Even if you’ve purchased the coffee maker of your dreams, your morning cup of coffee is only going to be as good as the beans you’re using. And any coffee snob will tell you that you’re going to get much better results — and fresher-tasting coffee — if you grind coffee beans yourself, as you need them. Coffee beans can stay potent for a while if they’re left whole, but the flavor starts to degrade once they’re ground. So if you want good coffee in your kitchen, you’re going to need a good coffee grinder.
All of the experts we spoke with favor burr grinders over blade grinders. “Burrs give you a consistent grind size, which is the most important thing when it comes to brewing coffee,” says Joanna Lareau, general manager at Blue Bottle Park Slope. “Blades just chop the coffee up into inconsistent sizes,” which can leave some of the coffee “over-extracted,” and some “under-extracted,” she says. “Burrs give you more control over the extraction, so you can tinker with it until you find what tastes good.” To figure out which coffee grinders are worth the investment, we asked baristas, roasters, and coffee-shop owners about the coffee grinders they keep on their own kitchen counters (and sometimes even in suitcases, because good coffee never takes a vacation).
Best overall coffee grinder
Baratza Encore Electric Grinder
The Baratza brand came up more often than any other. Some experts favor their higher-end models, but five of the coffee experts we spoke with recommended this more affordable option, highlighting its quality performance and solid build, especially for the price. “You can spend way more money on the higher-end Baratza models, but this one does the job for a fraction of the cost,” says Yasmina Palumbo, co-owner of New York City’s Mud Coffee. Lareau tells us, “For home use, I 100 percent recommend the Encore. It’s simple to use and super consistent. I’ve had one for almost three years now and it’s still amazing.” Barista and founder of Third Rail Coffee Humberto Ricardo adds that Baratza machines are “designed to be repaired instead of thrown away should something break, which is good for my wallet and for the planet.” To top it off, the Encore has 40 grind settings, so you can easily adjust to whatever coarseness or fineness you’re looking for.
Best (less expensive) coffee grinder
Krups GX5000 Professional Electric Coffee Burr Grinder
Paul Schlader, co-founder and head roaster at New York City–based Birch Coffee, calls this “a more affordable alternative” to most burr grinders. In fact, you’re getting a burr grinder for about the same price you’d pay for a blade grinder. The Krups GX5000 is pretty simple, but it has the essentials: nine settings for selecting your preferred grind size, and a “cup selector” dial to grind the exact amount of coffee you need.
More expert-recommended electric burr coffee grinders
Breville the Smart Grinder Pro
“Breville has consistently provided near-commercial-level quality with consumer-level costs,” says Mike Jones, director of retail at Variety Coffee Roasters. This is his favorite grinder for making coffee at home. “Obviously, there will be some quality differences between this and the best pro grinders, but considering it’s over $2,000 cheaper, I’m not going to complain,” he says. Although this Breville is on the pricey end, Jones says it has a lot to offer anyone looking to seriously upgrade their coffee setup: “It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and is a worthwhile investment if you want to dramatically improve the quality of your coffee at home. Just get a simple pour-over (Chemex, V60, whatever), use filtered water, buy this grinder, and some high-quality beans, and you’ll already be making better coffee than the majority of coffee shops out there. No joke.”
OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Integrated Scale
Schlader told us that he loves this OXO Barista Brain burr grinder “for a number of reasons,” chief among them is its “built-in intelligent scale.” This feature simplifies “the process of grinding coffee for your average home-brewer, and cuts down on the equipment you’d need,” he says. Enter the number of cups you want and your preferred coarseness, and the grinder spits out exactly what you need. Schlader also likes that the scale is “both preset and customizable.” So if, for example, you prefer more or less coffee than might be traditionally recommended, you can adjust for that too. “You can really play with it depending on your brew method. It’s an incredibly thoughtful product,” he says, adding that he also appreciates details like the UV-blocking plastic hopper that’s designed to “protect the integrity of your beans.”
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Digital Timer Display
Baratza’s Virtuoso grinder is Ricardo’s “favorite grinder, and the one I use at home,” he says. It’s generally seen as a step up from the Encore, and he swears by it. “It’s rock-solid and technically superior in ways that get kind of geeky.” He especially likes that it’s “fast” and “relatively quiet,” which makes a big difference. “Grinding coffee is inherently noisy, so getting it done quickly is very much appreciated by your spouse when they’re trying to sleep in.” In addition to fine-tuned grind settings and premium components, the Virtuoso comes with a digital timer and display.
KitchenAid Burr Coffee Bean Grinder in Silver
Jamie McCormick, the co-owner of coffee shop Abraço in the East Village, swears by this KitchenAid grinder, which he uses to evaluate his roasts. “It grinds at an insanely consistent particle size, right up there with my shop’s Mahlkonig EK,” a commercial coffee grinder that costs over $2,500. In addition to the top-notch technicals, “it’s also really classic-looking in the kitchen. Most other contenders to look like they need to be hidden when not in use.” He says it’s “very sturdy,” too, and still worked fine after being dropped on a concrete floor at the roastery. “It looks totaled and unusable, but it still purrs, no problem. It is loud and sounds like the machine it is.”
Baratza Vario-W 986
Steven Sutton, CEO and founder of Brooklyn-based Devócion Coffee, describes the Baratza Vario burr grinder as “a great professional-grade grinder, but for the home.” It’s what he personally uses. “Grind setting is easy and consistent,” he says, but it also has some higher-tech and more advanced capabilities. “It weighs out the coffee to stop at the exact amount you need for your drink. Of course, I prefer when people come into my shop, but with equipment like this, it certainly helps make a ‘professional’ coffee in your house.”
Best burr hand grinders for coffee
Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
On the other end of the spectrum are manual hand grinders. The ones featured here employ the same burr grinding method as the electric models, but you have to do the work yourself. Although it might sound strange to take a technological step backwards, grinders have plenty of fans. They’re more compact, which makes them especially great for travel, and you never need to worry about finding an outlet. Lareau uses this stainless-steel mini Porlex hand grinder when she’s traveling, and while she admits it’s sometimes “a pain” to do it by hand, “It’s good at what it does.” Which is the most important part.
Helor 101 Hand Coffee Grinder Conventional Burr
According to Aric Carroll, operations manager at Sey Coffee, “For the money, the Helor Coffee hand grinder is the way to go for home use.” Carroll highlights the “even and consistent particle size, which is extremely important in coffee brewing.” This model is unique in that you can choose between two different “burr sets” — one optimized for coarse grinding and one optimized for fine grinding. You can also, of course, buy both. “I know people are sometimes wary of the involved effort of a hand grinder, but I believe they give you the best bang for your buck,” says Carroll. Note: This product is currently sold out.
Knock Aergrind Hand Grinder
“At Black Fox Coffee, there is only one grinder we sell on the shelves, and that’s because we think it’s the best option out there for both home use and for travel,” says Kris Wood, former coffee director at Black Fox Coffee, of the U.K.-made Aergrind. According to Wood, the high-quality “burr set,” which is “honed to precision, giving a uniform grind size that delivers coffee of the highest caliber.” The best part, as Wood puts it: “It’s also compact enough to take with you on holiday, so you never have to go without a delicious cup of coffee!” And Aeropress users will appreciate the fact that the Aergrind is specifically designed to fit snugly inside an Aeropress canister, making for an even more compact and space-saving package while traveling. Note: This product is currently backordered.
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