What is it?
Its official title is:
Why do I need it?
Simply, its your cheapest (yet still effective) option for a burr grinder.
Ok, so what is a Burr Grinder and why do I need it? Firstly, lets discuss why true coffee lovers will never
a) use pre-ground coffee
b) use an electric spice grinder to grind their beans
Foodies know that taste is influenced by the fat content, aroma and texture of the ingredients. We’ve all seen the crema floating silkily on the surface of an espresso. That crema is the fats and oils that have been extracted out of the bean. If you’re using pre-ground coffee your beans will have started giving up their aromatic oils as soon as they were ground and a lot of the lovely would-be crema will now be coating the inside of the bag instead of floating on the surface of your coffee and carrying the flavour to your tongue. Whole beans hold on to their aromatic oils for longer and so stay fresher, more fragrant and therefore tastier for longer.
Now, an electric spice grinder may enable you to grind beans fresh at home, but its still not giving you the best result. If you’ve got one, take a look at the blade. There is your problem. Its a blade. It doesn’t grind at all. It slices. And it makes a god-awful mess of it too. As the bade whizzes round, the beans bounce around inside the mill and its quite literally hit and miss as to whether they will be sliced up. Once you switch the mill off you’re left with some beans that are almost still whole and some that have been obliterated into fine powder. Uneven grind is problem number 1: some parts will over extract, some parts will not give up their flavour. Problem number 2 is that the slicing action does not help the bean release its flavour. It needs to be ground. Grinding cracks the bean under pressure which bruises it and releases the oils. You could stand there with a pestle and mortar, bashing the crap out of your beans. You don’t have time, and you still need a consistent and adjustable texture to your grind…
Burr Grinder. Don’t argue. Its the only answer.
So, what de we mean by ‘burr’? It describes the shape of the grinding mechanism, in this case, a conical burr, so-called because it resembles one of these nasty looking prickles, but is also cone-shaped. This is what gives you the consistent grind and maximum oil extraction. In a rather medieval way, it traps the beans inside the teeth and breaks them down into smaller and smaller pieces as the grinds make their way down through towards the flared end of the cone.
An electric burr grinder would be your Rolls Royce of choices if you drink a lot of coffee – or make a lot of coffee. However, for most people spending $200+ on something that just grinds coffee beans isn’t justifiable. And the electric ones are just not portable!
The Hario Mini Mill MSS-1B takes the burr grinder into the realm of affordability. It’s compact (makes 2 serves at a time) and because its a manual machine, its portable – which means with a little elbow grease you can have freshly ground beans every time you make a coffee no matter where that might be – plus you get a little bicep workout!
The shape of the mill is such that you can grip it between your knees if seated or in one hand while grinding with the other. The genius part of this burr grinder, is that the burr is ceramic. Just like what you’d find in a salt mill, a ceramic burr means any residue left behind (and good beans will leave behind a little of their oil) will never corrode your machine. I can testify to its durability. I have had mine now for over a year. It has been used daily – sometimes 2-3 times a day. Its still giving me a perfectly consistent grind. For the perfectionists (Mr CC, the Virgo), the grind is highly adjustable to suit all your coffee brewing methods. All you need to do is tighten the nut at the base of the mill.
Combine the Hario Mini Mill with some locally roasted coffee and the AeroPress and you’ll have the best damn coffee you have ever had in your life! I can’t buy a coffee at cafes anymore. I know I make better coffee at home.
What is it made of?
The crank handle is metal, the main body is acrylic and the burr is ceramic. I would not put this in the dishwasher. You can completely dismantle the mill to clean it (hand wash with dish detergent and warm water), but I haven’t needed to yet. I just occasionally clean the acrylic collection chamber.
What’s the damage?
I bought mine from Amazon for around $25US last September. Unfortunately Amazon no longer ships this item to Australia. I suspect this is due to Hario objecting to Amazon undercutting the Australian RRP of $60AUD (approx $44US) so we now pay nearly double in Australia for the same product. GRRRRRRRR! For the Aussies, Ebay is your best bet for a decent price.