Almost everyone can agree that a solid grinder is essential to making a good cup of coffee. And that makes sense. When brewing a fresh batch of an Ethiopian natural or sharing a killer Costa Rican honey with your friends, you want to be sure that your equipment will do the coffee justice. But there are a lot of different kinds of grinders out there, at a lot of different price points, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Thankfully, with a little tinkering, you can build a reliable, versatile grinder that will bring the best out of your coffee without breaking the bank: The Hario Skerton + Blue Horse Upgrade Kit.
Specialty coffee is all about precision, which is why the number one thing to look for in a grinder is adjustable burrs. Whether the burrs are steel or ceramic, the important thing is that the distance between them can be changed. This is what allows one grinder to output both fine grounds for a moka pot and course grounds for a french press. At the same time, the burrs should fix rigidly in-place once the grind size has been selected, so that the ground coffee is consistently the same size. This will lead to more even extraction, and better tasting coffee. Making something both adjustable and rigid is a tough engineering challenge, which is why many grinders can be fairly expensive or difficult to maintain and clean. Thankfully, the folks at Hario have designed a great entry-level grinder that has become a staple in the specialty coffee community.
Nobody’s perfect, and while a standard Skerton is a great machine, it does have its flaws. The Skerton is great for grinding fine coffees, but consistency at larger grind sizes quickly becomes an issue that only exaggerates with more use. The inner burr on the Skerton is attached to a shaft fixed to the top of the grinder, which on larger grind sizes wobbles about, introducing a degree of play between the two burrs. This makes coarse grinds inconsistent, with big and small grinds escaping the wobbly burrs. Thankfully, the kind folks at Blue Horse Products have created a simple modification kit that corrects this problem with a single stabilizing brace.