The Best Coffee Grinder Buying Guide 2018

kitchenaid-blade-coffee-grinder
KitchenAid KitchenAid Blade Coffee Grinder BCB110B

If you take your coffee or espresso making routine seriously, the easiest way to up the quality of your cup is with a quality coffee grinder. If you’re currently brewing pre-ground coffee (which can quickly go stale or lose its flavor) switching to a reliable, easy to use, and precise grinder will significantly improve the flavor of your coffee and your morning coffee routine too. With a wide variety of grinder types, features, price points, and styles it can be confusing to decide which is the best coffee grinder for you. Our guide is the one stop shop for everything you need to know during the buying process, including coffee grinder reviews of some of the best models available on Amazon, how to tell the difference between types of grinders, and which features matter the most in your decision.

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REALSIMPLE'S FAVORITE PLACES TO BUY HOME APPLIANCES

6 OF OUR FAVORITE Coffee Grinders
1 BEST FOR NEW COFFEE CONNOISSEURS

KitchenAid KitchenAid Blade Coffee Grinder BCB110B

kitchenaid-blade-coffee-grinder Photo by amazon.com

If you want a basic blade coffee grinder to start grinding your own beans instead of using pre-ground but you’re not ready to invest in a burr grinder; this KitchenAid coffee grinder is a great choice.  It’s much quieter than others on the market with a clear cover to allow you to easily see the consistency of your grinds as you go.  Just push down on the cover to begin grinding and release to stop.  A durable stainless steel blade and strong motor mean it will work for years, for coffee as well as for whole spice grinding.  This model can grind enough whole coffee beans to make 12 cups of coffee for a crowd so you won’t have to do several batches.   The removable bowl also features measurement markings on the inside, so you know at a glace the quantity of coffee beans needed to make 4, 8, 10 or 12 cups of coffee. Another feature we love; the bowl lifts out making it easy to transfer ground coffee to the coffee maker with less countertop mess.

2 BEST FOR OFFICE OR TRAVEL

JavaPresse Javapresse Manual Conical Burr Grinder

javapresse-manual-conical-burr-grinder Photo by amazon.com

The highly rated Javapresse Manual Coffee Grinder is an excellent choice for coffee connoisseurs who travel and want to take their custom coffee grinding on the go or grind without power (think camping, hiking, or backpacking!) A built-in adjustable grind selector has over 18 click settings to give excellent control over the coarseness of your grind. An ergonomic hand crank mechanism is much quieter than an electric grinder too so you can avoid disturbing office mates or still-sleeping friends or family members.  This coffee grinder uses durable ceramic burrs and is extremely easy to use and easy to clean. It’s also small and lightweight enough to fit in a handbag, with a removable handle making it perfect for travel. However, it can only grind coffee for 2-3 cups so is best for individuals vs. frequent use for a group.  We also love the included comprehensive guide to help you use the grinder for every type of coffee making technique; from pour over to French press to drip to espresso. Javapresse gets rave reviews online for it’s above and beyond customer service and generous philanthropic programs; making it a feel-good purchase too.

3 BEST FOR POTS OF DRIP COFFEE

Cuisinart Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill

cuisinart-supreme-grind-automatic-burr-mill Photo by amazon.com

If you’d love to have burr-quality grinding capabilities for large amounts of coffee but don’t want to make a big investment the Cuisinart DBM-8 is a great choice for you.  It features a removable grind chamber that holds enough ground coffee for 32 cups as well as a removable 8 oz bean hopper; making it easy to swap out bean types and conveniently store coffee in the freezer too.  This Cuisinart coffee grinder uses flat-style steel grinding disks (vs higher priced ceramic or steel cone-shaped disks).  It works very well on coarse grinds for drip, filtered, or pour over methods of coffee brewing.  However, we found it creates a significant amount of mess from the static electricity the flat disks generate and it isn’t suited for making fine grinds necessary for espresso brewing. However, it’s still a huge step up from blade coffee grinders at a very reasonable cost.  This model also features an 18 position grind coarseness selector, a 4-18 cup dial adjustment for the # of cups you’re grinding for, as well as an electric timer that automatically shuts off when the grind cycle is complete.

4 BEST GRIND CONTROL

Breville Breville Smart Grinder Pro

breville-smart-grinder-pro Photo by amazon.com

The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is the highest priced model in our roundup but doesn’t disappoint when it comes to ease of use, multitude of grind adjustment features, and quality of the grinds produced.  With 60 precise settings from the coarsest for French press to the finest for espresso, this highly programmable conical steel burr grinder is our recommendation for Best Grind Control. Loaded with features, this model lets you choose between 'cups' for French press or drip coffee and 'shots' for espresso to get the right dose for the coffee you're brewing. Its “Dosing IQ” system allows you to adjust and program your grind time in 0.2 second increments for hands-free operation.  It holds up to 18 oz of coffee beans and grinds directly into your espresso basket, an air-tight grind container, gold tone filter basket, or paper filter.  We had excellent and consistent results with every grind from fine to coarse with minimal grinding heat.  At $200 it’s certainly a bit of a splurge for a single-purpose appliance.  But if you’re serious about your espressos and coffee making game and want total programmable control over your grinding this coffee grinder will be worth every penny.

5 BEST BUDGET CONICAL BURR

Capresso Capresso Infinity 260 Coffee Grinder

capresso-infinity-260-coffee-grinder Photo by amazon.com

If you want to start using a conical burr grinder for higher quality coffee making but don’t want to spend more than $100 the Capresso Infitinity is a great choice.  It features 16 unique grind settings and an automatic and very accurate time-dosing dial. It also happens to be the quietest electric grinder of all we tested – a bonus for early morning use when others are still sleeping!  This model’s burrs are very high quality and easy to clean but unfortunately they aren’t replaceable should they wear or break. The Infinity holds up to 4 oz. of ground coffee and 8 oz. of beans but the hopper and bin are made of flimsy plastic and need to be treated gently. We got very consistent and delicious results with a medium grind on this model but found some variability for fine and coarse grinding.  However, it does a fantastic job of not heating the beans and generating static; which can ruin the flavor of your coffee and make a mess.  And at such a reasonable price plus grind and timing adjustments this coffee grinder is a great value pick to enjoy conical burr grinding.

6 BEST PRO-QUALITY GRIND

Baratza Baratza Encore

baratza-encore-coffee-grinder Photo by amazon.com

Baratza is a specialty company that only makes high-end European burr coffee grinders and that quality shows in their entry-level Encore model. This reliable powerhouse produces a consistent grind required for delicious pour over, drip, or espresso coffees at a fraction of what similar quality burr grinders cost. It takes up a modest amount of counter space, grinds more evenly than other models we tested, and is easy to clean and maintain. Baratza also uniquely allows you to change out your burrs if they wear out, giving you years of use from one purchase. This model has 40 clear adjustments on the base so you can easily tweak and repeat your grind choice. However, as Baratza’s base model the Encore only has an on/off switch, so it doesn’t allow for a timed grind and it also doesn’t include a built in scale. Instead, it has a "pulse" button that adds a gram or two at a time. Espresso purists will need to use a separate gram scale to make sure they aren’t under or over-dosing. The Encore's dosing chamber also fits at bit awkwardly into the body, making it complicated to use until you get the hang of it.   But for super high quality, reasonably priced, barista-style grinding for all types of coffee-making this model can’t be beat.

TYPES OF Coffee Grinders

The Right Coffee Grinder for You: Burr vs Blade vs Manual

Whether you make coffee at home everyday or love lattes for brunch; how well your grinder performs will have a tremendous effect on the end brew. Coffee made from fresh, properly ground beans has a better aroma, flavor, sweetness, acidity, and overall body. Unevenly or poorly ground coffee will brew unevenly, yielding a muddied or overly bitter cup. So a consistent grinder is key to consistently delicious coffee. There are three main types of coffee grinder to choose from:

Coffee Grinder

Highly rated burr-style grinders use two cones or flat wheels made of ceramic or steel to grind your coffee. The cost is also significantly higher than standard blade grinders, which randomly chop coffee beans into smaller and smaller pieces. Instead, burr grinders pulverize coffee beans between the two sets of burrs to a precise and uniform grind level; resulting in a much better tasting coffee. The space between the two burrs determines the final size of the coffee grounds, so it’s easier to adjust to achieve the specific grind coarseness you want. The type of burr makes a difference too. Steel burrs are less expensive than ceramic but can wear out. Ceramic burrs are harder and dull more slowly but can shatter if a small rock accidentally finds it’s way into your beans. Both types require regular cleaning with a small brush or by grinding rice and sometimes need to be replaced. A conical shape produces less heat that can spoil the flavor of your coffee and also collects less coffee between the burrs; making them easier to clean as well. Flat burrs are less expensive but run hotter and messier.

Blade Coffee Grinder

A blade-style grinder is a typical first coffee grinder and can also be used as a spice grinder. They feature one propeller-like blade that spins until it’s made most of the pieces of coffee bean smaller. Here, the fineness of the grind is determined by how long you operate the grinder; often resulting in a mix of textures from powder, to fine grind, to coarse grind, to small chunks. With blade grinders, you may get coffee that’s an unpleasant mixture of “over extracted” or bitterer from too-finely ground coffee and “under extracted” or more sour coffee from too coarsely ground pieces. The coffee also picks up a static charge while spinning and heating up which makes it stick to the inside of the grinder making precise measurement difficult. Blade grinders are best suited for drip coffee drinkers vs. for making espresso. However, their significantly lower price than burr grinders makes them a much more appealing choice for those just getting into grinding their own coffee.

Manual Coffee Grinder

If you’re on the road travelling, want to make quick cups of high quality coffee in the office, or are an outdoor enthusiast a hand grinder can be a great addition to your suitcase and repertoire! Designed as an alternative to electric grinders these cost effective burr grinders only make enough grounds for a cup or two of coffee at a time. They take a few minutes of manual labor but get rave reviews for low noise, portability, and ease of use. Popular models feature ceramic burr grinders with fully adjustable coarseness levels to ensure your full enjoyment of coffee both at home and on the road. These are also a less expensive way to get burr quality grounds for a much better price and work well for small households who only make coffee occasionally.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A Coffee Grinder

Feature

Why it Matters

Able to Adjust Amount of Ground Coffee

You’ll need to be precise when you’re grinding for different cup-sized pots and single vs. double espressos.

Size and Capacity

You’ll want to be able to conveniently store your grinder and grind enough coffee in one batch to suit your needs.

Evenness of Grind

Evenly ground coffee gives more flavorful and consistent results with less bitterness and acidity.

Clear Grind Settings

An easy way to adjust the grind from fine to coarse that works well and can be set consistently each time.

Price

A price tag that works with your budget and planned amount of use

Cleaning

How easy it is to clean out the grinder and whether it creates a mess on the counter

Able to Adjust Amount of Ground Coffee

Grinders with preset dose measurements allow you to easily grind a specific amount of coffee each time based on the pot size or number of shots of espresso you’re brewing. Some grinders come with integrated scales, which are the most precise way to measure how much coffee you’ve ground. Others work on a timer, so you can set them to grind long enough to make a specific amount of ground coffee. Higher end models geared for espresso making have preset dosage amounts based on how many cups of coffee or espresso they’ll make. Some models even let you program your own dose presets.

Size and Capacity

If you’ll be counting on your coffee grinder each day for that morning jolt you’ll want a model that fits conveniently on the counter or in a cabinet. Some bulkier models may wind up hidden away in a closet! It’s also important to assess how much capacity of coffee you want it to be able to grind at once so you won’t have to grind multiple batches at once. Some models even feature hoppers to hold your coffee beans at the ready.

Evenness of Grind

Different types of espresso/coffee machines require a different coarseness of grind. For example, a French press or pour-over uses very coarsely ground beans, standard drip coffee uses a medium-coarse grind, while espresso or Turkish coffee typically needs a very find grind. Too many small particles in the grind results in a bitter and acidic brew while too many large pieces in the mix can slow down brewing and lead to weak flavor. You need a coffee grinder that consistently produces an even grind of the coarseness-level that suits your various brewing needs.

Clear and Adjustable Grind Settings

Many coffee grinders allow you to adjust the grind coarseness. You want a model with clearly marked settings that you can use to easily repeat for future brewing. The steps between each incremental grind size should also be even so you can easily and precisely make adjustments that lock in step by step for more or less coarsely ground coffee.

Price

Many quality grinders cost upwards of $100, which is one reason so many coffee lovers find themselves stuck with affordable but less flavor-producing blade grinders. But a good grinder should justify the price: It should help you make much more delicious coffee, last for years with proper maintenance and be simple to operate and clean. Whether it’s more cups of coffee at home instead of bought out of the house, fewer cheap grinders needing to be replaced over the years, or simply higher quality coffee making; the return on investment should be considered. However, if you only make brewed coffee every so often it may not be worth the expense.

Cleaning

It’s essential to be able to easily clean inside your coffee grinder, especially if you prefer darker-roasted, or flavored coffees that leave more residues and can impact the flavor of other types of beans. Many models come with a brush to assist in cleaning and many burr models have easily removed burr-sets to speed cleaning. You also want a model that doesn’t create ground coffee dust that spills on the counter while you’re using it. It’s always a good idea to skim coffee grinder reviews to see what other users experience has been.

BOTTOM LINE

For those who take their home-barista espresso making skills seriously or who just want to step up the flavor of their daily cup of joe; grinding your own coffee is a clear improvement over using pre-ground beans!  A variety of coffee grinder types are available at a broad range of price points to suit your specific needs. Be sure to consider your coffee brewing method of choice, how much coffee you typically make at a time, where you’d like to store your grinder, and the features that matter most to you to help guide your decision.  Once you start grinding your own coffee, you’re sure to reap the rewards of your investment with much more enjoyment of coffee you make at home for a lot less per latte than your local coffee shop!