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Coffee grinder buyer's guide

According to the National Coffee Association, there are 109 million daily coffee drinkers. With more than 100 million devotees nationwide, all deserve the best the bean can offer. Ask any coffee connoisseur today and he or she will tell you that to fully experience the finest flavor of the coffee bean, you must grind your own coffee.

It is a fact that once the coffee bean has been ground, it quickly begins to lose its natural aroma and flavor, making packaged, preground coffees obsolete next to the practice of in-home grinding.

The earliest method of grinding coffee was with the mortar and pestle where the blunt end of a stick was used to crush the bean along the bottom of the bowl. This method was then replaced with mechanical means whereby the movement of disks created a grinding mechanism, which is still in use today. In the 1800s, coffee grinders became commercial and major steps in the field were made, such as coffee grinders with adjustable grinding blades-the precursor to today's two most popular machines: the blade grinder and the burr grinder. It is essential for retailers to understand the differences so they can help customers find the machine that is right for them.

The blade grinder uses steel blades, powered by an electric motor. These blades spin in a circular motion and chop the beans until the user stops the process. Although not recommended for use with espresso because of poor grind-size consistency, the blade grinder may chop the beans to coarse, medium or fine grind sizes based on how long the grinder is kept on. While some blade grinders tend to heat the bean due to the speed of the chopping process, advances in technology have enabled manufacturers to use more powerful motors, which enable the blades to grind at a slower rate. The lower cost and ease of maintenance associated with blade grinders makes them the most commonly used household grinder.

Not surprisingly, the slightly more expensive burr grinder is quickly catching up to the blade grinder in consumer popularity. This process of grinding crushes the bean between a wheel and a fixed surface. The main benefit of this type of grinder-especially when grinding for espresso-is the uniform bean grind size, which provides for even extraction of oils from the coffee beans, ensuring a pure cup of coffee. Burr grinders also have a number of grind settings, from fine to coarse, and do not tend to heat the bean much during the grinding process.

In terms of stocking coffee grinders, there are many ways to grab your customers attention to these fabulous products. At the Bodum Cafe & Homestore in New York, the coffee grinders are displayed in a variety of ways, depending on the season. Whether it is found in a gift set, displayed by colors or displayed with the other coffee products, such as coffee presses or milk frothers, the grinders are always given much attention.

There is an enormous advantage to having a cafe area featuring the Bodum products within the store, directly adjacent to the product displays. Consumers can shop, sample and actually taste the benefits of purchasing and using the coffee grinders.

In the world of coffee grinders, consumers have their choices. Through a little research, a good bean and clean water, everyone can enjoy a pure, flavorful cup of coffee.

Gourmet News Coffee Grinder Buyer's Guide introduction by Diana DiPaolo, spokesperson for Bodum USA, with JB Cumberland Group, New York.

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