Can you Grind Coffee Beans in a Blender?

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When your coffee grinder decides to die at eight in the morning, you need a backup plan. There has to be another kitchen appliance that can grind your coffee beans, right?

In this article, we’ll take a look at whether you can grind coffee beans in a blender, the downsides of grinding coffee beans this way, and a quick process for getting the best ground coffee from your Vitamix or Ninja.

Can You Grind Coffee Beans in a Blender?

Yes, you can use a blender for grinding coffee beans, but you’re better off using a good burr grinder. Even a budget coffee grinder will work better than a blender.

Your blender and a blade coffee grinder work basically the same way. That is, they both cut up your coffee beans with high-speed blades until you have coffee grounds. 

The Downsides of Using a Blender for Grinding Coffee

1. No grind size controls

Burr grinders work by crushing the coffee beans between two plates covered in tiny teeth. When the grounds reach a small enough size, they fall between the plates and into the grounds bin. With a flat or conical burr grinder, you can control the grind size by adjusting the distance between the burrs.

When the plates are close together, you get the fine grounds necessary for espresso machines or even the extra-fine grounds used for Turkish coffee. When the plates are further apart, you get medium grounds for drip coffee or coarse grounds for making cold brew or French press coffee.

Blenders don’t have any such options. You can blend the beans for longer to make a finer grind, but the results are neither precise nor controllable enough to reliably make the right grind size.

2. Poor grind uniformity

Getting the average grind size right is only half the battle. Some beans will hit the blades several times before other beans get cut up at all. The result is that your fine grind will have chunks of medium and even coarse grind sizes mixed in.

A poor grind uniformity can ruin your coffee. The bigger chunks will get under-extracted, and the smaller chunks will get over-extracted during the brewing process. No matter how careful you are, your coffee will end up bitter, and your espresso will taste watery or sour.

This isn’t an issue with burr grinders. Grounds can only fall between the burrs when they get small enough, and the burrs can’t crush them any smaller than the distance between the plates. That’s why burrs are able to produce a highly uniform grind that produces consistently delicious coffee.

How to Grind Coffee Beans With a Blender

1. Add the beans to the blender

Drop enough coffee beans into the blender to make one cup of coffee. Add about 16 grams of beans (just over 3 tablespoons) to the blender to make one eight-ounce cup of coffee.

2. Grind the coffee beans

Pulse grind the beans. That is, ground it in short bursts and then stop. Repeat this process until you have ground the beans to your desired consistency.

Avoid just tossing the beans into the blender and then blending non-stop until you have grounds. You’ll need to tilt or shake the blender lightly between bursts to avoid larger chunks getting stuck under the blades.

For the best results, choose a high-speed setting on your blender. If there is a grind setting, then use that, but any high-speed setting will do.

Once you have ground the beans for your first cup of coffee, remove the ground coffee from the blender.

3. Repeat the process for more cups of coffee

Add more beans to the blender and repeat the steps above to make a second or third cup of coffee. Making enough grounds for just one cup at a time prevents the coffee grounds from getting stuck in the blades.

Why Do We Grind Coffee, Anyway?

You could just toss your whole coffee beans into the coffee pot, add water, and brew whole bean coffee. However, by grinding the coffee first, you create more surface area for the water to react with. 

Look at it this way. If you brew the beans whole, the water can only touch the outside of the bean. The insides of the beans aren’t exposed to the water, and the flavor isn’t released. 

Grinding the beans essentially allows the water to cover the beans’ interior and exterior surfaces. Coffee made from whole beans tastes weak. Ground coffee offers you a much more flavorful and vibrant cup of coffee, and isn’t that what you want?

The finer your grounds, the faster you can get the flavor out of them. Whole beans would take days to fully extract. Drip grounds can be extracted in around five minutes. Espresso grounds can be extracted in just a minute or two, although the best espresso machines rely on several bars of pressure to fully optimize their extraction speed.

Why Not Just Buy Pre-Ground Coffee?

Freshly ground coffee tastes better than pre-ground coffee does. Pre-ground coffee can get stale within hours of being opened. The compounds in coffee that give it its unique taste degrade quickly after the coffee beans are ground.

This happens regardless of whether you drink it right away or not. The flavor and freshness of your pre-ground coffee started to degrade the minute it was ground. In many cases, the grounds have lost their freshness long before you even pick them up from the grocery store.

Using a blender for grinding coffee gives you options if something happens to your favorite French press coffee grinder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I grind coffee beans in a Ninja?

All Ninja blenders are capable of grinding coffee beans. A small, high-powered blender like the Ninja BL480D is best as there is less room for beans to fall away from the blades. And, of course, no Ninja blender works as well as a burr grinder.

Can a Vitamix grind coffee?

Vitamix blenders have the power needed to handle grinding coffee beans. However, their popular models like the Vitamix E310 are larger than I would recommend for such a task. It can be done, but you’ll need to be careful to tilt the machine between short pulses to make sure that all of the beans get ground up evenly.

What’s Next?

Grinding coffee beans in a blender really should be your last resort. In a pinch, Starbucks will grind your beans. And I generally recommend keeping a small travel coffee grinder around as a backup. There are also coffee makers with grinders built-in if you don’t want to worry about any of this.

I love having my coffee grinder around, but grinding coffee beans isn’t for everyone. If you really want to skip past this whole issue, there are always pod coffee makers like the Nespresso VertuoPlus or the Keurig K-Supreme Plus Smart.

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