“YOU CAN’T USE THAT GRINDER FOR SPICES!
MY COFFEE WILL TASTE OF CURRY!” *
That desperate wail will be familiar to any of you who share your house with a coffee lover.
We used to have an old blender with a spice grinder attachment but it wasn’t very good so we threw it out years ago. We now have a burr grinder that Pete uses for his precious coffee beans (and occasionally, for grinding his home grown wheat).
It is not to be used for spices.
Even running a bagful of rice through afterwards doesn’t entirely remove the taint of spices, so I’m told. And masala coffee just doesn’t appeal, apparently, though I’m sure it’s the next big thing.
Time to look for a second grinder then, one of the bladed variety, to use for grinding spices, chopping nuts and anything else verboten. There are many models on the market, but I ruled most out. Some specify that they can be used for dry ingredients only, whereas I like the idea of being able to make somewhat sloppy spice pastes including ginger, garlic, lemon grass and even onion. Others are just too difficult to clean. Some have been reviewed by other customers as being too fiddly to use or having poor build quality and hence poor durability.
After spending a frankly ridiculous number of hours on internet research, the model at the top of my list was the Cuisinart Electric Spice and Nut Grinder (SG20U), RRP £50. Luckily for me, Cuisinart have really connected with bloggers over the last few years, so I was able to obtain a review sample.
Why did I want this particular grinder?
Firstly, I have a bit of a thing for brushed stainless steel. The shiny chrome look leaves me cold but brushed metal… oh yes!
But actually, that’s not the main reason. (Obviously). What I really like is that this grinder comes with two (decent sized) detachable bowls, each provided with an airtight lid so freshly ground contents can be stored in the bowls. And – this is the best bit – they’re not only easy to clean, they are dishwasher safe!
Having two bowls means, if you don’t already have a hallowed coffee grinder, you can set one bowl aside for coffee and use the other for everything else. Or if you make a spice paste and only use half, you can leave the rest in the fridge for a few days, without losing use of your grinder.
It’s very easy to assemble. The bowl clicks in easily and the clear lid pops over that. I was worried I wouldn’t like the push down operation, having used and disliked a different make and model of that style, but actually it was very easy – press down to grind, release to stop.
For fine grinding of small volumes of spices, the grind is a little uneven, even if you continue to grind for longer. This is because the centrifugal action throws the light fragments up the sides of the bowl. Whether or not this is an issue depends on how fine and even you want the finished powder to be. When I made garam masala, I chose to sieve the powder with a tea strainer to remove larger fragments but I could have left them in – they were small enough not to be an issue.
The same goes for coffee – you’ll need to use a higher volume of coffee as the larger fragments won’t extract as effectively.
Where it comes into its own is for making spice pastes such as the Thai-inspired red curry paste we concocted. Lemongrass, onion, garlic, ginger, whole cumin seeds, powdered spices, soy sauce, dried chillis were quickly and effectively pulverised into a paste.
After being washed in the dishwasher, we couldn’t even tell which bowl had been used for coffee and which for the ground spices and spice paste, so there’s no danger of previous ingredients tainting the next.
For spices and pastes, this grinder is a great choice. I’ve not yet used it for nuts. It’s simple to use, feels robust and the two bowls with storage lids make so much sense.
For coffee drinkers, I’d suggest investing in a burr grinder so you can better control the exact size of the grind and ensure that the whole batch is evenly ground too.
Kavey Eats received an Electric Spice and Nut Grinder courtesy of Cuisinart.
* Actual words were more ferocious and peppered with choice expletives!