Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
Back in the days when I worked for a living, my minesweeper—the HMCS Goose Bay—spent a week docked in La Rochelle, France. The weather was great, and, except for a couple of annoying duty watches, very little was scheduled.
We visited the local bar most evenings. The afternoons were spent crowded around tiny plastic tables, enjoying the sun as we sampled a variety of French wines. Eventually, however, I grew tired of alcohol and ordered a type of coffee I’d heard about but had never tried.
I was instantly hooked. The combination of strong espresso and frothed milk both looked and tasted great. Since then, I’ve wasted a lot of time and money sitting in coffee shops, sipping cappuccinos.
I eventually picked up a Tassimo machine. Aside from regular coffee, it could produce an acceptable cappuccino as well as a good espresso and a drinkable latte. While the taste did not compare with what I'd find at a coffee shop, the Tassimo brew was less expensive.
In an effort to keep my costs down while improving quality, I recently purchased a brand-new espresso machine and an Oster burr mill to grind the beans that feed it.
The Oster burr mill weighs in at 3.85 pounds. It is 11.26 inches high, 6.3 inches wide, and 7.7 inches deep. This grinder is composed of stainless steel and plastic.
A removable bean hopper utilizes gravity to feed coffee beans into the grinder. The size of the resulting grounds can be selected by rotating the hopper—reducing or increasing the distance between the two burrs—into the desired position.
This machine’s power switch is surrounded by a dial that selects the number of beans to be processed before the burr mill automatically shuts down.
A removable grind chamber collects the grounds. Its lid contains a small measuring spoon. Power cord storage is located beneath the grinder.
This grinder is also marketed as the Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill.
- Brand: Oster
- Name: Coffee Burr Mill
- Model: BVSTBMH23-033
- Size: 28.6 x 16 x 19.5 centimeter (11.6 x 6.3 x 7.7 inches)
- Hopper: Holds 0.23 kilograms (0.5 pounds)
- Grinder type: Burr
- Grind chamber: Plastic with lid and scoop
- Ground size: variable (fine to course)
- Amount dispensed: variable
- Power: 160 watts
- Power cord length: 24 inches
The John Oster Manufacturing Company was acquired by Sunbeam in 1960, and by the end of the 1970s, this corporation enjoyed $1.3 billion in annual sales and employed nearly 30,000 people.
In 1981, Sunbeam was bought by Allegheny International. Eight years later, Allegheny was taken over by the investment group Japonica Partners and renamed Sunbeam-Oster.
Albert J. Dunlap became CEO of Sunbeam-Oster in 1996, laying off half of the company’s workforce. Dunlap then purchased a controlling interest in Coleman and Signature Brands, acquiring Mr. Coffee and First Alert.
An internal investigation, however, revealed that Sunbeam was in severe crisis and that Dunlap had encouraged violations of accepted accounting rules. Dunlap was fired and the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
In 2002, Sunbeam emerged from bankruptcy as American Household Incorporated. It was purchased in September 2004 by the Jarden Corporation. Twelve years later, Jarden was itself acquired by Newell Rubbermaid to form Newell Brands.
Blade grinders employ a spinning blade to pulverize beans in much the same manner as a blender. While this type of mill is inexpensive, the resulting coffee grounds are not uniform in size. Differently sized grounds brew at different rates, so coffee made with grounds from a blade grinder is likely to be unbalanced and disappointing.
Burr grinders funnel the beans, a few at a time, through the grinding area where the beans are ground between one stationary and one spinning burr. These uniformly sized grounds extract flavor at the same rate and produce a balanced brew. Ground size is adjusted by changing the distance between the burrs.
Pour up to a half-pound of coffee beans into the hopper and replace its lid. Then twist the hopper unit until its grind selector indicator aligns with the marking specifying the type of coffee you intend to brew. Espresso grounds are extremely fine, drip coffee requires a medium setting, and coarse grounds are used in a French Press.
At this point, the amount of beans you wish to grind is chosen, using the cup selection dial. This ranges between two and 18 cups.
Then depress the grinder’s power button. The mill will noisily grind the specified amount of beans before shutting off.
The final step is to pull out the grind chamber and deposit the ground coffee into an airtight container for storage.
I found the Oster Burr Mill to be easy to operate. When grinding the beans for use in my espresso machine, the result was uniformly fine grounds with a flour-like consistency. I also prepared coarsely ground beans. This also worked well, but, to my eyes, the result was not entirely consistent.
When loading coffee into the portafilter of an espresso machine, I’ve found that it must be filled to the brim and well tamped down. This technique uses a more significant amount of coffee grounds than expected. If I select 18 cups in the Oster Burr Mill, I can prepare about 12 cups of coffee using my espresso machine. I suspect that the results will be closer to normal when brewing drip coffee or utilizing a French Press.
I like this burr mill. It is easy to use, simple to clean and works quickly. Quality control appears to be good. The Oster Burr Mill is recommended.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Walter Shillington