Venetian merchants first shipped coffee from the Arab countries to Western Europe a little over 400 years ago, in 1615. It soon caught on here and became enormously popular. The various coffee grinders you’ll be seeing in our museum tell the story of that time. They include hand grinders, table grinders, wall-mounted grinders and lap grinders. Here’s a brief run-down of the various shapes and techniques:
Hand-held coffee mills are ergonomically designed to be held in the hand during the grinding process. Table grinders are usually square and stand on a table during the grinding process, or are attached to the table with a clamp, like the table mount grinder. Wall-mounted mills, on the other hand, are permanently fixed to a wall. Lap grinders, which are basically square, are clamped between the thighs as you grind the coffee.
Even the earliest coffee mills had a grinding mechanism that was manually adjustable. That’s because different methods of preparing coffee require different size grinds. For example, a medium grind is used for filter coffee, while coffee for an espresso is ground very, very finely. If the coffee powder is too fine to make a good filter coffee, the taste is harsh and bitter. Too coarse a grind, on the other hand, produces a thin, tasteless brew instead of good, strong coffee.
The fineness of the grind is either adjusted by means of a screw below the grinder, or by simply turning a ring above the body of the grinder. Until the invention of the coffee mill, the beans were pulverised using a mortar and pestle – a method that’s still celebrated today in the Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Next, we’d like to introduce you to our special "treasures".
All depictions: © Kaffeemühlenmuseum Wiernsheim