The Ultimate Guide to Best Coffee Grinders
Lately we have bee getting into a little coffee talk here on Kombucha Home. Lovers of health and vitality, we have been taking a look at the health benefits of coffee. Which turn out to be surprisingly extensive! Then we got stuck into creating some guides for you guys on the best coffee and espresso machines out there.
Now we are investigating possibly the most important component of coffee making. Bean grinders!
Why Coffee Grinders are Vital to Making the Best Coffee
When it comes to coffee, a lot of attention often goes to the brand of coffee, and the quality (or price tag) of coffee machines.
While these aspects are important, most coffee fundis will tell you, great coffee starts with one important thing. And that is freshness. The fresher the ground coffee is that you use to make your coffee or espresso, the better the cup, almost every time.
The reason for this is that coffee beans contain oils and flavor and aroma compounds. These play an important role in imparting superior flavor to your coffee. The oil in coffee beans is also responsible for crema production, that unctuous layer of honey colored foam that sits atop a perfect espresso.
These oils and flavor compounds over time can start to deteriorate in freshness. If the coffee is in whole bean form, it will take longer to lose its freshness, up to six months if vacuum sealed. Coffee connoisseurs say on the other hand that ground coffee loses its freshness 2 hours after being ground. No matter how you store it.
When coffee is brewed from grounds which are not fresh, it does not matter what brand the coffee is, or what machine you use to brew it – it can not regain that level of flavor that freshly ground beans bring.
It is for these reasons that many coffee lovers and connoisseurs choose to grind their own coffee. And of course, if you are going to be grinding up coffee beans on the daily – you are going to need a good coffee grinder to help you.
How to Spot a Coffee Grinder that is Worth the Money
Nowadays, there are so many different brands and levels of capability of coffee grinders available, that making an informed purchase can seem quite overwhelming! However, all it takes is a little technical knowledge, and you will be able to navigate your way around the coffee grinder scape with confidence.
If you are already an expert, and just want some reviews, head down to our “Top Picks” selection of coffee grinders.
Otherwise, if you are just someone who likes great coffee and does not yet know about the incredibly nuanced world of grinders, let’s get to grip with some of the specs.
Coffee Grinder Specs Explained
Be warned, the topic of bean grinders can be one of the most in depth and debated aspects amongst coffee experts. However there are some standard categories and associated levels of quality that coffee grinders fall into.
Let’s take a look.
Burr Grinders Vs Blade Grinders
To start off with, coffee bean grinders can be divided into two types. Burr grinders and blade grinders.
Blade grinders are considered to be the cheaper and lower quality option. They function by ‘cutting’ up the beans with a high speed blade. One of the reasons why this produces a lower quality of grind is that these machines are not able to create an even consistency of grounds. Some particles will be finer than others.
Even particle size is key to making the best coffee. Course grounds are desired for extractions methods such as using a french press, or making Greek style boiled coffee. Medium grounds are suited to pour over brewing methods. And extremely fine grounds are required to make espresso.
If you end up having a mixture of particle sizes, then you will not be able to achieve as good results as if they were are all of the size you needed. For example, if you are aiming for a course or medium grind size, with a blade grinder you may end up with a portion of very fine grounds mixed in. This can result in over extraction. Where the fine grounds release too many compounds and oils, and cause the coffee to be bitter and acrid in taste.
Blade grinders can also generate levels of heat thanks to their fast turning blades. This can ‘burn’ the grounds and cause a reduction in flavor when you use them to brew coffee.
One last downside is that blade grinders can be even noisier than burr grinders.
On the upside, blade grinders are a lot cheaper, and are usually very compact.
Burr grinders are considered to be the better class of grinder. They function by crushing coffee beans between two metal plates. Because of this they can ensure a much more even ground size.
Burr grinders are further broken down into conical grinders and ones with flat grinder wheels.
Of these two types, the ones with flat wheels are usually less expensive. However they are generally quite loud, can be messy, and are also capable of ‘burning’ beans.
Conical burr grinders are considered to be truly top range. They have the capacity to grind slowly, less noisily and off course, evenly. Thanks to their slow speeds, they will not burn your coffee or impact its flavor in any negative way. Being top of the range they are also the most expensive variety.
You would think that the faster the better when it comes to grinding coffee. However as already mentioned above, high grinding speeds have the capacity to burn coffee and this impacts the flavor. So, the slower the better. Slower grinders also tend to be quieter.
Grinder speeds can be roughly broken down into these spec categories:
High speed grinders are generally much cheaper than low speed models. If you are not too picky about the finer nuances of taste in your coffee, you may find that these are a good option. They get the job down, and don’t cost an arm and a leg.
If you are after the absolutely perfect cup however, then you will want to look at low speed grinders.
Low speed grinders put out a very high quality of ground coffee. They are also quieter thanks to the slower speed. Because of the low rev motor and engineering involved they are unfortunately quite a bit more expensive than high speed grinders. However this may be worthwhile to you.
In the low speed category, there are two further divisions between grinders:
- Gear reduction grinders – These grinders are fitted with a high speed motor. However they have a set of gears which reduce the speed so as result in a low speed grinding action.
- Direct drives – Direct drives do not have any gears. There is no need for them, as the motors itself is capable of low revs and a slow but powerful action. These grinders are the Rolls Royce’s of the coffee bean grinder world. They may be the most expensive, but they are the quietest and usually the best of quality.
Grind Size Control
When buying a bean grinder, it is important to consider what size of grind it allows you to select. Being able to control grind size allows one even greater finesse in your coffee making. As mentioned above, using the right coarseness of grounds for the particular coffee you are making is essential to getting great flavor, and in the case of espresso, good levels of crema.
Most grinders will allow you some level of control over ground size. When using a blade grinder you can control grind size by the amount of time you grind your beans for. Burr grinders will come with different levels, or settings which you can select to increase or decrease the ground size.
Level of Automation
Another set of specs to consider when selecting a coffee bean grinder for yourself is the level of automation.
The most manual and old fashioned of coffee bean grinders are hand operated. They require no electricity, and you must adjust everything yourself, manually.
Nowadays what is more common of course are electric and more automated grinders. The level of automation will depend on the model. Some grinder have a presso button digital display and are even programmable.
However there are also some great manually operated grinders available. These grinders of course require a little more elbow grease than electric versions. However if you are not in a tearing rush for your coffee, and like to get your heart rate up a little, then manual grinders are can be a wonderful green choice. Not to mention that you can use them on trips to off the grid locations where electricity may not be available.
When eyeing out coffee bean grinders, another thing to consider is that materials that each grinder is made out of.
The housings of coffee grinders are generally made out of plastic, metal, or a combination of the two. Plastic is not as long lasting as metal housings, and can crack over time. Metal housings are generally an indication of quality design. Stainless steel housings are probably some of the best, and will ensure that your grinder will stand the test of time and look great while doing so.
Although the quality of the housing material is a good point to consider, even more importantly is the material of the grinding component.
To be specific, this section mostly applies to burr grinders. Blade grinders have blades, and these can only be made from metal. The main discerning factor is the quality of the steel used in the blade. High grade stainless steel will last longer and probably retain its cutting edge better than a lower grade.
When it comes to burr grinders however, it is very important to take note of the material used in the grinder component. The grinding component in burr grinders are usually made out of either stainless steel or high quality ceramic. Both do the job well, with ceramic being commonly found in manual grinders.
There is also a third material sometimes used, and that is plastic. Plastic burr grinders are vastly inferior to ones made out of stainless steel or ceramic. So much so that the plastic counterparts have earned the term ‘fake burr grinders’.
Some plastic grinders may be made out of a reinforced plastic, which has carbon threads in order to strength the surface and edges. However as plastic grinders are generally designed with the idea of cutting costs in mind, this is rare. So, general advice – is stay away from these low grade models.
How to Choose the Perfect Coffee Grinder
Once one understands the specs and features that made up a truly great coffee bean grinder, it becomes a whole lot easier to pick out the perfect model for yourself.
Before diving in and dropping money on a make however, let’s quickly take a look at some personal considerations you may want to make.
The perfect coffee bean grinder will only be perfect if it suits you and your requirements. Check in with yourself and ask these questions:
Will it fit well in my kitchen?
Taking into account the dimensions of the grinder you are thinking of buying can be very important. Especially if counter space is as a premium in your home, or if you have low hanging kitchen cabinets.
What is the weight?
If you plan on packing your grinder away between coffees, then give a moment as well to think of the weight. If the grinder is large and heavy, this may prove arduous.
How many grind size settings do you want?
The amount of settings on a grinder can greatly influence the price tag of a model. The more settings, usually the high the cost of the grinder. However, not all of us want or need so many grind size settings. Grind seize can play a huge role in the nuances of coffee flavor and refinement of brewing techniques. So a barista level coffee lover will most probably want to have as many settings at their disposal as possible. However someone who just wants a superb cup of fresh coffee everytime, many be happy with a lower number of settings.
40 settings is the high water mark in coffee grinders at the moment. But how low can one go from here? Experts generally agree that 20 settings is a good starting point for those of us who want some versatility.
What size of bean hopper do you want?
Bean hoppers vary somewhat in size. Large bean hoppers are convenient because one does not have to fill them too often. However large bean hoppers have a downside too. In order to achieve the goal of fresh coffee, you do not want your beans to sit in the hopper for too long. Bean hoppers do not always seal 100%, so air can can usually get in. Also, bean hoppers are invariably see-through, so that one can check at a glance whether they need to be filled or not. This means that beans in the hopper are exposed to light, which can hasten staleness.
Press and leave, or press in and hold?
In automated coffee machines you will find that some models require you to keep the main button pressed down during grinding. Others allow you to set and forget. This allows you to do other things while your coffee is being ground.
Now that you know all about coffee grinder specs, and what personal requirements one should consider, let’s get into our top picks list. There is something for everyone, so don’t go away.
Top Coffee Grinder Picks
The coffee grinders we have chosen as the best on the market at the moment varying greatly in terms of capability and cost. However what they have in common is a high level of positive reviews and customer satisfaction.
Let’s jump in.
To start off on a muscle building, planet friendly note, we have the JavapPresso Manual Coffee Grinder. It is a conical burr mill, with a housing constructed out of brushed stainless steel. The burrs are constructed out of ceramic, and according to the manufacturer have been tested to last up to 5 times longer than stainless steel counterparts.
A great feature of this manual grinder is its noiselessness. Up to 90% quieter than automated models, you can operate this grinder without any fear of waking up a slumbering family or partner.
As far as grind size goes, this model is somewhat limited with only 18 different settings. However these cover the range of grind sizes. From course french press grounds down to super fine espresso grounds.
Compact and slim enough to slip in a handbag, the JavaPresse grinder can also be taken apart, for easy packing if you wish to take it on a trip. JavaPresse seems to anticipate that their customers will be so happy with their product that they won’t be able to bear leaving it behind when going on vacation!
Lastly, the JavaPresse manual grinder comes at a very affordable price, making it a really great budget choice. And it would seem that the reasonable price is not due to low quality but rather to the simplicity of design.
Customer reviews for this grinder are highly positive, with many happy customers reporting being very satisfied with their purchase. A number of reviews expressed that the quality is top notch, grinding is easy and quiet, and that the design is overall very well functioning. Some buyers have said that the manual aspect is actually more convenient than electric counterparts, as there are no cables and plugs involved.
This machine is a great choice for anybody that likes the simplicity of a manual coffee grinder. It makes for a compact and minimalist option at a very affordable price. The JavaPresse grinder is also perfect for anybody on the go, who wants to effortlessly take their grinder with them. What could be better than freshly ground coffee at work right?
Boasting great specs, the Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder is a slick counter top option in the automated category. Boasting the slowest gear reduction motor in its class, the manufacturer promises an ultra slow and quiet grind process. This means that the aroma and flavor of your coffee will be preserved during grinding. And what’s more you won’t wake the whole household up when you use it. Or the neighbors for that matter.
The conical steel burrs are constructed from commercial grade solid stainless steel. The housing is made out of a heavy duty zinc casting. All in all a durable looking machine.
As far as grind size goes, the machine has a wide range of grind size. Categorized into four areas, extra fine, fine, regular and coarse, you can grind from ultra fine turkish up to course with ease.
It also features a built in timer, meaning you can set it and walk away. To come back to aromatic freshly ground coffee. The Capresso has been designed with easy cleaning in mind, allowing you to easily remove the bean container and upper burr so you can clean the grinding chamber with the included brush.
The machine comes with a limited guarantee.
Customers who have bought this machine report it by large to be reliable and very well functioning. The grinder seems to be very consistent and long lasting. One issue raised has been the plastic hopper and timer components are not made out of heavy duty plastic, and should be handled with care. However price wise it would appear that this machine provides very high value for money.
This grinder is suited to anybody who wants to get into the burr grinder game, without taking out a loan. While reasonably priced, the Capresso is a high enough level of grinder to be able to produce top notch fresh grounds.
If you are looking for a simple and affordable blade grinder, then the Krups is an excellent option to consider. It sports a pair of stainless steel blades, and an oval design. The manufacturer claims that this assists in keeping the grind size even. Which is one of the main issues with blade grinders.
Another great feature of the Krups blade grinder is that it is fairly large in capacity, being able to hold up to 3 ounces of beans. This results in up to 12 cups worth of coffee per grind. Not bad, and particulary useful if you have a number of people over for coffee.
The grind process takes about ten seconds, so if speed and convenience are what you want, this may be an option for you. This machine is also able to process other things besides coffee beans, such as herbs and spice. Just be careful to clean thoroughly after use, as these flavors can taint your coffee.
The Krups grinder comes with a 2 year warranty.
Buyers who have purchases the Krups grinder say by and large that it is a well functioning and durable machine. One buyer reported their model to have lasted 10 years! However others reported breakage much sooner, so it is difficult to determine exactly what the durability is on this machine. As far as general consensus goes, the Krups grinder has racked up over 13 400 reviews on Amazon, with more than 60% of these being a 5 star rating. This indicates a decent level of quality.
The krups grinder is a great choice if you are looking to buy a blade grinder. It promises to grind more consistently than other machines, and boasts a large capacity, while being competitively priced. It is also a convenient choice if you are looking for a machine which is dual purposed and can grind other foodstuffs.
The Cuisinart Supreme Grind Burr Mill is an attractive large capacity automatic coffee grinder. It can take up to 8 oz of beans in its hopper. After grinding it can yield enough coffee for up to 32 cups. Due to its large capacity design, this machine is best suited to someone who likes to grind their coffee in large batches, and not in small frequent batches. This machine is also suited to larger scale settings, where one needs to grind and brew coffee for large groups of people.
As far as the grinder component is concerned, it is a disk burr grinder. As mentioned above, disk grinders are considered to be slightly less well functioning to conical burr grinders. However they still do a good job, and are a great choice if you are not overly concerned about even particle size.
As far as grind size and features go, this machine allows up to 18 different grind size selections. Its operation is a simple one touch affair, and the electric timer automatically shuts off when the grind cycle is complete.
Reviews are somewhat mixed for this machine with only a 43% 5 star rating on Amazon. This falls below most of the other grinders in this list. This could be due to a frequent part failure rate. However aside from this issue of durability, buyers have reported the machine to be well functioning and a pleasure to use.
This machine is an ideal choice if you wish to grind beans in larger batches. Whether to economize on time or to serve coffee to a throng, the Cuisineart will serve you well. It is also a great choice if you are looking for something simple to operate which does not have a hundred settings. Considering that this machine has a higher failure rate than others on this list, it is best purchased with shorter term use in mind, and not as a ‘grinder for life’.
Bringing to the table a barista level of capability, is the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. Breville is known for their excellence in the espresso and coffee arena. Their espresso machines offer some of the highest functionality at relatively reasonable pricing.
From the specs on this smart bean grinder it would appear that their stamp of high standard extends to their grinder range as well.
Fitted with stainless steel conical burrs designed to minimize grinding heat and protect the essential oils in the coffee bean, this grinder also sports a steel housing. Two thumbs up for durability and sturdiness.
However where this machine really shines is in its wide range of grind settings. Boasting up to 60 precise grind settings from the finest Espresso to the coarsest French Press Grind, this range is specific enough to satisfy even the most finicky of baristas.
The grind size settings are not the only thing over which you can have a fine level of control with the Breville grinder. The Precision electronic timer allows users to adjust grind time in 0.2 second increments. You also have the option to select either a ‘cup’ setting, or a ‘shot’ setting, depending on whether you are making a coffee or an espresso.
This function is useful because the machine can fill the ground coffee into a number of things. Either directly into a portafilter, a grinds container, gold tone filter basket or paper filter.
Buyers who have purchased this grinder by Breville on Amazon seem to largely agree that it is a well functioning machine. Reviews reveal that the machine is quiet, and grinds perfectly and consistently, resulting in consistent flavors in coffee.
Are you a barista? Or an aspiring one? If so this grinder may be for you. The breville provides a level of quality and grind size that will satisfy most coffee experts. Breville machines are renowned for being long lasting, so this is also a good choice if you are looking for something that will hold up to the test of time.
Do you have a love for minimalistic lines and muted tones of silver? If so, this elegant machine is probably catching your eye be. The Baratza is not just a machine of good looks, it of course also has some top notch specs.
First and foremost, the grinder component consists of professional-grade 40mm conical burrs. The manufacturer claims that thanks to these, the machine is capable of producing a highly consistent grind.
As far as ground sizes go this machine has 40 settings, ranging from fine for espresso to coarse for French Press. The grind range is from 250 to 1200 microns. This wide range of grind size settings makes this machine an ideal choice for someone wishing to experiment and refine their coffee or espresso making.
The Baratza not only shines in its wide range of grind setting and its grinder component. The speed of the grind is also outstandingly low. It is fitted with a high speed motor, however the Virtuoso uses a combination of gear and electronic speed reduction to control the rotation of the burr to 500 RPM. The electronic speed controller can be further adjusted from 405 to 495 RPM. The low grind speeds ensure that your coffee will not be negatively impacted during the grind process by heat.
Lastly, the grinder is formulated to be quiet, a great bonus for many of us who may have families and partners who wish to sleep in. And this machine is ideal for larger households, as its bean hopper holds up to 8 oz of beans.
Customer reviews on this machine indicate that if calibrated correctly the machine is an absolute dream to use. There is however recurring issue, and that is that some machines bought were ‘duds’ and malfunctioned soon after purchase. On the other hand customers who received good machines reported them to be very solid and well built. Additionally, further reviews indicate that Baratza has a very high level of customer service. So if you do have any problems they are prompt in following up your complaint.
Coming in slighter cheaper than the Breville, this Baratz is an excellent runner up choice. Well suited to anybody who wishes to have coffee grinder capable of superior results. It appears from comparing reviews that the Baratz is not quite a durable as the Breville. If however you love the clean lines of it and are not after a machine for life, then the Baratz is a great option.
The Rancilio Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder comes in a little more pricey than most of the previous models we have looked at. The reason for this lies in its commercial grade quality and its superior direct drive motor.
As mentioned earlier, direct drive motors are the top of the range when it comes to espresso grinder motors. They are powerful, capable of slow speeds, and are some of the quietest. The direct drive motor on this Rancilio is strong 166-watt direct drive, quiet operation motor. Direct drives motors are deemed to be reliable and long lasting. They are also capable of extended usage, without danger of overheating or burning out.
Rancilio promises that this machine is capable of grinding up to 7.7lbs of coffee per hour, and therefore is sure to keep up with even high usage needs. Rancilio made their name in the commercial espresso and coffee machine space, and has now also expanded into the home usage area. However their home equipment carries a similar level of quality and durability as the commercially designed ranges.
Of course in coffee grinders the motor is not everything – the quality of the grinder component is as important. Fortunately the Rancilio Rocky does not disappoint in this department either. Fitted with 50 mm commercial grade conical grinding burrs, the Rancilio promises to produce an even and reliable grind.
An attractive feature for an espresso lover, is that the Rancilio Rocky can dispense fresh grounds directly into a portafilter. Using fresh grounds for espresso can help immensely in creating that signature crema that good espressos are known for. It makes sense to dispense the grounds right into the portafilter if you are aiming to achieve good levels of crema.
Another ‘freshness feature’ that this machine has is that its bean hopper is tinted. While it is convenient to be able to see into the hopper at a glance, light shining onto the beans can hasten staleness. A tinted hopper can combat this somewhat.
Rancilio states that every machine is tested in the factory to ensure its functionality. While this means that machines usually come slightly covered in coffee ground dust, it does testify to their commitment to the quality of their product.
Buyer who have purchased the Rancilio on Amazon have testified to it being a quality machine that is capable of taking your coffee to the next level thanks to its even consistency of grounds. Once concern raised has been that the grind size setting can be stiff to adjust.
If you are a fan of commercial grade solid construction and capability in a machine, then the Rancilio is an excellent choice in a grinder. Rancilio machines have reputation for being long lasting and durable. The Rancilio is also best suited to the espresso drinker, thanks to its capability of dispensing grounds directly into a portafilter.
Another revered make in the espresso world is Gaggia. Gaggia is known for its well developed Italian espresso design with an eye for detail. This burr grinder of theirs appears to be no exception to these standards.
Sporting 50-mm tempered-steel grinding burrs, and a gear reduction motor, this grinder promises to deliver even and fresh grounds which have not been denatured by heat.
The Gaggia grinder has 34 grind settings, for optimum coffee results. Its motor is a 120 watt and Gaggia claims it to be “quiet in operation and have a reduced static build-up”.
While the housing of this machine is made out of plastic, it appears to be of higher than average quality and Gaggia states that it is impact resistant. Although metal housings usually take the cake in terms of durability, plastic housings may also have advantages. They for one make the machine much lighter and easy to handle.
One last feature of this grinder is that it dispenses its ground coffee in pre-programmed dosages directly into a portafilter. Again, this aspect can have both pros and cons depending on one’s needs. If you are primarily making espressos, then this perfect. However when grinding beans for other types of coffee preparation methods, this mode of dispensing can be somewhat annoying.
According to the customers who have bought this Gaggia bean grinder, it is on the whole reliable and very well functioning, producing a high quality and consistency of grounds. Some follow up reviews also indicate the the Gaggia grinder can be extremely long lasting. The main complaint about this machine is directed at the dosing mechanism, which is ideal for espresso making but not for other methods of coffee brewing.
And to end this off on a high note, let’s take a look at the Mazzer Mini Electronic Grinder. Mazzer produces commercial grade bean grinders, and this is their smallest machine, which can be used for home use. This machine is designed to be able to handle continual long term (as in your lifetime) use. It’s level of quality, functionality and top of the range components make it possibly the ultimate home bean grinder.
First off, the grinder burrs. The 64mm grinding burrs on the Mazzer are made out of Swedish hardened steel. This means that they are capable of keeping their edge for a longer period of time.
Next, the motor. Seeing as everything on this machine is practically the best, it is not surprising that the motor should follow suit. The Mazzer’s motor is a 250 watt direct drive with a low blade speed of 1600 rpm.
As far as the number of grind size settings available, the number is almost infinite. This is because the Mazzer has a stepless micro-metrical grind adjustment feature. This means that you can electronically select any grind seize you want within the range.
The Mazzer also comes with a doser component, which you can adjust in the 5.5 gram to 9 gram range. This doser makes it super easy to fill your portafilter directly from the machine. The doser however is not removable. This makes the machine best suited to those who always make their coffee drinks with an espresso machine. As using the doser in conjunction with making drip coffee will not be as convenient.
Because of the price of this machine, there are fewer buyers and reviews than for cheaper models. However what reviews there are reveal the high quality and level of excellence that Mazzer machines have.
This machine is ideal for someone who is only satisfied with the best. It could be described as the mecca of coffee grinders, and sets the bar. If you are someone who will spare no expense to have the best and high of quality, then this is the machine for you. It is also an ideal choice if you are committed to once-off lifetime purchases and do not want to buy and own strings of successive machines through your life.
Having a trusty and well functioning (and why not good looking as well!) coffee grinder by your side and gracing your countertop is a must for any coffee drinker who loves fresh coffee. And if you have never had coffee made from freshly ground beans before, you will most likely be converted.
Whichever way you look at it, coffee grinders are an essential piece of equipment for making great coffee from freshly ground beans.
Choosing the perfect coffee grinder for your needs may seem daunting at first given the plethora of models and makes out there. However once you know how to spot a great machine when you see one, and what your personal needs are, isolating the right machine is not so difficult.
We hope that this guide has brought you closer to owning a great coffee grinder, and in the meantime..