Burr grinders are really one of the most basic forms of grinders. They existed long before electric blade grinders and although they take some muscle to operate by hand there are some good automatic models out there as well. In fact you can spend quite a bit on a high end burr grinder if you want to.
But what is it?
A burr grinder is fundamentally different from a blade grinder. It doesn’t use sharp blades to cut coffee beans, spices, or whatever. It instead uses two hard burrs, typically ceramic burrs. These burrs are basically like hard stones that don’t move and anything that falls between them gets crushed. Think about a coke can that gets crushed between the pavement and your car’s tire except the grinder does exactly crush them, it grinds them.
Because the grinding is uniform, meaning the coffee beans or whatever else you may be grinding pass between the ceramic burrs they don’t get over ground. once they become small enough to pass between the burrs then they stop getting ground. This leads to mostly uniform grind particles unlike blade grinders that can shred and tear and leave many particles that are different shapes and sizes.
Burr grinders ar particularly useful for coffee beans. Most good coffee can’t really be made without even grind size and every brewing method requires a different grind size for optimal flavor.
I’d recommend checking out the following low end burr grinders if you’re in the market.
Capresso 560.01 Infinity Burr Grinder, BlackHario Ceramic Coffee Mill SkertonCuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr MillMr. Coffee BVMC-BMH23 Automatic Burr Mill Grinder, Black/SilverHario Coffee Mill Slim Grinder, Mini
…otherwise see this page on the best burr coffee grinders of the year.