You may have a top-of-the-line coffee maker, but if you're still brewing coffee with mediocre grounds, then you'll always be drinking a below-average cuppa joe. You need to invest less money into your coffee maker and more money into your beans. While preground coffee is convenient, it gets stale quickly and that diminishes the coffee's potency and taste. The best way to achieve delicious coffee at home is to grind your own beans at home.
The last thing you want to fiddle with first thing in the morning is a manual coffee grinder or a hand grinder that resembles a spice grinder. A good electric coffee grinder processes coffee beans consistently and gives you ground coffee that's exactly the right texture to optimize flavor. Regardless of whether you use a French press or prefer a cold brew coffee maker, these automatic electric grinder devices let a discerning coffee drinker create the ideal coffee ground necessary to concoct their caffeinated beverage.
Keep reading if you're looking for the best electric coffee grinder that will deliver the good stuff, cup after cup. I've selected 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 consistent grind quality (be it fine or coarse, depending on the grind adjustment setting), with useful features and powerful motors. They're also easy to use and easy to clean.
This buyers' guide starts at $100, 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 the pros and cons of each 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 this story accordingly.
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.
The Baratza Encore burr grinder is affordable considering it packs 40 coarseness settings to supply a wide range of coffee types and brewing styles. It produces grounds that are uniform in size and texture. It's simple to operate, sturdily built and relatively quiet.
It grinds beans slowly. It also lacks any extra features such as a timer, screen or scale.
You can't get much simpler than Baratza's $170 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 Baratza grinder 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.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro grinds coffee beans for many beverage styles including espresso, drip, French press, and cold brew. It measures its grounds with repeatable results using a digital timer. It has an attractive stainless steel design, LCD screen, plus cradles that accept espresso portafilters.
It's expensive yet doesn't have a scale to confirm the amount of grounds it produces. It's programmable but only for the number of cups or espresso shots you want, not for full pots of drip. You have to continually hold down a button to grind manually.
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 steelSmart 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 grind 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.
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How 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.
Watch this: 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. 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 system. Our original Kruve Two unit came 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. The Kruve Base has now replaced the Kruve Two, and offers five mesh screens (300, 500, 800, 1,100, and 1,400 microns).
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 settings). 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 grind 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're a coffee lover who prefers a simple cup of fresh coffee, espresso or even 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!