Spice Mill vs Coffee Grinder: Is There Really a Difference?

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The start of the 21st century introduced us to a world of versatility. We now have single tools that can execute various tasks while taking up little storage space. If you love trying out new recipes while drinking coffee, you probably own several kitchen tools to get the job done.

Isn’t there a tool that can ground coffee and spices? If you ever have to pick between spice mill vs coffee grinder, which would you choose? To help you decide, let’s talk about how one differs from the other.

Spice Mill vs Coffee Grinder

Without a doubt, a coffee grinder will give your coffee corner a significant upgrade. Then again, having a spice mill you can grab and use anytime is also a must for many. They work almost the same way, so is it necessary to have both? To know the answer, we need to learn more about these two devices.

What’s a Spice Mill?

A spice mill is a kitchen tool that chops or cuts herbs and spices into smaller pieces. It uses two or more blades spinning at high speeds to grind these ingredients. Most spice mills can grind soft and hard food items. However, the finished product is often coarse and inconsistent in size.

Advantages of Using a Spice Mill

One of the biggest advantages of using a spice mill is its versatility. You can use it for a wide range of ingredients needed to make numerous dishes. Additionally, spice mills are more affordable than coffee grinders.

Disadvantages of Using a Spice Mill

A rather unfortunate downside to using spice mills is that the size of the ground ingredients is not uniform. Because of this, they aren’t perfectly suited for making coffee.

Additionally, spice mills tend to have a smaller capacity because of the typical quantity of spices and herbs we grind. Because of this, you may only be able to grind a few grams of coffee beans per batch in a spice mill.

What’s a Coffee Grinder?

There are two major types of coffee grinders. The first one uses blades, while the other one uses burrs.

Blade coffee grinders are almost the same as spice mills because of their cutting mechanisms. On the other hand, the more popular burr coffee grinders use two pieces of metal with multiple teeth to crush and grind coffee beans. Most of them have grind size-adjustment capabilities to produce a much more consistent ground.

Advantages of Using a Coffee Grinder

The most notable advantage of a coffee grinder is that you can get a precise size of the ground product. It is an important factor in different brewing methods because of how much it affects the flavor of the coffee.

Disadvantages of Using a Coffee Grinder

More often than not, coffee grinders are more expensive than spice mills. That’s because of the quality of the materials used in their production. Additionally, unlike the versatile spice mills that can accommodate all kinds of ingredients, coffee grinders are only for coffee beans.

spice mill vs coffee grinder difference

Which One Should You Get?

In the battle between spice mill vs coffee grinder, the most important question is which among these two should you get? Since they serve different purposes, it depends on what you’ll use the device for.

If You Want to Practice the Art of Making Coffee

If you’re a devout coffee lover and are pretty particular about the taste of your coffee, we suggest that you get both of these tools. Grinding herbs and spices on a coffee grinder can significantly affect the taste of your coffee.

The flavor and aroma of some spices can be challenging to remove from the device. Even if you get rid of all the spice residue, the smell might stick to the hopper or burrs. If you see coffee-making as a form of art, you probably don’t want your beans to be tainted with non-coffee-related ingredients. 

If You’re Working on a Tight Budget

Only a few have the luxury of spending hundreds of dollars on two pieces of equipment. Ergo, if you’re working on a tight budget, you can purchase either a spice mill or a coffee grinder. However, you shouldn’t have high expectations for your cup of coffee if you grind the beans with a spice mill.

You have two options if you wish to grind spices with a coffee grinder. Coffee grinders that use blades are easier to clean and sharpen. This is helpful when you have to grind two different ingredients between short periods.

The other option is a burr coffee grinder. The problem with this one is that it’s more challenging to clean. Furthermore, some coffee grinders tend to degrade quickly when you use them to grind spices. This is very problematic because sharpening burrs is a time-consuming and challenging task.

That said, one major advantage of using a coffee grinder burr is that you can adjust the grind size with most models. Thanks to this, you can produce fine coffee ground and coarse herbs and spices just by having one tool.

Should You Grind Spices on a Coffee Grinder?

Grinding herbs and spices on a coffee grinder is a controversial topic among coffee lovers from all over. Some just believe they can’t compromise the quality of their coffee cups for convenience. Nonetheless, if you have no other choice, should you grind spices on a coffee grinder at all?

You can, but only if there’s no other alternative. Plus, make sure you don’t let the spices sit on your coffee grinder for days.

After using it for grinding ingredients other than coffee, soak the hopper in water for about an hour. Rinse the blades thoroughly or clean them using uncooked rice or bread. Then, wipe it clean with paper towels or a clean piece of cloth and let it air dry. If the smell is still there, try removing it using baking soda or white vinegar.

What To Consider Before Getting a Spice Mill or a Coffee Grinder

Have you finally decided to purchase just one piece of equipment for grinding both spices and coffee beans? If so, here are two things you may want to consider:

Manual vs Electric

The first thing you should figure out is whether you need a manual or electric device. Electric devices make grinding spices and coffee beans easier because you often just need to press a button to turn it on.

In comparison, manual spice mills or coffee grinders are very portable because they don’t require electricity. You can bring them with you on your outdoor trips and not worry about having a power source.

Ease of Cleaning

The next thing you need to consider, and this is very important, is how easy it is to clean. Are the different parts of the device easy to detach? Is it dishwasher-friendly? Can you wash it with just soap and water?

Since you will be grinding two very different ingredients, you’d have to clean it more often. That’s why maintenance should be on your checklist.

It Depends on What You Need It For

At the end of the day, the real winner in the battle between a spice mill and a coffee grinder depends on your needs. If you don’t mind cleaning the device frequently or having a hint of weird taste in your coffee, a spice mill will do just fine.

On the other hand, if you’re very particular with your cup of joe and a devout coffee lover, we suggest having a coffee grinder specifically and only for grinding coffee beans.

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