Is a Coffee Grinder Better Than a Blender To Make Coffee Grounds?

Are you not sure if you want to spend money on a coffee grinder and think a blender you’ve already got will do the same job? Is there any benefit in getting a coffee grinder? Here’s what you want to know.

A burr coffee grinder is going to produce more uniform, cleaner coffee grounds than a blender or even spice grinder. This results in more balanced tasting coffee with much less harsh bitter and sour notes. A simple burr grinder is not too expensive and will massively improve coffee over a blender.

What’s the difference between the different ways of grinding coffee and why does it matter? Find out below.

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How Does a Blender Grind Coffee?

A blender is a big jug with spinning blades at the bottom. The blades smash into the beans and break them up. This breaks up the coffee beans but it’s a rather uncontrolled process.

There is no control over how fine you grind your coffee with a blender or even spice grinder. The blades just smash into the beans and the only control you have over the grind size is how long you turn on the blender. The longer you blend, the finer the coffee becomes. However, some parts will be very fine while others are still quite big.

In a blender, the blades are often quite a ways from the bottom of the jug. This means that while whole beans will be broken up, there can be large particles stuck under the blades that the blades can never touch without shaking the whole thing.

Also, breaking up coffee beans in a grinder produces a lot of super small coffee pieces. These very small pieces are called ‘fines’ and can cause your coffee to have a very harsh bitterness. Because the beans are dry, you get some dust when breaking them up in this way.

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grounds in a blade coffee grinder.

How Does a Coffee Grinder Grind Coffee?

There are two kinds of coffee grinder:

  • Blade grinder
  • Burr grinder

The blade grinder looks a lot like a blender. Actually most blade grinders are just rebranded spice grinders. The difference between those and blenders is that the blades are much closer to the bottom so it gets all the beans. They are also a lot smaller than a blender jug so the beans are contained a bit more have more chances of hitting the blades. Other than that, spice grinders or blade coffee grinders have the same problems as blenders.

Burr grinders work in a very different way. There are two cutting discs that rotate. Usually one of the discs is fixed to the grinder and the other burr is rotated. The burrs have little teeth that actually cut the beans instead. The burrs are designed in such a way that the beans go in the top and they’re pushed through to the bottom. The further they get through the burrs, the finer the teeth and the finer the beans are cut.

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This way of grinding coffee is going to give a much more uniform result. All the coffee particles are going to be much closer in size than if you’re just smashing the beans with blades. You also have much more control over the final size. Most burr grinders are adjustable. By simply moving the burrs further or closer togheter, the final particle has a bigger or smaller gap which they can escape through. The bigger the gap, the larger the final grind size.

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coffee beans in the hopper of an electric burr grinder.

Is a Coffee Grinder Better Than a Blender?

A blender is about the worst choice you can make to grind your coffee beans. Even a hammer might work better. The blades just crush the beans and there is no control over the size of the final grounds. A spice grinder is a touch better but still has a lot of the same problems.

A burr grinder allows for much more control over the final size and produces a much more uniform result. You might not think this is a big deal but the grind size and uniformity are a huge part of making good coffee.  If you don’t want to buy a burr grinder, you’re probably better off buying pre-ground coffee. While pre-ground coffee goes stale much faster, the grind size and uniformity is a lot better than from a blade grinder.

Let’s take a look at why grind size control and uniformity is so important for brewing good coffee and therefore why a burr grinder is much better.

Grind size control

As said, with a blade grinder you barely have any control over the grind size while you have good control with a burr grinder. This is important because different brewing methods require different sized coffee particles to brew the best coffee.

For example, a French press requires relatively large coffee particles while an espresso machine requires quite fine particles. The grind size for French press looks something like sea salt while an espresso grind is just a little larger than flour. This is a huge difference and using an espresso grind in a French press doesn’t work and vice versa. Trying this will result in very bad coffee.

That’s why being able to control the grind size is key to brewing good coffee with whatever method you like.

The key is extraction. Just like tea, coffee has to be extracted. The water has to absorb the taste that’s inside the coffee beans. Throwing a whole bean in some water is going to make the water slightly brown if you’re lucky. That’s because a whole bean doesn’t have a lot of surface area to act on. Grinding the beans exposes a huge amount of surface area which results in much more space for the water to extract the grounds. The finer the coffee grounds, the more surface area and the faster the extraction.

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Different brewing methods have different contact time with the grounds and use different pressures, flow rates, etc. which is why they require different grind sizes.

The problem with using the wrong grind size for a certain brewing method is that the coffee will be extracted too much or too little which causes the taste to be too sour or too bitter. Fine grounds can also cause the filters to clog up and cause residue in the cup.

Grind uniformity

The grind uniformity is also very important. Blade grinders might have some fine grounds after a while of blending but there will still be a large difference between the largest and smallest particles. Blade grinders produce a wide range of particle sizes. Some will be right for your brewing method, some will be too fine, some will be too coarse. So you get the worst of everything. You get the harsh bitterness from the fines while also getting the sourness from the particles that are too coarse.

A burr grinder still has some variation in the particle sizes (The better the grinder the smaller the differences) but the distribution is much smaller than with a blender and the resulting coffee is massively improved as a result.

The grind uniformity is why coffee aficionados spend big bucks on expensive grinders. In general, more expensive grinders have better uniformity as well as better build quality and more features. So you can see that a burr grinder is a much better option.

A simple hand burr grinder can be bought for only about $10 more than an electric blade grinder so if you’re looking to buy one, it’s really well worth it to spend a little extra for a burr grinder. Check out my review of the grinder I started out with here.


Welcome to CoffeeImproved! Since falling in love with coffee, I've been on a journey to improve my morning cup day by day. That means I've tried many different brew methods, beans and equipment and experimented with all of them to find what I like. This is where I share what I've learned with you.

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