November 26, 2022

Coffee Ordering

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The Best Coffee Grinders to Elevate Your Morning Cup to Barista Quality

The Best Coffee Grinders to Elevate Your Morning Cup to Barista Quality

If you’re eager to improve your morning caffeination ritual, investing in a good coffee grinder may be the single best purchase you can make.

Why? First off, your brew will taste brighter and more complex. Whole coffee beans stay fresh for a few weeks post-roasting, but grinding them releases precious oils and exposes them to oxygen—meaning every minute from there on out is a countdown to staleness (you can save them for longer if you invest in a vacuum-sealed canister like this). If you ever buy pre-ground coffee, you’re almost certainly buying stale beans. Grinding your beans to order, on the other hand, ensures that little gets lost between the coffee and your cup.

Second, you’ll have better control and more brewing options. Maybe you rely on a drip coffee maker to get you through hectic weekday mornings, but like to luxuriate over a Chemex come Sunday morning. Quality coffee grinders let you adjust the settings precisely to suit your brewing style—from powdery and fine for artful espresso pulls to coarse and sandy for the perfect French press pot.

Not all coffee grinders are created equal: Those cheap little models with propeller-like inserts that whirr with a press of the lid are called blade grinders. They don’t so much grind your beans as chop them violently, yielding coffee grounds that are bruised and inconsistent. Nobody wants that. Experts agree that the best tool for the job is a burr grinder, which breaks down coffee beans by methodically rotating them against an abrasive surface—sort of like a high-tech mortar and pestle.

While you could spend thousands on a commercial-grade coffee grinder, these days burr grinders are available in a wide range of price points and designs. So if you’re looking to upgrade your brewing kit a bit, you don’t have to spend a mint. With that in mind, we tested more than a dozen well-regarded models under $350 to determine the very best coffee grinders.

Table of contents

The best coffee grinder overall
Honorable mention best coffee grinder
Best grinder for espresso
Best budget coffee grinder
Best manual coffee grinder
What’s the difference between burr grinders, blade grinders, and manual grinders?
Grind by time vs. grind by weight
How we tested the coffee grinders
What we looked for
Other grinders we tested
The takeaway
Brewing methods for your freshly ground coffee

Best coffee grinder overall: Baratza Virtuoso+

Baratza made a name for itself with coffee-shop-level burr grinders (see the Baratza Forte AP), but its smaller, less expensive grinders can deliver the same quality. The Virtuoso+ is one step up from the entry-level Encore, but that level up makes a world of difference when it comes to using the machine.

The Virtuoso+ uses time dosing down to the tenth of a second (more on that below), which means you’ll need to spend a little bit of time dialing in your preferred settings. We did some of that dialing in: On setting 18, a middle-of-the-road grind that Baratza suggests for an automatic brewer, we got nine grams of coffee in four seconds. This can vary depending on what type of beans you use, but you can use this as a baseline.

In the end, the small amount of work up top was worth it because the Virtuoso+ gave a consistent grind and simply produced a better tasting cup of coffee. Also, while not designed specifically for it, we found the Virtuoso+ to be versatile enough to use with an espresso machine. It can certainly produce the grind for it (we’d recommend a setting somewhere between a six and a 10), but the design of the grounds container, with sharp edges, allows for easy transfer to a portafilter.

Baratza Virtuoso +

$250.00, Amazon

Honorable mention best coffee grinder: Fellow Ode Grinder

We want to make space to call out Fellow’s Ode grinder because it does what it does so well. It grinds with pro-grade 64 millimeter flat burrs and leaves no bean behind (we tested several times, putting 30 grams of whole beans in and getting 30 grams of ground beans out each time). The grind on those beans was perfectly consistent at each setting and produced delicious coffee.

This is also, perhaps, the most beautiful grinder on the market today. Sleek, minimalist design is a hallmark of all Fellow’s products (see their kettles and new vacuum-sealed coffee canisters) and the Ode is no exception. As a class, coffee grinders tend to look utilitarian, which is not meant as a compliment. Fellow’s grinder looks almost like a modern sculpture.

So why don’t we give it the nod as our overall winner? It just isn’t as versatile as the Baratza. It can’t do an espresso grind. But the thing to know is: Fellow doesn’t claim it can. The company didn’t seem interested in a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none situation; rather, it focused on making a grinder for Aeropress, pour-over, and immersion methods like French press coffee and cold brew. Some users also may find the Ode’s single dose-size hopper inconvenient: Unlike every other grinder we tested you can’t simply deposit a bag of beans in the hopper and store them there. The Ode requires you to measure whole beans beforehand, either by volume or weight (please do it by weight) and pour them in the grinder each time you want to brew. Ultimately this can keep your coffee beans fresher if they‘re stored in a dark, airtight place, but it does add an additional step to the process. All that said, if you make pour-over every morning, the Fellow Ode is the best grinder for you.

Fellow Ode Brew Grinder

$299.00, Amazon

Best grinder for espresso: KitchenAid Burr Grinder

KitchenAid’s burr grinder is a dream for grinding espresso, and with a price tag around $200 it’s a bargain by espresso grinding standards. The grinder has 70 settings which makes it versatile across all brewing methods, but the ability to grind directly into the portafilter makes it the best option for espresso drinks. There are other grinders that grind straight into the portafilter in this price range, like the Breville Smart Grinder Pro (which we tested and performed well), but the little bit of extra precision gives the KitchenAid an edge. We should say here that judging purely on its ability to grind, the slightly pricier Eureka Mignon Notte did a better job, but the Eureka is less user-friendly and requires the use of a scale every time. The KitchenAid is another grinder that uses time dosing to good effect. We found the best results for a double shot at 12.9 seconds on setting 64.

Kitchenaid Burr Coffee Grinder

$200.00, Amazon

Best budget coffee grinder: Solis Scala Plus Compact Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

The Solis Scala is a great little grinder. It comes from the same Swiss company that makes our current top pick for the best espresso machine under $1,000 and outperforms grinders that cost four times as much. It is an entry level burr grinder, which means you give up features like digital timed dosing. However, the timer dial on the Scala is easier to set than our previous budget winner from Oxo. We found that for a double shot of espresso—or single serving of French press or pour-over—the timer should be set to three. It has 14 grind settings to the Oxo’s 15, but that’s enough for several brewing options. And though you can’t grind directly into a portafilter, the grind box on the Scala is small enough that it’s easy to transfer grinds for whatever brew method you’re using, espresso or otherwise. In fact, the whole grinder is pretty small, so it saves on counter space. With a price point well under $100, Solis produced something that is a real bargain considering the quality coffee you can brew with it.

Solis Scala Compact Burr Grinder

$89.00, Amazon

Best manual coffee grinder: 1Zpresso K-Max

Like to drink alone? Or to combine your coffee prep with a little cardio? Or do you insist on grinding your own beans while you‘re on the road? For you, there are actually several hand grinders that can produce results as good as many electric burr grinders. As evidenced by the 1Zpresso here, they can actually cost as much as an electric grinder. But we were floored by the what this hand grinder could do. In just 24 seconds we ground 18 grams of coffee for a cup of Aeropress. And adjusting grind settings was as smooth and easy as any electric grinder (hand grinders can be notorious pains in the butt when it comes to changing the settings). While the 1Zpresso K-Max was the best manual grinder we tried, it wasn’t the only good one. If you want a fuller rundown on which hand grinders are good and which aren’t, you can read our best manual coffee grinder review here.

1Zpresso K-Max

$239.00, Amazon

What’s the difference between burr grinders, blade grinders, and manual grinders?

Different coffee brewing methods have different grind requirements. Unlike the fine powder required for espresso, coffee made in a Chemex should be a medium-large gravel so that water can better pass through the filter. The basic blade grinder, which works like a mini blender or food processor, can’t produce consistent ground coffee for any brewing method.

A burr grinder, which mills the coffee between two grooved surfaces, is the best choice no matter what your preferred brewing method is. And while some can run into the thousands of dollars, you can get a reliable, high quality machine for between $200 and $300 (maybe even less in the case of our budget pick) that will last you years and years.

Manual burr grinders use the same grinding mechanism as electric ones, but operate with the crank of a handle. These are handy for the occasional coffee drinker who makes small batches, like a single cup of pour-over. It’s also useful to have on hand for travel if you want to brew decent coffee in a hotel room or the office and forego reliance on the bad drip machine or bad-for-the-environment coffee pods.

Grind by time vs. grind by weight

Grinders of the quality we recommend generally dose, that is, measure, coffee in one of two ways: by time or by weight. The gold standard for measurement when brewing coffee is weight in grams. Different people use different ratios, but the hardcore coffee geeks at Blue Bottle recommend 30 grams of coffee for 350 grams of water for pour-over, or about one gram of coffee for every 12 grams of water (it’s actually 1:11.6, but we’ll round up). There are a number of coffee grinders with built-in scales that will deliver ground coffee to the gram, but they are typically much more expensive—Oxo’s is the only one we recommend that’s under $300.

However, you can still get consistent results from a grinder that doses by time. Just do a test grind on the desired setting, weigh the results, and calculate what to set the timer to (make sure to weigh the final results to make sure your math works out). With each of the time dosing grinders we tested, we ground for four seconds and worked out from there. If you don’t have one, you will need to get a scale to effectively use a coffee grinder that doses by time, but frankly, you should have a scale anyway to measure your water (also to measure ingredients for baking). This scale from Escali is a workhorse and a bargain to boot.

<h1 class="title">The Best Coffee Grinders</h1><cite class="credit">Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka</cite>

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka

How we tested the coffee grinders

Right upon unboxing the grinders, we made note of their build quality, size, ease of assembly, and features. We then processed 30 grams of coffee beans in each machine at three different settings—coarse grind size and medium/fine grind size, and fine grind for espresso—and closely inspected the results from each for consistency. We made exceptions to this process for grinders that did not claim to they could be used for all brew methods, like the Fellow Ode or the Eureka Mignon Notte. Finally, we used beans from each to brew coffee—French press, pour-over, and espresso for most grinders, Aeropress for manual grinders. We then tasted the brews and evaluated them in terms of flavor, balance, and bitterness.

What we looked for

How does the grinder feel? Is it easy to set up?

It goes without saying that a $75 coffee grinder will likely be less substantial than a $750 one, but since these machines are likely to get a daily workout, it pays to seek one out that feels built to last, even at the budget end of the spectrum. During setup and testing, we paid attention to the weight of the coffee grinders, their sturdiness on the counter, and the apparent durability of the components. We also considered how easy they were to set up and if their controls were intuitive to use. We don’t mind skimming an instruction manual, but we didn’t want to put in hours of study before brewing our first cup.

Does it offer a range of grinding options?

One of the advantages of grinding your own beans is a greater choice of brewing styles, so we looked for machines that offered a wide array of grinding options, from super fine to coarse.

Does it offer any noteworthy additional features?

For example, is the hopper for the beans large and easy to pour into? Does it come with a container to collect the grinds? Or attachments that allow you to grind directly into a portafilter (translation: that handled basket you use to pull an espresso) or cone filter? Is there a built-in scale or timer?

Is the grinder loud? Is it messy?

Coffee grinders are never going to be whisper-quiet, but no one wants to be assaulted with unnecessary noise first thing in the morning. Same goes for clean up: some flyaway grinds are a fact of life, but having to break out the dustbuster is a deal-breaker.

How is the grind consistency?

No matter if you’re going for a fine grind or a coarse one, having a machine that delivers consistent results will make the difference between a properly balanced cup of coffee and a poor one. After processing each machine on multiple settings, we poured the grinds into shallow bowls and examined them for irregular particles.

Is the coffee grinder simple to clean?

After processing, we considered how neatly and easily the grinds could be transferred from the grind catcher to a brewing container, and whether it was simple to access the burrs for occasional maintenance and cleaning.

How does the coffee taste?

Finally, we asked the million-dollar question: After grinding fresh beans and brewing them according to identical methods, did the model produce good coffee?

<h1 class="title">The Best Coffee Grinders winner- Breville</h1><cite class="credit">Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka</cite>

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka

Other grinders we tested

The Oxo Conical Burr Grinder with Integrated Scale is the only grinder we tested with, as the name says, a built-in scale. As a result, it was the most dummy-proof and took the least amount of effort to use. But ultimately the coffee it produced just wasn’t quite as good as the Baratza Virtuoso+. If you like the simplicity of a built-in scale though, this is a solid pick. We would recommend it for beginners who are just getting used to the idea of coffee to water ratios.

The Zwilling Enfinigy Grinder looks more heavy duty than it actually is, but given the reasonable price, it meets expectations just fine. It’s a versatile grinder that made quality cups with all the brew methods we tried—and it was surprisingly easy to grind beans for a good espresso shot (we set the grind to 20 and the timer to 3). Like the Oxo and the Solis, it uses a manual dial for its timed dosing and it performs on par with both of them for all brew methods, although it costs a little more. Aesthetically it’s a choice. It’s got an art deco look to it, which may or may not be your thing. You can get a matching set if you pair it with the Enfigy drip coffee maker, which brews to the Specialty Coffee Association Gold Cup Standard.

The Eureka Mignon Notte is really just an espresso grinder, so we only judged it on that (we guess you could put a bowl under it to catch beans for another brew method, but honestly that seems like a waste). Weighing in at 25 pounds, it’s a solid piece of equipment. It offers a stepless adjustment of its steel burrs, which almost no other grinder in this price range has. Stepless adjustment is a feature prized on high-end grinders that allows infinite grind adjustments; this allows you to experiment until you get precisely the grind you like. To offer stepless adjustments at a lower price, Eureka made the dosing on the Mignon Notte entirely manual—you hold a button down to turn it on, and release that button to turn it off. That means you also need to use a scale every time you brew, which isn’t a total dealbreaker—it is, in fact, the way you brew the best espresso—but it is an extra step. Ultimately, the extra effort required keeps the Mignon Notte from being a top pick here, since we tried to think about what will be most practical for the largest number of coffee drinkers. But if the manual dosing and weighing doesn’t bother you , this will be one of the best espresso grinders for the money.

We so wanted to like the Baratza Sette 30. It’s from the same company as our current top pick, the Virtuoso+. It is clearly made with quality materials, and comes with the capability to grind directly into a portafilter for espresso. Unfortunately it falls short in several respects. First, it was very difficult to dial in for espresso. Ultimately we were satisfied with a shot using setting 14 on the grinder and a time of 5.38 seconds. That setting is around the middle of the grinder settings, which is probably why we were unable to get a satisfactory French press even at the coarsest setting. Truth be told, we couldn’t even get a satisfactory pour-over cup from the Sette 30. The other problem is that it’s incredibly messy to use when grinding into a portafilter, which would be the best use for it given the fact that it likes to grind extra fine coffee. Grinds spill out everywhere when using a 54mm portafilter (the size found on most espresso machines under $1000) and it’s impossible to use with a large dosing funnel that might prevent that. A 58mm portafilter, typically only available on much more expensive espresso machines, is somewhat less messy, but the only reliable solution to avoid so many fly away grinds is to use lower profile dosing rings. Taken together there were just too many little problems to recommend it.

The budget version of the Oxo Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder is an excellent value. In previous iterations of this review it was our top pick for an inexpensive grinder because of the quality and consistency of its grind, which was on par with the much pricier Oxo that comes with an integrated scale. Like the winning Baratza and KitchenAid grinders, this one uses time dosing, but unlike either, the timer isn’t digital, which means you have to eyeball it a bit when setting. But if you’re trying to save money you’ll have to make a compromise somewhere and a manual dial is a minimal one to make. Again, we did a little tinkering to give you a baseline to start dialing in your grind: On “medium,” right in the center of the grind settings, we got nine grams of coffee with a five second grind time. While we prefer the Solis Scala to this Oxo, it’s still a good choice for someone looking to spend $100 or less.

With a sturdy and spiffy-looking stainless steel housing, touchable dial-in controls, an easy-to-read digital interface, grind options and add-ons galore, there’s just so much to like about the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. Like our KitchenAid pick, this one allows you to grind directly into a portafilter for espresso, but doesn’t come with quite as many grind settings. And while the setup was simple and the instructional manual easy to read, the grinder definitely required more than a cursory glance to get acquainted.

The Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder is universally adored, with top marks from the Wirecutter and CNET, so going into testing, we were prepared to be wowed. It has a manual on/off switch leaving it up to you to supervise the grinder the entire time. It was slow compared to the other machines, and the coarser French Press grind was visibly inconsistent, with too many fine particles.

The Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill produced very solid results—it’s not in the Baratza or Fellow category, but it also only costs 60 bucks. It has more grind settings than our Solis budget winner, but measuring the amount of coffee ground is a real issue. It has settings for four cups through 18, but from one grind setting to another the same cup setting would produce dramatically different weight measurements. This would be a fine choice if you use a drip coffee maker and measure your coffee by volume, but probably not for anything else.

The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder was a bit of mess. The coarse grind was inconsistent and the medium/fine grind was too fine. There was also not a consistent way to measure how much coffee you’re grinding.

We admired the Bodum Bistro’s compact design and easy-to-use interface but were disappointed by grind’s lack of consistency and its low marks in our blind tasting and the Krups GVX2, while compact, inexpensive, and pleasant to use, scored the lowest on our blind taste test, yielding a brew that was darker and more bitter than its competitors. Finally, our other manual option from Mueller felt flimsier than the Kona and was much clumsier to fill, adjust, and operate.

The takeaway

For the overall best coffee grinder for aficionados and regular old java drinkers alike, choose the Baratza Virtuoso+ or, if you’ll never pull an espresso shot, the Fellow Ode. If you have the means—and especially if espresso is your thing—the KitchenAid Burr Grinder will give you high-quality performance in a value-minded package, and can do as much to improve your coffee routine as machines three times its cost. That said, if you’re only dipping your toes into the world of craft coffee and aren’t ready to plunk down the bills, the much simpler Solis Scala is a reliable entry-level burr grinder, at an even more approachable price.

Different brewing methods for your freshly ground coffee

Now that you’ve found your perfect beans and figured out how to best grind them at home, all that’s left to do is brew your coffee. With so many brewing methods out there, things can get overwhelming fast. Each brewing method has its own virtues and drawbacks for different types of coffee drinkers with various priorities. Here’s an overview of how it all shakes out.

AeroPress

What it is: Invented in 2005, the AeroPress is the newest brew method on our list. And, with a brew time of about a minute, it will make you a cup of coffee the fastest. Grounds are packed into a chamber and fully immersed in water for 60 seconds; then the water (now a smooth, rich coffee) is plunged through a small filter into a mug. The device’s compact size and quick brew time make it ideal for people who want excellent coffee while traveling (but don’t want to resort to the in-room Mr. Coffee machine).

Who it’s for: The coffee connoisseur on the road.

AeroPress

$30.00, Target

V60

What it is: The v60 is one of the most popular and recognizable pour-over methods in use, but also one of the most difficult to master. Like most pour-over methods, water passes through grounds and a paper filter. But, unlike others, executing timed and weighted measurements are a must here, as the v60 can easily result in coffee that’s under- or over-extracted coffee (that is, too weak or too bitter).

Who it’s for: Scientists, surgeons, and anybody else with the capacity for extreme precision.

Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper

$22.2.00, Amazon

Beehouse

What it is: Unlike the v60, the beehouse pour-over brewer is extremely forgiving. There are no timed or weighted pours—simply saturate the coffee grounds, wait 30 seconds, and fill to the top. Another easy thing about the beehouse: the brewer uses the same Melitta #4 filters that can be found at most supermarkets.

Who it’s for: The coffee geek who’s sick of breaking out the kitchen scale every morning. Check out the right way to use it.out the kitchen scale every morning. Check out the right way to use it.

Bee House Ceramic Coffee Dripper

$27.00, Amazon

Kalita Wave

What it is: The main difference between the Kalita and other pour-over single cup methods is that it requires you to dispense water in pulse-like pours instead of a constant stream. The resulting cup is a bit bolder than methods like the v60 or Chemex and much more forgiving in terms of consistency.

Who it’s for: Those confident that they can get the pulsing pour technique down. Once you do that, the Kalita is a breeze for anyone looking to make a fuller-bodied single cup of coffee.

Kalita Wave

$40.00, Amazon

French Press

What it is: Unlike most other coffee brewing methods, the French Press doesn’t utilize a filter. Instead, coarsely ground coffee steeps in water for four minutes before a plunge of the press’ filter pushes them to the bottom.

Who it’s for: Those who want a bold cup of coffee that’s relatively hands-off to brew. Is that you? Check out the right way to use it.

Bodum Chambord French Press

$55.00, Amazon

Chemex

What it is: Beautifully-designed and elegant as all get out, you won’t mind putting the Chemex on your countertop. The coffee from this pour-over method is the lightest of the bunch. Two drawbacks: It’s all-glass design makes it tough to clean and it requires special filters that aren’t as ubiquitous as the Mellita ones.

Who it’s for: The caffeinated aesthete. Check out the right way to use it.

Chemex 8-Cup Glass Pour-Over Coffee Maker

$46.68.00, Amazon

Siphon Vacuum Pot

What it is: The Siphon is a complicated-looking glass contraception that looks more at home in a science lab then in, well, your home. The rig has two glass chambers and uses vapor pressure to transfer heated water from the lower chamber to the upper one where the coffee grounds are. The process requires attention to detail, impeccable timing, and constant attention (you can’t walk away from this thing).

Who it’s for: Honestly? Very few.

Yama Siphon Coffee Maker

$58.00, Amazon

Automated Coffee Machine

What it is: Automated coffee machines offer simple design, ease of use, and a relatively bargain-level price (around $159). The Moccamaster automated coffee machine offers advanced features like a cycle pre-soak, showerhead-like water delivery system, and 1500-watt heat for uber precise water temperature.

Who it’s for: Coffee geeks who aren’t afraid to tell other coffee geeks they use an automated machine.

Technivorm Moccamaster Coffee Brewer

$309.00, Amazon

For a look at all our choices for best coffee makers read our review here.

Originally Appeared on Epicurious