Flat vs Conical Burr Grinder

Introduction

A coffee grinder is a kitchen appliance that does the same job as a traditional coffee mill. Both grind raw beans into uniform pieces. However, it can be confusing for some people to choose between the two options – flat burr or conical burr. This article will explore the differences between these types of grinders and how you would pick the ideal one. 

Flat Burr Grinder

Flat burr coffee grinders are characterized by a flat grinding surface that is usually made from steel. This type of coffee grinder is used in manual models, as well as for commercial operations. Its primary advantage is that it doesn’t cost as much as the conical model and it’s easier to clean and maintain regularly.

In this category, we can mention two types of burrs: fixed and adjustable. The first one is used in manual coffee grinders, while most commercial devices use the latter, which works on bean size criteria. In both cases, flat burr grinders don’t offer many different settings for fine grinding. This is a disadvantage since they’re not capable of grinding fine enough for Espresso devices.

How does it work?

The flat burr is an assembly of steel rollers. These are connected by teeth that can rotate and grind the beans, depending on the type of burrs used. The rolling mechanism can be adjusted through a set of slots that differ in thickness. The teeth allow beans to enter the unit and be ground, based on the amount of pressure applied by the user.

Although this mechanism is not as effective and consistent as a conical coffee grinder, it still offers a reasonable performance level. It has some advantages over its counterpart, such as ease of use without requiring any special technical knowledge or additional equipment.


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Pros and Cons of Flat Burr Grinder

Pros

  • This grinder provides a wide range of grind sizes.
  • It’s sturdy and reliable, providing high resistance to wear and tear.
  • This unit is low-priced and is an excellent choice for budget-conscious consumers.
  • You can easily adjust the unit by manually moving some rollers around.
  • The unit can easily be cleaned and maintained since it’s made from steel.
  • It saves expenditure as there is no requirement for any additional equipment, such as a blade grinder and a coffee bean roaster. 

Cons

  • It’s less efficient than a conical burr grinder, rendering an average-taste coffee drink.
  • The user will have to grind the beans more often to reach the same grinding level.
  • It’s not suitable for Espresso machines since it doesn’t produce fine particles.
  • It weighs more than a conical grinder, making it difficult to fit into smaller kitchens.

Conical Burr Grinder

Conical burrs are characterized by a conical shape that makes it possible to grind coffee beans of varied sizes. This type of device is often used in manual models but is also found in commercial coffee machines. Its most notable advantage is its different grinding options, which allow efficient grind size adjustment for a perfect cup of coffee. 

Conical burr grinders are used in automatic coffee machines, from small home models to big commercial devices. This type of grinder is also found in manual models. If you’re looking for a proper grinder for your Espresso machine, you should go for a conical burr model since it will provide different settings that will ensure a fine grind. 

How Does It Function?

The conical burr grinder has a smart mechanism since it can grind coffee beans of various sizes. It features a conical plate that is set at an angle of 30-45 degrees. This allows the device to accommodate beans in a variety of sizes and to grind them efficiently.

The conical burr is extremely efficient and grinds coffee beans in an even way, guaranteeing a consistent quality within the grounds. It can be adjusted by changing the length between the two plates and altering the coarseness of the settings. 

There are two types of categories available. A fixed-type one uses metal rollers that are held together by teeth that can also rotate. A flexible type one features two sets of interlocking teeth through which the beans are ground.

The size of a conical burr grinder can vary a lot, based on the model you like to use. It can be found in big commercial models capable of grinding many coffees at once, but smaller, more compact ones are designed for personal use.

Pros and Cons of Conical Burr Grinder

Pros

  • The design of the burr ensures a consistent quality of coffee beans and uniform grounds. It is  useful for home and commercial units.
  • It’s designed to work with any size of beans to produce a wide range of different products.
  • The conical burr model is more durable than the flat-type one since it’s made from metal instead of plastic.
  • It offers a reasonable level of performance, making it an excellent choice for both manual and commercial devices.
  • It can produce a consistent grind, which means that the final result is of high quality.
  • The unit is easy to clean and maintain since it doesn’t require any special equipment or additional tools.

Cons

  • It’s more expensive than a flat burr grinder and can be purchased by high-end consumers.
  • The unit’s overall weight is higher than that of a flat-type one, making it a difficult choice for portability.
  • It takes up space in your kitchen, making it inconvenient for people with small kitchens.

Major Differences Between Flat And Conical Burr Grinders

This grinder is considered a burr grinder because it features a disc-like shape and has a specific grinding mechanism. The most common versions feature metal rollers to grind coffee beans.  They’re compatible with coffee beans that have a diameter from 2.5mm to 5mm. This makes them unsuitable for drip coffee machines and Espresso machines. 

On the other hand, we have the conical burr grinder, characterized by a pronounced conical shape used in both manual and commercial models. It’s also used in Espresso machines since it has a different mechanism that produces a fine grind. This appliance can be automatically or manually adjusted, depending on your requirements. 

Which One Is Preferable?

The best burr grinder works with any coffee bean size (in manual and automatic models) and offers more versatility and efficiency. Conical burrs work well in automatic devices since they can work with multiple settings. They also deliver a consistent product, i.e., a fine grind size feasible for the brewing process. 

A flat burr is a bit different from a conical burr. It lacks a positive conical shape but still uses two interlocking pieces of metal to grind coffee. They’re usually hand-operated, but some commercial models are designed to be powered by an electric motor. Flat-type models offer a more comprehensive range of options than conical ones and they can work with smaller beans that don’t work with other devices.

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Conclusion

The conical models are usually more expensive, but they offer a more comprehensive range of options that may suit your needs better. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly unit, the flat burr model is the one for you since it’s cheaper and has only one setting feature. They both have automatic and manual variants.

FAQs

Q: What is Burr Grinder?

A: A burr grinder is a type of grinder that uses two revolving abrasive surfaces to crush or grind various materials, differing from other grinders, such as steel blades, cutters and crushers, which use one surface. Burr grinders are considered innovative and provide the user with more control over the grinding process. 

Q: Which type of burr grinder is better? Flat or conical?

A: The conical burr happens to be superior because it can handle different beans that are not possible with a flat-type model. The conical burr has a positive and steady conical shape that reduces friction. This makes the grinder more efficient and productive. The grinding process is more consistent with the conical burr model.

Q: Which is better, manual or automatic?

A: The conical burr model is usually more expensive, but it’s considered a more efficient option since it can handle a wide range of beans. Another advantage conical burrs have over flat-type models is that they are usually more durable than the latter. They have fewer moving parts and offer an even consistency in the final product. On the other hand, flat-type models use grinding wheels that are constructed from plastic instead of metal.