Did you know that coffee grinder teeth are often made of one of two materials? For coffee enthusiasts, grinding your own beans using a coffee grinder elevates your experience.
The blade grinders used are typically made of ceramic or stainless steel - but which is better?
We have sifted through reviews to bring you the definitive facts behind each burr material.
Ceramic Vs Steel Burr Grinder: Differences Compared
To help brew the perfect cup, coffee grinders are used to customize various elements of your morning brew, including the grind size and grinding process.
The burr grinder, or burr mill, features two revolving blades in the grinding mechanism that funnel the beans into place.
Once in place, the beans are ground between the burrs and a non-moving surface. The uniform cut of the blades helps create a uniform grind size.
You can typically get burr grinders in either ceramic or steel, each having its benefits. What model and type you choose can vastly affect the taste and mouthfeel of your brew.
But which is better for your morning routine?
Ceramic burr grinders produce a more traditional coffee taste and feel with each sip. Coffee made with ceramic burrs runs a more complex taste with a good body.
It works particularly well with coffee designed to be roasted.
Stainless steel grinders are excellent at creating a clean feel and taste in their coffees, creating a crispness you can’t quite get with ceramic ones.
Steel burrs also create fewer fines and a more even particle distribution, making them perfect for alternative coffee methods.
A stainless steel grinder gives such precision that your perfect brew is guaranteed with every cup.
Sharpness is key when it comes to the grind, especially when it comes to getting uniform grind sizes.
Ceramic coffee grinders tend to not be as sharp out of the box, but retain their sharpness for their entire lives, only rarely needing sharpening.
Their sharpness is highly durable, but the ceramic burrs can be broken if the grinder is dropped or thrown.
On the other hand, stainless steel coffee grinders are incredibly sharp from the jump.
These strong and hard-wearing steel burr grinders dull over time and may need sharpening if they are commercial-grade grinders.
Stainless steel ones are also unlikely to crack or break like ceramic ones can.
In the ceramic vs steel burr debate, there is not much difference between them when it comes to cleaning.
Both are easy to clean and need a quick brush after use and a weekly wipe to remove coffee oil and residue.
That being said, it is recommended that you clean a stainless steel coffee grinder both before and after each use for optimal results.
For Espresso And Non-Espresso Roasting
Every regular coffee drinker has their preferred grind, roast, and coffee style. Whether you are a latte lover or an espresso enthusiast, you need to know which grinder type is best for you.
Ceramic grinders are perfect for coffees that need to be roasted for espresso. These are often the perfect accompaniment to espresso machines that do not have a grinding function.
Stainless steel burr grinders are perfect for alternative coffee brewing methods like pour-over and batch-making coffee. Modern espresso methods also work well with steel burrs.
Automatic (Electric) Vs Manual Options
When it comes to electric vs manual models, both ceramic and steel burrs can perform well in either category.
Some ceramic purists may prefer their ceramic burrs to be cranked manually, while some steel modernists may prefer an automatic touch to their routine.
Either way, do your research and consider what is best for your setup and preferences.
Cost & Availability
In terms of cost, you need to decide whether the upfront or long-term costs of your grinder matter more to you.
A ceramic coffee grinder tends to have a higher upfront cost but minimal maintenance cost due to its eternal sharpness.
However, you may need to pay that upfront cost again should the ceramic grinder break during a move.
Stainless steel coffee grinders tend to be cheaper upfront but wear down their sharpness faster than their ceramic counterparts.
This means that you may need to sharpen the burrs or replace them entirely every few years, depending on the model.
In the world of coffee, you get what you pay for. We recommend researching carefully and ensuring that your chosen model is durable, accessible, and of quality build before purchase.
When purchasing a blade grinder, whether you choose stainless steel or ceramic coffee grinders, you’ll also have to choose between conical burrs and flat burrs.
A conical burr grinder doesn’t require as much power because they use gravity (and thus, less heat).
Flat burrs require more power, create more heat in the process, and are usually more expensive, but you can expect your coffee ground perfectly each time.
An Overview Of Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinders
Ceramic coffee grinders have been around for centuries and are not just used for coffee beans - their sturdy and non-corrosive nature has led to their use of grinding pepper, salt, and other spices as well.
Coffee purists tend to favor ceramic burrs due to the traditional coffee flavor and mouthfeel they instill in the beans.
A ceramic coffee grinder tends to be more expensive upfront but will stay sharp its entire lifespan.
A good grinder comes with the investment, but we recommend looking online where blade grinders' cheaper prices are for domestic burr grinders.
Ceramic coffee grinders are typically best for manual grinding and for those who regularly make roasted espresso.
This is due to the lack of heat conduction through the ceramic, making it unlikely that you will burn your beans during the roasting process while giving a more traditional taste.
If you have an espresso-making machine that does not have a grinding function or just want to switch from steel, give ceramic burrs a try.
An Overview Of Stainless-Steel Burr Coffee Grinders
For a coffee lover, it is vital to create that coffee shop experience at home while elevating your coffee’s flavor.
Stainless steel burrs (sometimes called metal burrs) are used in both commercial and personal grinders to create that clean taste coffee shop lovers crave.
These excellent tools help coffee machines bring you the best while also allowing you to try different brewing methods at home, like a French press or drip brewer.
Steel burrs are also highly sharp and cheaper upfront, able to create a precise grind for an affordable price.
Cheaper ones are a great way to start grinding coffee beans at home before upgrading, with many made in a similar style to the Turks and other coffee originators.
You most often see steel burrs in automatic coffee grinders, but there are steel manual versions as well for traditionalists.
A steel coffee grinder works best with single-origin coffee and an automatic grinding system.
Additionally, steel grinders are perfect for alternative and commercial brewing methods, like drip or pour-over.
Common Ceramic & Steel Burr Grinder Questions
How long do ceramic and steel burrs last?
How long an item lasts depends on a variety of elements, including the model, build quality, burr material, how often it is used, how well it is cared for, and so on.
Typically, both ceramic and steel coffee grinders can last for around ten years or more with proper care.
How do you use a ceramic burr grinder?
For automatic or electric grinders, you simply need to follow the instructions. For manual method types, insert the coffee beans where necessary and crank the handle in the right direction.
How often should I replace burr grinders?
How often you need to replace your burr grinder depends on many factors similar to what we discussed above, including its material.
You will typically need to think about replacing your burr grinder when:
Conclusion – Which Is Better?
Whatever grinder you choose can make a huge difference to both the flavor profile and brewing method.
If you do not have a material that is a major deal-breaker, we recommend considering the facts above and doing your research on models, brands, and customer reviews to find the best burr material and style for you. Onward to the best ground coffee!