The earliest method of grinding coffee involved placing it in a bowl and using the blunt end of a stick to crush it along the sides and bottom of the bowl. This process was time consuming and messy. It was also a lot of hard work! Others without much patience simply smashed the coffee with a hammer.
These methods were replaced by a mechanical grinder. This became popular because most people already used a mechanical grinder for their spices. The coffee was placed between two disks, one stationary and the other a moving disc. The moving of the disks resulted in the grinding. This process is also known as milling. The milling style coffee grinder is now available in many colors with many features. The price varies on the brand and the features you choose. Generally they are between $50 and $200.
Coffee grinders began being used commercially in the 1800’s. This was helpful for events with large groups of people who wanted coffee, such as Church gatherings or fairs. Coffee grinders were also used commercially in the coffee houses that seemed to be sprouting up on every corner in town. These grinders were adjustable to make the size of the coffee grounds whatever was best for the style of coffee desired. The grinding blades could be brought closer together or further apart by tightening or loosening a screw. The innovation of the wall mount happened around this time as well. While this seems like a small thing, the grinder no longer had to be held in your hand while you ground it, which relieved a lot of the effort required to grind, as well as the potential for making a mess.
More facts about coffee were discovered as more and more coffee was milled. For example, the more friction that took place while grinding, the hotter the coffee bean would get. This changed the flavor of the coffee. And if the coffee grounds were uniform in size, brewing was easier. The finder the grind, the more flavor the coffee had. To make all this happen, grinding coffee by hand was replaced by a machine doing the work with the machine controlled by a person. This allowed the distributor to process the coffee it sold the same way every time.
This machine process led to big coffee plants producing large amounts of coffee. It was the beginning of tin cans of coffee being marketed. Ironically, the machines that were invented to make the coffee all taste the same began to change. This is because now the demand began for coffee that tasted different! People wanted a variety to choose from.
Some people still like to grind their own coffee. They know just how to make it to their liking. Most of us prefer to purchase our coffee already ground. There are many grocery stores that offer the choice of purchasing coffee beans, then grinding them in an electric machine right there in the store. No matter which way you enjoy your coffee, it all seems to start with the grinding process.