus we generally don’t make great coffee at home every day. I have generally preferred to get great coffee out, since I’ve never really been able to make it as good at home as they do at the best cafés.
One reason for this is that I’ve never had the right kind of coffee grinder.
The right kind of coffee grinder is a burr grinder. A burr grinder crushes the beans instead of chopping them. A burr grinder produces a consistent grind and does so with a minimum of added heat. All of this keeps the precious and flavorful oils in the coffee beans intact. This was the kind of grinder I needed if I had any hope of extracting cherry and whiskey from my newfound bag of beans.
And it was this that sent me to CSN for the Cuisinart DBM8.
Here’s the thing. Great burr grinders are crazy expensive. They can range from hundreds of dollars to north of a thousand bucks for a professional grade model. The Cuisinart is 49.95 and it includes free shipping. For the extra money you get things like more consistent grinds and less coffee dust.
On the Cuisinart, the coffee dust has an annoying way of sticking to the plastic hopper through the amazing power of static cling. But I recently bought a dedicated pastry brush for the sole purpose of keeping my grinder clean and happy, and it has made my life significantly better.
So now while I may not have the ultimate tool to grind good coffee beans, at least now I feel like I’m doing right by them.
What I do really love about this grinder is the output setting. You slide the indicator bar to a desired number of cups, and it grinds a fixed amount of coffee. This is very helpful function which controls one of the major variables in coffee brewing – the ratio of grounds to water.
It is really hard, especially early in the morning, to make sure your coffee measurements are precise. Having a machine that grinds the coffee and takes manual measuring out of the equation is very helpful. So now to experiment with different ratios of water to grinds, all that needs to be done is to change the volume of water.
The upside is that the machine works. I ground my beautiful organic, shade-grown and fair-trade certified beans without regret. And from them I was able to coax everything but the blueberry. Although to be honest, it took me a long long time to find the cherry.
The downside is that this is obviously the early stages of a coffee obsession.
The question is then, how long will this entry-level burr grinder be satisfactory?
The answer is, until this blog starts generating an income and I can justifying buying one as a business expense. Or until some manufacturer sends me one to review.
But if you are looking for an entry level burr grinder that is precise enough for brewed coffee (not tested for espresso, that’s in an entirely different league) I am very pleased with this one.