Best Coffee Grinder 2017-2018 [Beginner’s Guide & Reviews]
Top 10 Coffee Grinder Comparison
Alright, this is one of the most important sections in the article - the comparison charts! After analyzing and testing several coffee grinders in the market, I recommend the following 10 coffee grinders:
Ceramic Stainless Steel
10.5' x 5'
40mm Conical Stainless Steel
13.8' x 6.3'
40mm Conical Stainless Steel
15.3' x 8.5'
40mm Conical Stainless Steel
4.7' x 13.8'
50mm Flat Stainless Steel
13.8' x 9.8'
40mm Conical Stainless Steel
14.3' x 9.2'
40mm Conical Stainless Steel
5.9' x 10'
40mm Conical Hardened Steel
13.8' x 5.3'
58mm Flat Stainless Steel
12.5' x 7.5'
64mm Flat Stainless Steel
7.0' x 10.5'
Looking for ways to bring your coffee experience to the next level? Then you’ve come to the right place. If you ask any baristas or coffee professionals, then you’ll know the secret to a cup of top-notch coffee, is a quality coffee grinder.
A good coffee grinder is crucial because you want to be able to grind coffee to a very precise particle size. If you don’t grind them to the same size, then the rate of flavor extraction and water flow will be different. This makes the taste very difficult, and nearly impossible to control – which usually causes coffee to taste too strong/weak, or both at the same time.
This article will guide you on your way to find the best coffee grinder. I will show you the best coffee grinders in the market. I will also go through the main features and what you should consider when deciding which one to pick over the other.
Top Ranking Coffee Grinders
Not interested in the nuts and bolts involved in picking a coffee grinder? Then just read here for my top 3 recommendations.
13.8' x 9.8' x 4.7'
- Small Footprint
- Great Performance
- Not Automatic
20' x 15' x 10'
- Max. Control
- Extra Accessories
- Large Bean Hopper
10.5' x 5' x 7.8'
- Great Performance
- Low RPM
- Lots of Cleaning Required
Why are these 3 coffee grinders on top of my list? Well read on...
Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder
The Mazzer Mini is a high-end coffee grinder and in my humble opinion, the ultimate coffee grinder for home. It performs well in every single area – in terms of design, build material, build quality, longevity, and performance. It comes in a black, silver, and polished finish.
Mazzer (the manufacturer) is known to produce high-end, commercial grade coffee grinders. Based on my observation, I think around 1 in 3 coffee shops use them. However, to tackle the home-use and low-duty commercial markets, Mazzer developed the Mazzer Mini.
From the perspective of a home user, my only problem with the Mazzer Mini is it uses up a lot of space compared to other coffee grinders. Despite saying that, I think the Mini uses up this space very efficiently.
Mazzer designed the coffee grinder to make use of its space by maximizing the hopper size to the limits of a typical kitchen shelf. They also took customer’s feedback onboard and redesigned the plug, so it exits from the bottom instead of the side. This reduces the space the grinder uses, which again, improves the efficiency.
The Main Highlights of the Mazzer Mini [Advantage]
- Maximum control of grind size with the micro-metrical grind adjustment settings
- Comes with lots of extra accessories - tamper, cleaning brush, grounds tray, and so on...
- Large bean hopper with trap door for easy storage
My Issues with the Mazzer Mini [Disadvantage]
- It's BIG, uses up lots of space at home
- It's heavy (20 pounds+)
In my opinion, this is still the best all-rounder coffee grinder in the market at the moment. I understand that this coffee grinder is bigger than your average home-use one, but it should still fit on a standard kitchen shelf.
However, this coffee grinder has a relatively steep learning curve because of its infinite grind adjustment feature (stepless) - there aren’t set dials for you to tune your grind settings. This makes it more challenging for beginners. Despite this, I still think it’s the best coffee grinder for home-use because the stepless adjustment feature lets you fine-tune grinds more precisely.
Overall, if you know what you’re doing, or don’t mind a challenge, then you won’t go wrong with the Mazzer Mini. For more details, check out my full review here.
Rancilio Rocky Doserless Coffee Grinder
Before the Mazzer Mini showed up, the Rancilio Rocky use to be the best coffee grinder. The Rocky is an all-purpose prosumer-grade coffee grinder. The machine uses 50mm stainless steel burrs, comes with 55 settings and produces excellent coffee grinds for anything from Espresso to Drip, and great consistency for French Press.
I believe this coffee grinder got its name because of its exterior. The Rocky is constructed with heavy-duty aluminum, stainless steel, and a bit of plastic. It looks sturdy as a rock. As an Italian manufacturer, Rancilio designed the Rocky to look very sleek – it uses a combination of black and stainless steel’s natural colors.
When comparing to the Mazzer Mini, the Rancilio Rocky is a lot smaller. It uses less space and fits in your standard cabinet, perfect if you want to put it away when not using it. The overall specification isn’t as good though. The burrs and motor aren’t as powerful as the Mazzer Mini, but it does come at a significantly lower price – it’s around $100 cheaper. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons:
What's Smooth about the Rancilio Rocky [Advantage]
- Massive step up compared to the next best coffee grinder
- Variety: wide grind range from fine to coarse
- It's small, especially when you take the burr size to a count
The Rocky Side of the Rancilio Rocky [Disadvantage]
- Lots of resistance when changing grind settings
- Have to hold on to the switch to keep grinding (can't leave it alone)
- It's noisy
- It's heavy!
The Rancilio Rocky is a very good coffee grinder to start out with if you’re a complete beginner. The coffee grinder comes with 55 individual stepped settings. It’s doserless – meaning you don’t have to deal with the extra complication like emptying the doser every few shots (to remove stale grinds). But, it also means it’s less convenient if you’re brewing for larger groups. The Rocky is also slightly nosier and heavier than its peers.
Overall, the Rancilio Rocky is still one of the best coffee grinders in the market. I would recommend this grinder for beginners who are serious in learning how to brew coffee properly.
RANCILIO ROCKY DOSERLESS GRINDER
Capresso Infinity 565.05 Conical Burr Grinder
The 3rd best coffee grinder on my list is…the Capresso Infinity 565.05 Conical Burr Grinder. This machine is one of the best and more expensive model in the infinity range because it’s built with heavy-duty zinc alloy. This makes it more stable and quieter than others. It’s still cheaper than both the Mazzer Mini and Rancilio Rocky.
The Capresso Infinity is great for home-use and perfect for those who have friends and family coming over all the time. The performance is great; it uses commercial-grade conical burrs. It has a bean container that holds 8.5 ounces and a ground container that hold 4 ounces. Lastly, it’s easy to clean.
Let’s have a look at the Infinity’s pros and cons:
The Infinity Capresso Grinder [Advantage]
- Great performance and consistency across all range
- Doesn't use a lot of space (unlike the two above)
- Quiet compared to products in similar price range
- Low RPM: improved flavor, less heat, and less static
How's Capresso Infinity? Don't Make Me LAUGH [Disadvantage]
- Regular cleaning required (although it's easy to clean)
- Fragile bean hopper
- Only comes with a time and not an on/off switch
In summary, the Capresso Infinity 565.05 offers great performance without hogging up too much space. This is very good option for beginners because it’s cheaper, easier to use, easier to clean, and takes up less space. I think it’s important to say this again, you’ll be cleaning this machine frequently, but it should be fine as it’s easy to clean. Get the Capresso Infinity on Amazon now!
Taking all the factors above, the Capresso Infinity 565.05 is a great coffee grinder - it’s everything a beginner should be looking for. This unit is perfect for those who want to get started in home brewing and are looking for a coffee grinder that is both reasonably priced and at the same time, doesn’t compromise on quality.
CAPRESSO INFINITY 565.05
Why are coffee grinders important?
In essence, a coffee grinder is something that is used to grind whole coffee beans to fine grounds. As discussed earlier in the article, a good coffee grinder is one of the most important factors in brewing a quality cup of espresso.
Coffee grinding is essential because it’s fresher and more versatile.
Why's it Important to use Fresh Coffee Beans?
It’s important to use up the fresh grinds right after grinding because the flavor will start to dissipate. When beans are first roasted, it triggers a series of chemical reaction. The reaction produces over 800 volatile compounds, which contributes to the coffee’s taste and flavor.
When you grind these beans, you awaken the compounds trapped inside. This releases the flavor but also causes it to deteriorate straight away. Therefore, in order to capture as much of the aroma in your coffee as possible, it’s important to use fresh grinds before all the natural oils dry up and dissipate.
Every barista has a slightly different view, but in general, you want to use freshly grounded beans within an hour to maximize taste. With the right storage equipment, you can extend this time to around a week.
Stephen Morrissey, World Barista Champion 2008 once said:
I'm supposed to be one of the best in the world at this shit, but if you give me bad beans, there's nothing I can do to make it taste good!
The key takeaway here is simple...if the world champion can't do it, chances are we won't be able to either.
How Does Being Versatile Affect Me?
The second reason is that it’s versatile. We all have slightly different tastes, and every brewing method/recipe uses slightly different type of beans. By grinding the beans yourself, you’ll have the option to produce different size grinds and create your own blends. This allows you to cater specifically to what you’re brewing and preference, enhancing your overall coffee experience.
Coffee Equipment - How should I allocate my budget?
Hopefully, I’ve successfully drilled the importance in using a good coffee grinder by now.
The next part is to help you find the best coffee grinder based on your budget. In general, you should place more emphasis on the coffee grinder if you’re brewing a non-espresso based drink (ie. French press, AeroPress, pourover, and so on).
However, if you’re going for an espresso based one, then the hard and fast rule is to just split the budget evenly between the coffee grinder and your espresso machine – as stated by CoffeeGeeks.
CoffeeGeeks came up with this quick guide on how to allocate your budget:
Grinder % of Purchase
As shown on the table, you should place more emphasis on the espresso machine as your budget moves up. This is because of diminishing return of investment. As you spend more on a coffee grinder, it’ll contribute more towards its aesthetic and convenience, and less so on the actual performance.
What type of coffee grinders are there?
There are 3 main types of coffee grinders. They are electric blade, electric burr, and manual burr coffee grinders. Let’s go through them in a bit more detail:
Electric Blade Grinders
In short, an electric blade grinder produces coffee grinds by slicing beans randomly using a high-speed spinning blade – just like a propeller.
With a blade grinder, you’ll end up with an inconsistent concoction of powdery dust and large particles. This will produce an inconsistent cup of coffee where the powder part will be over-extracted (extra bitter), and the large particles will be under-extracted (flavorless).
Another problem with this type of grinder is the blade’s high-speed rotation…it creates lots of friction and heat. Again, this is undesirable because heat taint’s the beans natural flavor, which affects the cup’s overall taste and performance.
If you’re looking for an affordable, all-purpose grinder that is not just for coffee (for other spices too), then an electric blade grinder should work fine.
Top 3 Blade Coffee Grinders in the Market
These are the best electric blade grinders in the market at the moment:
KRUPS F203 Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder
Hamilton Beach 80365 Hands-Free Grinder
PROCTOR SILEX E160BY Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder
Disclaimer: I personally have not used blade grinders for coffee before.
But as a true coffee aficionado (or a budding one), these blade grinders just won’t cut it. You’ll need a more specialized coffee grinder…a burr grinder.
Electric Burr Grinders
Burr grinders are specifically designed for grinding coffee beans. It produces coffee grinds by passing beans through two revolving abrasive surfaces. Burr coffee mills are superior to blade ones because they produce less heat and superior grind consistency.
Specialized burr grinders are better than blade ones because they generate less heat – it rotates significantly slower and the two surfaces don’t actually touch one another. As a coffee snob, this is good news because fewer compounds would dissipate due to the heat generated in the grinding process. As a result, the brewing process will be able to extract more natural flavors to the coffee.
In terms of grind performance, burr mills are superior. They produce grinds that are a lot more consistent and even than blade grinders. You also have better control of the grind size by changing how far the upper and lower burrs are from one another. If the burrs come closer together, you’ll produce finer grinds. If it’s further away, the grinder will produce coarser results.
This works because when you pass whole beans between the burrs, they’ll rub against the two abrasive surfaces and breakdown into smaller pieces. Once they get small enough, they’ll fall through the burrs. With this simple mechanism, burr grinders produce grinds better than any blade grinders available in the market.
Comparing to manual ones, electric burr grinders are better in terms of practicality and convenience. An electric coffee grinder takes less time to produce grinds, and with the help of technology, some automatically adjust the strength and number of shots – freeing you to do other things whilst you wait.
The Best Electric Burr Grinders in the Market
Based on my experience and research, I think the top electric burr grinders are the following:
Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder
Rancilio Rocky Doserless Grinder
Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder
Manual Burr Grinders
As the name suggest, manual burr grinders are powered by the user’s turning motion. Typically, a manual coffee grinder comes with a crank handle. When turned, it rotates one grinding surface against the other.
Comparing to electric coffee grinders, hand-held grinders are usually lighter and compact, making it perfect for travel. These type of grinders typically offer better performance for the money – they produce very high-quality grinds for its price range, but at the expense of convenience and time.
Read our comprehensive manual coffee grinder guide to learn more...
Top 3 Manual Coffee Grinders in the Market
The best hand-held coffee grinders in the market are as follows:
Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill
ROK Espresso Grinder
Zassenhaus 169DG Antique Coffee Mill
Coffee Grinders: What features are there and how should I pick them?
In this section, I will go through the main features in a coffee grinder, and what you should to consider before picking one over the other.
Grinder Mechanism: Blade vs Burr
In the last section, I’ve described how blade and burr grinders work already. You can refer to it for more information.
When you decide between blade and burr grinders, there are 2 main points to consider.
[BUDGET] What's your budget?
The price points between blade and burr grinders are quite drastic. Depending on your budget, your options could be limited. A good blade grinder is more affordable and usually costs around $30. You can also get a decent manual burr grinder for around the same price, maybe a better one for around $50. However, for entry-level electric burr grinders, they cost around $150 upwards.
[NOTE: Many so-called burr grinders use fake burrs below this price range]
[PURPOSE] How do you plan to use your grinder?
Are you planning to use your machine purely for your coffee pleasures? Or are you looking for something all-purpose that will sort your spices and nuts out?
If you plan to use your unit solely for coffee grinding, then go for burr grinders. If it’s more for general use, then go for blade grinders.
How much room do I need?
Am I going to wake the whole world up in the morning?
These are all important issues to think about too. However, they’re not deciding factors when picking between blade and burrs. That’s because both blade and burr grinders come in different shapes and sizes, both will have quieter and smaller models.
Overall, you should place the most weighting on how you plan to use your coffee grinder. If it’s just for coffee beans, you should go for a burr grinder. If it’s for all kinds of spices, then you should get a blade grinder.
Burr Shape: Flat vs Conical
There are two main types of burrs, flat and conical. They function roughly the same way. Both types use a set of abrasive burrs, one serrated and another with jagged edges. When the beans fall between the burrs, they rub against the abrasive surfaces and breakdown into smaller grinds. Once it reaches the desired size, they’ll fall through the burrs to the container below / on the side.
The only difference here is the shape of the burr rings.
Flat burrs are a set of burrs placed facing each other, horizontally to the ground. Since they’re not slanted, more grinds will get trapped inside. They will become stale if you leave them alone for too long. However, they’re normally slightly more powerful and grinds a bit faster.
Conical burrs are…well conical shape. In my experience, being coned shape comes with a few advantages. They typically flow better because beans will slide through more smoothly due to gravity, meaning less grinds will be stuck inside the machine. Being at an angle, the burrs are usually more compact and have a larger surface area at the same time.
There’s been an on-going debate in the community on which is better, flat burrs or conical burrs?
[SPEED] How fast do you want to grind your coffee?
The consensus in the community is that flat burrs are more powerful and produces grinds faster than conical burrs. The grind speed is mainly based on burr size, but if you’re in a commercial setting or simply want an extra speed boost, then getting a coffee grinder with flat burrs is a good choice.
[SPACE] How much space do I have in my kitchen shelf?
Again, this depends on the actual size of the burrs, but conical burrs tend to be more compact because of its coned shape design, the burrs are placed at an angle and so more can fit in the same area.
As I’ve already mentioned above, conical burrs are normally not as powerful, so there is a small trade-off between speed and space required.
[BREW] What type of brew are you going to make?
The difference in performance is small, but depending on what you’re brewing, you might want to choose which type of burrs to go for. If it’s Turkish or espresso, then I personally prefer using conical burrs. That’s because flat burrs tend to rotate faster and generate more heat, which means the bean’s natural flavors will be tainted. In theory, if you’re going for finer grinds, the negative effect will amplify because it takes longer to grind and because the grinds will have a larger surface area – heat will be transferred quicker from the burrs to the grinds.
However, if you’re brewing something that uses coarser grinds, the impact of heat transfer will diminish. This is because there will be less time and surface area for heat to transfer to the grinds.
In summary, when you pick between flat burrs and conical burrs, there’s a trade-off between grind speed and the amount of space required. Flat burrs tend to have faster grind speed and conical burrs tend to use less space.
Depending on the brew, there should be a small difference in theory. If you’re brewing something that uses fine grinds, you should consider going for conical burrs simply because it generates less heat.
Overall, there is very little difference in performance between the two types of burrs. According to Nordic Barista Cup, there research project found that 164 coffee professionals in the event couldn’t taste any differences between a flat and a conical grinder. Therefore, you should make your buying decision based on other features instead.
Burr Material: Ceramic vs Steel
The main materials used to make burrs are either ceramic or steel. Both materials are widely used at home and in commercial settings.
[DURABILITY] What's the chance of the burrs breaking?
Different materials have different properties. In general, steel burrs are more durable than ceramic burrs. If a foreign object like a small rock enters the burrs, they’re more likely to chip and become unusable if it’s made of ceramic. That’s not to say steel burrs won’t chip, the damage just won’t be as severe, to the point where the coffee grinder won’t function.
In terms of durability, or by my definition - the chance of breaking…steel burrs are more durable.
[LIFE] How often do I need to replace the burrs?
After durability comes life expectancy.
In short, ceramic burrs last 2 to 3 times longer than steel burrs. Typically, you don’t need to replace ceramic burrs until after 1,650 – 2,000lb (750 – 1,000kg) worth of coffee grinding. However, for steel burrs, they usually last for around 550 – 1,300lb (250 – 600kg) only.
So for length of service, ceramic burrs are better and normally last for around 2 to 3 times longer than steel burrs.
[BUDGET] How much does it cost to replace the burrs?
There’s a common misconception that ceramic burrs are more expensive than steel burrs. It’s true that it costs more to mold, and more per set, but as I’ve said already, they last 2 to 3 times as long! When you take that to a count, they average out to be around the same.
Therefore, in terms of price per pound, there’s little difference.
[PERFORMANCE] How does burr material affect performance?
I understand that grind performance is one of the most important factors when finding the best coffee grinder. But in terms of material, the performance is about the same. On one hand, steel burrs expand due to heat, changing the distance between them, which in turn, creates inconsistent results. On the other hand, steel burrs are better at transferring heat away from the coffee beans. As such, I think the positives and negatives for steel burrs cancel each other out. As for ceramic burrs, I don’t notice any significant positives and negatives.
In terms of performance, there are little noticeable differences. It’s not too important and you most likely won’t notice the difference unless you’re at competition level.
Overall, the material of the burrs doesn’t affect performance by much. However, if you’re looking for a commercial grinder, you should keep the burr’s durability and life expectancy in mind. In this situation, I would personally go for the safer option. I would go for stainless steel burrs because the chance of them breaking is lower.
Power: Manual vs Electric
The difference between manual and electric coffee grinders is obvious. One is powered by your might, and the other…by electricity. They both have different advantages and disadvantages; I’ll guide you on which one to pick based on your priorities.
[BUDGET] Should I buy a manual or electric grinder with X budget?
In an earlier discussion, I mentioned that entry-level coffee grinders cost from $150 and up. I’m not saying that burr grinders below this price is bad, but many of them uses fake burrs, which crushes coffee beans in an awkward way and create very inconsistent grinds.
In light of this information, if your budget is less than $150, I would recommend going for a hand coffee grinder like the Hario Skerton.
If you’re looking for an electric coffee grinder under $200, then you should get our TOP 3 PICK Capresso Infinity Grinder. As for grinders in the $200 - $300 range, the Breville Smart Grinder and Baratza Virtuoso stand out. Beyond that, there are better options like the Mazzer Mini, and the MACAP M4.
Overall, you should only consider getting an electric coffee grinder if you have a budget over $150, or else it’s better to go for a hand-held one.
[PERFORMANCE] How does performance vary between manual and electric coffee grinders?
In short, electric coffee grinders will give you the best performance but in terms of bang for buck, hand-held coffee mills will win.
Hand-held coffee grinders produce consistent grinds. In many cases, they do so more than electric grinders below the $250 range. Having significantly lower price point, hand-crank coffee grinders offer better value for money. However, their performance is capped and to take your coffee experience to the next level, you’ll have to invest in an electric burr grinder.
Performance differs drastically based on the price point. In general, there are very few good performing coffee grinders below $150, and a few good ones under $300. Above $300, there are many that offer superior performance – although some may not be worth the money due to diminish returns.
All-in-all, manual burr grinders offer better bang for buck but electric ones performance is still superior.
[TRAVEL] Are manual grinders better for me if I'm always on the move?
Although the answer is obvious, it’s still one of the most important consideration. Whether you’re someone who enjoys nature or a businessmen who travels the world, you won’t want to carry a huge electric grinder with you… This is especially the case if you’re on the road, as there’s no plugs in the first place…
So, if you’re planning to bring a coffee grinder wherever you go, then you should buy a manual coffee grinder. However, electric ones still offer better performance. So if it’s for home-use or commercial, you should get an electric coffee grinder. Hopefully you won’t try and move them around too much.
[CONVENIENCE] Manual or electric...Which one is going to give me the least hassle?
This is an important question, especially if you aim to use the machine in a café.
Typically, electric burr grinders come with some sort of automatic function, whether it’s number of shots, measurements, or grind size. None of these exist with hand coffee grinders (to my knowledge). To do the same things, it’ll have to involve some sort of physical work. Most of the time, you’ll also have to take the machine apart if you want to change the grind size.
Hassle free might be an important factor for you. It’s especially important in a commercial setting because you don’t want to be grinding coffee beans all the time, it’s just not good use of time. Therefore, electric coffee mills win because most of them just involve pressing a button.
In summary, when you pick between electric and manual grinders, you should consider the budget, desired performance, and convenience.
You should consider getting an electric coffee grinder if any of the following is true:
- I don't mind spending more than $150
- I'm looking for a machine that offers superior performance
On the other hand, manual coffee grinders are better if any of the following is true:
- I don't want to spend more than $150
- I'm looking for the best bang for buck product in the market
- I'm looking for something portable to bring with me when I'm away from town/
Adjustment Settings: Stepped vs Stepless
There are 2 ways to adjust your coffee grinder’s settings. We have the more prevalent ‘stepped’ adjustment and the more advanced ‘stepless’ adjustment.
Stepped adjustment coffee grinders are designed with predetermined spots where the distance between burrs are locked in place. This lets the coffee grinder produce different sized grounds to cater for different brews. There are 2 types of stepped adjustment grinders; 1) self-holding and 2) lever release.
Self-Holding Stepped Adjustment
For burr grinders that use self-holding stepped adjustment, you can adjust the grind settings by turning the bean hopper or adjustment knob. Normally, you will hear multiple ‘click’ sounds as it moves and locks into different positions.
Lever Release Stepped Adjustment
Lever release stepped adjustment is where you control the grind settings by constantly holding down on the release button and turning the hopper. When you’re done, simply let go of the button and the lever will snap to the closest preset spot and lock everything up.
Stepless adjustment coffee grinders are more difficult to use. This is because they don’t come with any preset limits on how to adjust your machine. Without this limit, you can fine-tune the grind size specifically to your personal taste. This will maximize the beans potential and push your coffee experience to new heights.
[USABILITY] Stepped or stepless...which one is easier to use?
Stepped adjustment coffee grinders are always easier to use, especially if you’re a beginner. With this type of machine, you can easily change between settings, test different grind size, and be able to easily revert to any one of them – assuming you remember which preset setting you’ve used before.
I would recommend this type of coffee grinders for beginners. There are machines that come with 400 different stepped adjustment settings, which is more than enough if you’re just starting out or are still developing your palate.
[PERFORMANCE] Which type offers the best coffee experience?
If you’re looking for a machine that’ll bring your coffee experience to the next level, then you want to look for one that uses stepless adjustments. This is especially important for those who’ve developed their palate because you can make micro-adjustments and produce grinds specifically for your taste.
The downside is the lack of reference points. If you change the settings, you’ll lose your original one and will have to fine-tune it again. However, if you want truly want to brew coffee that’s criminally good, then don’t let this stop you from going for a stepless adjustment coffee grinder – you won’t regret it in the long run.
When you choose between stepped and stepless, there are 2 things to consider.
Do you know what you’re doing and if not, are you up for a challenge?
If the answer is YES, then you should get a stepless coffee grinder. They are difficult to use but it’ll reward you with the true barista and coffee experience.
Which is more important, being easy-to-use or personalizing your coffee experience?
You should go for stepped adjustments if simplicity is what you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for better grind results, then a stepless adjustment coffee grinder is the way to go.
Dosing: Doser vs Doserless
There are coffee grinders that come with doser and doserless models, like the Rancilio Rocky. So what’s the difference?
A doser chamber is a container that stores coffee grinds into separate pizza shaped compartments that usually holds around 7g of ground coffee. It usually comes with a lever and when pulled, it rotates and dispenses everything from a single compartment. This is useful because it delivers a pre-measured dose quickly for those who want to brew multiple shots.
A doserless coffee grinder is exactly what it sounds like, it doesn’t come with a doser chamber. If you’re just brewing a shot or two, then this is better because there’ll usually be lots of grinds left inside a doser, which goes stale if you leave them alone.
In my mind, there are 2 main issues to consider here.
[PURPOSE] How many cups of coffee do you plan to brew?
Depending on how many cups of coffee you’re planning to brew, you should pick doser or doserless over the other.
You should go for a doserless coffee grinder if you are just going to brew a few cups. This is because there are leftover grinds trapped inside the doser chamber. If you leave the grinds alone, they’ll deteriorate and go to waste in about an hours’ time. The amount of wastage is more than you think. I usually wipe off around one full shot worth of grinds when I clean my doser. If you’re grinding 1 to 2 shots of coffee grinds, then 1 shot of wastage is way too much.
On the flip side, if you’re preparing 100 shots or more, then 1 shot of wastage is acceptable. This brings us to doser coffee grinders.
If you work in a café or are looking for a heavy-duty commercial grade coffee grinder, then a doser coffee grinder is more convenient. This is because every time you pull the lever on the doser, it drops a pre-measured shot of coffee grounds, which saves you valuable time by not having to do any extra measuring.
In summary, doserless coffee grinders are better if you’re only making a few shots because there’ll be less wastage. On the other hand, doser coffee grinders are better because it cuts the time consuming process of measuring by pre-measuring the coffee grinds inside the chamber already.
[SPACE] How much space do you have for your coffee grinder?
Wastage and convenience are both meaningless if your kitchen can’t fit the coffee grinder in the first place!
You should take the amount of free space you have when you decide between a doser and doserless coffee grinder. In general, doser coffee grinders take up more space than doserless ones. That’s because a doser chamber is usually an extra component attached at the bottom or on the side of the main coffee grinder. As such, it takes up more space than a coffee grinder that doesn’t have one.
Overall, assuming space isn’t an issue, you should get a doser coffee grinder if you’re preparing coffee for large groups of people and want to make your life easier. This is because a doser chamber removes the need to measure the coffee grinds as its pre-measured inside already. On the other hand, you should get a doserless coffee grinder if you’re just planning to make a few cups of coffee per time, as it generates less wastage and will therefore save you money.
If you’re a complete beginner, I would recommend going for a doserless coffee grinder because they’re easier to clean, and easier to use – reducing the chance of things going wrong when you brew your first few shots.
The best coffee grinder for your brew
In this section, I will go through the most common type of brews. For each brew, I will describe how they work, the type of grind it uses, and lastly, recommend the most appropriate coffee grinder for it.
Best Coffee Grinder for French Press
So you’ve decided to invest in a coffee grinder for French Press? Great choice!
French Press, also known as plunge pot is one of the most common method in brewing coffee at home. French Press is similar to other coffee pots, but comes with an additional plunger that filters out the grind by pushing them to the bottom – leaving you with just the brew itself.
Once again, the word ‘grind’ is mentioned. That’s because the secret to a delicious cup of French Press lies in the grind!
If the grind is too fine, it’ll just pass through the plunger and you’ll end up with a cup of ‘muddy’ coffee. If the grind is not consistent enough, then the flavor and taste won’t be distinct. As such, to brew a nice cup of coffee, you’ll need a coffee grinder that produces uniform coarse grinds.
At the moment, one of the best coffee grinder for French Press is…the Baratza Virtuoso. This might change when the Baratza Sette comes out this Summer. If that’s the case, I’ll update this part later on.
For now, I’ll give a short review on the Virtuoso and how to set it up for French Press.
Baratza Virtuoso - The Best Coffee Grinder for French Press
The Baratza Virtuoso is a small coffee grinder that’s exceedingly well-built and sturdy for its price point. The Baratza Virtuoso uses 40mm stainless steel burrs. It comes with 40 ‘stepped’ adjustable settings and is capable of handling anything including coarser grinds – the type of grind you want for French Press. Other than producing good French Press, the main benefits and problems of the Virtuoso are as follows:
The Virtuous Virtuoso [Advantage]
- Easy to use
- Large hopper capacity
- Compact and unobtrusive designs
The Imperfection of the Baratza Virtuoso [Disadvantage]
- Basic design, uses plastic parts
- Messy, grinds stuck on the exterior of the machine
- Timer knob is annoying; it falls off too easily
In terms of settings, every Baratza Virtuoso is calibrated differently, so my settings could be slightly different to yours. I personally use 32 for French Press. You should test around the 30 – 40 region until you find the perfect setting.
In conclusion, the Baratza Virtuoso is an ideal choice for beginners who are searching for the best French Press coffee grinder. The Virtuoso is very easy to use and does everything you need for a fine cup of French Press. The Virtuoso comes with nice sized 40mm burrs and 40 adjustable settings. Lastly, it’s compact and perfect for kitchen of all sizes.
Best Coffee Grinder for AeroPress
Did you know AeroPress was created by accident?
How about the fact that it was created just over 10 years ago?
Originally, the idea was to develop something cheap and simple for those at home or on the road. The results turned out better than expected, to the point where it’s spawned its own type of brew nowadays. That idea…is the Aeropress.
Aeropress is the preferred brew for those on the move. That’s because it’s portable, easy to clean, and easy to use.
An AeroPress Coffee Maker comes in 3 parts; the mixing chamber, filter cap, and the plunger. The mechanics are simple. You place your coffee grinds at the bottom of the mixing chamber, on top of a piece of paper filter. You pour hot water into the chamber, stir the mixture, and seal it by placing the plunger on top. After a 1 to 3 minutes (different recipes), push the plunger downwards to force the coffee through.
The best coffee grinder for Aeropress depends on where you’re going to use it. If it’s for home-use, you should go for the Breville Smart Grinder. If you’re planning to use it whilst on the road, then go for a good and sturdy manual coffee grinder like the Porlex JP-30 Tall Grinder.
Breville Smart Grinder BCG800XL - The Best Coffee Grinder for AeroPress
The Breville Smart Grinder is a mid-range burr grinder and in my experience, the best coffee grinder for AeroPress. It uses stainless steel ceramic burrs, comes with 25 grind settings, and an intuitive on-board display that makes the whole process straightforward and easily adjustable. It also creates very little mess on the counter, but because of static, it’s slightly more difficult to clean – especially the bottom burrs.
The main pros and cons of the Breville Smart Grinder are as follows:
What's so Smart about the BCG800XL? [Advantage]
- Uniform grinds in most settings
- Straight forward LCD display that's easy-to-use
- Lots of additional accessories
- Great value for money
Smart? I think this Breville grinder has less than 100 IQ [Disadvantage]
- Unable to save personalized preferences
- Frequent maintenance required for best performance
- Difficult to clean, especially the burrs at the bottom
Most AeroPress recipes use medium fine grinds. However, there are many AeroPress variations and some uses grinds that are slightly coarser (all the way up to around the medium coarse levels).
I personally prefer medium grinds and set my smart grinder to 3 ticks (around the percolator boundary). Like other coffee grinders, they’re all calibrated slightly differently even if they’re the same model. So make sure you test between the percolator and filter region until you find the best taste for you.
Overall, the Breville Smart Grinder BCG800XL is the best coffee grinder for AeroPress because it’s versatile and very easy to use. With this grinder, it produces unparalleled consistency between the medium fine to medium coarse range – which most AeroPress recipes uses. If you’re planning to brew AeroPress, then you won’t go wrong with the Smart Grinder.
BREVILLE SMART GRINDER
The Coffee Barrister's VERDICT
Features and Considerations
In this article, we discussed several important features in a coffee grinder, and went through what we need to consider when picking one over the other. I went through the differences between blade and burr grinders, between manual and electric grinders, burr characteristics, adjustment settings, and the pros and cons of using a doser.
Overall, when you pick your coffee grinder, you should consider the following points:
- Space Availability
- Ease of Use (and Clean)
- YOUR Usage Patterns
- YOUR Budget
The Best Coffee Grinders in Town
Other than features and key considerations, I also recommended several different coffee grinders.
Based on experience, research, and word-of-mouth, I think the best coffee grinders in the market are the following:
These 3 coffee grinders are more suitable for espressos. Some coffee grinders are better for other brews. My recommendations for specific brews are as follows:
Through this article, I hope you’ve picked up a lot about coffee grinders. Hopefully, you’ll be on your way to start brewing at home! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment down below.