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Glossary of Coffee Terminology: Grinders


Coffee Glossary Table of Contents

To assist you in making intelligent decisions when purchasing coffee and espresso grinders, we have provided a quick guide to some of the most important grinder terms.

  • Burr Type:
    • Flat: Burr that is flat in shape, also referred to as “Disk Burrs” can range in size of diameter.
    • Conical: Cone shaped burrs that fit inside one another, gravity fed orientation. 
  • Burr Size:  The diameter in millimeters of the burrs themselves.
  • Cooling Fans:  Fans inside the body of the grinder that cool the motor while it is in use.  Typically found in high volume espresso grinders.
  • Dosing:
    • Manual:  On/off switch to dose espresso, the barista is responsible for grinding, weighing, and dosing espresso manually.  Some models also have a dosing chamber that holds ground espresso prior to dispensing.
    • Electronic Dosing:  Timed espresso dispensing function. The barista has the ability to program multiple doses of espresso from the grinder usually on a digital screen.  The espresso is ground and dosed by time.  Allows for relative accuracy in dosing.
    • By Weight:  Espresso is dispensed and dosed by weight after it is already ground.  This is the most precise and accurate method.  The barista can program a volume of ground espresso for various volumes for example, one shot or two shots.
  • Grind Range:  Range of grind size for a given grinder.  This will vary based on burr size and fineness.
  • Hopper Size: The capacity of the whole bean hopper above the espresso grinder.  Usually in kilograms or pounds.
  • Noise Level:  Level of noise made to grind an espresso shot.  Some espresso grinders have baffling to dampen the loudness of the grinding motor.
  • Power Requirements (Amps, Voltage and Watts):  Measured in volts, typically 110v to 120v however some larger industrial grinders can have much larger wattage requirements leading to higher power consumption.
  • Prosumer Grinder: Espresso grinder with commercial features but meant to be used in a home environment.  
  • RPM Range:  Rotations per minute of the grinding burrs or discs.  High wattage low rpm grinding is typically used for cold brew applications.
  • Retention:  The amount of grounds left in the grinding chamber and on the burrs of an espresso grinder, the lower the retention the more efficient the espresso grinder.
  • Screen Type: Refers to the interface for programming and operating the espresso grinder.  Some units have a digital screen, touchscreen, or a simple digital display.
  • Stepped Grind Adjustment:  Grinding range adjustment that is made by not directly manipulating the burrs.  This adjustment is usually made either electronically or using a worm gear on the side of the espresso grinder.  Generally this is a much easier way to adjust grind size.  
  • Uniformity:  Refers to the shape of the grounds themselves.  High quality espresso grinders usually use larger burrs that provide more even or uniform grounds.
  • Volume Capacity / Doses per Hour:  Recommended amount of espresso shots that an espresso grinder can produce per hour.  This may also be expressed as a total volume amount of whole beans in either grams, kilograms, or pounds.  


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