Last Updated on February 13, 2022 by John Moretti
As most coffee enthusiasts will tell you, the best way to grind your coffee is to use a burr coffee grinder. That being said, coffee grinders are expensive, and if you have a food processor, you might be tempted to use that instead. The question then is, why not? What are the differences between a coffee grinder and a food processor?
Since coffee grinders are made for one purpose, they will grind coffee beans much more consistently than a food processor would. However, if you have no alternative, using a food processor will yield results and grind coffee to a medium consistency if you’re willing to put in the effort.
There is, of course, a lot to discuss when comparing a coffee grinder to a food processor. Not only are the grinds you will produce different, but there is also a difference in time, effort, and wear and tear to consider. Let’s take a closer look at each of the differences.
1. The Difference in Grind Consistency and Size Between A Coffee Grinder and A Food Processor
It is a fact that nothing can grind coffee beans as well as a burr coffee grinder. However, the most used method to grind beans without a grinder is using a food processor. Naturally, there will be differences between the grind size and consistency when comparing the two.
Burr Coffee Grinder
Burr coffee grinders are made to produce ground coffee that can be used for anything from filter coffee, which is relatively coarse, all the way to the finest grind, espresso.
Since burr grinders are made to grind the coffee, the burrs are aligned to allow for your choice of grind setting while still producing consistent ground coffee. The range at which these grinders work means you have multiple brewing options, and the chance for over or under extraction because of inconsistent grind size is significantly reduced.
Food processors can still grind coffee beans to a certain degree, though they are not made with this purpose in mind. Using the pulse setting on your food processor to produce short bursts will cause coffee beans to break apart and effectively become ground coffee.
Grinding your coffee beans using a food processor will not yield the same results as a coffee grinder will, though. Beans ground in a food processor is generally not very consistently ground. You will have pieces of coffee grinds that range in size and fineness, which creates a considerable margin for over or under extraction.
2. Coffee Grinder Vs. Food Processor – Time And Effort
Another area that you can compare between coffee grinders and food processors is the amount of time spent grinding your beans and the amount of effort to produce the grinds you want.
Because you have multiple different options of grind size when using a coffee grinder, the process of grinding coffee beans takes a lot less time and effort.
For the most part, grinding coffee beans using a coffee grinder will be a straightforward process that takes little more time than pressing a button. If you are a coffee connoisseur, you will probably know that to streamline the process and produce fresh ground coffee; you would usually measure out your beans before grinding.
After measuring your beans, the process is as simple as selecting your grind size, putting your measured beans in the grinder, pressing a button, and watching the ground coffee come out of your coffee grinder. There is little more to it when grinding beans for whatever brewing method you prefer.
A food processor indeed has a greater capacity for holding coffee beans when compared to a coffee grinder. However, it has to be said that more beans mean more time and more effort to produce ground coffee that you can use for your brewing method.
Since food processors are not made to grind the coffee, you will have a more challenging time producing coffee fine enough to use for anything other than a French press or filter machine.
It is still generally advised to measure out about two to four scoops of coffee to grind at a time, which means that the bigger capacity does not reduce grind time.
It must also be said that depending on the height of your food processor’s blade and the number of beans you put in it at once, you might have to tilt your machine a bit for the coffee to be in the blade’s path and become ground. If tilting your device does not work, periodically stopping and stirring the beans might help.
If you are grinding your coffee using a food processor, it is also essential that you regularly inspect the size of your ground coffee. Since there is no setting for grind size, you’ll want to measure the fineness by looking or even stopping the machine and using a spoon to take some out and feel with your fingers.
3. The Difference in Unkeep, Wear and Tear Between A Coffee Grinder and A Food Processor
The difference in upkeep and wear and tear between a coffee grinder and food processor used to grind coffee beans is significant. This is because one device was made with this purpose in mind while the other was not.
If you have no other choice, using a food processor to grind your beans is okay, but experts or coffee enthusiasts usually do not recommend long-term use.
Coffee grinders are designed to minimalize wear and tear and the need for upkeep. If you are willing to take the time to keep your grinder in shape and clean, your burrs would be able to last a year or longer, depending on how much coffee you grind.
It is advised to replace the burrs on your grinder every so often to ensure that your ground beans don’t lose quality. Different manufacturers have different recommended lifespans for burrs on coffee grinders, but for a grinder used at home, it is probably best to get them looked at after a year and a half.
Using a food processor to grind beans regularly is not recommended. It is considered okay to use in a pinch, but long-term use is not a good idea and can completely ruin your food processor.
Coffee beans tend to dull blades quite quickly. The dulling of edges is one of the reasons why burr grinders are recommended over blade grinders. Food processors have blades that are not made to handle grinding beans and can therefore become broken or dull and need replacing quite often.
If you do not clean your food processor regularly and properly after grinding beans, there is also a chance of grinds getting stuck where they shouldn’t and causing damage to other parts of your food processor.
All in all, it is clear to see that coffee grinders, specifically burr grinders, are much more effective at grinding coffee. Though it is common to use a food processor or blender if you have no other choice, it is not recommended for long-term use.
Ultimately most people would recommend using a grinder for coffee beans because it simplifies the process and produces the best brewing experience. Having good coffee is a must, and investing in a grinder can save you a lot of money, time, and effort in the long run.