Last Updated: 7-30-19
The Best Coffee Grinder
Top Rated Overall
Best Bang For Your Buck
The Economical Option
If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it is that a grinder is the number one most important asset you can add to your coffee arsonal. Even if you invest in the cheapest coffee beans and oldest drip coffee maker, having a decent grinder will make THE difference in how your coffee turns out. Brewing quality coffee beans that have been improperly ground is a futile act because the size and uniformity of your coffee grounds are inextricably bound to the process of brewing good coffee.
Think of it this way: making coffee is about extracting flavour and aroma from coffee beans using hot water. There is a reason we don’t just let full beans soak in a cup of boiling water. It would take forever for the flavour to extract - probably longer than the water would stay hot. The finer the grind, the faster and more bitter the extraction. For this reason, every different coffee maker requires a different grind setting. And poorly ground coffee will never produce a uniform flavour. If you’re going to spend money on anything, we strongly recommend that be a grinder. It will open such an array of doors in terms of coffee flavours, styles, and personalization. If you care about the taste of yo
Why Grind Your Own Coffee?
Better Tasting Coffee
The absolute most important factor in brewing good coffee is the grind. It is the pivot upon which the flavour, body, and aroma of any cup of coffee sits. No matter what type of beans you use or what kind of coffee maker you brew with, the coffee grounds will be the strongest determining factor of the result. First of all, freshly ground will always produce better flavour. This is a hard and fast rule. Secondly, each type of coffee maker requires a different grind size.
More Diversity for different coffee styles
Grinding your own coffee also gives you a lot more freedom to play around with flavour. While the rules of thumb are important - finer for espresso, coarser for french press - it doesn’t mean you can’t tailor these rules. A slightly finer grind in a french press will give you more bitter flavour. Properly done, this bitterness can be an asset rather than a downside. If you have more than one type of coffee maker, it is crucial to use different settings. But even if you have only one, it will help you adjust the flavour.
More Involvement and Control
There is an unmistakable romanticism in the hands on aspect of coffee. Coffee is a beautifully romantic beverage to begin with. It is rich, complex friend we all rely on to get us going in the morning. Like cooking your own food, grinding your own coffee beans gives the final product an extra special feel to it. Even if you’re not at all in tune with the poetic side of coffee, there’s no denying the psychological benefits of having more control over the things we consume. Your putting yourself into the coffee, and your tailoring it to fit your tastes.
Types of Coffee Grinders
There are a number of different types of coffee grinders, and not all are made equal. There is definitely a hierarchy when it comes to coffee grinders, though each style does come with its own host of benefits. Let’s take a look at the basic types of coffee grinders.
[Manual Coffee Grinders]
Manual coffee grinders are usually very compact, designed to be portable and handheld. They typically have burr grinders, which are significantly more efficient than blade grinders. While you might think that manual grinders are on the lower end of the spectrum quality wise, they are actually some the best grinders out there. Not only are they much cheaper and quieter than electric grinders, they also tend to produce more uniform coffee grinds thanks to the burrs. They are, however, a little more laborious and time consuming than electric grinders, and will of course grind smaller amounts at a time.
Blade grinders are some of the most common coffee grinders, which is actually a real shame. They are popular because they tend to be cheaper than burr grinders, and easier than manual grinders. The problem with blade grinders is that they do not grind uniformly, which is extremely important to the brewing process. If you use a blade grinder, you are guaranteed to drinking coffee that it more bitter than it should be. They also have rpms, which produce a lot of noise, as well as heat which affects the aroma of the coffee beans. Rather than “grinding” beans, they slice and whack at high speeds, creating grinds that are a combination of espresso-fine and french-press coarse. Blade grinders are okay if you’re not overly concerned with the quality of your coffee, but they can be a huge waste of money if you’re not frugal about their price tag.
A really good grinder will almost always be a burr grinder. They have serrated edges that actually grind the beans rather than slicing them, creating a much more uniform grind for a more full bodied flavour and greater control over your brew. They tend to generate less heat, thus preserving the aroma of the beans, which is especially important if you are buying higher quality coffee. In the case of coffee grinds, size absolutely does matter. You’ll hear this point driven home time and time again. One thing to be cautious of is pre flavoured coffee beans. Since there are more nooks and crannies on burr grinders, the oils from the flavouring can be next to impossible to wash off of a burr grinder. Best to buy flavoured roasts pre-ground.
[Disk or Conical Grinders]
There are two main types of burr grinders, namely conical and disk (also known as flat).
Conical is the more common of the two, and this style of grinder is essentially responsible for coffee flavour as we know it. Conical grinders grind slightly less uniform coffee, which is actually what gives coffee its imbalanced flavour. This isn’t the kind of imbalance to turn up your nose at - it gives coffee a full body and slightly bitter taste thanks to the bimodal distribution. This is vastly different than the overwhelming bitterness of over extracted or poorly ground coffee. Rather, conical burrs produce the deep, complex flavour that coffee lovers hold dear. They also give users more control, and produce lower heat, energy and noise.
Disk/flat burrs are rather new to the market, and have opened entirely new doors to the flavour possibilities of coffee. Disk burrs have a more unimodal distribution, meaning the resulting grounds are astonishingly uniform. This means the flavour of coffee is less complex, but the possibility for variability and creativity is vastly greater, especially in espresso. Disk burrs are probably overkill for anyone who isn’t an invested connoisseur, but they are the top tier for baristas and espresso lovers.
The Best All-Around
Why We Love It
It’s an exceptional grinder from a brand that knows its product well.
Who Should Buy This
Those who are looking for a top of the line grinder at a reasonable price.
The Baratza Virtuoso is universally one of the top reviewed coffee grinders on the market, and for good reason. If you understand the importance of a good grinder in making a proper cup of coffee, you will fully appreciate everything the Baratza has to offer. For starters, it has conical burr which automatically place in a category well above any blade grinders.
Its metal casing gives it both stability, build quality, and a pleasant aesthetic. One of the reasons Baratza products frequently rank high is because they are a brand that is solely focused on grinders. They do one thing, and they make sure they do it well. The Baratza has a whopping 40 grind settings, allowing it to grind for any brew between pour over and french press and gives you lots of freedom to experiment.
The Baratza is easily the best pour over grinder for its price. Even its filter grind is fantastically uniform. You can also set the grinder for timed or manual grinding depending on how involved you want to be.
Its minimalist design makes it easy to use, and it’s even quiet! With its 450 rpm burr speed, you’ll be surprised how uninvasive the grinding noise is. In its extreme settings (namely espresso and french), the Baratza does lack a bit of consistency. There are also no indicators on the dial, which means you do have to do a bit of trial and error when you first get this machine. The time knob is also a little loose, but shouldn’t cause too much hassle if you’re aware of it. Overall, the Baratza Virtuoso is an all around fantastic grinder from a well trusted brand in the market. Its price is well justified for its performance, and most importantly, the supreme quality of the coffee it will produce.
The No-Compromise Option (best overall)
Why We Love It
It takes no shortcuts and excels in all categories a grinder should.
Who Should Buy This
Anyone who wants a top quality grinder with no sacrifice and no compromise.
If you want a taste of what a top tier grinder is without going full commercial model, the Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD is a prime example. It’s a bit pricier than what we generally suggest as your first high quality grinder, but for good reason - and still reasonably affordable. It goes without saying, the Rancilio is a conical burr grinder and is often cited at the premier model in its category. You can chose to have the doser or doserless model, but you do need to weigh your beans first for the manual doser.
It boasts a 50 mm conical grind, with 55 stepped grind settings. The dial only goes up to 40, so beyond that settings are more experimental coarse grind and designed to let you play around. We found it does take a little trial and error and some patience to get really good coarse grind for a french press. Because it’s so powerful, it is a bit louder than some models and relatively bulky in size. But overall, the Rancilio is an undoubtedly quality grinder that won’t leave you wanting in any category.
Quality on a Budget
Why We Love It
It’s simple, straightforward and plays right into our hand grinder coffee nostalgia.
Who Should Buy This
Those who want a great, durable hand grinder that actually produces quality grinds.
We all know that hand grinders are inherently less powerful and have less grind settings than their electric counterparts, but there is still a place for them in all our hearts. Not only are they vastly cheaper, some models are surprisingly adept at producing beautiful, uniform coffee grounds.
The Porlex Mini is exemplary of what a hand grinder should be. Its conical ceramic burrs prevent unwanted heat exposure to your beans, and are also naturally static free (that means easier clean up for you)! It also has a spring system on the central burr that keeps the mechanism in place on large grind settings for better uniformity and smooth grinding. It’s stainless steel, making it easy to clean and resistant to the usual wear and tear. As any hand grinder, it is not ideal for grinding large amounts of coffee.
The process is also a lot more involved than an electric grinder that will grind away at the push of a button. The Porlex Mini is a portable, lightweight, durable grinder for the frugal and authentic coffee lover.
The Most Features on a Tight Budget
Why We Love It
It has a lot features but a low price.
Who Should Buy This
Those who want a multifaceted grinder but have a small budget.
Just to get the downsides out of the way, the KRUPS GX5000 is not the most sophisticated grinder on our list.We found that the Krups tends to be make grind that is a little less uniform than other models. There tends to be a buildup of fine grinds in all settings, making for slightly more bitter coffee. It’s not the most ideal grinder for french presses, and it also measures in cups rather that weight, so you may have to do some conversions.
It’s true that for a flat burr grinder it’s performance is a little sub par, but as a budget grinder in general it is excellent. Considering the widespread popularity of blade grinders, which are notoriously the worst for grind uniformity, the Krups if miles ahead of what most people use as their household grinder. It boasts 9 grind levels, each with 5 intermediary steps, giving you a nice range of grind settings. It brews between 2 and 12 cups of coffee, and it’s also not too loud. So if you’re on a tight budget, this grinder is hard to beat in terms of functionality.
Best Balance Between Price and Quality
Why We Love It
You’re getting a lot for your dollar.
Who Should Buy This
Those who like more bang for their buck without much compromise.
Bodum pumps out a lot of midrange coffee products, and generally speaking they’re often our go to brand for good quality at a good price. A couple things stand out about the Bodum Bistro, starting with its unique design. It’s a different looking grinder that comes in 7 colour options and a choice of plastic or metal protective coatings. It’s a stainless steel conical burr grinder with static free grinding and easy disassembly (great for cleaning).
It only has 12 adjustable grind settings, but these range from espresso to french press so you’re still getting good variety. It has a friction clutch that protects the grinding gear, one of many features built to ensure the Bodum Bistro lives a long life. Because the burrs are stainless steel, they are prone to overheating (which can affect the aroma of the coffee), so the Bodum Bistro automatically grinds for only 20 seconds at a time. For the most part this time limit is more than enough, but you find it a bit annoying if you’re grinding larger quantities of coffee. Overall, it gives you everything you’d want in a quality grinder, and the durability we’ve come to trust from the Bodum brand.
The Best Portable Grinder
Why We Love It
It’s a durable, portable grinder with surprisingly high performance for its minimalist design.
Who Should Buy This
Anyone who likes portable hand grinders, as this is one of the best on the market.
We can’t hide our love for hand grinders, and the JavaPress Manual is definitely one of our favourites. It has a charmingly simple stainless steel design and holds up to 40 grams of coffee. Despite its tiny size, it still adjusts to 20 different grind settings from espresso to french press. We found that in practice, it seems to be more like 15-18 distinct grind settings, which is still impressive as far as manual grinders go. It has ceramic combo burrs, which tend to be more durable and produce more uniform grinds than stainless steel burrs do. It is, of course, also very quiet compared to any electric grinders.
It’s size is limiting, so it’s not ideal for brewing large amounts of coffee. We also found that the detachable hand crank can be a bit unstable at times. Nonetheless, this the perfect portable hand grinder to add to your coffee arsonal.
Which Coffee Grinder is Right for Me?
Having listed our top choices for the best coffee grinders, let’s summarize our findings. We’ve hopefully expressed how important it is to have a good grinder, meaning the next important step is getting a grinder that’s right for you. It is worth remembering that a grinder is well worth spending a little extra cash on. That doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent grinders out there for those on a budget. So if you’re still wondering which grinder is best for you, take a look at our breakdown:
Baratza Virtuoso: The Best All-Around
If you’re on board with the importance of a grinder but you’re not sure where to start, this is it. The Baratza is the perfect introduction to value of a good grinder. Most real quality grinders will lie somewhere above this price range, so the Baratza is also quite competitively priced for what it is. With its quality conical burrs, vast number of grind settings and high end performance, the Baratza is our top pick for the best all around grinder.
Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD: For those who want quality without compromise
If you’re already sold on the importance of a good grinder and don’t want to make any compromises, we recommend the Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD. It sits in a higher price bracket than the other grinders on our list, but that’s only because it delivers in absolutely every aspect. It gives you over 40 grind settings with commercial grade grinding burrs for the most uniform grinds. Aesthetically, the Rancilio even looks like it came from a high end coffee shop. So for the no compromise option, we suggest the Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD.
Porlex Mini: For those who want portability
If portability it your top priority, we always recommend manual grinders. They are inexpensive and make astonishingly uniform coffee grinds. They are to coffee grinders what pour overs are to coffee machines. The Porlex Mini is a fantastic example. It’s durable, compact, easy to use, and doesn’t skimp on the quality materials that make for a good grinder.
KRUPS GX5000: For those on a budget
No matter much you appreciate the value of a grinder, not everyone has the means to invest in a premium model. While a manual grinder is a great budget option, the Krups GX5000 is a great option for an electric grinder on a budget. This multifaceted grinder can be the perfect introduction to the world of electric grinders, and elevate your coffee game without breaking the bank.
Bodum Bistro: For those who want the most bang for their buck
Bodum is one of our most trusted brands, and rarely do they make a product we can’t vouch for. Staying true to their nature of making quality products at a reasonable price, the Bodum Bistro made our list as giving you the most bang for your buck. It has a unique design, all the important features of a solid grinder, and a competitive price tag. So if you’re looking to make every dollar count, we highly recommend the Bodum Bistro.
JavaPresse Manual: For those who want the best manual grinder
No list is complete with a top notch manual grinder, and the JavaPresse Manual is our top choice in this category. We love it because it’s simple, durable, and doesn’t back down on the quality of its burrs. We believe a manual grinder is a must have in everyone’s coffee arsonal, and the JavaPresse is our top recommendation in that category.
5 Things to Look For When Choosing a Coffee Bean Grinder
Seeing as a grinder is probably the most important tool you can have in your coffee inventory, it’s a good idea to know what to look for when you choose a coffee grinder. The coffee grinder market is chalk full of low value products, which makes it especially important to know what makes a particular grinder good. Where a good grinder can drastically elevate the quality of your coffee, a bad one is both a waste of money and has a negative impact on your coffee.
The right burrs
This factor will by far have the greatest impact on your coffee. Universally, you should go for burrs rather than blades. Whether you want conical or disk burrs depends on your taste, and how much you want to spend. Disk burrs are relatively new to the market, so they tend to be more expensive. If you’re not too picky about coffee, or don’t mind and over extracted and bitter flavour, you might be totally happy with a blade grinder. But do not spend a lot of money on one, because that is an exercise in futility. It will simply never grind at the quality and uniformity that a burr can.
Numerous grind settings
Unless you only ever brew one style of coffee, grind settings are almost as important as burrs. Different coffee makers require different grind sizes in order to properly extract the flavour and caffeine from the beans. When it comes to coffee grinds, size really does matter. If you try to brew espresso with too coarse of grinds, it will be under extracted. Fine grinds in a french press will be very bitter and over extracted. Filter coffee requires medium to medium fine. Grind settings also give you more freedom with flavours. Grind settings are not not hard and fast rules, so you can play around with different consistencies to perfect your personal cup of joe.
Built with quality materials
Even if you choose the right style of grinder, the materials used to make the grinder can have a big impact as well. Stainless steel is durable, but prone to overheating. If you’re making lots of coffee, this can be a problem. Overheating extracts aroma from the beans, taking away from your drink. They can also be “staticy,” meaning your grinds tend to stick to them and are hard to get out. Ceramic tends to be better for these factors because they are quieter, produce less heat, and are naturally static free. If the burrs are plastic, you have a made a grave purchase error. The same goes for all components of a grinder, manual or electronic. Better quality materials mean higher performance and more durability.
Appropriate size to suit your needs
You have to know how much coffee you tend to brew day to day. Are you more a single serve drinker or do you brew a full pot? We love to recommend hand grinders because of how great the quality of grind is compared to the cost of the product. But they are obviously the wrong choice for brewing lots of coffee because they can be really time consuming, and take up to 8 minutes to grind enough for 12 cups. A lot people like to have more than one grinder for different purposes. But if you’re going to be brewing a lot of coffee on a regular basis, a larger electric grinder is probably the better option.
Everyone wants good value, but how do you find it? Good value doesn’t just mean good price. Lots of inexpensive grinders are overpriced because they are lacking in one of the important categories mentioned above. Getting good value means the basic needs for a good grinder are met, and the price reflects those qualities without being exorbitant. Hand grinders are some of the best in terms of quality to price, but higher end electric grinders are also great value. We can’t stress enough that a good grinder is quite possibly your most important coffee tool. Having nice coffee makers and quality beans is a waste of time and money if your grinder is sub par. So if you’re going to spend money anywhere, it should be on a quality grinder.
Do you really need all these grind settings? Which one Should I use?
Absolutely! A little bit of knowledge about grind settings can drastically improve the quality and taste of your coffee. When it comes to grinds, there is no one size fits all. Having the right grind size is paramount to the taste and aroma, and intrinsically linked to the coffee making process. It is arguably THE most important aspect of coffee flavour. The best part is that the process really isn’t that complicated. With a quick read up on which settings are best for certain types of coffee, and the purchase of a good grinder, your coffee game will increase significantly.
Here’s a basic guideline to grind fineness:
Super Fine:Turkish Coffee, Espresso
Fine/Pre ground:Moka Pot, Auto drip
Medium to Fine:Aeropress
Coarse to Fine:Pour Over
Coarse:French Press, Cold Brew
As you can see, there is automatically a bit of leeway for certain styles of coffee, such as auto drip. The reality is that as long as you’re not brewing super fine grinds in a french press or trying to draw espresso with a coarse grind, you have a lot of freedom to play around with fineness.
Why does this matter? It all has to do with extraction. Hot water extracts flavour and aroma from the surface of coffee beans. We grind the beans to increase the surface area and reduce the amount of time it takes to extract the good stuff. The finer the grind, the quicker and stronger the extraction.
For espresso, you need very fine grind because you want strong, bitter flavour, and you need it be extracted in a short period of time as the water passes through. For French press, you need coarser grind so that the extraction is slower since the coffee sits in the beaker. You also want a more balanced, rich flavour in a cup of coffee, rather than the bitter flavour you want in espresso. If you put coarse grinds in espresso, it will be watery and under extracted. If you put fine grinds in a french press, it will be unpleasantly bitter, over extracted and even seep through the filter and into your coffee.
That being said, the fun part is playing around with these basic rules to adjust for taste. Even the best grinders don’t usually produce perfectly uniform grinds, but thats what gives the coffee its full bodied and slightly bitter flavour. You can grind a little finer if you like bitter, and little coarser if you like it weaker. With high end disc burrs, you can really explore untapped espresso flavours to the extreme uniformity of the grinds they produce. The beauty of grinding your own coffee is the artistry and personalizability that a good grinder and a little knowledge will empower you with.
The Best Coffee Grinder
Last Updated: 7-30-19 The Best Coffee Grinder Baratza VirtuosoTop Rated Overall Racilio HSD-ROC-SDBest Bang For Your Buck Porlex MiniTh