The On-Demand Grinder

It is generally agreed that on-demand grinders are the best coffee grinders for espresso, and an improvement on their older relative, the Manual grinder.  We have a range of on-demand grinders available, from the Mazzer Electronic range, to the grinder of choice for many professional baristas.  The Victoria Arduino Mythos 1.

The term on-demand is another umbrella term and is used to describe the type of coffee grinder that grinds the dose at the push of a button, fresh and straight into the portafilter.  There are usually two buttons that can be programmed.  One for a single dose and another for the double dose.  The barista can programme the burrs to turn for the required duration in units as small as 1/100th of a second depending on the grinder.  Every time the button is pushed the burrs will grind for exactly the same time, dispensing almost exactly the same amount of coffee every time.


Mazzer Electronic (on-demand) grinder

closeup of coffee bean grinder with programming buttons

Victoria Arduino Mythos 1 (on-demand) grinder

closeup of coffee bean grinder rental machine showing button to start

Positives of an on-demand grinder

The coffee is freshly ground –Because the coffee is ground only a few seconds before it is extracted, the carbon dioxide in the bean is largely still present.  This adds a fresh, lively quality to the espresso that is lost when using a manual grinder and leaves a layer of crema on the surface which is appealing to the consumer.  Note – This is only the case if the coffee beans are fresh to begin with.  There is little to gain from grinding coffee on-demand, if the coffee beans themselves are stale because the carbon dioxide that is generated during roasting has already escaped from coffee bean!

The barista has full control over the dose weight – The ability to programme the burrs to turn for any duration, gives the barista the ability to choose any dose weight they desire.  This is fundamental when using speciality coffee which is roasted lighter.  The lighter the bean is, the denser the bean is and the harder it is for the coffee machine to produce a strong espresso.  That’s partly why the recommended dose is generally more for speciality coffee than for dark roast coffee, any why the ability to increase the dose above 16 grams is important.

The dose is not prone to the problems that arise from the carousel of a manual grinder –  Described under “Negatives of a Manual Grinder”.

Less coffee is wasted when adjusting the grind size – Described under “Negatives of a Manual Grinder” (Part 1)

Freshly ground coffee produces a heavenly aroma in your coffee space – As well as the carbon dioxide escaping from the bean, so do the many different pleasant aromas that are generated in roasting.  If you are serving fresh, speciality coffee.  Every time a dose is ground, your business will be filled with the most amazing combination of caramelised, nutty, floral, herbal and fruity aromas.  This will add greatly to the sensorial experience of everybody who walks into your coffee business.  Even the people who prefer to sip on a cup of tea!  It will tempt people to buy coffee from you and stay in your space for longer.

Negatives of an on-demand grinder

On-demand grinders are more expensive than manual grinders –  The upgrade price is great value with our Full Care Rental Service but for businesses that choose to serve dark coffee (where a manual grinder is ok), or where budget is a concern, price should be a consideration.

It’s slower to product the dose of coffee – Because the coffee is ground before being dispensed, it takes a little longer.  Grind times vary from 18 seconds for a Mazzer Mini to 5 seconds for a Mazzer Robur.  The bigger the grinder, the bigger the motor and burrs, and the quicker it will grind your dose of coffee.  However,  if you have a barista with just a little experience, they will surely find something else to keep themselves busy whilst they wait.

 The grinder will generate noise  – The process of grinding coffee on-demand, inevitably means the noise of the grinder will be frequent throughout the day.  I have huge reservations about listing this as a negative, in fact for most coffee businesses, the sound of the grinder working its magic is a good thing.  So, this is only a negative for the tiny number of establishments that prefer a quiet space for their customers, so they can concentrate, enjoy the silence or listen to something else.

Manual Vs On-Demand Grinder Summary

If you plan to serve freshly roasted, speciality coffee it is an absolute no brainer to invest a small part of your budget in an on-demand grinder.  There is no logic in sourcing fantastic coffee and not serving it to it’s potential. For this reason, many speciality coffee roasters will insist that their wholesale customers use an on-demand grinder to serve their coffee.  Where budget is a concern, the experienced speciality barista is likely to invest in a simple espresso machine, but highly unlikely to scrimp on the espresso grinder.

But the aim of this blog is to determine which coffee grinder is best for your business.  If you have chosen to serve a darker roast coffee, or a coffee that is low cost and therefore likely to be stale when you receive delivery, the benefits of an On-demand grinder are limited. Manual grinders are used in many successful businesses to serve coffee that their customers enjoy.  They are reliable and great value with our Full Care Rental Service.

Check out part three of this blog to discover the next function of the espresso grinder – Adjusting the grind size!




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