Spices are very similar to coffee, maybe not in taste but certainly in preparation. So it makes sense to assume you can put your lovely aromatic spices through your coffee grinder, right?
Technically, you could, but then your next batch of coffee might have a strong hint of cumin. Not ideal. Just like coffee beans, spices contain oils that will stick to any surfaces they touch when put through your coffee grinder. The oils from your spices will affect the coffee you then put through your coffee grinder in later uses.
What is common with both whole bean coffee and whole spices is that they are best when ground, not chopped. That's why many people who grind spices use a mortar and pestle. It gives that ground-up fine powdery texture and creates more surface are therefore more aroma and more flavour.
Which Grinder Should You Use?
If you don’t want to use a mortar and pestle and prefer an electric grinder, you could invest in a very simple blade coffee grinder. This will be easier to clean than an electric burr grinder, but the problem with a blade grinder is that it will chop, not crush, your spices.
The best choice would be to use a hand grinder with ceramic burrs, as these can be taken out and washed in warm soapy water. Burr grinders will also crush your spices in the way that you need for good flavour extraction. Our choice for a good quality affordable hand grinder is the Rhino Hand Grinder.
The critical thing to remember is to make sure you use a separate grinder for your coffee to avoid any residue from the spices being carried over into your brew.