I got my first coffee grinder around 14 years ago, and since then I have owned several dozens of different models.
First, I was just a regular coffee lover with a serious case of upgradeitis, but in recent years, I have been testing grinders on a more professional level.
What I have really come to believe in that period of time, is that the grinder is the most important piece of equipment when it comes to coffee.
I know it sounds a bit like a cliche, but it’s the truth.
In order to brew truly delicious coffee at home: You need a proper burr grinder that is capable of producing somewhat uniform particles.
It doesn’t have to be the most expensive and epic grinder out there (as some snobs will claim) but it has to live up to the minimum requirements – which I’m sad to say that a lot of the cheaper electric grinders just don’t.
If you want to see my recommendations, then read on.
It's simply a workhorse that has proven itself over time. Another benefit is that Baratza probably has the best customer service in the coffee industry.
How to choose a coffee grinder
Grinders come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to choose one that fits your brewing style.
Broadly speaking, grinders can be broken down into 4 main categories – however, there are exceptions to these rules:
- Entry-Level Brew grinders: Most people just getting into the whole ‘grind-your-beans-at-home’-thing, should pick a model from this category. They typically have conical, steel burrs and shouldn’t set you back more than a decent blender or microwave.
- Espresso grinders: These grinders are usually a lot more expensive, and only suitable for one thing: espresso. They can grind extremely fine, and are usually designed specifically for espresso. (Even, if they technically can grind the correct coarseness for other brewing types, they are better suited for their original purpose.)
- Manual grinders: Due to their elongated design, hand grinders typically have conical burrs; no matter whether they are made for espresso or regular coffee.
The widespread, cheaper versions have dull, ceramic burrs, but the best manual coffee grinders tend to have high-quality steel parts.
- Commercial grinders: In the coffee shop you’ll mainly see huge grinders with flat or conical burrs. They are designed for volume and workflow. Often, they are also more consistent than the grinders home-users have access to, however, this isn’t always the case. Today, there are some prosumer grinder that can rival professional equipment.
In reality, most people reading this are primarily looking for a grinder they can use at home to brew stuff like French press or pour over.
For that reason, they should aim for a decent brew grinder with a set of steel conical burrs (such as the Encore in the box a few paragraphs up.)
A model like that will help you brew tasty coffee at home without inflicting serious wallet-damage.
Alternatively, if you don’t mind the work, you’ll also get excellent results with a manual burr grinder. If you’re serious about coffee and want the best bang-for-the-buck solution then get the 1Zpresso Jx.
(Yes, flavor-wise, it’s a big step up compared to the Baratza Encore.)
If you have more complicated coffee needs than typical home brewing, you might have to consider an espresso grinder. If you have an espresso machine – or you’re thinking about getting one – you should plan ahead and get a device meant for this kind of brewing style since normal burr grinders typically can’t grind fine enough for espresso.
It's designed for single-dosing, build like a tank and comes with 64 mm Italian flat burrs. Can grind for both espresso and drip coffee.
Why Should you get a serious coffee grinder?
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to the burrs themselves.
However, they are simple and straightforward tools that should be understood in relation to their job: Grinding stuff to a rather uniform size (be it coffee beans, grains, nuts or other food items. )
When it comes to coffee it’s extremely important that the particle size distribution is rather narrow. This helps to get an even extraction of the beans.
Typically, the grind size distribution will be anwhere from 0.1 to 1600 μm (particle diameter) — the trick is to have the majority of the particulates at a range fitting your chosen brew method.
⚠️ beware of BLADE GRINDERS
If you have found this page, you probably already know that a burr grinder is the thing to look for. But let me reiterate for everybody’s sake:
Blade grinders should only be used for chopping nuts – never coffee beans!
With a blade grinder it will be impossible to achieve a consistent grind. The diameter of the particles will range from dust to chunky boulders.
Particles at the two oppisite extremes of the spectrum are typically called ‘fines‘ and ‘boulders’. To a true coffee geek these are like geen kryptonite — you want to avoid them at all cost!
Fines contribute with bitterness, and boulders bring sourness to the final cup.
Conical vs flat
As other tools, burrs can have different shapes and be made from different materials. However, it’s hard to generalize and say that one size, shape or material is superior to the other. It all depends on the use case and the individual manufacturer.
As a general rule of thumb we do see more flat burrs in professional equipment but that doesn’t mean that they are more desirable tastewise.
They are just better suited for high volume. Also, they typically produce fewer boulders (big chunks) compared to the conical ones. But both types of burrs have their own pros & cons:
- Conical burrs: Common in entry-level electric grinder as well as hand grinders due to their smaller size.
When it comes to espresso they tend to create a more fluffy grind with better mouthfeel. Because they are smaller in diameter, they are typically slower.
- Flat burrs: Often used in the big, professional espresso grinders. They are fast and efficient but retain more grounds and can be harder to dial in.
Ceramic vs steel burrs
Ceramic burrs are usually cheaper, and they are often utilized in manual grinders in the sub $100 category. That doesn’t mean they aren’t capable, though. I have had plenty of tasty cups of coffee with these.
In general, however, they tend to be more dull than their steel counterparts. When used in manual grinders, it means that you have to do a lot of extra work using your biceps.
Ceramic burrs are rarely used in electric grinders; the main reason is probably that they are more fragile than steel and could shatter when getting in contact with a small stone that had gotten mixed up with the beans.
That being said, some manufacturers do use ceramic in their espresso grinders.
One good things about ceramic, however, is that the material is rust resistant, unlike steel.
🤔 Grinding for both drip & espresso?
One of the most common questions I get asked by prospective coffee snobs is this:
I want a grinder that can grind for both espresso as well as pour over. Which one should I get?
Most entry-level grinders are designed with French press and drip coffee in mind. They usually don’t go fine enough to grind for espresso, or maybe they lack adjustability in the finer range (which is really important).
If you want to do espresso well, you’ll need a dedicated espresso grinder. It’s pretty hard work to dial in a grinder, and find the perfect setting for espresso. Once you find that sweet spot, you don’t want to mess with it and start brewing French press or pour over. For that reason most espresso snobs tend to have a dedicated espresso grinder.
There are just a few grinders that can do both drip and espresso well. Modern single-dose grinders such as the DF64 (mentioned above) are designed to have minimal retention and large adjustment dials that are easy to move back and forth. For that reason they function well as multipurpose grinders. Keep in mind, that this type of grinder doesn’t have a hopper, so you’ll have to refill beans every time you brew coffee.
The best burr coffee grinders of 2021
|1Zpresso JX Manual Coffee...||513 Reviews|
|TIMEMORE Chestnut C2 Manual...||403 Reviews|
|Baratza Encore Conical Burr...||10,315 Reviews|
|Eureka Mignon Specialita...||212 Reviews|
|white black silver black...||19 Reviews|
Below you will find my recommendations in a wide range of categories. These grinders shouldn’t be compared side by side. Instead, they should be seen as models that cater to specific segments of the market.
I’m sure one of them will fit your particular needs – good luck.
1: 1zpresso jx
The 1Zpresso Jx has been my personal favorite grinder since it was released in 2019.
For a hand grinder it’s incredibly fast and consistent. The grind quality easily beats electric grinders that are 3-4 times more expensive.
The grinder is portable, quiet, and sturdy.
This model is the fastest manual grinder that I know. With it’s smooth bearings and big, sharp burrs, it almost goes through a gram per second, which is outstanding.
If you want to get the most consistent grind for the money, I recommend this guy. However, if you’re the person who likes convenience, maybe you should consider one of the electrical options first.
Read my full review of the Jx here.
- My personal favorite
- Quiet & portable
- Professional grind quality
2: Timemore Chestnut c2
The Timemore C2 is another great hand grinder.
I consider this device to be the cheapest acceptable coffee grinder, if you really want to appreciate specialty coffee.
The Timemore C2 has many of the same benefits as the 1Zpresso Jx. However, it’s actually a bit lighter and easier to hold if you have small hands.
The downside with the C2 is that the capacity is slightly limited at around 25 grams of coffee, and that it’s not capable of grinding for espresso.
However, if you’re just looking for a fast, efficient and capable hand grinder to get you started with proper coffee, then go for this model. It’s miles ahead of the traditional hand grinders from Hario and Porlex.
Read my full review of the C2 here.
- Great for travel
- Fast for a manual coffee grinder
- A good place to start your coffee journey
3: baratza Encore
The Encore is a modern classic for a good reason: It’s just a good grinder.
Sure, you can find a lot of models that seem to be packed with more cutting edge technology and more fancy descriptions, but at the end of the day a grinder should just do one or two things really well. That’s what this one does.
If you mostly make black coffee – stuff like French press, pour over and Aeropress, then this one will serve you well.
It’s not an espresso grinder per se, but it’s capable of grinding fine enough with a little bit of tweaking. That’s a nice enough option to have in case you want to experiment a little bit with that kind of coffee.
For most of the coffee folks out there, this is an ideal grinder. A sentiment which was echoed by The Wirecutter in their extensive grinder test recently (source).
It’s worth mentioning that Baratza is renowned for great customer service.
- Very uniform grind at the pour over setting
- Well-known and trusted brand
- No frills, just a great grinder
best espresso grinder
4: Eureka Mignon Specialita
Eureka is an Italian grinder brand that goes all the way back to 1920. Today the company is still handmaking all their grinders in Florence, Italy.
With that kind of history, it’s no surprise that Eureka make some of the best grinders on the market today; especially when it comes to serious espresso grinders.
The Eureka Mignon Specialita is the bee’s knee, when it comes to espresso grinders. I have had mine for a while now, and I absolutely adore it.
It’s extremely well constructed, yet still small enough that you can have it on your kitchen counter.
It’s also one of the most quiet grinders out there. You can brew a shot without waking up the whole house.
The specialita also has a timing mechanism that is precise to 1/10th of a second. This means that you can get an ultra-precise dose each time.
I have been using this grinder for single dosing as well, and it works great, since retention is almost non-existent.
Oh, and then it doesn’t hurt that it looks damn cool.
Best single dose grinder
5: Df64 / G-iota
The DF64 grinder is probably the most hyped grinder of 2021.
It’s released by a pretty unknown Chinese company called FL Coffee, but it manages to squeeze in a lot of the things that coffee geeks care about into an affordable package.
It’s a multi-purpose grinder designed for single-dosing. This means that it has a very low amount of ground coffee retained inside the burr chamber. There’s also a set of bellows on the grinder, so you can blow out the remaining grinds. This enables you to switch between beans or brewing styles without worries.
The DF64 has 64 mm flat burrs (hence the name). For that reason it’s also very easy to install burrs from other manufacturers, if you want to try a new flavor profile. Many users upgrade to SSP burrs right away to achieve that super clean flavor you can only get from a certain kind of professional burr sets.
However, the grinder also taste quite good with the stock burrs from Italmill. The flavor profile is especially good for espresso, but it will also do a decent pour over – especially if you’re not afraid of modding it a bit.
- Designed for single-dosing
- Good for both espresso and pour over
- Sturdy design & powerful motor
There’s a lot to be said about the DF64 grinder, so check out my review if you want to know more.
cheap espresso grinder
6: Baratza sette 30
When the Baratza Sette was released a few years back, it was met with extremely high expectations due to its unique and completely revolutionary design.
Suddenly, there was a grinder with almost zero retention, extreme speed and excellent consistency at a price level suitable for home baristas.
Unfortunately, the grinder turned out to have a lot of bugs and issues – especially the version with the built-in scale was prone to problems.
Now, Baratza has finally managed to get most of these issues under control. Combined with the company’s excellent track record for customer service when something happens, I would no longer be worried about investing in this grinder (this is written with the US market in mind – in countries where there is no Baratza customer suppport, you should probably be consider it twice).
If you want to make great espresso at home without breaking the bank, this is your best bet. It only has 30 grind settings, which means that it can be a bit more difficult to dial in compared to the more expensive 270 version. However, the grind size is focused towards espresso and Aeropress, so you have a very fine range.
- Zero retention grinder
- Extremely fast grinder
- Very attractive price
What is the Best Coffee Grinder to Buy?
The best coffee grinder to buy is the one that fits YOUR needs. If you’re want to brew espresso, you should go for one that is capable of grinding very fine. I know that’s a boring answer, but grinders are complicated. Check out my post here for some more guidance.
Are Burr Grinders Really Better?
The short answer is YES. They are way more consistent than blade grinders. This is important when it comes to coffee extraction.
Are Manual Coffee Grinders Better than Electric?
No, often manual grinders aren’t better than the electric ones. However, you tend to get more value for your money with manual grinders, as they are less expensive, while still providing decent capabilities. Check out my post for an in-depth exploration of this topic.
Is a Coffee Grinder Worth It?
Yes, a coffee grinders is totally worth it. It’s essential if you want to brew top-notch coffee at home. To find out why, check out this post.
Top Featured Image: N. Lundgaard | Source