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We haven't included hand-operated coffee grinders in this review. It's not that there's anything wrong with them in terms of the job they do; indeed, some are excellent specimens of engineering and construction.
But frankly, if you drink more than one or two cups of coffee per week, you'd soon get fed up with grinding manually.
On top of that, affordable electric coffee grinders can often be purchased for less than their hand-cranked counterparts.
Of course, if you spend a bit more, you're likely to get greater capacity and versatility.
Hence, we present the variety of models that make up our elite list:
These two criteria sound similar, but what we're looking at is the external size of the machine (do you want something that's easy to put away, or do you want a permanent counter-top model?) and the amount of beans it will hold and/or the grinds it will produce.
Cheap coffee grinders are invariably of the steel blade type, but coffee connoisseurs typically prefer a flavor-releasing burr grinder. Depending on the model you select, you might also have the option of choosing between a number of increasingly fine grinds.
From automated functions to ease of cleaning, we look at what each of our top coffee grinders offers to distinguish itself from the competition.
You don't need to spend a lot of cash to get a machine that will consistently grind your coffee beans. In this part of our ratings, we look at the pros and cons of each coffee grinder and assess the value offered by each.
At approximately four inches across and seven inches tall, the one-pound Proctor Silex Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder is ideal for those who are short on counter space. This small grinder is easy to stash away when not in use, and in terms of output, the manufacturer claims it will make 12 cups. Actual owners tell us you can get about two-and-a-half tablespoons from a full load of beans.
The KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder is similar in size and weight to the Proctor Silex, making it an equally convenient model that you could call "hand-held." KRUPS claims this model has a large grinding capacity, and while it will produce a little more than some similar machines, we're not convinced that the yield is as large as the manufacturer states (12 cups). Owners suggest that you could reasonable expect enough coffee for three to five 10-ounce cups from one load of beans.
At 8.5" the KitchenAid Coffee Grinder is noticeably taller than other blade-type grinders like the Proctor Silex and Krups. The footprints are similar though, and the KitchenAid remains compact enough to find a home just about anywhere when not in use. The manufacturer states that grind capacity is a maximum of 12 cups; the size of the removable grinding cup verifies this. However, potential buyers should note that you do have to grind a minimum of four cups in order for the KitchenAid to work properly.
With a height of over 14 inches, the Capresso Infinity Coffee Grinder is not the kind of machine that's easy to tuck out of sight. However, with a choice of black, brushed silver, and stainless steel finishes, this appliance would definitely fit in with most kitchen decors. There's a large bean container that can hold up to 8-1/2 ounces. Surprisingly, however, you won't be able to process all of these ounces at the same time, as the grounds container can hold just four ounces. The grounds container fits snugly in the machine and looks great on the outside, but we can't help think that practicality has been somewhat sacrificed for the sake of visual appeal.
The smart-looking Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill is the type of appliance that many people would want to display in their kitchen. That's a good thing, because at 4.5 pounds, this grinder's dimensions (7.5 inches wide, 8.5 inches deep, and a little over a foot tall) would demand a fair bit of cupboard space. Coffee fanatics are delighted with this appliance's ability to grind enough beans for 18 cups in a single shot. (The receiving chamber actually holds up to 32 cups!) As is common with larger electric coffee grinders like the Cuisinart, a four-cup minimum is necessary for the appliance to work properly.
A 75-watt motor in the main body of the Proctor Silex drives a small, stainless steel blade at a furious rate of rotation. It's this speed that gets the job done -- which is just as well because the blade is not removable! Avid coffee fans usually prefer a burr grinder to a blade grinder, but the Proctor Silex blade does an adequate job if you're not overly concerned about how fine or coarse the grind is. Control is a matter of simply holding the button down; the longer you hold it, the finer the end result.
Like the Proctor Silex, the KRUPS Electric Coffee Grinder sports a stainless steel blade. However, the power driving this blade is a substantial 200 watts. According to the manufacturer, the oval grind chamber was specifically designed to enhance blade efficiency and produce a faster, more uniform grind than similar models offered by competitors. As with the Proctor Silex, duration of operation is the only way owners can control how coarse or fine their coffee grinds are.
With a 160-watt motor, the KitchenAid Blade Coffee Grinder is not the most powerful machine on our shortlist, but it's more than adequate for a machine of this type. The blade itself is a simple stainless steel item, grinding progressively finer the longer you leave it running. There are no pre-sets, so consistency is a matter for the individual owner. It's an inexact method, but one that's popular nevertheless. A little practice soon produces more uniform results.
There are two types of grinders: blade and burr. The Capresso Coffee Grinder falls into the second category. As we've stated before, burr grinders are generally preferred by coffee connoisseurs. Powering the burr on the Capresso is a 100-watt motor that offers 16 different settings of increasingly fine coffee. The burrs cut with an accuracy of 1/250th of an inch, according to the manufacturer -- although there's no explanation as to why this is important. The Capresso also includes a timer that you can set for 5-60 seconds. This is somewhat useful for users because it means they don't always need to attend the machine. However, minimum time requirements vary depending on desired grind and amount, so the timer function has limitations.
According to most coffee experts, a burr grinder releases more flavor and generally performs better than a blade grinder, so it's no surprise that the Cuisinart Coffee Grinder uses a burr. The Cuisinart can produce three grind types — coarse, medium, and fine — which are then sub-divided into six levels each, yielding a total of 18 grind options in all. Doing the work is a 150-watt motor. Given that the much more basic KRUPS boasts a 200-watt motor, this might concern some people. However, the Cuisinart is capable of grinding enough coffee for 18 cups in under one minute, so it definitely puts its 150 watts to effective use.
Susan Sano Tuveson has been cooking for people for five decades. Educated in music, law, and languages, she left her legal practice to establish Cacao Chocolates in Kittery, Maine. A three-time Best of Seacoast New England winner, the shop was popular for its high-quality artisanal truffles flavored with unusual local ingredients.
The Cuisinart Coffee Grinder shares many great features with its competitors: convenient cord storage, one-touch operation, automatic shut-off. However, this model possesses an air of quality that puts it ahead of the others. All parts are removable for cleaning and dishwasher safe on the top rack. (This includes the eight-ounce bean hopper, lid, and 32-cup grind chamber.) The Cuisinart's grinding burr can also be removed and kept clean for peak performance. There's even a combined coffee scoop/cleaning brush to make bean preparation and cleaning as easy as possible.
Although the Proctor Silex Coffee Grinder is very much an entry-level model, it's not without a couple of thoughtful touches. There's a retractable cord that tucks neatly away when not needed. The ON/OFF button won't operate unless the lid is on properly -- a convenient safety feature. The blade isn't hard to clean, but it also doesn't detach, which can make the cleaning process a bit awkward. To adequately access the blade for cleaning, many owners have had success using a pastry brush.
Set to a medium grind, the Cuisinart Automatic Burr Mill will rip through enough beans for 18 cups in under 60 seconds.
The 28-inch KRUPS Electric Coffee Grinder cord is not retractable, but in most other ways, this model is similar in features and convenience to the Proctor Silex. The stainless steel blade may be a little hard to reach, but it wipes clean easily, and the appliance won't turn on unless the lid is properly secured. Like most of its competitors, the KRUPS can also be used to grind things like nuts, spices, and herbs. If you plan on grinding a lot of spices, you might want to buy a second grinder for your coffee, as the spices can leave behind flavors that cross-contaminate your beans.
Like the Cuisinart, the Capresso Coffee Grinder offers a good range of grinds. There's a built-in safety lock, and the machine is supplied with a measuring scoop and a cleaning brush. It's not clear whether the bean and coffee grounds containers are dishwasher safe, but a quick rinse under a faucet is all they would normally need, anyway. Although the upper burr is removable, we are told by the manufacturer that it should only be cleaned with the brush supplied. Cleaning isn't difficult, but other models might be a bit more convenient to clean. One thing the manufacturer takes great pride in — and most owners tend to agree with this — is how quiet this model is compared to its competitors.
The KitchenAid's removable bowl is a nice touch, meaning you don't have to tip the whole machine up to empty the ground coffee. The bowl is marked on the inside at 4, 8, 10 and 12 cups, so there's no need for a separate measure. There's a clear cover that the manufacturer says allows you to see the grind as it progresses (but so does everybody else's). Other than that, the KitchenAid Coffee Grinder offers little by way of refinement. That's not intended as a criticism — what it does, it does well — but it is low on features. There is a separate spice grinder accessory kit available (a smaller version of the coffee bowl), but while it's a very useful addition, it does cost extra.
10.8 x 7.1 x 6
4.1 x 3.6 x 7.2
3.5 x 3 x 6.8
4.4 x 4.4 x 8.5
14.6 x 9.6 x 7.8
The KRUPS Electric Coffee Grinder is listed at $16, and while at first it seems to have a lot in common with the Proctor Silex, it's a much more powerful machine. Hailing from one of Europe's best-known coffee equipment manufacturers, it's fair to say that the KRUPS is built better than the Proctor Silex. It certainly doesn't have the same level of owner complaints concerning component durability; indeed, one person said they'd owned theirs for 10 years and it still looked like new. Granted, the KRUPS is on the small side when compared to some other grinders on our shortlist, and it doesn't product great quantities of ground coffee. Some owners have experienced unit failure, but according to our research, this type of problem affects only a small percentage of owners.
The blade of the rather basic Proctor Silex Coffee Grinder doesn't do much more than smash your coffee beans to pieces. How small those pieces are usually depends on how long you press the button. None of this should be considered a criticism, because it's actually a relatively efficient machine and it will cost you all of $17. At that price, some owners find it worth buying a second Proctor Silex for preparing spices. This is a popular machine, and most owners are happy with its performance, especially considering how little they paid for it. However, there have been a few criticisms concerning durability, with a few not lasting more than six months. If you want a budget-priced coffee grinder, this machine is a fairly safe gamble, but it does have its limitations.
The KitchenAid Coffee Grinder is a good looking and very well-built machine, but at $29 it's quite expensive for a basic, single speed, blade-type model. The price doesn't seem to detract from it's popularity though. Customer satisfaction ratings are excellent and independent reviews also rate it highly. One or two people think it's noisy — but just as many say it's quiet. There are occasional reports of defects, though nothing consistent, and the vast majority of owners tell us it's robust and reliable. We find it hard to fault, but other coffee grinders offer more for this kind of money.
At $92, the Capresso Coffee Grinder is definitely on the top end of our pricing spectrum. There's no doubt it's a quality machine, but some aspects of its operation take a while for owners to get used to. Also, some of the Capresso's features seem to have a limited benefit, such as the short-term timer. Having said that, the Capresso 560.01 is certainly a popular model. Owners praise the consistency of the grind and the machine's lack of noise compared to many competitors. Complaints center around rust on the burr (even when cleaned by hand) and the dubious quality of some plastic parts. However, our research turned up considerably more positive comments than negative ones.
With a list price of $43, the Cuisinart Coffee Grinder isn't an impulse buy like the Krups might be. However, this is a very good machine. It offers the kind of style that most people would be happy to display in their kitchens. It's got a tremendous range of settings, and once your coffee is ground, it's easy to clean up. Coffee connoisseurs will always pick a burr grinder over a blade, and that's what the Cuisinart provides. We've seen reports of people grinding 16 cups a day, every day, for over three years. This suggests to us that the Cuisinart is a strong, durable performer indeed!
Although each of our finalists offers an excellent value, the best coffee grinder on our shortlist is definitely the Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill.
Burr grinders are notoriously expensive, but the Cuisinart is an efficient, flexible machine for just $43. It boasts an attractive design that would sit well next to almost any kind of coffee machine, providing class-leading performance without being too bulky.
Although the 150-watt motor is not the most powerful in our ratings, 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. Once you've determined your grind, simply choose how many cups you want to make and press the Start button. The machine stops automatically when the job is done, and it's very easy to clean. The burr and both containers may be safely placed on the top rack of your dishwasher.
There have been reports of occasional reliability issues, but this is typical of any popular electrical gadget. Most problems should be fixed under Cuisinart's 18-month warranty, and overall, the majority of owners don't experience problems. In general, people love the Cuisinart Burr Mill's performance and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others.
Our shortlist features three good machines in the "budget" price range, and all are great products. However, the Best Bang for Your Buck coffee grinder is the KRUPS.
Admittedly, this machine won't crank out dozens of different grinds and turn out pounds of ground coffee in a week. However, many people don't want that kind of coffee grinder. If you're looking for a small but effective machine that's easy to store and gives a good performance, the KRUPS is tough to beat. At a cost of just $16, in fact, it's just about impossible.
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.
It's not unusual for budget coffee grinders to attract plenty of complaints, but that's not the case with the KRUPS. It's not without its faults (motor burn-outs are the most prevalent concern), but an overwhelming majority of owners tell us it does exactly what they expected it to do and that it's a superb value.