Best Burr Grinders of 2018
A burr grinder provides freshly ground coffee for a tasty cup of joe. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best burr grinder that meets your brewing preferences.
With the Best Burr Grinders, You Can Brew Café-Quality Coffee at Home
You've invested in the best coffee/espresso machine and spent countless hours in search of the finest coffee beans. But if you're using a standard blade grinder for everything from espresso to French-press brews, your coffee will never reach its full potential.
Enter the burr grinder—the single most important tool in any coffee lover's bag of tricks. Ready to give burr grinders a whirl, but find yourself awash in a sea of options? Don't fret, we're here to help.
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If you already know your burrs from your blades, scroll up for BestReviews' top three burr grinders. Need a little help? No problem. For everything you need to know about burr grinders, you've come to the right place.
What Makes a Burr Grinder Better than a Blade Grinder?
When it comes to brewing an amazing cup of coffee, grind consistency is key. The size and texture of the coffee grounds play a critical role in the resulting flavor. A motley assortment of sizes and textures leads to varied extraction times, producing a brew that's bitter and unpleasant.
When purchasing a coffee grinder for the first time, many opt for more affordable blade grinders. However, blade grinders don't grind but rather whack away at coffee beans: chopping, slicing, and cutting like a blender. Blade grinders produce different sizes and textures, ranging from boulder-like chunks to coffee particles that are practically microscopic.
Burr grinders turn out uniform coffee particles by grinding the beans between two abrasive surfaces that apply constant pressure. Burr grinders also produce considerably less heat than blade grinders. Exposure to heat can cause coffee beans to release oils and gases prematurely.
Conical or Flat: The Different Types of Burr Grinders
When shopping for a burr grinder, you will encounter two different types: conical and flat. Although shaped differently, both work in the same manner, grinding coffee beans between two abrasive surfaces.
- Conical Burr Grinders: Conical burr grinders have two cone-shaped rings, one inside the other, that grind the beans at a slanted vertical angle.
- Flat Burr Grinders: Flat burr grinders have two plates that sit horizontally, one on top of the other. The plates work in opposite directions to grind the coffee beans.
Manual vs. Automatic Burr Grinders
Conical and flat burr grinders are either manual or automatic. While manual burr grinders require considerable elbow grease for a fine consistency, no electrical components mean they're more affordable and compact.
Automatic burr grinders are hands-down more convenient. With an automatic burr grinder, you can easily grind coffee beans at the touch of a button. A good automatic burr grinder has suitable settings for just about any brewing method.
Before You Grind: What to Consider When Buying a Burr Grinder
Keep an eye out for grinders with blunt teeth. A good burr grinder should have clean, sharp edges for an even grind.
- Ceramic: Burr grinders made of ceramic retain their edges and don't require sharpening. They produce the least amount of heat and are somewhat quieter than stainless-steel burr grinders.
- Stainless Steel: Although burr grinders made of stainless steel may require sharpening, they won't crack or break upon encountering foreign objects, such as small sticks and stones, sometimes found in coffee beans. Stainless-steel burr grinders tend to be more affordable.
High-speed burr grinders are more affordable. While high-speed burr grinders do provide a consistent grind, the increased speed of the motor generates heat, which may impact the flavor of the beans.
Low-speed burr grinders have motors that are more powerful and move at a slower pace, producing significantly less heat and static while grinding. Although they're more expensive, low-speed burr grinders tend to be more durable and produce a truer cup.
A burr grinder with a doser grinds a batch of coffee beans and then collects the grounds in a compartment. The perfect volume, or dose, is dispensed with the pull of a lever. While this can be helpful for making a large number of espresso shots, a doser probably isn't necessary for home use. Plus, for a doser to work correctly, the compartments need to be kept full, which could lead to stale grounds.
The average burr grinder is the size of a blender. If counter space is a major concern, take a look at manual burr grinders. With fewer components, manual burr grinders tend to be smaller—as an added bonus, you'll get a daily arm workout, too!
The more grind settings, the more versatile and precise the burr grinder. Most home brewers will find a burr grinder with around 20 settings more than adequate. Connoisseurs and espresso aficionados, however, may want the added precision of 40 settings or more.
The price of a burr grinder varies according to its type, features, and make.
- Manual Burr Grinders: Manual burr grinders range between $10 and $50.
- Automatic Burr Grinders: A basic automatic burr grinder can cost as little as $30. However, for a quality automatic burr grinder, expect to pay $100 to $200-plus.
Q. How do I clean my burr grinder?
A. Oil and fine, dust-like particles can build up in your burr grinder over time, which may cause unwanted flavors in your brew. The easiest way to clean a burr grinder is to use cleaning tablets made specifically for the job. Simply pour the recommended number of cleaning tablets into the bean hopper and pulse. Once all the cleaning tablets have been run through the burr grinder, add approximately one ounce of coffee beans to the hopper, grind, and discard.
Although some recommend running a 1/4 cup of white rice through a burr grinder to clean it, doing so could lead to further dust build-up. In the most extreme cases, using the rice method could damage your burr grinder.
Q. How often should I clean my burr grinder?
A. This depends largely on how often you use it. With heavy commercial use, a burr grinder should be cleaned every one to two weeks. Similarly, if you use a burr grinder for darker, oily roasts, like those favored for espresso, cleaning once a week may be necessary. For home use and lighter roasts, once every month or two is adequate.
Q. Can I use my burr grinder for anything other than coffee?
A. Yes. A burr grinder is an incredibly versatile tool that can be used to grind a large variety of dried goods. Your burr grinder can easily take on nuts, seeds, grains, dry herbs, spices, and sugar. Just keep in mind that the flavors of anything you grind will end up in your cup if your burr grinder isn't properly cleaned.