To brew an excellent cup of coffee doesn’t just require an outstanding coffee maker, and fresh beans. A quality coffee grinder is essential too. A bad grinder mistreats beans, grinding them inconsistently. And ground coffee with widely different particle sizes translates to uneven extraction while brewing. Sadly that’ll ultimately lead to an awful cup of joe, or at least one far from as good it could have been.
Avoid this scenario by getting the best coffee grinder that delivers the goods, cup by cup. I’ve chosen my three favorites below, followed by a list of the other electric grinders that I’ve put through their paces. The ultimate coffee grinding machines deliver a consistent grind (be it fine or coarse depending on the grind setting), powerful motors to grind, useful grinding features and settings, and they’re easy to use and easy to clean.
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Yes, this buyer’s guide list starts at $99, which is by no means cheap, but that’s because I personally tested all of these coffee grinders, and I just didn’t like the results from the budget set. (See the testing details below, along with their pros and cons and a full list of other models that didn’t make the cut.) I’ll follow up to see if any other bargain grinding machine is worth the trade-off in the future and update the story accordingly.
Also, be sure to read our guide to the best home espresso machines for sale right now.
If you’re a coffee drinker who needs a solid, all-purpose (relatively) inexpensive coffee grinding machine, I recommend the $100 Oxo Brew Conical Burr Grinder as the best coffee grinder overall. In terms of grind consistency, the Oxo Conical Burr Coffee Grinder placed second within my test group. That’s behind the $200 Breville Smart Grinder Pro, which ranked first in grinding but also costs twice as much. The Oxo Brew Conical Burr Grinder, however, can grind beans faster. And while it has fewer coarse grind settings, Oxo’s stainless steel machine is more versatile. The Oxo burr coffee grinder can grind fine enough to be used as an espresso grinder in a pinch. The stainless steel Oxo coffee grinding machine can also produce coffee grounds coarse enough for brewing a cup of siphon, French press and cold brew. Other pros are that the Oxo Brew is easy to clean and creates less of a mess when grinding than other grinders. $100 might sound like a lot, but keep in mind a quality coffee and espresso grinder should grind for a long time.
You can’t get much simpler than Baratza’s $149 Encore. The Encore Conical Burr Grinder has just one control: a switch that turns the grinder on and off. That’s not just easy — that’s easy easy. Continually pressing a button on the Encore’s front activates the grind, too. Grounds from the machine were relatively consistent in particle size. The machine is also simple to clean and less noisy when grinding than many other coffee grinders we’ve tested.
If you want a cup of espresso, here’s an espresso maker to look at. You’ll pay a little more for grinding with the $200 brushed stainless steel Smart Grinder Pro. But if you’ve got your heart set on pulling espresso shots at home, the Smart Grinder Pro is the best coffee grinder for espresso, cup after cup. This Smart Grinder with stainless steel burrs can produce extremely fine coffee grounds, the sort necessary for brewing quality espresso or Turkish coffee. The machine also created the most consistently sized grounds of all the machines I tested. The Breville boasts 60 settings, and it comes with adapters for espresso machine portafilters. If you like brewing siphon, French press or cold brew though, consider looking elsewhere. Even at its most coarse, this coffee bean grinder’s grounds are too fine for those methods.
So, how exactly do we test coffee grinders?
An ideal coffee grinder produces ground particles that are of a consistent and correct size. By that, we mean that the size of ground coffee particles should match its grinder’s coarseness setting, fine or not. The size of grounds produced should also be fit for the intended brewing method, as outlined within the product manual.
To test each grinder for our coffee grinder reviews, we first hand-wash and dry all parts recommended by the manufacturer. We then set each machine to the appropriate level for grinding drip coffee or automatic coffee brewers (again, as indicated by the manual). Sometimes the manual lacks specific directions. In this case, we select the middle coarse setting for grinding coffee, then bump it up by one more coarse level (from fine grind, such as an espresso grind, to coarse grind). For example, if a grinder has 16 total coarse grind settings (assuming 16 is its most coarse grinding option and 1 is fine), we’ll set it for coarse level 9.
Five things to know before buying a coffee grinder
Next we weigh out 10 grams of whole coffee beans to grind. By default our test beans are Kirkland Colombian roast (from Costco). It’s the same beans we use for our coffee maker tests. (No judgments, please.) When you grind as much coffee and espresso as we do, it pays to be frugal.
Then we run our sample beans through the grinder. We also make note of how long the grinder takes to grind coffee beans. Next, we carefully collect the grounds, then sift them with a two-screen sieve for 60 seconds. For that we use the Kruve Sifter Two. It comes with two mesh screens of different aperture sizes (800 and 400 microns). This step lets us measure the grind size and grind consistency of our sample.
A superior electric coffee grinder or hand grinder will produce grounds, preferably with stainless steel blades, that are mostly between 400 and 800 microns in particle size (at our chosen grind setting). Finally, we weigh the grounds that collect between the two screens (800 microns top, 400 microns bottom).
A bad grinder will grind particles of varying sizes, from large to small. Blade grinders are notorious for this issue. Unlike a blade coffee grinder, a coffee grinder with steel or ceramic burrs typically yields grounds that are much more uniform in size.
Oxo’s coffee grinder weighs grounds for extra precision
Additionally, we grind at least two more times. From there, we can record an average optimal yield for each grinder.
Want more? Whether you prefer a cup of espresso, coffee or Turkish coffee, here’s a list of coffee grinders I’ve put through their paces for this evaluation, in addition to the ones above. And below that, you’ll find a chart that displays their grinding pros and cons and how well they stack up against each other. Now enjoy a cup!
- Baratza Encore
- Krups GX5000
- Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill
- Oxo Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Integrated Scale
- Oxo Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
- Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder
- Breville Smart Grinder Pro
- Bodum Bistro Coffee Grinder
Coffee grinders compared
||Baratza Encore||Bodum Bistro coffee grinder||Breville Smart Grinder Pro||Capresso Infinity Conical Burr grinder||Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill||Krups GX5000||Mr. Coffee Electric 12-cup coffee grinder||Oxo Brew Conical Burr coffee grinder|
|Average optimal yield (grams)||2.6||3.9||6.5||2.9||1.8||1.9||1.8||3.2|
|Percent optimal yield||26.3%||38.7%||64.7%||28.7%||18.0%||19.0%||18.3%||32.3%|
|Average grind time (seconds)||26||9||10||10||33||19||12||7|
Originally published last year and updated periodically.