Recently Published Coffee Bean Research Wakes Up Coffee Grinder Retailers
September 30, 2015 – – Orillia, Ontario: Scholars at Lakehead University, north of Toronto, recently investigated the effects of coffee grinding time, grind size and size variability on the quality of a brewed cup of coffee. In another recent study Francisca Listov-Saabye, the top grind researcher at Nordic Barista Cup has released her findings regarding the quality of coffee produced using conical vs. flat burr mechanisms. And retailers are listening.
Brewer’s Mark spokesperson, Rickey Williams, comments “as a coffee products retailer we try to keep a close eye on technology research and its effects on consumer buying trends.” In the past two years, consumers have shifted from a preference for blade grinders to burr grinders, and retailers have responded to that trend.
For the Canadian study, researchers compared coffee produced with blade grinders vs. burr grinders, and acknowledged the superior grind control obtained from burr grinders. But in 2013, when they collected their data, they found 9 out of the top 20 best-selling coffee grinders sold on Amazon.com to be blade-type, as opposed to only 7 burr grinder models. Today, Amazon’s best sellers in the coffee grinder category include 8 blade-type grinders and 12 burr grinders.
In 2013, the Canadian researchers attributed the relative popularity of the blade grinders to their low cost, averaging about $22. By comparison, they found the costs of electric burr grinders to average more than $100 and discovered that “even manual burr grinders typically cost over $40.” Today, most of the Amazon best selling manual burr grinders cost under $20, and it’s easy to find electric models under $100.
When asked whether price reductions, as opposed to research and technology, might be the driving force behind the increase in burr grinder popularity, Williams responded with the following comments. “The market research I conducted in 2014 already showed increasing demand for burr grinders, even though the prices at that time were generally higher than for simple blade grinders. I believe the demand came from increasing consumer awareness of the relative benefits of burr grinding. As more and more retailers have responded to that demand, there has been an associated downward pressure on prices.” In spite of the high level of competition following evolving coffee making products, Williams said his company still chose to offer a conical burr coffee grinder on Amazon.com. He says, “if nothing else, the increasing competion to sell these types of products is indicative of continuuing high consumer demand.”
According to Williams, the results of coffee research, like the Canadian and Nordic studies referenced here, motivate retailers and equipment manufacturers to continually improve their product offerings. He stated, “Consumer demand responds to awareness of product improvements. To stay ahead of our competition, we need to know about the latest research, but we also need to figure out how to capture the benefits of research in our products and then help to educate consumers about those benefits.”
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Central Point, Oregon 97502