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Q: Pounding coffee beans vs. grinding coffee beans ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Pounding coffee beans vs. grinding coffee beans
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: baw-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 28 Dec 2002 06:24 PST
Expires: 27 Jan 2003 06:24 PST
Question ID: 134281
Grinding coffee beans generates heat which causes volatile oils in the
beans to evaporate.  I have read in Brillat-Savarin that pounding
beans is better, because if they are pounded into powder all the oils
are retained. I know that Bedouins pound beans between rocks.

Does anyone know if there is an advantage to pounding rather than
grinding and, if so, if there are any commecial or home techniques or
devices that can pound roasted coffee beans into powder so they can be

Subject: Re: Pounding coffee beans vs. grinding coffee beans
Answered By: luciaphile-ga on 28 Dec 2002 08:05 PST
Hi baw-ga,

Thanks for your question. As a coffee-lover, this was an interesting
one to research.

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to the advantages of pounding
vs. grinding. There have been a few threads in the newsgroup on your selfsame topic. Pounding as a method has its
proponents (particularly for certain types of roasts), but heat will
be generated nonetheless.

Pounding VS. Grinding

Mortar and Pestle

A mortar and pestle is essentially *the* option if you wish to pound
coffee. They are available in several materials (marble, wood,
porcelain, metal, etc.) in a range of prices. Marble has advantages
for coffee, one of which is that if you use your mortar and pestle for
anything else (e.g. spices), the marble won’t retain their odor.

Mortar & Pestle

My brother (another coffee purist) swears by the mortar and pestle. It
is time-consuming, however, as it is difficult to get even grounds,
which is why you would not want to use this method for espresso, but
it would work for others, e.g. arabic coffees.

For grinding coffee, there are essentially two options: the electric
propeller grinder and the burr grinder. While the latter tends to be
more expensive, it is also considered better alternative.

Home Coffee Grinders

Coffee Grinding Tips

Some other sites you may want to look at

The Coffee FAQ

True Brew,6255,15455,00.html

Search strategy:
Google search:
coffee grinding pestle
coffee pounding grinding
Also searched Google groups for the above
I hope this answers your question. If you need additional information
or if the links don’t work, please ask for clarification before rating
my answer and I will do my best to assist you.


Request for Answer Clarification by baw-ga on 01 Jan 2003 06:56 PST
Thanks for you answer.

What I'm really trying to find out is:  Does grinding involve losing
essential oils and is pounding superior?    And, if pounding is
superior, is there a way to accomplish it?

Mortar and pestle don't really work well because it's too hard to
crush coffee beans as they are too moist and hard.

Is there a machine for pounding?  Does ANYONE pound beans


Clarification of Answer by luciaphile-ga on 01 Jan 2003 08:52 PST
Hi baw-ga,

As much as it pains me to say it, there does not appear to be anything
out there commercially to pound beans other than a mortar and pestle,
or as shiiro-ga suggested a hammer, hard surface and a plastic bag.

Whether you grind or pound the coffee, oils will be lost. Either
method generates friction. The beans heat up and oils evaporate. As
one newsgroup poster put it, "The laws of thermodynamics, unlike most
laws, can't be broken."
The advantage to pounding is that you generate less friction and less
heat, so less oils are evaporated. Bear with me here, but I'm going to
use the example of a mortar and pestle again, if you use a mortar and
pestle, the mortar has more surface area so it tends to absorb the
heat better and there is less evaporation, so less of the oils are

The superiority of pounded beans versus ground beans is debatable.
Some seem to believe that the resulting brew is less bitter, others
are unconvinced(particularly those who don't want to spend long
periods of time pounding their beans with a mortar and pestle :) ),
and feel that it's not worth the time and effort.

In lieu of the mortar and pestle, the next best suggestion is the burr
grinder. Unlike a blade grinder, "burr coffee grinders grind coffee
beans by crushing them between a grinding wheel and stationary grind
surface (versus chopping like a blade grinder)." So instead of
chopping into the bean, the burr grinder crushes the bean, there is
also less heat generated and therefore fewer oils are lost.

There are two types of burr grinders: wheel (or flat) and conical.
Wheel grinders have a wheel that has burrs molded into it. They may
clog and they don't work as well with oilier beans. The conical
grinder "utilizes a cone shaped grinding wheel that grinds against a
stationary grinding surface. The coned shaped wheel spins at slow
speeds. The coffee beans fall through the grinding chute which are
then crushed between the grinding wheel and a stationary grinding
surface." Its superiority to the wheel grinder rests in the fact that
the cone spins more slowly, and does not burn the grounds. The conical
burr grinder also works better with multiple types of beans and
multiple types of brews. The problem with burr grinders is that they
are often very expensive.

Burr Grinders Versus Blade Grinders
A newsgroup posting in discusses the advantages of wheel
(flat) burr grinders in comparison with conical burr grinders:

Do flat burr grinders produce a more consistent grind than conical?

To give you a better idea of what the mechanism looks like, you may
want to visit this page:

Blade vs. Burr Grinders

Search strategy:
"burr grinders"
coffee "essential oils" heat 
coffee grinding pestle 
coffee pounding grinding 

Let me know if you want additional clarification. Thanks.

Subject: Re: Pounding coffee beans vs. grinding coffee beans
From: shiiro-ga on 01 Jan 2003 05:33 PST
Putting the beans in a zipLock bag and hitting them with a small
sledgehammer does a great job of pulverizing the beans to a dry dust,
and it doesn't take long. You need a smooth hard surface to bang on,
so the bag isn't punctured.

I've also used my blender. Here the consideration is doing a smaller
amount at a time so that the beans don't get toasted by the heat. This
saves buying a grinder - essentially the same device.


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