You must have a proper burr grinder, capable of producing somewhat uniform particles, if you want to brew truly delicious coffee at home.
It doesn’t have to be the most expensive grinder out there (as some snobs will claim) but there are a few minimum requirements.
Today there are so many different types of grinders on the market, so it’s important to get the right one for your particular needs.
If you want to see my recommendations, then read on.
⚠️ Why should you listen to me?
In my time as a professional coffee taster (Q Grader) I have tested a bunch of burr grinders. Currently I have 11 grinders at home, but I have tried many more models in my time as a coffee geek.
I believe a grinder is an extremely important tool, so pay close attention here, so you can find the right one for your needs!
How to choose the best home 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:
- Electric Conical Burr Grinders: Most people just getting into the whole ‘grind-your-beans-at-home’-thing, should pick a model from this category. It should have conical burrs made of steel and it shouldn’t necessarily cost a fortune.
- 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.
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.
In reality, most people reading this are primarily looking for a grinder they can use at home to brew stuff like drip coffee or French press.
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.
Consider a manual burr grinder
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.
Definitely one of my favorites!
🤔 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 below) 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
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.
|Baratza Encore Conical Burr...||10,475 Reviews|
|1Zpresso JX Manual Coffee...||530 Reviews|
|TIMEMORE Chestnut C2 Manual...||417 Reviews|
|Eureka Mignon Specialita...||225 Reviews|
|white black silver black...||21 Reviews|
1: 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
2: 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
3: 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, Porlex or JavaPresse.
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
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.
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.
The downside to the DF64 is that it needs some small moderations/improvements to really live up to its potential. Especially, the declumpler has had some issues in the past.
There’s a lot to be said about this device, so check out my review if you want to know more.
- Designed for single-dosing
- Good for both espresso and pour over
- Sturdy design & powerful motor
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 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
- Fluffy grounds
- Very attractive price
- Super precise digital timer
Grinders that didn’t make the list 😔
The world of grinders is super competitive. Especially, in recent years there has been a lot of development in this space.
For that reason some grinders that were considered awesome in 2020 could already be dated less than a year later.
For full transparency, I’m including the list of grinders that were considered for this article, but in the end didn’t make the cut.
If you have some questions about some of these burr grinders then make sure to take a look below.
I have listed the models from cheaper to more expensive:
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind
This was one of my first grinders, when I got into coffee. It’s often recommended for beginners. Considering its budget-friendly price the Cuisinart DBM-8 is not horrible, and it looks cute. But it’s very inconsistent, and you will not be able to extract intense flavors with this model. Spend a bit more, and get something way better.
I have recently tested the Bodum Bistro, but I wasn’t very impressed. The particle distribution is below mediocre; especially when it comes to coarse grinds. The Bodum burr grinder looks unique and has a nice glass catch cup, but besides that doesn’t really stand out.
1Zpresso Q2 is an attractive and compact burr grinder. Excellent as a travel grinder and for people with small hands, who are looking for a manual model. The main reason that it didn’t make the list of the best conical burr grinders of 2021, is that the Timemore C2 has the same burrs and performs at a comparable level, while being more affordable and nicer looking.
Xeoleo Ghost Burr Grinder
It can’t grind fine due to its unique ghost teeth burrs. Also, for some reason, the pour over coffee just doesn’t taste as great as one would expect (the particles do look very uniform).
I think it’s an interesting grinder with some potential, but I quickly gave up on it. Most likely you’ll have to buy it on a Chinese marketplace, which also means that you run some risks when it comes to warranty and import fees.
Breville Smart Grinder Pro
Breville’s top model is actually quite cool in some ways, but it has an unforgiveable flaw: the impeller tends to wear out after one or two years. This causes the grind chamber to get clogged. Breville doesn’t sell a replacement, so frustrated consumers have had to create their own with a crowdsourced design. Also, for the price, it’s only mediocre when it comes to both pour over and espresso
Baratza Virtuoso Plus
It’s an excellent grinder (also among the best grinders according to the Wirecutter), but you pay a lot of extra money for the timer-feature, which I doubt many people really appreciate. You can buy the M2 burr separately and install it in the Baratza Encore for similar results at a cheaper price point.
The Wilfa Uniform is a cool grinder in many ways. I have made many nice cups of coffee with mine. The main issue is that it’s only sold in Europe and not available in 110V, making it useless in large parts of the world. Is it worth taking the risk and using it outside its warranty-covered geographical zone? No, I don’t think so.
But if you’re in Europe, this grinder should be on your radar. Some people, myself included, have also upgraded it with SSP burrs, but I think the DF64 is a better grinder for modding, since it has way more powerful motor.
Excellent grind consistency and nice design, but a little bit too expensive to be included among my top picks. You can achieve similar results with cheaper models. Check out my Comandante review for all the details.
This model was one of the most anticipated burr grinders of 2020, but it quickly became apparent that the burr set was unable to grind very fine. This might not be a problem, if you’re brewing drip or French press. But what about AeroPress or moka pot? It’s a beautiful grinder and I want to like it, but at this price point it’s simply too limited.
Apparently, they are working on an upgraded model with a completely redesigned burr.
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 coffee 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 burrs vs flat burrs
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 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 than steel. They are often utilized in manual grinders in the sub $100 category.
In general 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 – most famous is probably the Baratza Vario.
One good things about ceramic, however, is that the material is rust resistant and stainless, unlike most steel used in budget grinders.
But overall, I think it’s fair to say that in 2021 the time for cheap ceramic burrs is over. Go for steel instead, and your life will be lot easier.
What is the Best Coffee Grinder to Buy?
The best coffee grinder to buy is the one that fits YOUR needs. If you want to brew a shot of espresso, you should go for one that is capable of grinding very fine – almost to a powder. 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
- James Freeman et al, Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee – 2012 Oct
- Colin Harmon: What I Know About Running Coffee Shops (2017)
- Erol Uman et al: The effect of bean origin and temperature on grinding roasted coffee (2016)