clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Is the One Device By Which Coffee Experts Swear

New, 3 comments

The one indispensable tool that will raise your coffee game.

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Baratza's Virtuoso's grinder.
Baratza's Virtuoso's grinder.

For home coffee drinkers, a $30,000 espresso machine probably isn’t an option. But the good news is, there are a handful of simple, affordable tools that can elevate an ordinary cup of joe to professional-level brew. Eater pooled a handful of coffee pros to find out the one gadget each can't brew without. And while coffee bean quality and freshness are important, across the board everyone agreed on one requisite piece of equipment: Baratza Virtuoso's conical burr grinder ($229).

So, what's the deal? Coffee pros have long touted Baratza's Virtuoso as the most reliable grinder for home consumers. Far superior to blade grinders, burr grinders yield a uniform, smooth grind that allows for flavor consistency from cup to cup. An inconsistent grind often lends to an undesirable astringent taste. "With a good grinder as your foundation, anything you buy after that, whether it's a $15 pour over or a $6,000 espresso machine, will benefit from a quality grinder," says Joe Monett, director of training and quality control at Chicago’s Ipsento Coffee .

"The analogy I love to use is that the grinder is as important to a barista as the knife set is to a chef. You wouldn't ask someone to cut five pounds of vegetables with a paring knife, would you?" -Lorenzo Perkins, Cuvée Coffee

Properly and professionally ground beans can impact the coffee’s taste even more so than the beans' freshness. "Sometimes coffee that was more precisely ground a day or two ahead will still produce a superior cup to coffee that has been badly ground at home," confirms Kyle Glanville, co-founder of G&B Coffee and Go Get Em Tiger in Los Angeles.

For a beverage that’s enjoyed every morning (and sometimes evening), there is absolutely no reason to skimp on quality. Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvée Coffee in Austin remarks, "The analogy I love to use is that the grinder is as important to a barista as the knife set is to a chef. You wouldn't ask someone to cut five pounds of vegetables with a paring knife, would you?"

The Baratza Virtuoso especially finely and coarsely grinds beans fit for any brewing method. It’s durable and well-made; and importantly, it’s a relatively affordable tool of the trade. However, for those who would rather spend a bit less, Aaron Owens of Brooklyn’s Parlor Coffee also recommends the Baratza Encore grinder, which is $100 cheaper than the Virtuoso. "Both will grind fine enough for espresso and coarse enough for the French press."

Runners Up

Collapsible Pour Over ($30)

"Not only is this pour over light and durable, but it's super functional for trips and brewing coffee in the jungle. It challenges your pour over techniques given its rectangular shape, so you have to come up with unconventional ways of applying the water to the coffee grounds. Now you have no excuse when you're away from home or your favorite coffee shop." - Yeekai Lim, Cognoscenti Coffee, Los Angeles

Image courtesy of Snow Peak

Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill ($52)

"I always travel with the Hario ceramic hand grinder and an Aeropress. It’s a burr grinder that’s light, portable, and affordable no electricity needed." - Emma Blankenship, Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn

Image courtesy of Hario

Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder ($47)

"The small hand grinder fits inside an Aeropress so it makes it perfect for travel. An investment in a grinder can really improve the taste of home brewed coffee." - Paul Henry, Houndstooth Coffee, Austin

Image from Facebook/Porlex

Bonavita Digital Kettle ($95)

"The Bonavita is the best for the money and allows you to do variable temps. " - Jonathan Felix-Lund, Coava Coffee Roaster, Portland, OR

Image courtesy of Bonavita