Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grind Your Own Coffee: Little Muss, Little Fuss

KitchenAid BCG111 Blade Coffee Grinder

The fact is that, while I drink as much or more coffee than many people, I’m not that “picky” about the stuff. When push comes to shove, my coffee needs are pretty basic: I want it dark, and I want it strong. Froufrou infusions of vanilla or hazelnut need not apply, nor do I want artificially-flavored creamers. French roast, though? Bring it on…
KitchenAid BCG111OB BCG111ER Blade Coffee Grinder
We quit buying ground coffee a while back and went to whole bean, mostly because we were buying three pounds at a time and could taste it going “stale.” That switch necessitated a new grinder, since the one we’d had for more than thirty years was basically shot. Pretty much all we could find in the local stores was the KitchenAid  BCG111OB, in "onyx black" (it's also available in "empire red" as the BCG111ER). We’ve had good experiences with KitchenAid in the past, so it was pretty much a no-brainer.

This is a basic blade-style grinder, as opposed to the burr grinders you find in the bulk coffee department at your grocer. There’s a clear plastic lid that lifts straight off, and you simply dump whole beans into the stainless-steel grinding compartment, which is marked with 4-, 8-, 10-10, and 12-cup lines( those are suggestions, which seem rather generous). The plastic cap fits back on, and – when you hold it down firmly – triggers the motor to run the whirling blade. There is no timer, you either count grinding time or use your kitchen timer or watch.

Once the beans are ground, you have to remove the grinding cup by twisting it counterclockwise. Then you can dump the grounds into your coffee pot. Obviously, the process is somewhat experimental: you learn by trial and error what quantity of beans corresponds to your preferred strength, and how long you have to grind the beans to get the desired texture. The owner’s manual has a chart of suggested grind times in seconds per count of cups.

Unlike a burr grinder, this blade grinder yields an inconsistent texture, with a mixture of fine and coarse grains and even the occasional half or whole bean. I always have to “pry” grounds out from underneath the blade, where they’re compacted by the grinding action. That doesn’t much bother me, but some more fastidious folks might be grossed out by the idea. Once emptied, the bowl can be a little tricky to fit back into the base, but that’s as it should be – it needs to be very secure.

The grinding bowl and top cover can be washed by hand or in a dishwasher (top rack for the plastic cover). For the most part, only a few small grains of coffee escape the bowl (grinding at the 10-cup level for 18 to 20 seconds), and after a couple of months there is just a little coffee “dust” in the base.

     I wish I didn’t have to dig the grounds out of the bottom of the bowl, and I wish I could get a more even grind. Still, I’m willing to work with my KitchenAid BCG111 and put up with a grind that’s not quite perfect, because this thing cost less than a third of what an entry-level burr grinder would have cost. Based on that, for a blade coffee grinder I give it four stars.
copyright © 2017 scmrak

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