If you’re serious about coffee, it goes without saying that you should already be grinding your coffee beans at home. Grinding fresh coffee beans can differentiate a mediocre cup of coffee from an excellent one.
If I could give you just one piece of advice, it would be to invest in a good coffee grinder and to start grinding whole coffee beans. Frankly, this should be your number one priority when you start brewing coffee at home. It may sound petty, but brewing great-tasting coffee always starts with a solid foundation, your coffee is that foundation, and the coffee grinder is an integral part of the coffee-making process.
Having a coffee grinder in your brewing arsenal is going to be one of the most important pieces of coffee-making equipment you’ll own, and if you are serious about your coffee it’s a must-have. The best coffee grinder can effortlessly grind your beans into a uniform size which allows for optimal extraction.
However, there are cheap coffee grinders that may seem like a great deal, but you’ll soon discover that they’ll produce uneven grounds which can lead to an overly bitter and sour final brew.
Why Should You Grind Your Own Coffee?
Simply put, flavor!
Almost all of the flavor locked in your coffee beans is found in the oils, and for the ultimate taste, you need to unlock those flavorsome oils.
Sounds simple enough.
The thing is, the oils need to be coaxed out as evenly as possible. It’s no good smashing your whole coffee beans into smithereens, using a cheap blade grinder or god forbid using a pestle and mortar. If you take this route you’re going to lose a lot of flavor due to an uneven grind and additional heat build-up that will destroy the flavorful and aromatic oils before they even reach your cup.
What you need is the best coffee grinder you can buy – preferably a Burr grinder.
I’m sure you’ve already picked up a few bags of whole coffee beans and invested a small fortune in a great coffee maker but more often than not the coffee grinder is the one thing that is overlooked.
If you don’t have a decent grinder the rest of your coffee kit doesn’t matter. Without the sold foundation a grinder can give in the brewing cycle your just setting yourself up for failure.
Don’t overlook the importance of a good coffee grinder, and its role in the final flavor of your cuppa Joe!
Why Use a Coffee Grinder?
Unless you intend on smashing your coffee beans with a hammer or sticking them in a blender the only option you have is to buy a coffee grinder. Not only with a grinder allow you to crank out the optimum grind for whatever brewing method you choose, but a good grinder will also ensure that your beans are ground to uniform perfection.
Remember, the flavor is in the oils!
A coffee grinder will let you fine-tune your grind so you know you’re going to get the best-tasting coffee with any brewing device albeit a French Press, AeroPress, or even the finer grind used in Turkish coffee.
But before you run off to choose a new grinder, the first choice you have to make is what type of grinder you want. This is where it can get confusing – which is the best coffee grinder? Electric, manual, burr, blade … the list of options is long.
Blade or Burr Grinder?
Choosing a good quality coffee grinder isn’t as simple as you may first think, once you hit the coffee aisle in your local store you’ll find that you’re inundated with various types, shapes, and sizes of different coffee grinders. Typically, you will see a selection of manual coffee grinders and electric coffee grinders. However, the head-scratching and confusion begins when the sales rep asks if you want a Burr coffee grinder or a Blade type.
Don’t worry, because I’m about to turn you from a coffee grinder novice into a coffee grinder know-it-all – buying a new coffee grinder will be super easy.
Burr Grinders (Recommended)
Burr coffee grinders are the best type of coffee grinder to choose; it’s as simple as that. They are also often the quietest grinders, but that often comes at a price as they also tend to be more expensive when compared to the other types.
Burr coffee grinders work by crushing the beans between a non-moving surface and a grinding wheel. You will find that most of the best Burr coffee grinders will come with various settings that regulate the size of the ground. The positioning of this grinding wheel determines this size as provides a far more consistent grind when compared to other grinder types.
But the confusion doesn’t stop there as there are two types of Burr grinders a Wheel Burr and a Conical Burr, let’s take a closer look.
- Conical Burr Grinder: the best coffee grinder, in my opinion, is going to be the Conical Burr variety. They’re super quiet, far less messy, and also less likely to clog unlike the other types of grinders. This traditional grinder is also the perfect choice for oily full flavored coffee beans.
- Wheel Burr Grinder: this type of Burr coffee grinder tends to be the cheaper of the two. When compared to the Conical type the Wheel Burr is far noisier due to the grinding wheel moves a lot faster. Because of the faster speed of the grinding wheel, you’ll also find that there is a lot more mess and clean-up required.
Blade Grinders (Not The Best)
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and simply want a cheap coffee grinder, then the Blade grinder is probably going to be your best bet. Blade grinders are the most inexpensive grinders you can buy, and they work by using a simple metal blade to grind (slice) your beans.
I personally would stay clear of this type of coffee grinder especially if you have a bag of expensive coffee beans. The blade will shred the beans leading to uneven coffee grounds and ultimately an inconsistent bitter-tasting brew.
You are also very limited with grind settings on blade grinders, and you simply let the grinder run for a longer period to get a fine grind. The problem with this is that there can be significant heat created by the blades which can give your coffee a burned aftertaste.
Now that you understand why grinding your coffee is so important and the different types of grinders readily available I’ve put together some of my recommended coffee grinders. My selection is based on how easy the coffee is to grind, the overall design of the coffee grinder as well as how easy it is to grip the grinder and then remove the grounds once you’re finished.
There are two types of coffee grinders to choose from; you have manual and electric. Choosing between the two boils down to personal preference, do you want to use elbow grease or just press a button.
Automatic Grinders vs. Manual Grinders
It seems like everyone nowadays is looking for a push-button solution, so take a few additional minutes to manually grind your coffee beans might seem like an unnecessary hurdle on the path to your morning cup of coffee.
I hear ya! You would much rather squeeze in a couple more minutes of sleep in the morning than slave over your coffee grinder.
But trust me when I say you’re going to enjoy the morning cup of Joe if you’ve used a bit of elbow grease. It might be physiological, but manually grinding your coffee definitely does seem to have an edge in the flavor department over an electric grinder.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome electric grinders in the marketplace that will treat your whole coffee beans with the respect they deserve. I can guarantee that every electric grinder on my list of recommendations is worthy.
But, there are some real party pooper’s when it comes to electric grinders, I’m talking about the blade variety. Yes, they’re electric, and yes they are a simple push-button grinding option. But, this type of grinder will pulverize your whole coffee beans into oblivion – and yes you can forget about preserving those flavorful oils.
Best Automatic Coffee Grinders
These are my recommended electric burr coffee grinders. There should be an option to suit all budgets, and best of all they operate with a push of a button!
Priced at a smidgen over two hundred bucks, the Baratza Virtuoso is without a doubt one of the best coffee grinders available for home use. The Virtuoso lives up to its high expectations offering both elegance and style as well as enough grind settings to keep a seasoned bearded barista happy.
The Virtuoso utilizes the preferred conical burrs (40mm) and can churn out a super fine grind that’s perfect for fans of espresso and has no problem grinding up a much coarser grind for the French Press and anything in-between.
One of the traits the Baratza Virtuoso is known for in the geek community is grind consistency. The DC motor has a lot to do with the exceptional grind and it doesn’t overheat even during extended grinding. The DC motor also uses an intelligent combination of gear and electric speed reducers that help to keep the burrs at a constant 450 RPM. Controlling the RPM also aids in reducing noise as well as static build-up.
Rancilio Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder
The Rancilio Rocky coffee grinder is loaded with commercial-grade burrs (50mm) that can effortlessly grind up to 7.7 pounds of coffee per hour. Designed to sit next to your espresso machine, the Rocky features a metal removable fork to help keep your espresso portafilter in place as you fill with freshly ground coffee.
The Rocky isn’t just suited for espresso, and it has no problem producing a grind for pour-over brewing methods such as the Chemex or the Hario V60, and even the French Press.
Operating the Rancilio Rocky is super easy, to change the grind setting just unlock the lever and spin the dial at the bottom of the bean hopper. The motor can reach speeds of up to 1725 RPM, which is pretty impressive seeing as the grinder is relatively quiet.
If you are looking for a no-nonsense coffee grinder that has no problem churning out coffee all day long I highly recommend you take a look at the Rancilio Rocky.
Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder
Love the look of the above Baratza Virtuoso but you’re on a tight budget? I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The Capresso Infinity is on par with the Virtuoso, it offers all the same features, and functions in the same way but it’s a lot cheaper. With the Virtuoso you are kind of paying for the brand name, with the Capresso you’ll get the same caliber of coffee grinder without having to remortgage your home!
The Capresso Infinity has precision-made burrs that have been manufactured as pairs to help enhance efficiency. They are able to effortlessly grind up to 8 ½ ounces of whole beans at any given time and the sixteen grind settings can grind up beans for any brewing method.
The price tag and the full range of grind settings from extra-fine all the way through to coarse makes the Capresso Infinity one of the best electric coffee grinders on the list!
Cuisinart Automatic Burr Mill
The Cuisinart is the cheapest electric burr coffee grinder on my list, but don’t let the low cost fool you, this grind is packed full of features. For starters, it’s fully automatic, simply select your preferred grind setting and the number of cups, and the Cuisinart Automatic Burr Mill will grind just the right amount of coffee, then shuts off automatically. With 18 grind settings from ultrafine through to extra coarse, there isn’t a brew method the Cuisinart can’t handle.
A neat feature of this grinder is the inbuilt dial that lets you select the amount of coffee required for the number of cups you’re brewing. The bean hopper can accommodate enough whole coffee beans for up to 32 cups and in little under a minute you can have enough ground coffee for 12 cups all at a push of a button.
For seasoned coffee geeks to those of you looking to buy your first burr coffee grinder, the Cuisinart is a top-rated coffee maker that won’t disappoint.
Best Manual Coffee Grinders
A roundup of the best coffee grinders wouldn’t be complete without a few manual options. Yes these will require some elbow grease, and you may break a sweat, but to be honest, I think the extra effort makes the coffee taste better!
HandGround Conical Ceramic Burr Mill
The HandGround manual coffee grinder was first launched on Kickstarter and is one of the better hand grinders out there. I have recently started using this grinder myself and really love how easy it is to change your grind size on the fly for AeroPress, pour-over (V60), espresso, and more. Even with its compact size, the HandGround feels powerful in your hands and the slip-resistant bottom definitely comes in handy when using the grinder directly on the countertop.
Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill
The Hario Skerton is my daily grinder, it’s small, compact, delivers a great consistent grind, and doesn’t cost an arm a leg.
It features ceramic burrs that won’t get hot which can adversely affect your coffee, and with a quick twist of the top dial, you can set a grind from extra fine to coarse. However, it’s down in the fine settings where the Skerton really excels as it does tend to struggle with coarser grinds.
If you’re looking for a hand grinder, you won’t find much better in this price range than the Hario Skerton. Still not convinced? Read my full Hario Skerton review here.
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
Looking for something a bit more compact, something you can throw in your bag and take on your travels? Look no further than the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder. Don’t let the size of this coffee grinder fool you because it is entirely capable of keeping up with the big boys.
It has ceramic grinding burrs and a durable brushed stainless steel body. Built inside of the compact grinder is a dial that lets you choose from an impressive 18 grind settings. With the JavaPresse you can churn out ground coffee for almost any brew method such as the Chemex, French Press, AeroPress, Espresso, Turkish coffee and you can even grind up spices!
Make sure to take a look at my hands-on review of the JavaPresse grinder.
Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill
Maybe you’re looking for a vintage-looking coffee grinder? You won’t go wrong with the Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill. Manufactured by a German company that’s been producing some great coffee grinders for over 150 years, so you know you’re getting quality.
This hand-cranked grinder features conical burrs that are encased in a beautiful mahogany box. The grinding mechanism in the Zassenhaus can effortlessly churn out coarse and extra a fine grind to suit all brewing methods (even Turkish coffee).
Zassenhaus are so confident that their coffee grinder is the best they offer a 25-year warranty on the burr mechanism. If you love this old-fashioned coffee grinder you won’t want to miss my other recommended antique coffee grinders.