Coffee Grinder Buying Guide

The Ultimate Coffee Grinder Buying Guide

September 07, 2020

Let’s get this straight: you could have the fanciest coffee maker, but, if you rely on store-bought grounds that have been sitting on that shelf for months, your coffee is still going to lack that special something. You can either opt for a subscription service that sends you freshly roasted ground coffee periodically or invest in a grinder to make the most of your beans. Since its consistency—or lack thereof—can make or break your brew, your new grinder will be the most important piece of your coffee equipment. Here’s how to choose the right one for you.

From Burrs to Grind Sizes: the Complete Coffee Grinder Buying Guide

Blade or burr grinder

By answering this question, you can cut down your options by half: do you want to butcher your coffee beans by chucking them in a grinder that will hit them multiple times from different angles and compromise their flavor by heating up as it does so? If your answer is ‘heck no’, avoid blade grinders even if they’re cheaper, as that’s exactly what they do! 

Burr grinders are more consistent: they rely on two revolving abrasive surfaces that grind all beans in a uniform way. 

The difference between blade and burr grinders

Flat or conical burrs

The most popular grinder debate is actually around the burrs’ shape. Flat burr grinders are usually cheaper and result in uniform grounds; however, they can generate more heat and be less durable. Conical burrs are known to be even more precise and are therefore considered the industry standard: they produce a bimodal grind, which is an even mixture of smaller and larger particles, particularly useful for espresso extraction. 

Should you really judge a grinder only by the shape of its burrs, though? Not necessarily! Factors like material and speed can help reduce the most common issues. For example, ceramic doesn’t conduct heat, and, while grinders with lower RPMs (revolutions per minute) don’t usually overheat, some faster premium grinders include powerful motors and heat-reduction mechanisms that solve this problem. 

Electric or manual grinder

Burr grinder buying guide

There are two things that you should consider, in order to figure out whether your new coffee sidekick should be an electric or manual grinder. The obvious one is: would you rather press a button and let the grinder do all the magic or would you prefer getting involved with the process, even if it means 1-3 minutes of elbow grease? 

The second one is what you could regret overlooking next time you go camping or hiking: do you only want to enjoy freshly-ground coffee at home or… anywhere in the world? If you’re an outdoorsy coffee lover, you might want to consider a portable manual grinder instead.

How many grind settings do I need?

It all depends on how much you want to learn about coffee extraction and how many brewing methods you’re going to be grinding for. If you want to master this art by tweaking the grind size until you find the perfect recipe, then go crazy with 20 or more sizes! Oof, does that sound too overwhelming? Then no point in spending more money on a model with options that you’re not going to make the most of! 

If you only brew for a single method, you won’t need a wide range of settings. Espresso machine? Look for a grinder that can ensure a consistent fine grind (some models can even grind directly into a portafilter!). French press? Then it’d better be able to grind coarsely. Manual pour over or electric dripper? Most burr grinders are a safe bet when it comes to medium grounds!

We hope you’ve found our coffee grinder buying guide useful, but feel free to drop us a comment should you have any other questions. Once you’ve got your grinder sorted, why not enjoy the best coffee by getting our freshly-roasted beans delivered straight to your door as often as it suits your coffee habits? Anytime between once every four months and… once a week. Psst: we won’t judge!

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