Whether you’re rocking a classic brewer, pour-over, or French press, you need to grind those beans, baby! And believe it or not, the quality of your grinder will affect the quality of your coffee. The oft-overlooked grinder is actually a crucial piece of equipment when it comes to crafting the perfect cup: You get maximum flavor from uniformly cut beans, and not every grinder can deliver those. Finding the best coffee grinder for you and your needs means looking at the price point, whether you want something manual or electric, and whether you prefer burred beans to bladed ones. (You may not yet know the answer to this question—but you will!)
Baristas and javaheads alike agree that one of the keys to a perfect cup of joe is using fresh, uniformly ground beans, and to get those, you need the best coffee grinder. Knowing how to grind your beans for the particular type of coffee you’re making (machine-brewed? espresso?) is also crucial. If you don’t know your burrs from your blade or your flat-tops from your conicals, read on to up your coffee game instantly.
What’s the difference between a burr grinder and a blade grinder?
As you start to shop, you’ll quickly notice two words coming up again and again: burr and blade. A burr grinder (or burr mill) works by crushing beans between two rotating burrs, or small rotary cutting tools. (Within the world of burr grinders, there are two types: conical and flat. Conicals will typically cost you more than flat.) A blade grinder features one big blade that rotates and slices up your beans as it goes. In general, burr grinders are thought to be more precise (and therefore pricier), because they chop grounds in a more uniform way than blades. In broad strokes, a blade grinder works faster and is cheaper; a burr grinder offers more control and better taste, but it’ll also cost you more.
What about a manual grinder vs. an electrical one?
As you could probably guess, the big difference between these two options is how much elbow grease you feel like putting into grinding your beans. Manual grinders are typically smaller than their electric counterparts, and they don’t require electricity, so they’re perfect for traveling. They’re more affordable than automatic grinders and allow you to better control the size of your grind. The biggest benefit to an electric grinder is ease and speed of use—no physical effort required, but you will need an outlet. How tech-savvy and/or comfortable with settings is also a factor: The more precise you want your electric grinder to be, the more settings you’ll have to deal with (because of the grind size for an espresso drink is different than straight coffee). If you don’t want to deal with so many options (or spend as much), but still want something electric, pick one with minimal settings.
Should I choose my grinder based on how I make my coffee and what kind of coffee I drink?
Yes! Well, sort of. The way you take your coffee will determine how finely you grind your beans. For example, French presses and cold brew coffee work best with a coarse grind; espresso should be fine. (In the middle is an assortment of slightly different ground sizes, like medium-coarse for pour-over and medium for a drip machine.) If you’ve ever had beans ground at the grocery store, you’ve likely had to choose the size of your grind. Over- or under-grinding beans for the way you brew can result in a deficit of flavor.
The best coffee grinder
However, you prepare your coffee, freshly ground beans take the experience to a new level. Here are the best coffee grinders to help you get your caffeine fix.
Best coffee grinder overall: Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
Easy to Use
A straightforward on-off switch and pulse button let you easily grind up to 40 different ways with conical burrs. Baratza
The Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder comes in white and black, and at just 4.7 by 6.3 by 13.8 inches and 6.83 pounds, it’ll take up very little space on your countertop. Its ease of use is also one of its limitations: Because there’s just one button, you control the coarseness or fineness of your grounds somewhat haphazardly, but unless you’re planning to make loads of wildly different types of coffee (Chemex one day, Aeropress another), this Baratza grinder will get the job done at a moderate price point.
Most stylish coffee grinder: Smeg 50’s Retro-Style Aesthetic Coffee Grinder
This conical burr model is a looker, but the real selling points are the three automatic grinding sizes—fine, medium, and coarse. Smeg
The slightly higher price point for the Smeg 50’s Retro-Style Aesthetic Coffee Grinder gets you mad aesthetics and removes the guesswork from grinding with three presets that cover most coffee types. A backlit chrome knob means you’ll be able to brew even when you’re still half-asleep. This grinder also comes with a cleaning brush included to keep it pristine.
Best manual coffee grinder: JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
No Power Needed
This affordable handheld marvel with ceramic burrs can turn out 18 different grind settings, thanks to a built-in adjustable grind selector. JavaPresse
A simple turn of a crank with the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder gets you ground beans ASAP, no batteries or electricity required. It’s portable (so, perfect for trips) and a lot less noisy than its automatic counterparts.
Best coffee grinder for small spaces: Fellow Ode Brew Grinder
Cafe Quality on Your Countertop
This quiet yet powerful device brings premium coffee experience into your home. Fellow
The Fellow Ode Brew Grinder comes with 11 settings that let you brew whatever your java preference: French press, pour-over, or cold brew. This device is also designed with professional-level 64mm flat burrs that grind beans consistently. And the sleek appliance also looks good in your kitchen.
Best commercial coffee grinder: Baratza Forte BG (Brew Grinder)
This barista-level flat-burr bad boy is for serious brewers only. Baratza
A built-in electronic scale and digital screen combine to guarantee a precisely engineered cup every time. The sleek Baratza Forte BG (Brew Grinder) comes with 260 different grind settings and a large bean hopper, making it ideal for coffee shops and gearheads. It is not ideal for anyone at all technophobic or not looking to spend major coin on a grinder. At 13.23 pounds, it’s also heavier than most home models.
Best budget coffee grinder: OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
For just over a hundred bucks, this stainless steel model with conical burrs can turn out 38 different grind options. OXO
The UV-tinted hopper in the OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder holds up to 16 ounces of coffee beans at a time, keeping them fresher longer. It’s just 6.8 inches by 11.1 inches by 14.8 inches and also boasts a static-fighting ground container (meaning you’re less likely to have coffee grounds flying all around the kitchen). Plus, a one-touch timer that automatically remembers the setting from your last cup.
Q: Does a coffee grinder really matter?
Yes! A coffee grinder is one important factor in the equation that is making a good cup of coffee. You want something that grinds beans uniformly and—if you plan to brew for multiple types of makers—can adapt (i.e. give you options like coarse, medium, and fine). If you’re always disappointed that your at-home coffee never tastes quite as good as the coffee house stuff, your first step in improving your java game is investing in a coffee grinder.
Q: What is a burr grinder?
A burr grinder is one that breaks up beans by crushing them, like a mill. (A blade grinder chops beans with, well, a blade). Burr grinders are said to cut beans more precisely and evenly, delivering better flavor. Within the burr world, there are two kinds of grinders: conical and flat. A conical burr grinder has a cone-shaped center burr and outer serrated burr; a flat one features two round, facing burrs that turn out grinds that are even more precise than their conical brethren (but they also make more noise).
Q: How long should you grind with a manual grinder?
How long you keep at it with a manual grinder differs based on what kind of grounds you seek and how many beans you want to break. As you’d probably guess, the finer the grind, the longer it takes; the same goes for bigger volumes of beans. The best thing to do is start out slow and check your beans every couple of seconds. You can always grind more, but you can’t go back and grind less. In general, a coarse grind takes about 10 seconds and a fine grind takes around 30. A medium grind takes, well, a medium amount. But trial and error is your friend!
The final word on buying the best coffee grinder
The best coffee grinder is one that is right for your budget, has options to satisfy every coffee drinker in your house (e.g. you like an espresso but your roommate wants cold brew), and knows how to get every last bit of flavor out of those power-packed little magic beans. In general, that probably means springing for a burr grinder over a blade one, but beyond that, it’s dealer’s choice!