Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by John Moretti
If you are the type of person that cares about food, you are likely to have a spice grinder of some kind in your kitchen. This also probably means that you enjoy your coffee as well, and you may be wondering if your spice grinder can be used to grind coffee or vice versa?
Coffee grinders are built for uniform grind size and consistency. Spice grinders are built for grinding a range of ingredients. Spice grinders are not ideal for coffee as they are not consistent enough to create good grounds for brewing. Coffee grinders can be used for grinding spices.
If you only have a coffee grinder or a spice grinder, or if one of your grinders has broken, there are some things to consider before using a spice grinder for coffee beans or a coffee grinder for spices. There are important and critical differences between these two types of grinders that must be understood well before using them for an unintended purpose.
The Coffee Grinder
The coffee grinder is a staple in every coffee lover’s home. Grinding coffee fresh before brewing is the best way to ensure that every cup is as delicious as it can possibly be, and without a good coffee bean grinder, this is impossible.
A good coffee bean grinder is a powerful appliance. One look at the grinding mechanism of a coffee grinder, and it becomes quickly apparent that this appliance is more than capable of grinding much more than coffee beans alone.
Coffee grinders are typically found in two types, blade grinders, and bur grinders. Blade grinders are less effective, but they are less expensive, while bur grinders are far more effective and long-lasting, but they cost significantly more.
Blade and bur coffee grinders are both effective if they are used correctly. Serious coffee lovers will prefer a bur grinder due to the uniformity of grind size and consistency that they provide, while someone who brews a simple French press every day may be happy with a blade grinder.
Coffee grinders are intended to only be used with coffee beans, even though they are fully capable of grinding many other materials and ingredients as well. Using a coffee grinder with other substances such as spices or ingredients such as nuts is not advisable unless you intend to use the grinder for these purposes only.
The problem with grinding spices and nuts with a coffee grinder that is also used for grinding coffee is that the spices and other ingredients will contaminate the coffee that is ground in the machine, making the subsequent coffee brew taste of the spices and ingredients previously run through the grinder.
This will ultimately ruin the coffee and make for an unpalatable cup. However, coffee grinders are very good grinders, and if you want this type of performance for grinding spices and other ingredients, then buy a coffee grinder specifically to use for this purpose, and let your main coffee grinder be for coffee alone.
The Spice Grinder
Spice grinders come in various shapes, forms, sizes, and price brackets as well. This type of grinder is also available as a blade or a bur grinder, depending on the price range and what the grinder is specifically intended for grinding.
Spice grinders that are meant for chopping larger, softer ingredients into spices such as dried peppers for making paprika tend to use blades for grinding. Spice grinders that grind smaller, harder ingredients such as black pepper are more effective when equipped with burs for grinding.
Bladed versions of spice grinders are ideal for grinding very light particles as the motion of the blade lifts the spice up into the air and grinds it very effectively. Spice grinders, for this reason, are typically made with blades rather than burs, but there are specialized bur grinders available.
As with coffee grinders, electric and manual versions of spice grinders of available, and the effective grinding capabilities of these grinders may lead a person to use a grinder like this for grinding coffee beans.
However, spice grinders are typically not ideal for grinding coffee beans, as these grinders are focused on effectiveness rather than uniform grind size and consistency. It does not really matter how uniform the grind size of a spice is, but this characteristic is vital for brewing good coffee.
While spice grinders may be able to grind coffee beans small enough to brew with, the ground coffee from a spice grinder will not produce an ideal brew due to the lack of consistency in the grind.
Furthermore, the coffee will be tainted with the flavor of the spices and ingredients previously run through the spice grinder, regardless of how well the grinder is washed beforehand.
All of this means that spice grinders are not ideal for coffee beans at all, as they will taint the coffee beans, and even if a never-before-used spice grinder is used for coffee, the resultant ground beans will not be ideal for brewing a good cup of coffee.
At the end of it, we can conclude that it is possible to use a coffee grinder for grinding spices and nuts if the grinder has the power to do so; however, this will ruin any coffee that is ground with the same grinder afterward. This means that a coffee grinder can be used for grinding ingredients other than coffee, but it should then only be used for this purpose and not for grinding coffee.
Spice grinders are not ideal for grinding coffee because this type of grinder is not built for accurate uniformity of grind size and consistency. These grinders are perfect for spices and other ingredients such as nuts, but a spice grinder is simply not good enough for grinding coffee beans effectively for brewing.
If you find yourself in dire need of a grinder one way or the other, using either grinder will work, but know beforehand that the results may not be ideal, and the resultant grind may not be as good as you may need it to be.