How to Choose the Best Home Coffee Grinder
Whether you’re planning to upgrade from a blade or just buying your first grinder, you’ll find there is a huge range of options on the market. So how do you know which is the best burr coffee grinder for you? Here are a few tips on how to choose a coffee grinder.
|Baratza Encore Conical Burr grinder||
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|Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind||
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|Breville Smart Grinder Pro||
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|Baratza Sette 270 Conical Burr Coffee Grinder||
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|Fellow Ode Brew Grinder||
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|Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder||
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|KRUPS Precision Flat Burr Grinder||
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- 4.7 x 6.3 x 13.8 inches
- 225 g
- 6 x 7.1 x 10.8 inches
- 5.1 x 2.2 x 7.1 inches
- 8.5 x 12.5 x 16.3 inches
- 5.1 x 9.5 x 15 inches
- 6.8 x 11.8 x 14.8 inches
- 4.7 x 9.5 x 9.4 inches
- 7.8 x 5 x 10.5 inches
- 7.1 x 7.6 x 12.5 inches
- 4.3 x 7.2 x 10.4 inches
Why burr grinders are better than blade grinders
Let’s start with why you should be choosing a burr grinder in the first place. If you’re shopping around, particularly for a budget grinder, you’ll see blade grinders and burr grinders on offer. The truth is, only one of these is a true grinder.
Blade grinders essentially work as a food processor, chopping your beans with sharp blades rather than grinding them. So why is this bad for coffee? This creates a very inconsistent grind, with some larger particles and some smaller particles. Try brewing with these grounds, and you’re going to end up with an unbalanced cup of joe, with both the sourness of under-extracted coffee and the muddiness of over-extracted coffee.
You won’t also have the ability to select your preferred grind size, and you only have the option to grind longer for finer grinds. When you get the majority of the grounds to the size you want, you will chop the smaller particles to powder.
The appeal of blade grinders is that they’re cheap and fast, but fast isn’t necessarily a good thing here. The power required to keep those blades whizzing at high speed can generate heat, which will alter the aroma and flavor of your beans (3).
The best coffee grinders are always burr grinders as they create a consistent grind by design. The mechanism consists of two discs or cones set at a specific distance apart, and this distance determines the particle size for the ground coffee as the beans get crushed between them. Grinding longer will not make the beans any finer, as the distance between the burrs doesn’t change during the grinding process.
The burr design also allows you to choose the size of grind that you want by adjusting the distance between the burrs. Grind size varies significantly depending on your brewing method, so changing the size is essential.
Burr grinders are more expensive, but they last a lot longer, so in the long run, you’re getting much better value for money.
What kind of coffee are you brewing?
Your choice of burr grinder will depend a great deal on the kind of coffee you want to brew. All brewing methods require a specific grind texture, from extra coarse for the cold brew to extra-fine for Turkish coffee.
While you might think that a grinder that can do everything is the best choice, it’s not the best idea. What’s preferable is a grinder that has more options for adjustment across a smaller range of grind sizes.
The coarsest grind level – extra coarse – is reserved for cold brew. The long steeping time (up to 24 hours) requires a grind that isn’t extracted too quickly. Cold brew grind should be chunky like ground peppercorns but still consistent in size. Not all grinders will evenly ground coffee at this coarseness, so check the recommendations if this is your favorite way to brew.
The French Press coffee is often lumped in with cold brew, but it should be slightly finer, the texture of sea salt. Using a coarse grind will require a longer brewing time when your coffee goes cold, and finer grinds might clog your mesh filter and cause over-extraction of your brew.
If the cafetiere is your most prized possession, check out the best electric coffee grinder for French press.
Unlike something like espresso or French press, pour-over brewing encompasses a lot of different coffee makers. Depending on the brewer you’re using, you might need anything from medium-coarse (rough sand) down to medium-fine (table salt). The good news is that even grinders aimed at espresso brewing still tend to perform well in the medium grind range, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
The right espresso grind is often considered the holy grail for grinders, and it’s something you’ll generally pay more for. Espresso coffee should have the texture of fine sand or sugar, but it’s not just the size that matters here. Due to variations in espresso machine and bean types, you need to make minor adjustments to the size, even from one day to the next. The best coffee grinder for espresso should have more grind settings but focus on the finer end of the scale rather than going from a fine up to a coarse grind.
The strong, thick flavor of authentic Turkish coffee is all down to the extra-fine grind of the beans. It should have the texture of confectioners sugar and clump when pressed together. Most grinders won’t produce the level of fineness required for this brewing method, and as such, Turkish grinders usually fall into a category of their own.
We haven’t included any on this list, but you can check out our recommendations for the best Turkish coffee grinder here.
Manual vs automatic
The first thing you’ll have to decide is whether you want a manual or automatic (electric) grinder, each of which has its pros and cons.
Electric coffee grinders will do all of the grinding for you, and in many cases, these will have more features, a larger capacity, and more durable parts. The downside is that if you want a quality grinder, you’re looking at a higher price although you can find some good grinders for less than $100. And of course, electric burr grinders need to be plugged in, so they’re staying firmly put in your kitchen.
Manual coffee grinders are your only option if you want to make coffee while you’re traveling. A hand grinder is also a great choice if you want a silent grinder or a better grinder for a lower price. The payoff is that you’ll need to put in the effort for grinding coffee, and you’ll be limited in how much you can make.
Burr shape and material
Coffee grinders come as either flat burr grinders or conical burr grinders, which just refers to the shape of the burrs. Conical burrs have lower grind retention, meaning there is less coffee left behind in the burrs. Grinders with flat burrs are said to be more precise, but it does depend on the quality of the burr. One thing to note is that you’ll only see flat burrs in electric grinders, as they need much more force to operate.
Bottom line: If a grinder ticks all the boxes for the kind of coffee you’re brewing, don’t worry about the shape of the burrs.
Burr material is slightly more critical. Not so much for day-to-day grinding, but longevity. A good ceramic burr will last longer before it needs replacing. There is some debate about whether steel produces more heat than ceramic during the grinding process. A cafe owner might need to consider this, but for the small amounts you’re likely to grind at home, it won’t come into play.
The Best Burr Coffee Grinders for 2023
Whether you’re set on espresso or can’t go past a pour-over, there’s something out there for you. Here are our picks for the best coffee grinders in a range of budgets.
If you’ve read a few articles here, you’ve probably noticed that the Baratza Encore pops up quite a bit. And there’s a good reason for that. You’ll often see this listed as a great entry-level grinder, but the quality of both the machine and the grind will satisfy even more experienced home baristas.
It’s a very easy-to-use machine. Select the grind size by rotating the bean hop, then turn the on/off switch to start grinding. The Encore has 40 grind settings running from finely ground coffee to a coarse grind, so it’s a great all-rounder for a range of brewing methods, especially pour-over and French press. Although it’s not specialized for espresso, the good consistency at the fine end will allow you to pull a decent shot.
The burrs are made in Europe from a hardened steel alloy which offers good heat efficiency. This ensures consistent coffee grounds even after years of heavy use and is one of the reasons Baratza is the brand professional baristas swear by.
Baratza is also famous for its dedication to keeping products out of the landfill. With durable parts that you can easily replace, the Baratza Encore will be sitting on your kitchen counter for years to come.
Think this might be the grinder for you? You can get more details in our full Baratza Encore review.
The Cuisinart brand is well established for making quality kitchen appliances over the last 50 years. To find a burr grinder at such a low price from a reputable brand is something of a win, plus we think the DBM-8 has a pretty cool retro look too.
Grind settings are adjusted like many other grinders by rotating the bean hopper, and it has 18 positions with fine, medium, and coarse indicators. Grinding isn’t measured by time but instead by the number of cups, between 4 and 18 cups. Press the start button, and the machine will automatically stop after grinding the correct amount. This is calibrated for a drip coffee maker, so if you plan to use a different brewing method, you might need some trial and error to get the right amount.
The unit comes with an 8-oz removable bean hopper, while the grinding chamber has a 32-cup grind capacity. This is somewhat impressive, but we recommend you grind just the amount you need for a brew to ensure the grind is as fresh as possible. Despite the large capacity, this is a relatively compact machine, just over 10 inches tall.
You should note that this machine features what’s known as block burrs (1). They’re not considered as consistent as flat or conical burrs, but they’re still going to be a lot better than any blade grinder on the market. That said, don’t attempt espresso with this one.
Burr grinders are pretty much always more expensive than blade grinders, which can put a lot of people off making the swap, particularly if they don’t consider themselves dedicated coffee lovers if this sounds like you, consider the KRUPS Precision Grinder, which will upgrade your brewing experience at an almost unbelievable price.
First things first, you can’t expect the quality of grind that you’re going to get from more expensive grinders, but it’s still far superior to a blade grinder. Plus, you get the option to choose from 12 different grind settings. A small burr dial adjusts the grind settings on the side of the machine. Though it’s easy to change, we don’t like that there’s no easy way to check your settings at a glance.
This KRUPS grinder has moved the bean hopper from the usual place on the top to the back. This gives it a very compact size that makes it the best budget burr grinder for anyone with a small kitchen. You simply flip up the lid on top for refilling, but as it opens towards you, you won’t want to have this sitting under any low cabinets.
The large dial on the front allows you to select how much coffee you want to grind, between 2 and 12 cups. This is aimed at users of drip coffee machines, so if you’re using a different brewing method, this might not be accurate for you. Once you’ve made your selection, simply press the big button in the middle, and the grinder will do the rest.
A manual grinder can be your secret weapon in terms of getting bang for your buck with a burr grinder. Without the need for expensive electronics, you can often get a far better grinder. The 1Zpresso JX-Pro isn’t exactly cheap, but it has both the range and the micro-adjustments to make it an excellent choice for both pour-over and espresso on the go.
The JX-Pro is an upgrade on the brand’s JX model, which is designed for pour-over coffee. This improved model creates finer grinds for espresso and smaller adjustments. If you want to get nerdy, we’re talking 12.5 microns per click, compared to 25 microns per click on the JX (2)
If you’re switching from an automatic grinder, one thing you’ll have to get used to is how the grind settings are displayed. The dial is numbered, with additional markings for the micro settings, but you can rotate the dial up to 5 times. If you’re on the correct number of the grind setting, but your grind is suddenly way off, you probably need to go another full rotation.
Usually, one of the biggest downsides to manual grinders is the time and effort required for grinding. Thanks to the large 48mm burrs, the JX-Pro will get through the 18g needed for a double shot of espresso in around 30 seconds–no bad at all for hand power!
One thing we love about the 1Zpresso grinders is that they’re all designed to be taken apart without the need for tools. This means you don’t need to remember any extra equipment if you’re heading out on the trail. It’s a little larger and heavier than some genders designed for travel, but trust us, the extra weight is worth it for the performance.
The large LCD screen should be your first clue that the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is slightly different from other grinders on this list. The Breville brand is known for its tech innovations, making its products incredibly user-friendly.
You can adjust the grind time from the front panel, with accuracy down to 0.2 second increments. Alternatively, you can choose the number of shots/cups and press start for instant grinding. A large dial adjusts the grind size on the side, but the selection is always displayed on the screen for easy reference.
If you’re pairing this with an espresso machine, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Breville Smart Grinder Pro features not one but two portafilter holders–for 50-54m and 58mm portafilters. You can grind directly into a filter basket or paper filter for drip or pour-over, and there’s a plastic grounds bin that slots under the chute for everything else.
Cleaning is less of a hassle thanks to the locking mechanism that seals off the bottom of the beans hopper. You can easily remove it without emptying to access the burrs. Regular cleaning is essential if you plan to use oily coffee beans.
Before you hit the “buy” button, it’s worth checking the height of your kitchen cabinets. At more than 16 inches tall, the Breville Smart Grinder Pro is taller than most.
Espresso is traditionally the hardest grind to get right with a cheap grinder, so if you’re planning to get serious about your shots, it’s worth investing in a grinder tailored to espresso. It’s often said that the right grinder is even more important than the espresso machine model you use.
For prosumer quality grinders, it’s hard to go past Baratza machines. The company produces commercial and home coffee grinders–the advantage is that even the consumer models benefit from the tech and quality found in their more expensive machines.
The Sette 270 is a step up in grind quality and price compared to the entry-level Encore, and it’s also more tailored to espresso rather than being an allrounder. The micro-adjustments bring the total number of grind settings up to 270 (hence the model’s name), which are calibrated to the finer end of the scale. It’s not the grinder to choose for the French press, but you’ll get significant control over your espresso grind.
As with all models in the Sette range, you can swap between doser and doserless grinding. The machine comes with a 160g capacity grounds bin, but you can remove it to use the portafilter holder-which fits portafilters from 49mm to 58mm. Alternatively, the holder arms can be roasted for grinding directly into popular makes of pour-over, including Hario V60 and Clever Dripper.
The LED control panel lets you set the grind time, with adjustments down to 1/100th of a second for highly accurate dosing.
There’s a lot to love about the OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder, and quite frankly, it could just have easily been our pick for the best value for money or the easiest to use. OXO is a reliable brand with a long history of making user-friendly appliances at a price that won’t break the bank.
The large bean hopper on the Oxo grinder holds a generous 16 oz, so there’s less filling between brews. Oxo is made from tinted plastic that will keep out harmful UV rays to help keep your coffee beans as fresh as possible. The grounds hopper is also large, with a 12 oz capacity that’s more than enough for even the biggest batch brew.
Around the base of the beans hopper, you’ll find the adjustments for your grind. There are only 15 marked, but the intermediary steps add up to a respectable 38 settings. The Oxo burr grinder is unsuitable for espresso, but you’ll get enough options to tweak your favorite V60, Chemex, or even French press recipe. The numbers are nothing without the quality of grind, and we’re happy to say that this Oxo coffee grinder delivers a grind consistency well above its price point, making it the best burr grinder for pour-over on our list.
Oxo has combined the best parts of a timer and a simple switch for ease of use. Select the number of seconds for your grind, then press the center button to start. Your timer will keep your last setting, so if you’re making the same amount of coffee every day, it’s a one-touch operation.
If you’ve come across the Fellow brand before, you’ll know that its products are instantly recognizable. The boxy black Ode joins a similarly minimalist line-up of coffee makers, kettles, and mugs aimed at coffee lovers who want something beautiful as well as functional. Part of the appeal here is how slick and compact it is, at less than 10 inches tall. It’s designed for single dosing, which means you need to fill it for every brew, but the upside is you’ll always have freshly ground coffee.
The small package hides some serious performance, with professional-grade 64mm flat burrs. Large burrs can be more stable, needing fewer adjustments, but they’re also more efficient (4). The Fellow Ode will grind 30g of beans in around 8 seconds – and output more than 3.5g/second.
Unlike many other coffee grinders, the Fellow Ode Brew Grinder doesn’t claim to do it all. Fellow has made the conscious decision to create a grinder for manual brewing methods and skipped the fine settings needed for espresso or Turkish coffee.
Too many grinders try to do both and end up doing neither well.Zachary Elbourne, Burly Coffee
This is in no way a bad thing. It means the 31 grind settings give you incredible flexibility from medium-fine through to medium-coarse. If you want to make minute adjustments to your Chemex recipe, this is the grinder for you.
The one sticking point is the price tag. Most people would expect to get an espresso grinder for what they pay here. But if you are taking a deep dive into pour over coffee, it might be worth buying a grinder made for the purpose. Besides, this is going to look great on your countertop. It’s also one of our top grinders under $500.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Bodum Bistro is the sleek contemporary design. Whether you choose the black, white, or red model, it’s bound to stand out in any kitchen. But behind the cute cover, you’ll find a range of features that make this a great grinder for the price.
The limited grind stings might put you off, but if you’re looking for a grinder for manual brewing, this could be all you need. In independent testing, the Bodum Bistro outperformed other machines at this price point, particularly for the medium grinds (5).
It will be hard to find better grind consistency at a lower price anywhere on the market.Tech Gear Lab
Although it doesn’t have the adjustments you need to make this a good dedicated espresso grinder, it still delivers a surprisingly good consistency on finer settings.
Rather than a plastic hopper, the Bodum Bistro features a borosilicate glass grounds bin. This helps eliminate the static that causes coffee grounds to stick to the sides and be much more durable. It’s also the only grinder on our list to feature a friction clutch, which will protect your burrs from damage in the event of small stones or debris hiding in your beans.
The downside here is that the maximum timer setting is 20 seconds, so if you want to grind more coffee you’ll have to wait and reset it. Some users have also complained about the amount of noise that it makes–something to be aware of if you have light sleepers in the house.
You’ll often see the Capresso Infinity touted as one of the best entry-level burr grinders. This is partly due to its thoroughly affordable price and because it’s a straightforward machine to understand and operate.
The 16 grind sizes are helpfully categorized into extra-fine, fine, regular, and coarse if you’re new to grinding. To adjust the grind size, you twist the bean hopper to line the black dot with the size you want. The Capresso won’t give you the precision required for espresso out of this, but it’s an excellent choice for manual brewing methods.
When you want to start your grind, just turn the timer to between 5 and 60 seconds, and you’re on your way. It’ll automatically stop when it reaches zero. This makes the whole operation hands-free, so you can set it and walk away. Setting a timer also makes it easier to grind the same amount every day.
The Capresso Infinity’s stainless steel conical burrs are powered by a low RPM motor, which helps keep heat generation to a minimum. However, it’s surprisingly efficient and can grind up to 3 g per second–particularly useful if you’re taking advantage of the large 8.8 oz bean hopper.
Hopefully, our burr coffee grinder reviews have shown just how many quality options for burr grinders there are at a range of budgets. If you’re looking for the best allrounder that offers good value for money, we recommend the Baratza Encore as the best burr coffee grinder. With incredible durability, great grind consistency and 40 grind settings, it’s an excellent choice for newbies or experienced coffee lovers alike.
Yes, burr coffee grinders wear out eventually, but you can replace the burrs to extend the machine’s life. The grinder casing and mechanics should last at least 5 years, with quality models lasting closer to 10 years. The lifespan of the burrs will depend on both the quality and how much use they get. You need to replace steel burrs after around 500-750 pounds of beans, with ceramic burrs lasting a little longer through 750-1000 pounds of coffee (6).
You can grind species with a coffee grinder, but we don’t recommend it. If you’re using a burr grinder, you won’t get the fine powder texture that’s best when cooking with spices–the exception being a Turkish grinder. However, the main reason is that grinding spices in your coffee grinder will leave unwanted flavors and aromas. Some spices such as star anise or cardamom pods might also damage the burrs. Spice grinding is the one instance where we wholeheartedly recommend a blade grinder!
You can grind coffee beans the night before, but you will lose some of the taste and aroma that you get from freshly ground beans. Ground coffee begins to lose flavor intensity within 30 minutes (7). If you’re trying to save time in the morning, check the list above for the fastest grind speeds on offer. If you must grind the night before, transfer your grounds to an airtight container and store them away from heat and sunlight.
- Does Burr Shape Matter? | Flat vs Conical vs Block. (2017, June 16). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/iEU4YOvd3as
- Brew Guide. (n.d.). Kruve. Retrieved from https://www.kruveinc.com/pages/brew-guide
- Petrich, I. L. (2020, April 13). How Ground Coffee Temperature Causes Uneven Espresso Extraction. Perfect Daily Grind. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/03/how-ground-coffee-temperature-causes-uneven-espresso-extraction/
- Mott, J. (2021, July 15). Coffee grinder burrs: What should home consumers look for? Perfect Daily Grind. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2021/06/coffee-grinder-burrs-what-should-home-consumers-look-for/
- Mutter, M., & Powell, M. (2021, August 9). Bodum Bistro. TechGearLab. Retrieved from https://www.techgearlab.com/reviews/kitchen/coffee-grinder/bodum-bistro
- Choppin, A. (2019, November 4). When Should I Replace My Burrs? Baratza. Retrieved from https://baratza.com/when-should-i-replace-my-burrs/
- How to store the coffee? (2019, January 18). SpecialCoffee. Retrieved from https://specialcoffeeitaly.com/how-store-coffee/
Coffee expert and industry insider, I’ve dedicated years to mastering the art and science of coffee making. From scrutinizing particle fineness to evaluating burr shapes, I delve into the minutiae that elevate coffee from good to exceptional. Whether it’s a complex pour-over or a robust espresso, my insights cater to those who don’t just drink coffee, but experience it.