Necessity Is A Mother . . . Grinding Coffee Beans at Home with Costco Grinders Sidelined Due to COVID-19

April 21, 2020 – Compared with illness and death resulting from COVID-19, my First World problem is nothing, meaningless. I bought a bag of coffee with no way to grind the beans! That’s all.For nearly all my life I have been an occasional coffee drinker, ordering a cup most often when out for breakfast, or at Starbucks and other coffee purveyors. In recent months I have reacquainted myself with the best part of the coffee experience, the aroma, and I have been enjoying coffee made at home. I began buying and trying whole bean coffee from Costco.

Just as I was settling into the groove, COVID-19 hit. Time to get more coffee, so off to Costco I went (before the order came to stay home). Imagine my surprise when I went by the usual spot in my nearby Costco to find the coffee grinders were nowhere to be found. Ohhhhhhhh, I get it!

Social distancing and general prudence forced the shuttering of the members’ coffee grinding station.

I would need to do a DIY job grinding that bag of beautiful, aromatic beans at least until life approaches what will be the new normal after it safe to do so. Some day Costco and other retailers that have also removed access to in-store coffee grinders will again provide access to their machines.

Maybe, just maybe I will continue at-home coffee grinding. Could it be that home-brewed coffee will taste better when freshly ground immediately before brewing? Could be! It certainly could not cause an inferior taste.

After looking online and conversations with friends in the know, I already knew I wanted a burr mill grinder, not a blade grinder, and I did not want an expensive product, especially for this first effort. There are also conical burr coffee grinders, in which cone-shaped gear-like blades gnash and uniformly crush the beans. Drilling down further into high quality and expensive grinders, there are slow-speed, high-powered models with gear reduction and much more. Ideally, slow and steady is more likely to produce the best results from a process that also produces little heat in contrast to conventional burr grinders. Blade grinders are just inelegant, noisy machines that do not produce uniformly ground product.

All things considered, with cost being paramount after basic technology type, I chose the modestly priced Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill Grinder – Stainless Steel BVMC-BMH23 at Target which I found for $35 with free shipping to my local store. I see the current Target price is $40, the same at Walmart, and a whopping $94 at Amazon. I hope this is a mistake that soon will be rectified.

Simple enough, my order was ready for pickup in just a few days. Target is doing a terrific job during the pandemic. I could have elected to have the box brought to my car, but I went in wearing my home-made mask and picked it up from the Customer Service Counter. I showed the QR code on my phone screen, the agent scanned my phone and within about a minute I was on my way with the Mr. Coffee burr mill coffee grinder under my arm.

After opening the box, I washed the hopper and the bin that holds the freshly ground coffee, let them dry and was ready for action in the morning.

   Similar to many other products, the Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill Grinder has cord storage built into the bottom of the device.

This is not a complicated gadget! Assembly is just one way. Place the hopper atop the mechanism and screw it in clockwise until fully seated showing the coarseness setting firmly on Fine.

I loaded the clean hopper with my beans, selected mid-way between Fine for espresso and Medium Coarse as a good starting point. I like strong coffee, so I selected to grind eight cups, though I would fill the carafe and water chamber in the coffee maker to just over the four-cup line.

Time to press the button to start the grinding process. The first effort was not a total success. The beans had to migrate from the hopper and down into the burr mechanism, and they needed a gently nudge to fill in the space. I could hear the grinder nearly spinning freely for a lack of beans.

This is a perfect use for a set of disposable, unused chop stick left over from Asian take-out. I popped the top off the hopper and helped the beans to fill in the space below. Much better the second time!

Part of the difficulty I was having was caused by the beans I bought. They are big and robust, visually larger than my memory of some others, so it makes sense that they did not so easily load into the chute on the way to the grinder mechanism. At least they looked large to me, but since I have no others with which to compare, I’ll just assume I am correct!

All has gone well with an assist in the form of a gentle prod with the chop sticks. The automatic cycle has worked flawlessly, stopping reaching the set point of eight cups of ground coffee.

Now, I know how to effectively deal with this little issue.

The coffee taste? Very good, I am happy to report. I am still adjusting the grind fineness or coarseness, and having fun along the way.

Grinding coffee makes coffee dust. No two ways about it. The better machines probably do a better job at coffee dust mitigation that does this one. It does not get particularly messy, but care is advised when removing the output bin and then more care when removing that bin’s top to get to the coffee inside.

Now that I am a bit practiced, I find this Mr. Coffee Stainless Steel Automatic Burr Mill Grinder (BVMC-BMH23) is doing a fine job.

I do not expect it to be silent as it grinds coffee, and it is not. Neither is it very noisy. Besides, it take but a few seconds to do its job, so the noise factor is not long lasting.

It comes with a nested spoon/brush that fits into the lid of the output bin.

Cleaning consists of washing (or not) the bean hopper which is also part of the upper portion of the grinder. The output bin is also washable. Everything else gets a wipe-down or dry brushed to remove dust and debris.

Simple. Easy to use. Seemingly durable and hopefully long lasting. One year manufacturer’s warranty.