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If you're a fan of great coffee, there's nothing better than producing the perfect cup at home, and the only way to guarantee that is to grind your own beans. The question is, how? There are so many different machines to choose from, you probably need to sit down with a strong cup of coffee just to sift through all the options! Coffee grinders vary greatly, not just in quality but also in basic function. How do you choose the best coffee grinder for your kitchen?
The BestReviews team is here to help. Our job is to test and evaluate the different models and bring you the results, so you have a clear idea of which coffee grinder will suit you best. We never accept manufacturer samples; we go out and buy the same products you would. This means we stay independent, and you can trust our findings to be unbiased.
After many hours of research and a whole mountain of beans, we shortlisted the five coffee grinders above. Each has features to suit different kinds of coffee drinkers, whether you only take one cup with breakfast or like to sip your coffee throughout the day.
For those who are interested in more detailed information, we've compiled the following guide.
You only really need two things to make excellent coffee: clean water and freshly ground beans. Put those together in an old tin can over an open fire and the result will be pretty good.
However, most of us like a bit of refinement these days, so we separate grounds from liquid with a machine. Sometimes that’s a simple French press, sometimes a high-tech espresso maker. Along the way, we hope to extract more flavor.
In this review, we're going to look at arguably the most important element of all when it comes to brewing the perfect cup of joe: the coffee grinder.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Cuisinart Supreme Grind
The Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill is equipped with a 150-watt motor. It’s not the most powerful in our ratings, but it certainly has enough juice to do the job. If you set it to a medium grind, for example, it will rip through enough beans for 18 cups in under 60 seconds! You don't have to keep emptying the grind container, either, because it will conveniently hold up to 32 cups. The burr grind mechanism is what true coffee fans prefer because it extracts the most flavor from your beans. With the Cuisinart, you can choose from three grinds: coarse, medium, and fine. Each grind is further divided into six consistencies, with a total of 18 choices in all.
Even unground coffee beans go stale eventually. Air dries out the oils and leaches away the chemicals that give it flavor. That process is called oxidization.
The same thing happens with ground coffee, but because the air gets to each tiny particle, the effect is quicker and much more drastic.
Store-bought, ground coffee is vacuum-packed in an attempt to slow oxidization. Some of these attempts are more successful than others. When consumers complain about bitter taste in their coffee, air getting in is usually to blame.
Even if you go to that place on the corner and have a pack ground while you wait, by the time you get home, oxidization will have started.
So for the very finest coffee, the answer is to buy a good coffee grinder. Then you can grind only the amount you need, right before you make it.
Store-bought grounds are often vacuum-sealed in an attempt to prevent oxidization.
Modern coffee grinders offer a host of options, and we'll look at those in a moment. First though, we need to resolve two basic dilemmas: manual or electric coffee grinder, and blade or burr?
Our recommendation is simple: go with an electric grinder. Coffee has been ground by hand for hundreds of years. Some people like the involvement of measuring beans into the grinder, putting the lid on, and turning the handle. We can understand the attraction to that process, and it obviously works, but there are flaws.
Manual coffee grinders are slow and produce inconsistent results. High-quality manual grinders can cost more than electric grinders.
It's slow. Maybe that's OK if you're only making coffee for yourself, but what if you've got a dozen dinner guests?
The grind is inconsistent. Reproducing your preferred grind every time is almost impossible. It's also difficult to get fine grinds.
Some hand-powered coffee grinders are attractive because they're cheap, but cheap coffee grinders are often poorly made.
The good manual grinders, those that overcome these challenges, cost more than many electric coffee grinders.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder
If you're looking for a small but effective machine that's easy to store and gives good performance, the KRUPS is tough to beat. The motor, at 200 watts, drives a stainless steel blade and is actually the most powerful on our shortlist. The blade, seated in an oval chamber, is purposefully designed to grind with greater speed and efficiency than its competitors. The chamber may not be as big as some, but it's adequate for most, and if you need a lot of coffee, it's a simple job to empty it and grind another batch. Being such a straightforward model, it's relatively easy to clean, too.
Blade coffee grinders are much like spice grinders. In fact, many popular models are sold to do both jobs. A powerful motor drives a stainless steel blade. The spinning blade isn't very sharp, but it is very fast and pulverizes the coffee bean into smaller and smaller pieces. The longer you keep it going, the finer the grind.
Blade grinders offer a few advantages:
It’s a simple mechanism; there’s little to go wrong.
Blade grinders are small and easy to store when not in use.
These grinders are typically multifunctional. Seeds and spices can be ground, as well as coffee. However, careful cleaning is needed to avoid flavor contamination.
Blade grinders are typically low in cost.
Blade grinders are typically very compact and easy to operate. Many blade grinders include a safety feature where the blades won’t turn unless the lid is attached correctly.
There are also some disadvantages to blade grinders:
Blade grinders are very noisy.
They don’t have pre-sets, so grind consistency is difficult.
Ground coffee stays in the same bowl as beans that may not get thoroughly processed.
Rapid speed can overheat beans/grounds and spoil the flavor.
These grinders have small bowl sizes. If you're having a dinner party, you may need to make two or more batches.
Blade grinders usually have smaller bowls than burr grinders, so they aren’t the best choice for serving large numbers of people.
There are ways to overcome some of the disadvantages.
You can time your grinding for improved consistency. You can shake the grinder so you get a more even grind – make sure the lid is secure. You can stop from time to time so the contents don't get too hot.
All of these things might be considered a bit of a nuisance. However, blade grinders are a cheap, reliable, convenient option for the occasional coffee drinker.
Burr coffee grinders use contoured disks or cones to crush the beans. Usually they are steel, but occasionally they’re ceramic. The gap between the disks is adjustable, providing different consistencies of grind.
Some burr grinder advantages include:
Much greater control. Fine to coarse, it's easy to choose the grind you want, and easy to change to a different one.
The grind is consistent, time after time.
Burrs grind more slowly, so there's no flavor loss through overheating.
Grounds end up in a separate hopper.
These machines usually have greater capacity than blade grinders.
Burr grinders are quieter.
Some burr grinders can be left to work unattended.
Burr grinders employ opposing steel or ceramic disks, crushing the beans in between. The disks are adjustable, which allows for different consistency grinds.
Burr grinders do have a few disadvantages:
Burr grinders require a larger investment.
They also have a bigger counter footprint.
In essence, burr coffee grinders are much kinder to your coffee beans, retaining more flavor. Coffee connoisseurs invariably choose burr grinders. They are also what you find in coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.
A burr grinder separates the grounds into a separate hopper, so the grounds won’t be mixed with any partially processed beans.
Blade grinders usually have a simple push-button operation. Often this combines with a lid lock.
Some blade grinders have a convenient, retractable cord.
Many models have dishwasher-safe components – but not all of them do, so always check.
The grinder might also come with a cleaning brush.
Some burr grinders have removable burrs, so thorough cleaning is easier.
A few models have timers, allowing you to leave them to finish on their own.
Most blade grinders are designed to grind seeds and spices as well, but they must be cleaned thoroughly to prevent contamination between foods.
We've heard some experts say that if you spend $250 on a coffee machine, you should spend the same on the grinder.
We don't think you need to go that high, but there's no doubt that investing in a burr grinder will give you a better result, every time.
If you're after speed and efficiency on a budget, a blade grinder will do the trick and will cost $20 to $25.
Good burr coffee grinders start around $45. That's not a lot for significantly better ground coffee than you'd get from a blade version.
You can easily spend $90 to $150 for models with ceramic burrs, timers, and other features. You'll get extras that make your life easier, but you won't necessarily get a better grind.
Burr grinders process beans more slowly, so there’s less risk of losing flavor through burning.
The freshest ground coffee in the world will be wasted if you've got bad water, but just how fussy should you be?
Some coffee lovers take an enormous amount of care with their liquid additive, checking mineral content, TDS (total dissolved solids), and even mixing water from different sources to get precise results.
Regular drinking water from your grocery store is sufficient for making quality coffee; there’s no need to buy premium or distilled water.
Most people won't go that far, but water that's too hard or too soft will work against you.
Water that's too soft won't release the full flavor from your ground coffee.
The minerals in water that is too hard will affect flavor, too.
Hard water also causes scale deposits that can shorten the life of your machine.
Distilled water should be avoided because it has too little mineral content. Jug-type water filters are fine, but again, they can remove some things you'd rather keep.
The best solution is also possibly the easiest. The ordinary drinking water you buy at the supermarket – not the designer brand, just the everyday one – is as close to perfect as most of us need.
Some might argue their tap water is just as good. If yours is, go ahead and use it!
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.