Conical vs Flat Burr Grinder | The Differences You Should Know
The debate on coffee burr grinders remains heated. Coffee geeks are still unsure of which burr grinder to crown the best. However, the big question remains," which should you consider, conical vs. flat burr grinder?” In case you are not aware, burrs are the coffee grinder parts that grinds the coffee beans. They are two different types of burr grinders, a flat and a conical plate.
Both the burrs grind the coffee excellently, but they have some variances between them, which you need to understand. This will help you in making an informed decision and see if it actually makes a difference for your drink. Here is an exclusive look at the conical vs. flat grinder.
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Conical Vs Flat Burr Coffee Grinder
Honestly, any burr grinder will do a decent job of giving you quality and consistent quality grind. However, there exist variances in the conical and flat grinder, which might make choosing one over the other a little more important to you.
Conical Burr Grinder
Conical burr grinder derives its name from the cone-shaped burrs. These burrs grind the coffee beans by pulling them between the rotation rings. The conical burr grinders have a low-power motor and run slowly. The low-power motor reduces the noise and heat production during the grinding process without affecting the strength of the grinding.
Flat Burr Grinder
As the name suggests, flat grinders contain two flat-lying rings. One of the rings lies upwards while the other lies downwards. To grind the coffee beans, the beans fall between the rings, and they are crushed into small particles by the use of sharp teeth on the edges of the flat plates. The flat plates have sharp teeth on the edges that they use for grinding rather than relying on ridges to crash and grind the beans like the case of conical burr grinders. Flat burr grinders clog more often, produce more heat, and produce louder noise.
Learn more about how to clean a burr coffee grinder.
When comparing conical and flat burr grinders, this is one of the most important differences that you should be debating. The difference between the grounds from a flat burr and those from a conical burr is imperceivably with the naked eye. However, subjecting the grounds to the scrutiny of a microscope, you will notice the differences. A conical burr grinder produces grounds of two-particle sizes, large and small. This particle distribution size will still remain even under the finest grind setting.
On the contrary, a flat burr grinder has a bizarrely uniform particle size, with all the grounds being unswervingly uniform in size. Although you might quickly conclude that this makes flat burr better than coffee burr, the judgment would be quick. It is harder to achieve a standard espresso with a flat burr grounds, but you can be able to pull longer shots and get more creative with your espresso recipes.
In terms of shape, the conical burrs thave a cone-shaped serrated ring that inters into another hollow cone-shaped serrated ring. It is the ridges between the conned burrs that crush and grind the beans. On the other hand, the flat burrs come with two serrated rings that face each other the crushed between the burr teeth doing the grinding. More so, they have a more powerful motor than conical burrs.
Conical burr grinders are gravity-fed hence do not require so much power to operate. This results in lower noise output for conical burr grinders than the flat burr-based units. The flat burr grinder has a high RPM to ensure all the coffee beans get into the grinding chamber. They hence have a more powerful motor that translates to more noise. Mind you, this is not a day and night difference, but you will notice if you listen to it.
Similar to noise, a conical burr grinder produces less heat because there is no excessive friction generated in the process of grinding. This is mostly applicable when grinding bulk amounts of coffee. On the other hand, a flat burr grinder produces more heat, which can cause damage to the grounds, producing a slightly altered flavor profile. You should try and evade heat as much as you can to maintain the pleasant savors for your coffee cup.
There exists no real difference when it comes to the taste of the grounds produced by flat and conical burr grinders. You need to adjust all grinders for taste. There are some real differences in the grounds from conical and flat burrs, but they do not matter after you have adjusted the grinder and other variables in your brewing method. Both burr grinders yield high-quality grounds and are used in prestigious specialty coffee cafes.
Averagely, conical burrs are less costly than flat burrs grinders. You can buy a conical burr grinder for a much lesser price than a flat burr grinder. This is attributed to the much simpler burr machinery in the conical burr than a flat burr. If you pick a hand-operated and manual conical grinder, it will probably be cheaper. Flat burr grinders have more powerful motors that grind a higher volume of coffee beans within a short time, hence more expensive.
Quality of Grounds
When it comes to the quality of grounds, there is no much difference between the two. Both types of burrs can yield high-quality grounds. A high-quality version of both types will deliver excellent results. When looking at what each of the quality ground would be best fitted, a conical burr produces a quality conventional espresso. In contrast, the flat burr is better for experimentation and is being embraced by many baristas.
This is a minor consideration when choosing between a conical vs. flat burr grinder but when brewing for perfection every tiny ground count. Nevertheless, a flat burr produces more waste than a conical burr grinder. Unlike the conical burr, the flat burr grinder has a flat shape that traps some of the grounds inside. This also makes cleaning to be more tedious.
Which is Better?
All coffee nerds have their own theories on the type of burr that is better. Most of these are nonsense and cannot be proven. Overall, there is no real winner in this heated debate on flat vs. conical burr grinder, and you cannot go wrong with either of them.
Some people might prefer the conical burr grinder for its ability to make grounds that are excellent for traditional espresso. However, outside this, the grinder is not favorable for experimentation, and hence others might prefer the flat burr style.
To get the best type for your needs between these burr grinders, you should consider all the above differences .so depending on the coffee you purchase, each of these grinders have different strengths and capabilities. But if you have gone this far and you still aren't sure about the one you prefer, our advice would be that you try both of them and experience the difference for yourself.
The difference between a conical and a flat burr grinder is minimal. If you are comparing a quality flat burr grinder and a quality conical burr grinder that in good working condition and clean, then the differences in grind consistency and freshness would be hardly noticeable. However, for me, a perfect conical burr grinder wins the race.