I only make beer using extract with grain, usually that amounts from 1/2 to 1 lb of grain in 5 gallon batches. Generally I have used the rolling pin method of smashing the grain in a plastic bag. Now, I have bought 10 lbs of grain to save a little money over the cost for 1 lb bags and am wondering if using a Cuisinart Coffee Burr Mill would work on the course setting? I use a strainer bag to hold the grain, with is very fine mesh. Thanks.
I'll answer specifically for this type of mill. Since it uses grind plates, it should work. I would run a handful through to see what it looks like. Remember, you want the hulls to be more or less whole and the meat of the grain to be crushed a bit (smaller pieces mean more surface area to volume ratio). This might be fine for small batches but it you run too much through, you'll be running the risk of burning out your motor.
This is where I give you the advice that you don't want to hear but know it coming anyway. If you want to save money on brewing ingredients, stop buying malt extract and buy malt and convert the carbohydrates to sugars yourself. Yep, learn about all grain brewing... specifically batch sparging, which is much simpler then fly sparging.
Your Coffee Burr Mill should work, no need to grind it too fine, if you can adjust it, go for coarse.
If you like, at any local brew store, for about 50$, you can buy a manual grain mill like this one:
This is perfect for speciality grain, but would be tedious for base malt since it takes a small quantity at the time. So what I do, when I buy 50lbs of base malt, I have my supplier crush my 50lbs base malt for me (they don't even charge me for this). Then I buy my speciality grain whole, that I crush myself when ready to brew. I have been doing all-grain batches for 3 years now with this process. I would never go back to malt extract (I think).