I’ve been using coffee grinders for many years and have sampled all kinds of them. So, I know exactly which type of coffee grinder is best for which people.
Stay with me, and you’ll learn everything you need about the following subjects.
It’s time to begin.
- The most popular type of coffee grinder is a conical burr and is overall your best option
- If you’re new to using coffee grinders, I recommend spending around $50-$80
- Branded coffee grinders means a better product and a more secure warranty
- Flat burr grinders are best suited to espresso blends
Do You Actually Need a Coffee Grinder in the First Place?
I’d recommend that all coffee enthusiasts treat themself to a coffee grinder. While it’s not essential to making a good cup of coffee, it will certainly help.
This is because you’ll be able to grind your coffee beans at the last minute, releasing their aroma and taste there and then. This means your coffee will smell and taste as fresh as it can possibly be.
The main alternative is to buy fresh ground coffee. And while coffee companies do everything they can to ensure the freshness of the product, it’s never going to be as good as if you grind up your own beans before you make your morning cup.
Coffee grinder benefits – My recommendation
- Maximum aroma and taste
- More control over process
Pre ground coffee benefits
- More convenient
- Less expensive in short term
Coffee Grinder Buying Guide
Now, it’s time to get started with the buying guide itself. Let’s get started.
1. The Types of Coffee Grinder
Now that you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a coffee grinder, it’s important to know about the different types of them.
I went into more detail about the different types in my article called ‘What is a coffee grinder?’, but for now, here’s a quick overview:
|Coffee grinder||Price||Longevity||Grind finesse||Best for|
|Flat burr||$$$||Very good||Fine (more control)||Pros|
|Conical burr||$$||Good/very good||Fine||Any|
|Blade||$||Not so good||Not so fine||Beginners|
Let’s take a look at what those grinders actually are.
Conical and flat burr grinders – Recommend for beginners and pros
Burr coffee grinders are the most popular types in the world. And in fact, the most popular of the two is the conical burr coffee grinder. And the one we recommend for most people.
A ‘burr’ is the mechanism that actually grinds the beans in the first place.
‘Conical’ and ‘flat’ refer to the different shapes of the burrs. A conical burr grinder has an inside burr that rotates and an outside stationery burr. A flat burr has one, single flat burr.
A flat burr coffee grinder will grind your coffee to a finer degree; for that reason, many baristas prefer it, making it more suitable for an espresso. However, it is more expensive.
And as mentioned, the conical burr is the most popular type of coffee grinder in the world. It’s more affordable, more available and offers a great grind that will be suitable for most types of coffee. As such, I’d recommend it to most people.
Blade coffee grinders – Recommended for beginners
A blade coffee grinder slices the beans up with a rotating blade instead of ‘grinding’ the beans like burr coffee grinders do.
It might not sound like much of a difference, but it does have a big impact on the overall grind product.
Blade coffee grinders cannot grind beans as finely as either of the burr grinders. So why would you bother with one in the first place?
These grinders can be a lot cheaper for a start. Plus, they’re easier to use and maintain.
So if you’re looking for convenience and a low cost, they could be a good idea. I’d personally recommend opting for the burr grinders for most people though.
Smart coffee grinders – Recommended for anyone with a higher budget
If you want to really fine tune your coffee grinding process, you could opt for a smart coffee grinder. These grinders use smart technology to measure multiple factors of the grind and then let you tailor these factors at the touch of a button.
A smart coffee grinder will automate the bean grinding process and let you control the finesse of the grind, the type of the grind, the grind time and sometimes some other factors. What you actually get will depend on the type of smart coffee grinder you buy in the first place.
It still uses a similar grinding method, so it’s not technically a different type of grinder as such. It simply comes with the extra sensors, controls and a display.
The main downside to the smart coffee grinder is that any decent one is going to cost you quite a bit of cash. Smart coffee grinders that are actually worth it start at around $200 but they could go up to far north of $1000 .
Single dose coffee grinders – Recommended for pros
Another very popular type of coffee grinder these days is the single dose grinder. It allows you to simply grind as much coffee as you want to use for a single measure.
This has only been popular in people’s homes for a few years. And it’s only been a big thing in coffee shops for a few more years before that.
The benefit is that you never have to make too much coffee and throw it away (or use it another day and have it be less fresh).
As such, it’s a great tool for those who want to keep their coffee as fresh as possible. But, it requires more effort if you’re grinding up your coffee every time you want to make a single cup.
For this reason, I’d say this is a better option for the pros out there. I believe that most people would be best suited with a conical burr grinder and then upgrading to a single dose coffee grinder in the future if they see the benefit of that.
2. Coffee Grinder Budgets
How much do you actually want to be spending on your coffee grinder? Would you rather keep things cheap to get started or are you willing to pay the extra cash for the enhanced coffee grinding experience?
I’d recommend that those new to the world of coffee grinding should start with a budget option such as a lower end conical burr.
However, for more seasoned coffee fanatics, I’d recommend buying a more upmarket conical burr, a flat burr or a single dose grinder for the elite cafe coffee experience.
Of course, you can go a long further with your budget and opt for a smart grinder as discussed above. I’d only recommend even considering this if you’re willing to spend quite a lot of cash (several hundreds of dollars).
3. Which Type of Coffee Maker Do You Have?
If you already have a coffee maker, pairing up your coffee grinder with it can be useful. Some types of coffee grinders are better suited to different coffee makers as they grind the coffee to a different coarse level.
Here’s a quick look at which type of coffee grinder I recommend for different coffee makers:
|Coffee Maker||Grind Recommended||Coffee Grinder Recommended|
|Drip coffee maker||Medium||Conical burr|
|Espresso machine||Fine||Flat burr|
It should be noted that you definitely don’t have to use a blade coffee grinder for a French press, for example. You can still use a conical burr grinder to get a fairly coarse grind, simply by not grinding it for as long.
Plus, you don’t actually even need your blend to be super coarse to enjoy a good cup of coffee from it. I’ve made a French press coffee with an espresso grind before and it still tasted pretty good!
Nonetheless, having the right equipment paired up like this is still useful to get the best out of your coffee.
4. Which Coffee Grinders are Best for Which Coffee Types
If you like to drink a particular type of coffee most of the time, it’s a good idea to consider which type of coffee grinder is best suited to it.
It’s not an exact science, but in my experience, some coffee grinders are definitely better for particular coffee types.
If you want to know more about the different types of coffee grind then look here.
|Coffee Bean||Best Coffee Drinks||Coffee Grinders Recommended|
|Liberica||Espresso||Flat burr, conical burr|
|Abarica||Drip coffee||Conical burr|
|Robusta||Espresso and Turkish coffee||Flat burr|
|Excelsa||Pour-over coffee||Conical burr, blade|
I explained the different grinds of coffee in more detail in this article.
As you can see, the flat burr coffee grinder is better suited to espresso. That’s because it’s one of the finest blends out there. As we know, the flat burr is the best tool for getting you those super fine blends.
That’s not to say a good conical burr coffee grinder wouldn’t work for an espresso though. I’d just recommend staying away from a blade coffee grinder if an espresso is what you’re into.
You can also learn more about the different types of coffee in this article.
5. The Durability of Your Coffee Grinder
Coffee grinders don’t last forever, but some get closer than others. If you’re going to be using your coffee grinder a lot, you might want to think about how long it’s going to last.
Let’s take a look at the burr coffee grinders. Both conical and flat burrs should last enough to grind 500 lbs of coffee, which equates to around 20,000 cups .
This means that burr grinders would last for around 10 years if you were to drink five cups of coffee per day. So, naturally, there’s not much to worry about there.
However, this depends on how good the quality of the coffee grinder is in the first place. These numbers are based on durable, branded coffee grinders but if you go for a budget option, you might find that the grinder needs replacing more quickly.
Plus, some other types of coffee grinders won’t last as long. I’ve found that blade coffee grinders will need replacing more quickly, perhaps after five years at the same frequency.
A good way to find out how durable your coffee grinder will be is by finding out which materials it’s made out of. It’s best to aim for a high quality steel.
6. Coffee Grinder Brands and Their Warranty
Buying a coffee grinder from a significant coffee grinder brand is usually a good idea. In my experience, branded grinders offer better quality overall.
A branded coffee grinder is more likely to offer a better grind, be more durable and come with an extra level of customer support should you have any issues
Each brand will have a different company warranty for their products. Here’s a look at a few of the most popular brands to look out for and each of their warranty periods:
- Krups – 1 year
- Smeg – 1 year
- KitchenAid – 1 year
- Sage – 2 years
- Barista & Co. – 1 year+
- De’Longhi – 1 year+
- Melitta – 1 year
- Gaggia – 1 year
- Wilfa – 5 years
- Baratza – 1 year
Note: the warranty may vary from country to country so be sure to check if you live outside of the US .
So what is warranty? Well, it’s the time you’re covered against any faults that happen to the coffee grinder as a result of a manufacturer defect.
I’d say that the warranty is mainly worth thinking about if you’re buying a smart coffee grinder. This is because they’re more expensive, but it’s also because there are a lot more working parts and therefore there’s more potential for a manufacturing fault.
Your manual burr coffee grinder is highly unlikely to be susceptible to manufacturer issues so the warranty isn’t really important.
It’s not just about warranty periods either by the way. This list of trusted brands (amongst others) is more likely to honor a warranty replacement as they have better customer service. You might find it harder to put a claim in for non-branded grinders.
7. Grinder Speeds
Electric grinders operate at different speeds. The speed of your grinder affects the extraction in a couple of ways.
Lower grind speeds create a more consistent grind size distribution. This means your blend is going to be of a similar finesse throughout. However, it will likely be less fine overall, so a low blend speed isn’t perfect for espresso.
As a general rule of thumb, I’d recommend the following grinder speeds:
|Coffee Maker||Grind Recommended||Coffee Grinder Speed|
|Drip coffee maker||Medium||Medium|
8. Bean Hopper Size
The larger your bean hopper, the more beans you can grind up at any one time.
You’ll only really need to worry about this if you’re planning on making a whole lot of coffee at any one time.
So it’s probably only worth going for a grinder with an extra large bean hopper if you run a cafe (or if you have a lot of friends and family to make coffee for!).
9. Manual vs. Electric Grinders
Most of what I’ve talked about in this article so far has been with regards to electrical grinders. This is what I’d recommend buying personally, but you can also save some money by opting for a manual grinder instead.
With a manual grinder, you’ll turn the burrs or the blade yourself. They’re just as easy to maintain, but harder to operate.
Plus, the only way you’ll be able to measure the speed of the grinder is with your own hands. So if you want to prioritize a particular grinder speed, opting for a manual grinder isn’t going to be a good idea.
10. Quality-of-life Features
There are a few extra features you might want to think about with your next coffee grinders:
- Timer: keep an eye on how long you’ve been grinding for with a timer.
- Auto stop: Your coffee grinder may be able to power off once it’s reached a certain grind.
- Digital interfaces: These features are even better if you can control them with a neat interface.
Any of these will make your coffee grinding experience a little easier but they’re not absolutely necessary by any stretch.
Does it Matter Where You Live?
I’ve been referring to the US market throughout most of this article so far but things will be slightly different if you’re based in another part of the world.
First and foremost, the warranties we discussed earlier on are likely to be different. Different countries have different legalities surrounding this (Australia has a different legal minimum to India).
So make sure to check out the manufacturer website in your home country of any grinder you like the look of.
Of course, the grinders themselves will be a bit different. You might get a different grinder selection in Canada than you do in the UK.
And finally, as you well know, different countries have different plugs. So don’t be buying an American grinder if you live in Australia.
Taking Care of Your Coffee Grinder
If you’re going to buy a coffee grinder, you’ll need to consider the time it takes to clean and maintain it.
Some coffee grinders are easier to take care of than others. For example, a blade coffee grinder is going to be easier to clean than a conical burr one as the shape is a lot more simple.
It’s super important to take care of your coffee grinder as much as possible. A coffee grinder that isn’t cleaned regularly may not last as long, and if it’s not clean, your coffee isn’t going to taste as good.
I went into more detail about looking after your coffee grinder in this article: ‘How to clean a coffee grinder’. There, you’ll be able to get an idea of the amount of work required for your coffee grinder.
Coffee Grinder Buying Guide FAQ
Here are a few more talking points on buying a coffee grinder.
Do coffee machines come with built-in coffee grinders?
It is possible to buy a coffee machine that comes with a coffee grinder if you don’t have either at the moment. Personally, I like to keep things separate as it gives me more control over my blend but I can see the appeal of buying a combination device.
This could be a good idea if you’re looking to save some space in your kitchen though. But, it could cost quite a bit of money. A coffee machine with a built in grinder could cost from around $100 to $1000s.
Should I buy my coffee machine brand new or second-hand?
A great way to save a little cash on your new coffee grinder is to buy it not new at all. There’s quite a large market for second-hand coffee grinders around.
It’s important to make sure that the coffee grinder is in good working order though. Try to inspect the grinder visually if possible, so that you can see whether it’s clean, not rusty and that the burrs or blades are sharp and effective.
How loud is my coffee grinder going to be?
If you opt for an electric coffee grinder and live in an apartment building, you might want to think about the noise. These things can be really loud!
A good way to find out how loud a coffee grinder is going to be is simply by looking for a review online. Cheaper electric coffee grinders are less soundproof than higher quality, more expensive ones.
A Few Last Thoughts on Buying a Coffee Grinder
Did you realize there was so much to think about when you’re deciding which coffee grinder to buy? Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it may seem right now. There are a couple of blanket recommendations I can give to you.
The conical burr coffee grinder will be a great option for most people. It’s easy to use, offers good value for money and grinds effectively enough to suit most coffee
The only times I would consider going for a different coffee grinder is if you want to go super cheap with a blade grinder or you feel like you need the super fine blend of a flat burr grinder.
Or, perhaps you like the idea of spending the extra cash to get your hands on a smart coffee grinder.
Either way, I hope you feel like you have enough information to make the right call now. Have fun, and happy grinding.
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