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Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
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canadiancactus
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Posted Sun Sep 2, 2007, 10:03am
Subject: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

Anyone have some input - which is better - ceramic or metal?
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olph4rt
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Posted Sun Sep 2, 2007, 10:30am
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

A ceramic burr may be quieter.  A conical burr will have a greater cutting surface, and can therefore rotate at a slower speed which will add less heat, static and noise.  I have seen only expensive conical-ceramic burr setups, but it should follow that it would be even cooler than a metal one.
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JonR10
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Posted Sun Sep 2, 2007, 11:15am
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

olph4rt Said:

A ceramic burr may be quieter.

Posted September 2, 2007 link

Huh?  Why do you think that?

olph4rt Said:

A conical burr will have a greater cutting surface, and can therefore rotate at a slower speed which will add less heat, static and noise.  I have seen only expensive conical-ceramic burr setups, but it should follow that it would be even cooler than a metal one.

Posted September 2, 2007 link


Again, I don't see how ceramic would be cooler on the beans than metal given he same geometry.  


Much more important than ceramic vs. metal is grinder construction and burr geometry.

I would think that the Pro's and cons to ceramic vs. metal are:
  • Ceramic is harder and will hold it's sharpness literally forever
  • Ceramics fail by chipping or breaking not by erosive wear (so watch out for rocks in the beans!)
  • Ceramic does not absorb or transmit heat very well (it tends to be an insulator)
  • Ceramic burrs are amazingly more expensive than metal ones
  • Ceramic burrs only come in a handful of designs, so there is a very limited selection


  • Metal burrs do transmit heat and so if beans are getting hot then the metal could absorb some of the heat
  • Metal burrs cost MUCH less than ceramic
  • Metal burrs come in a huge variety of sizes and shapes, so selection is much less limited
  • Metal burrs wear by erosion/abrasion so grinding ra ock will just advance the wear rather than fracture the burr

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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olph4rt
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olph4rt
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Posted Sun Sep 2, 2007, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

I have a ceramic grinder at work which seems quieter at grinding than my grinder with metal burr at home, but the motor is louder.  I would have thought this also to be the case because the ceramic should absorb more vibrations.  The heat would not be "stored" if there was a wet/hot uneven flow of beans.  But these were non-measured thoughts, and for sure I would believe the engineer with over 6000 posts, so take my post and Jon's response as a learning experience ... hopefully not for just me!
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canadiancactus
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Posted Wed Sep 5, 2007, 10:48am
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

Thanks for the input all.  Sounds like I'll get ceramic if I can get a good deal.  I'll let you know how it goes.
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CraigA
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Posted Wed Sep 5, 2007, 12:16pm
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

Hmmm, don't think you'll be paying $4,500US (or whatever they're up to), for a La Marzocco Swift will you? {;-O

 
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olph4rt
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olph4rt
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Posted Wed Sep 5, 2007, 4:09pm
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

Just get one-o-them combo-Saeco's and don't use the espresso machine part! $30 gets ya ceramic that you have to squeeze to prevent it from falling apart when it runs.  I know, I use it!  Don't be a victim of advertising...Here ceramic is quieter than steel, and here you can get a ceramic grinder that says it's cooler.  Note that they are from Saeco, and not both are conical.  This may be an example of over zealous advertising.  The PC ceramic burr grinder has been sold for $10, and may not be worth it.  Take the advice, of the engineer's notes, especially one who uses a canuck-freindly "eh?" ;)  When more folks put out more ceramic conical burr machines *crosses fingers* then the cost may go down *crosses toes*, and the purchase will be better justified.  I did google this hand device that's $25 though...hmmm...still so much to learn!  They also have the Virtuoso for $110usd..it's $250 up here DANG!
But if you CAN afford that swift, then you can afford the replacement parts when you pump a rock into it!  Like affording the gas to drive a Lamborghini I supppose.  Yes, let us know, canadiancactus!

 
|| http://thoughtcompile.blogspot.com/ | + | It takes an average of 42 beans to make a shot.  Douglas Adams wrote in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, that 42 is the meaning of life...coincidence?
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JonR10
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Posted Wed Sep 5, 2007, 6:41pm
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

olph4rt Said:

Don't be a victim of advertising...Here ceramic is quieter than steel, and here you can get a ceramic grinder that says it's cooler.  

Posted September 5, 2007 link

Wow!  Quieter AND cooler too!


olph4rt Said:

I did google this hand device that's $25 though...hmmm...still so much to learn!

Posted September 5, 2007 link

I have used that device and I can say that you get what you pay for, but this grinder does a decent job for the $$$.  The burrs are indeed ceramic and it's just as quiet as similar design grinders made with metal burrs, the problem is that the burr arrangement has too much play in it to grind for espresso (works great for drip coffee though - as my camping budies can attest)

I guess I should have been more specific about ceramic burrs being expensive, I was talking about precision burrs like THESE

My whole point was the relative noise will be associated with the machine design, the motor and the housing and the burr carriers and the burr geometry much more so than the material of the cutting surface.  Have you ever compared the noise from a carbide-tipped saw to a tool steel saw?  (Hint: the carbide is "Tungsten Carbide", a ceramic material)


Note: I have salt and pepper mills in my kitchen with ceramic burrs, metal burrs just won't "cut it" when it comes to grinding sea salt! These were not horrifically expensive but did cost a bit more than similar units with metal burrs.  I don't think the pepper mill is any quieter than my old pepper mill with steel burrs though.....

JonR10: c31f_1.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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CraigA
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CraigA
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Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Wed Sep 5, 2007, 6:52pm
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

JonR10 Said:

Have you ever compared the noise from a carbide-tipped saw to a tool steel saw?  (Hint: the carbide is "Tungsten Carbide", a ceramic material)

Posted September 5, 2007 link

Ummm, Tungsten Carbide is a metal cutting bit/impregnated metal Jon.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Tungsten%20carbide

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Tungsten%20

 
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JonR10
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JonR10
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Posted Wed Sep 5, 2007, 7:12pm
Subject: Re: Ceramic vs metal grinder - which is better
 

CraigA Said:

Ummm, Tungsten Carbide is a metal cutting bit/impregnated metal Jon.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Tungsten%20carbide

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Tungsten%20

Posted September 5, 2007 link

Maybe have a closer look at your references sir.  
Tungsten (W) is a metal that light bulb filaments are made from.
Tungsten CARBIDE (WC) is a metal-ceramic compound much harder than any common metal

EDIT to add link:  Tungsten Carbide properties

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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