BY OLIVER STRAND Published: October 2, 2011 The New York Times
Grinding beans with a burr grinder just before you prepare your coffee is the single most important step to making a better cup. Because coffee degrades rapidly when exposed to oxygen, mediocre beans just out of the grinder have much more flavor than even fantastic beans that were ground up yesterday. (As for the beans you ground last week, it's time to add them to the compost heap.) A decent burr grinder doesn't come cheap, though. The entry point is about $100, and if you want a better engine or more settings, you can easily spend $300. But like investing in a chef 's knife, it's a one-time expense you won't regret. Its beauty is that it crushes the beans into particles of a consistent size, unlike a blade grinder, which whirs some of the coffee into powder and some into chunks. And consistency is incredibly important to coffee's taste: a blade grinder is very likely to produce grinds that lead to uneven extraction, which results in bitter flavors.The beans you grind are also important, of course. You should be drinking the ones that are in season and therefore the freshest -- right now, that means the beans from South America. It's important to remember that shopping for coffee beans is like buying fish: ask for what has just come in. It makes a big difference.
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