Coffee 101: Conical Burr vs. Flat Burr Grinder

Quick Summary

Conical Burr vs. Flat Burr Grinder: What to Choose? So, you've chosen to go with a burr grinder. You know that the quality of your coffee grind is important, but now you've hit another roadblock. Do you choose a conical burr or flat burr grinder?

Both types produce a high-quality grind, so choosing one over the other will never result in a terrible mistake. However, the finer differences might skew your preference toward one or the other.

Both models have two burrs, one that remains stationary and another that rotates with a motor. The different shapes have a few slight differences in coffee ground retention, consistency, and possibly even taste.

What is a Conical Burr Grinder?

Best Conical Burr Grinder

Best Conical Burr Grinder

A conical burr grinder is made of two cone-shaped parts, a cone-shaped ring and a cone that fits within this opening. It has jagged edges that grind the coffee beans, which enter the grinder at a slant and are placed almost vertically inside.

The Good

Due to its vertical angle, conical burr grinders retain fewer grounds in its textured interior, since they fall out instead of remaining stuck. This feature makes them easier to clean than flat burr models.

Conical burr grinders produce slightly more varied coffee ground sizes. They result in a mix of large and small particles that may be imperceptible to the human eye but are best suited for traditional espresso recipes.

Baristas who use this grinder find it easier to dial and more forgiving. However, for ordinary users at home, this feature probably isn't significant. Conical burr grinders are also quieter since motor runs at a lower RPM.

Some even say that the shape of this grinder brings out distinct flavors and well-suited for the light taste of African coffee beans.

The Bad

Conical burrs produce varied particle sizes. Although varied sizes are well-suited to traditional espressos, a more consistent grind allows you to get creative.

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What is a Flat Burr Grinder?

Best Flat Burr Grinder

Best Flat Burr Grinder

A flat burr grinder has two metal rings with serrated edges. These pieces are placed horizontally parallel to one another. The grinder makes two 90 degree turns to grind the coffee beans.

The Good

Flat burr grinders result in a smooth and even grind. Consistency in the grind is arguably the most notable difference when it comes to choosing a conical burr or flat burr grinder. The smooth, even particles allow you to experiment and get more creative with your espresso drinks.

Coffee connoisseurs claim that flat burr grinders integrate flavors well and produce a more full-bodied, or thick, coffee. It may also enhance nutty and chocolate notes present in many Central and South American coffee beans.

Between a conical burr or flat burr grinder, conical burr models are generally cheaper and more compact than flat burr grinders.

The Bad

Flat burr grinders retain more grounds than conical ones, so you'll see more grounds stuck in the burrs than a conical burr grinder. The trapped particles can contaminate the flavor of successive shots, requiring you to clean this grinder thoroughly before using a different coffee bean.

The extremely even particles from a flat burr model can make it harder to pull a traditional espresso shot. Baristas must pull a longer shot to achieve the same taste. You'll also need to adjust a flat burr grinder more frequently to achieve a consistent grind.

Flat burr grinders also operate at a higher RPM, which produces a louder, high-pitched noise than conical varieties.


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