A Barista’s Guide on How to Choose the Best Coffee Grinder

What makes the best coffee grinder? Is a manual coffee grinder better? What’s the difference between a burr and blade bean grinder?

Buying whole coffee beans to grind them some minutes before you make your coffee is the best way to brew the perfect cup of coffee. For this reason, you need to purchase a coffee grinder.

If you are new to the world of coffee grinders, you might have difficulties when choosing a coffee grinder given the plethora of models available on the market today.

When you buy a coffee grinder, you get full control over the process so you can brew consistent and even better-tasting coffee. That’s because you won’t be using pre-ground coffee beans as you will be grinding them yourself at home before brewing.

But do you know how to choose the best coffee grinder?

We understand there are various options when it comes to bean grinders and that’s why we have put together this complete guide to show you exactly how to choose a good coffee grinder. We will also talk about the difference between the two types of coffee grinders- burr grinder and blade grinder.

Note that all grinders work the same way; only that some have advanced features and settings. And while many coffee lovers would prefer buying a coffee maker with grinder, it’s always not the best option for beginners.

Why You Need to Buy a Good Coffee Grinder

It’s cheaper and convenient to use pre-ground beans. However, not all people prefer pre-ground coffee; besides, pre-ground beans may not have the freshness required to brew the perfect cup of coffee. That’s why you may want to grind your beans right before brewing. This way, you rest assured of a cup of coffee with the aromas and flavors you are looking for.

Here are some of the reasons why you need to purchase the right coffee grinder.

You want a consistent cup of coffee

When it comes to brewing the perfect cup of coffee, consistency is everything. Inconsistent grinds will make coffee that’s sour or bitter.

Moreover, when you use a poor-quality coffee grinder, you will either get finer or coarser grinds. The coarser grinds may lead to under-extraction hence giving you sour and unbalanced coffee while the finer grinds will result in over-extraction hence resulting in a bitter taste.

The best coffee grinder will give you more control over your brew

The temperature of the day, time, humidity and age of the coffee roasts can make or break your coffee. For instance, the higher the humidity the more moisture your beans will absorb. If you grind the beans yourself, you will have more control over the process.

To get the right grind size for your brew method.

Different brewing methods have different grind size requirements. You must make sure you are using the right grind size for your recipe. As we have mentioned earlier, pre-ground coffee is convenient and cheap but you may end up buying the wrong size for your brewing method. Grinding coffee beans yourself gives you the option to choose the right settings on your grinder.

Pre-ground coffee may be stale

Usually, coffee starts to release aromas and flavors immediately after grinding. The result of this is a stale cup of coffee. A cup of coffee brewed with beans that were ground right before brewing smells fresh is full of aromas and flavors and tastes sweet.

Here are some key points to put in mind when buying a coffee grinder:

  • The noise level- Ideally, a good coffee grinder is quiet during operation. If you have a coffee maker with grinder, you must admit that the machine tends to produce some noise.

Well, of course, a grinder must produce some noise, but not too loud to wake up your neighbors in the morning.

  • It should be easy to operate- While it may seem a good option to go for a high-end grinder, sometimes these machines aren’t easy to work with. A good rule of thumb is to start with a manual burr grinder as long as it doesn’t have too many complex settings.
  • Portability- Sometimes you may want to carry your grinder with you when going on a vacation. A lightweight coffee grinder is convenient and easy to carry around than a heavy one.
  • The design- Your coffee grinder should complement the interior décor of your house as well as other kitchen appliances. And if you have a coffee maker, you want to purchase a grinder that matches pleasantly.

How to Choose the Right Grinder

Now that you know why you need a grinder, the next thing is to know the different types available on the market today.

Generally, there are two types of grinders- burr and blade grinder.

While the two work almost similar, they offer different levels of quality.

Blade grinders

Blade grinders, like the name suggests, use blades to grind coffee beans. With these types of grinders, you control the grind size through timing. If you run the grinder for too long, you will get finer grinds. These grinders are cheap but aren’t consistent- you may end up with coffee that’s partially coarse or partially powder.

Besides, as the blades rotate fast, they generate heat which may burn the coffee hence impairing the quality of the flavor.

These types of grinders make the best option for beginner coffee drinkers.

Burr grinders

Burr grinders use two bars to grind coffee. Unlike the blade grinders that slash coffee beans, these grinders crush them hence the reason why they produce consistent grinds.

Well, these grinders also produce coarse and fine grinds but not the same as you could get with blade grinders.

There are two different types of burr grinders namely: conical burrs and flat burrs.

Conical burrs- Conical burrs are said to be more accurate as they are adjusted by degrees. These types of burr grinders are also affordable and silent during operation.

Flat burrs- These burr grinders are slightly costly than conical burrs but they produce consistent grounds.

With these grinders, you adjust the machine depending on the grind size you want for your brewing method. For instance, if you want finer grounds, you move the disks together or further apart if you want coarser grinds.

Burr grinders are also made with two different materials- steel and ceramic. As you already know, steel is a thermal conductor hence resulting in a quick heating and cooling action. On the other hand, ceramic burrs will take longer to heat up and cool down.

Ceramic burrs are more costly but they last longer although they are delicate.

Important Points to Consider

Even if you ask the experts, they will tell you that there is no such thing as a perfect coffee grinder. However, there are important factors to consider when buying a coffee grinder. Therefore, as you search for your coffee grinder, consider the following factors.

1. Size  

The size of the grinder is one of the first key factors to consider before buying it. Usually, kitchen cabinets and counters are small regardless of the size of the kitchen.

And because you are looking for a coffee grinder, chances are that you have a coffee maker hence the need to choose a grinder that won’t take up much space.

Before you begin your search for a coffee grinder, you must measure your counter space. Well, of course, coffee grinders aren’t huge; nevertheless, they require enough space they can fit well.

2. User-friendliness and maintenance

How easy your coffee grinder is it to use and maintain? Not all people will want to struggle to make a cup of coffee.

Some coffee grinders are complex to use and clean. If you want a machine you can use and clean very fast, then you need to get enough information about the grinder before buying it.

3. Capacity

Different grinders have different capacities. How much coffee do you want and can your grinder hold that amount?

Ideally, the best time to grind coffee is right before brewing. As such, you may want to consider a small-capacity grinder. However, if the grinder is going to be used by many people, then you may want to choose a bigger grinder.

4. Grind settings

If you prefer different types of coffees, then you will want a grinder with different settings so you can adjust according to the coffee you want to brew. Note that grinders with more settings are costly.

5. Noise level

You don’t want to wake up your neighbor early in the morning with the noise of your grinder and you also don’t want to suffer from ear problems. For this reason, you need to choose a quieter grinder.

Conical burr grinders tend to be less noisy than flat burr grinders. Also, burr grinders are better than blade grinders.

It’s important to read customer reviews to know the noise level of a grinder before buying it, especially if you are going to buy yours online.

6. Material

Burr grinders are usually made of steel or ceramic material. Ceramic burrs are durable and will give you the required grinds for making espresso. Note that they are also more expensive.

Nevertheless, replacing ceramic burrs is also difficult.

Stainless steel burrs, on the other hand, are good although they require frequent replacement, although their replacing them is easy.

7. Durability

As a rule, when buying any kitchen appliance, you must consider how long it will last. You don’t want to be a regular shopper of the same item.

Usually, the most expensive coffee grinders are long-lasting. For longevity, you can count on ceramic burrs instead of stainless steel.

You have to read customer reviews to know whether a grinder is durable or not before buying it.

8. Heat

Heat is also another important factor to consider when buying a coffee grinder. A grinder that heats the beans will burn them and affect the flavor.

The way a grinder operates will determine whether it will heat up the grinds or not. For instance, blade grinders operate by rotating the blades at a high speed. This way, they generate heat that burns the coffee grounds.

9. Consistency

Consistency is also another important factor you must not ignore when choosing a grinder. Although the quality of the grounds matters, if your grinder does not grind the beans to the right size, you will face inconsistency issues with your coffee.

10. Speed

Yes, you have a busy lifestyle so you may think that it’s good to have a high-speed coffee grinder but that’s not the case. The more the speed a grinder has the more it will heat up your beans and this will end up burning your coffee hence affecting the flavors and aromas you are looking for.

11. Cost

Well, we usually don’t like mentioning the price; neither should you choose your grinder solely based on its price.

As a rule, don’t expect a good grinder to cost $20. Burr grinders are more expensive than blade grinders but the price is worth it.

It’s also worth noting that buying a grinder is an investment you don’t want to commit yourself to something that doesn’t last.

Frequently Asked Questions: How to Choose a Good Coffee Grinder

What grinder is the best coffee grinder

It’s simple, although there isn’t the perfect coffee grinder for everyone, a good coffee grinder will grind your coffee beans to the right size and consistency.

Is manual coffee grinder better?

Grinding coffee beans with a manual grinder produces less heat. This way, coffee does not burn and that’s why your coffee will taste sweet and flavorful.

Burr grinder Vs blade grinder what’s the difference?

Burr grinders are different from blade grinders in various ways. Blade grinders operate by rotating blades at a high speed, the same way a blender operates. The blades then slash the coffee beans into grounds.

Burr grinders, on the other hand, crush the beans using two burrs which result in even grounds.

Can you use a blender to grind coffee?

Blenders operate the same way as blade grinders in that the rotating blades chop off the coffee. Besides, some blenders have grinder settings that can slash coffee beans. Nevertheless, you will need to grind small quantities of beans. If you want coarse grounds, a blender can be the best option if you don’t have a grinder.

What’s the best timing for grinding coffee beans?

The interval between grindings will depend on the size of the grinds you want. For instance, for coarse grinds, you will want to grind a few seconds at a time. For medium grounds, you can grind short bursts for at least 10-15 seconds whereas, for fine grinds, a few seconds or longer would do. You just need to experiment until you get the best timings for grinding coffee beans.

What’s better: to grind coarse or fine?

Generally, coarse grounds are going to give you weak or less flavorful coffee because of under-extraction. Equally, fine grounds will lead to over-extraction and hence bitter taste, especially if you use the wrong brewing method.

As a rule, you should use medium-to-fine grounds.

How do you grind beans for use in a French Press?

The French press is a simple coffee brewing method. However, you need to avoid using fine grinds when brewing French press. Using fine grounds on a French press will result in coffee that’s full of residue.

As a rule, you should use coarse grounds when making French press.

How do you grind beans for use in a pour-over coffee maker?

Pour-over is another awesome brewing method that has currently become popular among coffee lovers. While the method of brewing can make or break your cup of coffee, the grind size matters.

In this case, if you want to get the most out of your pour-over coffee, then you should use medium or medium-fine grounds.

Final Thoughts

For most coffee lovers a cup of coffee is the first thing they think about when they wake up in the morning. For this reason, it’s important to mind the type of coffee you use, the way you store it, and how you grind it.

Although you can buy a coffee maker with a grinder, it would be good if you could buy the two machines separately. Yes, the price might be slightly higher when buying them separately, but the results are worth it.

Besides, the coffee grinder you purchase will make or break the quality of coffee you consume every day. Choose your coffee grinder with caution and enjoy a perfect cup of coffee.

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Sophia Green
Sophia is a long time coffee enthusiast and blogger, so the project started naturally five years ago. You can find useful information about coffee types, plantations, equipment and even tips and tricks or fun facts.

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