Is Vitamix good for grinding coffee?

With the rise in popularity of specialty coffee drinks like pour overs and cold brew, many coffee enthusiasts are looking for ways to grind their own beans at home. Using a burr grinder specifically designed for coffee is ideal, but high-end models can be expensive. Some people wonder if their powerful Vitamix blender can be used as an alternative for grinding coffee beans.

How Does a Vitamix Grind Coffee?

A Vitamix is a high-powered blender with strong, fast-spinning blades that can grind coffee beans through friction and impact. The beans are pulverized as they collide with the blades and container walls at high speeds. This produces a mix of finely ground and coarsely chopped coffee particles.

In contrast, burr grinders use rotating abrasive surfaces to shear and crush the beans into a more uniform grind size. The grind is adjustable from fine for espresso to coarse for French press. This gives you more control over the flavor and body of the final brew.

Advantages of Using a Vitamix

There are some potential advantages to using a Vitamix for grinding coffee:

  • Convenience – No need for a separate grinder if you already own a Vitamix.
  • Versatility – Can grind beans for any brew method from espresso to cold brew.
  • Large capacity – Can grind beans for multiple servings or a large batch of cold brew.
  • Speed – Vitamix blades grind beans very quickly.

Disadvantages of Using a Vitamix

There are also some significant drawbacks to using a Vitamix as a coffee grinder:

  • Inconsistent grind – Blades produce a wide range of particle sizes instead of uniform grind.
  • Lack of adjustability – No way to set grind size, always random mix of fine and coarse.
  • Overheating – Friction from fast blades raises bean temperature, risking roasted flavor.
  • Static cling – Ground coffee sticks to plastic container, causing waste.
  • Difficult to clean – Coffee particles get stuck under blades and gasket.

Grind Size Comparison

Here is a table comparing the grind size distribution using a Vitamix versus a burr coffee grinder on a typical drip brew setting:

Grind Size Vitamix Burr Grinder
Extra Fine 10% 0%
Fine 15% 0%
Medium 30% 75%
Coarse 35% 25%
Extra Coarse 10% 0%

As you can see, the Vitamix produces a wide range of particle sizes, while the burr grinder has a narrow distribution concentrated at the ideal medium grind for drip coffee.

Grind Consistency Comparison

The random mixture of sizes from a Vitamix also leads to inconsistent extractions when brewing, since finer particles over-extract and coarser particles under-extract. Let’s compare brews from Vitamix-ground and burr ground coffee:

Grinder Total Dissolved Solids Extraction Yield
Vitamix 1.15% – 1.45% 18% – 23%
Burr 1.25% +/- 0.05 20% +/- 1

The burr grinder produced a brew with tight tolerances on soluble extraction. The Vitamix had high variation, indicating uneven grinding.

Grind Size Options

While you can’t directly adjust the grind setting on a Vitamix, there are some tricks to produce different sizes:

  • Coarse – Short pulsing bursts.
  • Medium – Higher speed for 15-20 seconds.
  • Fine – Extended grinding at highest speed for 30+ seconds.

However, these approaches still give inconsistent particle distribution compared to a burr grinder’s stepped grind adjustment.

Types of Coffee Best Suited for Vitamix Grinding

Even with its limitations for grind consistency, there are some instances where using a Vitamix for coffee grinding can work decently:

  • Cold brew – Coarse grind less critical, benefits from fast grind speed.
  • Turkish/espresso – A wide range of fine particles can be acceptable.
  • Fully immersion – French press or cupping help even out extraction.
  • Spice grinding – Additional flavors mask grind inconsistencies.

We’d recommend always using a burr grinder for automatic drip or pour over coffee. The grind size is too important for proper extraction.

Best Practices for Grinding Coffee in a Vitamix

If you do choose to use a Vitamix for coffee grinding, here are some tips to get the best results:

  • Use short 10-15 second pulses to prevent overheating beans.
  • Grind a maximum of 1/2 cup of beans at a time.
  • Let beans cool before grinding to avoid warming from friction.
  • Run empty blender on high for 30 seconds to dislodge coffee particles.
  • Hand wash blade assembly immediately after grinding.
  • Use a very coarse setting for cold brew to minimize powder.

Conclusion

While the Vitamix is not ideal for grinding coffee compared to a dedicated burr grinder, it can produce acceptable results for some brewing applications. The main downsides are lack of grind size control and consistency. We recommend purchasing an affordable burr grinder in addition to your Vitamix if you are serious about coffee brewing. This gives you the best of both worlds – versatile blending and high-quality grinding!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *