Go to the archives

Capresso Burr Coffee Grinder

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Oct 09, 2014
Category: Food and Wine

When the child was younger, we used to sit on the couch and do her nightly reading together.

One evening we came across a character described by three adjectives.

“I have an idea,” I said. “Let’s think of three adjectives for one another.”

I listed three positive adjectives for the child.

Her adjectives for me were “mean, arrogant and tight.”

I was immensely impressed that a nine-year-old had “arrogant” in her arsenal.

Still, it stung a little. So I asked my wife if she’d describe me as “arrogant.”

There was a long pause. “I’d say…. snobbish.”

I’d agree. Not in the sense of snobbery as judgmental about people. My snobbery is about culture; I believe there is good and there is better, and if better is just as enjoyable as good, why in the world would you make the lesser choice? And, beyond culture, my snobbery extends to products. Especially coffee, the writer’s drug of choice.

In my universe, pre-ground coffee is beneath discussion. The only coffee worth buying is whole bean, recently roasted, stored in airtight bags, never refrigerated or frozen. As the water approaches the boiling point, I grind the beans. I use a 10-cup Melitta drip pot, taking care to start the brewing by wetting the coffee with a little boiling water so it expands, or, as they say in the trade, “blooms.” Then, after pouring the day’s first cup, I deposit the rest into a stainless steel carafe. (Coffee is not a liquid, it’s a colloid; keeping it hot on a burner changes the flavor. And not in a good way. That is why the real accomplishment of a Mr. Coffee machine or its equivalent is to transform even the best beans into a bitter sludge by 10 AM.)

For all my snobbery, I’ve been doing something wrong. It’s my grinder. I’ve always used a cheapo grinder. Which doesn’t exactly grind — it batters the beans and chips them into uneven bits. Worse, it runs fast, so it heats the beans, which is exactly what you don’t want, particularly if, like me, you run the machine for a full minute for a finer grind.

If you’re serious about coffee, you want what the pros use: a burr grinder. A burr grinder may give you the choice of as many as 16 speeds, but because it runs at a slower speed, it generates less heat. The burrs create uniform grounds. You can set a timer for five to sixty seconds so you don’t stand there, your life reduced to this chore, while you grind.

We chose the Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. It’s small but substantial; it weighs four pounds. Comes in silver or black. Will let you grind so fine you can make Turkish coffee. It’s low maintenance — easy to clean. The controls don’t require you to be a genius at 6:30 AM. [To buy the Capresso Grinder from Amazon, click here.]

If you use a drip method to make your coffee — and if you don’t, why don’t you? — you will discover that you can instantly justify the expense of a burr grinder. Simply, you are now drinking real coffee. The effort of the grower, the importer, the roaster has been fulfilled because you, the final link in the chain, have honored all that came before with a proper grinder.

In “1984,” almost everything is ersatz, a copy of a copy. But one day Winston Smith smells real coffee:

From somewhere at the bottom of a passage the smell of roasting coffee — real coffee, not Victory Coffee — came floating out into the street. Winston paused involuntarily. For perhaps two seconds he was back in the half-forgotten world of his childhood.

That’s the coffee equivalent of Proust dipping a Madeleine in his tea. But unlike Proust, you can experience a taste that is real and intense and oh so satisfying every day. The nectar of the gods, just as the gods drink it. Snobbery never made better sense.