Choosing the best Coffee Grinder
Professional baristas will argue about many things but not about the importance of a high quality burr coffee grinder to getting a consistent and quality brew. Learn what you should be looking for when looking for the best coffee grinder for you.
The Importance of Choosing the right Coffee Grinder
When brewing a consistent coffee, you want to keep as many of the variables the same as possible so you can fine tune and adjust one at a time. This fine tuning is often impossible if you are using a grinding method that doesn't produce a consistent grind size as a base for your coffee. A high quality grinder will be worth every penny in the long run.
Choosing the right coffee grinder will have significant impact on the quality of the coffee you brew, no matter the brewing method. A good grinder will be able to consistently and evenly grind the beans to the desired size, which is essential for extracting the full flavour of the coffee.
If the beans are ground too coarsely, the coffee will be weak and tasteless. On the other hand, if they are ground too finely, the coffee can be bitter and over-extracted. The right grinder will help you achieve the perfect grind size for your preferred brewing method, whether it's drip, pour-over, French press, or espresso. If the grinds are uneven then you will end up with fines in your drink or channelling as you pull an espresso, at best this will result in an inconsistent flavour profile, at worst it will completely ruin your coffee.
A quality grinder should also be durable, easy to use and have replaceable or upgradable parts, making your coffee routine more enjoyable and efficient. Overall, investing in a good coffee grinder is an important step in the coffee-making process and can greatly improve the taste and quality of your coffee.
Avoid this costly mistake of buying multiple grinders and find the perfect grinder first time. In short, you should be looking for a burr grinder! Here's why;
Why You Should Choose A Burr Grinder Over Blade Every Time
A burr grinder is the first step to coffee success, you have probably read on the forums and guides on YouTube that a burr grinder is one of the most important pieces of equipment for the keen espresso maker and hobbyist barista. The importance of getting a consistent grind is important as it changes depending on the beans, the freshness of the beans and requires fine adjustment at regular intervals. Either daily or multiple times a day if you are working in a shop, this process is called dialling in.
A blade grinder just can't achieve the same consistency of a burr grinder as it whips around the coffee beans and breaks them apart there is too much space around the blades for coffee pieces both large and small to find there way through to the coffee powder container, this inconsistency absolutely ruins the coffee.
The highly technical drawing above shows just why a burr grinder produces the consistency of grind that we need as budding baristas and espresso connoisseurs, but there are some other must haves that we consider to be very important for not just getting great coffee grinds, but also ensuring value for money when it comes to wasted product, and machines repairability and how easy it is to maintain.
What we look for when buying a coffee grinder
A Shortlist: Our Favourite Burr Grinders
The world of specialty coffee is a rabbit hole, and exploration and experimentation is encouraged. The following grinders all have the ability to grind to an espresso fine grind size. We believe if you are going to buy a coffee grinder, then you need to futureproof your purchase and a good quality grinder will last many years with the proper maintenance. We have factored in to our list the above requirements and have whittled it down to the following super list of burr grinders for coffee.
- Best Budget Electrical Grinder - Wilfa Svart - For around £100 you can expect a very consistent grind.
- Best From Amazon - Baratza Virtuoso Burr Grinder - Amazon doesn't have the best selection, but the Virtuoso is the pick of the bunch for its consistent grind size and ease of use all the way down to espresso fine grinds.
- Best Prosumer model - ECM S-Automatik - Not too overbearing for a kitchen but wouldn't be out of place in a coffee shop.
- Smallest Form - Sage Smart Grinder - Another very capable grinder all the way to espresso grind size with precision grind size and times allowing for that next step of dialling in.
Best Budget Electric Grinder - Baratza Encore
Starting at around £170, budget is being generous but this is the very starting point for producing a consistent grind. It will be fine for grinding for French press, filter or pour over coffee, but will fall short when looking at getting into the world of espresso.
Best Grinder From Amazon - Baratza Sette 30
Best Manual Grinder - 1Zpresso JX
This really is the bee's knee's of a manual grinder, small form factor, incredibly consistent grind size, grinds perfectly for espresso every time. This is about as good as a manual grinder that you could need.
Best Budget Manual Grinder - Timemore C2
Consistenyl featured in Reddit's Best Espresso Setups, the Timemore is Chinese built, but has a great action and sturdy feel. Many consider this to be as good as you need to grind down to espresso grind size. The only shortcoming is the fact to clean, you lose your grind setting and the stepped grinding size means fine tuning is difficult.
Choosing Between Manual Or Electric Coffee Grinders
When choosing between a manual or electric burr grinder, there are several factors to consider. The primary difference is convenience and portability. Electric grinders are generally faster and more convenient to use, as they do not require any manual labour. They are also typically easier to clean. On the other hand, manual grinders are more portable and do not require an electrical outlet, they can be stored in a cupboard or on small shelf and have a much smaller footprint.
Another factor to consider is grind size. Electric grinders typically have a wider range of grind size options, making it easier to achieve the perfect grind for your preferred brewing method. Manual grinders may be limited in the range of grind sizes they can produce, most have a stepped grinding setting meaning that fine tuning is difficult.
Capacity is another consideration. If you typically brew a lot of coffee at once, an electric grinder may be more practical as it can grind a larger quantity of beans at once. Manual grinders have a smaller capacity and may require more effort to grind a larger quantity of beans. It may improve your muscle strength spinning the crank of a manual grinder, but you will only really want to do one or two a day before it get's old real fast.
Cost is another important factor to consider. Electric grinders are generally more expensive than manual grinders and cost even more the finer you want to grind, if you are grinding for espresso, then consistency is key and that is hard to achieve at the budget end of the scale. Consider your budget and how often you plan to use the grinder to determine which option is the most cost-effective for you.
Finally, noise is also a factor to consider. Electric grinders can be louder than manual grinders. If you are sensitive to noise or plan to use the grinder in a shared space, a manual grinder may be a better option.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Coffee Grinder
To achieve optimal results in your coffee brewing, it's important to use fresh, whole beans, we have advice for picking coffee beans located here. Make sure you store your beans in an airtight, dark container and at room temperature to preserve their freshness. Freshly roasted beans will have a more vibrant flavour and aroma.
Clean your grinder often, you can get handy brush sets that enable you to get in the knooks and crannys of any size grinder, unused painters brushes work well. We like to use a henry hoover to get the beans out of the grinder at the end of every shift.
No matter whether you have chosen an electric or manual grinder, you should be looking at ones where almost all the parts can be disassembled and reassembled with ease, this will allow to really get in there and remove any old grinds that make their way around the grinder.
Getting the Most out of your Grinder FAQ
What can I do to calibrate my coffee grinder?
To calibrate your coffee grinder, you should adjust the grind size according to your brewing method. Start with the recommended setting for your method and make small adjustments until you find the ideal grind size for your taste. You can use a coffee grinder calibration tool or consult the grinder's manual for guidance.
What is the best way to grind coffee beans for consistency?
To grind coffee beans for consistency, it's best to use short, even bursts instead of one long grind. This prevents the beans from overheating and producing an inconsistent grind. You should also avoid overloading or underloading the grinder and use high-quality coffee beans that are stored properly.
How often should I clean my coffee grinder?
It's recommended to clean your coffee grinder regularly to remove any built-up oils or debris that can affect the quality of the grind. You should clean your grinder after every use or at least once a week if you use it daily. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning your specific grinder model.