True coffee connoisseurs know that a quality brew starts with freshly ground beans. So if you’re committed to making the most out of your roast, you’re going to need a good coffee grinder. I’m not going to say that a coffee grinder is a college necessity — many people go their whole lives without one — but if you drink coffee regularly, investing in one can make a huge difference in the satisfaction you get out of your daily coffee.
Like any appliance, coffee grinders are not created equal. You might be surprised, even overwhelmed, by the sheer quantity and wide variety of options out there. For example, you’ll need to decide whether you want blade or burr, manual or automatic. Other considerations you’ll want to take into account are: maintenance; noise; ease of use; durability; and cost. Below we explain each in detail, but first, here are our recommendations.
(To give you a sense of the variety out there, we’ve included burr, blade, and manual grinders so you can choose the model that suits your needs best. We’ve also included models at every price range, so you can choose between the best budget, mid-range, and luxury options.)
3 Best Automatic Burr Grinders
The cream of the crop, automatic burr grinders match high quality with high convenience, but they do so at a price.
1. Luxury Model — Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
Our absolute favorite burr grinder is expensive, but not completely unattainable. At under $150, the Baratza Encore will give you an even grind with no fuss. It’s compact, simple to use, and has 40 different grind settings as well as an advanced burr set that creates grinds for every kind of brewing method. If you’re a genuine coffee lover looking to buy their first coffee grinder, I recommend you start here.
2. Best Mid-Range — Capresso Infinity
The Capresso Infinity is a high-quality grinder at a reasonable price. It features conical burrs and can produce a range of grind sizes, from ultra-fine Turkish to coarse for french press. Its slow grind speed preserves flavor and reduces noise, making it one of the quietest electric coffee grinders on the market.
3. Best Budget — Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill
The Cuisinart DBM-8 is not the best grinder you can buy, but it is certainly the best burr grinder you’ll find below $50. It has a full range of grind sizes and can grind enough coffee for multiple pots at once. While it produces a pretty consistent grind, it also tends to create a powdery dust, which can be a problem if you’re making French press or cold brew coffee. It is also quite loud compared to some other options on the market. Nevertheless, it’s a good budget pick for a burr grinder.
3 Best Automatic Blade Grinders
Very cheap and easy to use, blade grinders are a solid option if you’re buying on a budget.
1. Luxury Model — Technivorm Moccamaster 49312 KM4 TT Grinder
Blade grinders typically run in the sub-$50 range and are considered budget alternatives to burr grinders. So at $200, this automatic blade grinder from Technivorm flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But while blade grinders are infamous for producing uneven grounds, Technivorm’s signature grinder produces a perfectly even fine grind. Designed to pair with Technivorm Moccamaster coffee machines, this grinder won’t give you a variety of grind sizes to choose from, but will produce an even grind for any drip coffee maker. If you’re in the market for a high-end grinder, this is a solid option.
2. Best Mid-Range — KitchenAid BCG111
The KitchenAid BCG111 is not the best grinder you’ll find, but for a little over $20, it’s well worth the price. In short, it’s simple to operate and made with quality materials. It won’t necessarily produce an even grind and there is only one grind setting, but it will do the job, particularly if you are looking for a grinder to pair with a drip coffee maker.
3. Best Budget — Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Electric Coffee Grinder
This coffee grinder is so cheap that you almost can’t go wrong with it. It’s not going to produce the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had, but for the price of a movie ticket, why expect it to? It features a variety of grind settings from ultra-fine to extra-coarse and can produce enough grinds for a full 12-cup pot of coffee.
3 Best Manual Grinders
A great grind at a good price, but you have to work for it.
1. Luxury Model — Orphan Espresso Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder
If spending around $200 on a manual coffee grinder seems a little excessive, that’s because it is. Nonetheless, Orphan Espresso’s Lido 3 grinder has a near-mythic reputation among coffee connoisseurs. It has a reputation for producing the very best grind you can find. The Swiss-made steel burrs grind coffee evenly, quickly, and relatively effortlessly, compared to competing manual coffee grinders. Its hopper holds 70 grams of coffee beans, enough for about 10 cups of coffee. It also can produce a full range of grind sizes from Turkish to French press. Inordinately pricey, but you pay for the highest quality.
2. Best Mid-Range — Porlex JP-30
At $65, the Porlex JP-30 is a simple, high-quality coffee grinder. With ceramic conical burrs and a stainless steel body, it’s built to last with high-quality materials. It offers a full range of grind settings, which can be easily adjusted by turning a screw in the burr mechanism. Its full capacity is only around 30 to 40 grams, which produces some 6-8 cups of coffee. A good option to pair with a French press.
3. Best Budget — Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill
At under $50, the Hario Skerton Ceramic is a wonderful deal. It grinds quickly and easily for a coffee grinder in this price range. It’s not the cheapest option on the market (low-grade manual grinders can be found in the $15-25 range), but it provides the best value for matching high performance with a very reasonable price. Compared to comparably priced automatic grinders, the Hario Skerton produces remarkably even coffee grounds.
Quietest Automatic Grinder — Capresso Infinity
Fastest Manual Grinder — Orphan Espresso Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder
Most Portable — Porlex Mini Stainless Steel
Things to Consider When Shopping for Coffee Grinders
Blade or Burr
There are two main types of coffee grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders. In blade grinders, coffee beans are ground to a pulp by a spinning double-pronged blade. In burr grinders, coffee beans pass through two serrated surfaces, or burrs. As they pass through the grinding area, a few at a time, they are literally crushed by the burrs. Both grind the beans, but not to the same effect. Burr grinders tend to produce much more evenly-sized grounds, which is critical for a good brew. They also often allow you to grind coffee to a variety of sizes, which is helpful if you have a French press, which requires large grounds to work properly. As a result, most coffee connoisseurs prefer the more consistent burr grinders.
Manual or Automatic
Coffee grinders can be manually-operated or automatic. The difference is self-explanatory: automatic grinders work with only the press of a button, whereas manual grinders require you to put a little bit of labor into your coffee. But don’t be fooled, manual coffee grinders are often a better option than their automatic counterparts. Manual grinders will typically produce a more consistent grind than automatic grinders. This is particularly true when you’re looking at cheaper products. You can find high-quality manual grinders in the sub-$50 range, while quality electric grinders typically price over $100.
Coffee grinders require regular cleaning, or else they will become clogged as coffee grounds and oils build up in the grinding area. For obvious reasons, you’re going to want to get a grinder that’s easier to clean. Look for products that can be disassembled for thorough and easy cleaning.
If you’ve ever owned an automatic coffee grinder, you are probably familiar with the incredibly loud noise it tends to produce while operating. This can undoubtedly be an issue when living in close quarters, let alone a cement dorm room. This is one major reason to opt for a manual grinder over an automatic option. That said, there are automatic grinders that, while not silent, have a relatively quiet motor.
Ease of Use
Grinding coffee should be a luxury, not a chore. You’re going to want a coffee maker that works reliably and requires as little effort as possible. Of course, automatic grinders take the cake here, but even manual grinders can be easy to operate.
A coffee grinder is a luxury item — the kind of appliance you want to buy once and keep out of mind for years. Seek out a grinder that is going to last, even if it costs a little extra.
With any purchase, your budget dictates your decision to a large extent. This is particularly true with coffee grinders, which come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices. If you have a big budget, I recommend looking at some high-quality automatic burr grinders. However, the quality of burr grinders drops off pretty steeply once you dip below $100. If you’re looking for an option around $50, consider a manual grinder. They require more work, but they’ll give you a high quality grind for a low price. Automatic blade grinders tend to be incredibly cheap, but they won’t produce a consistent grind.
Sam Benezra is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in History from the Honors Tutorial College. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York. Sam enjoys writing on a variety of subjects, including science, music, politics, film. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, playing guitar, and writing songs.