Best Coffee Grinders of 2018
A coffee grinder enables you to grind your own coffee immediately before brewing. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best coffee grinder for your freshest cup of coffee.
Finding the Best Coffee Grinder for Your Brew
If you don't feel truly awake until your first morning cup of coffee, you're not alone. According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee each day, and 11 percent of those drink four or more cups. That's a lot of java, so why not make it the freshest, best-tasting java possible?
One secret to great-tasting coffee lies in grinding your own beans right before brewing them. And to do that, you need a coffee grinder.
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So, if you're ready to buy a coffee grinder and get brewing, check out the three recommendations in the matrix above. All are good products that would serve you well. If you'd like to learn more about how to choose and use a coffee grinder, please read on.
Why Buy a Coffee Grinder?
Sure, you could buy preground coffee beans. And yes, doing so would save you a minute or two of prep time each morning. But when you use preground coffee beans, you sacrifice flavor for convenience.
Roasted coffee beans go stale fairly quickly, losing both aroma and flavor. This is mostly due to oxidation, a process whereby oxygen molecules from the air break down and change the flavor compounds in coffee beans. You're left with an acceptable—but not exceptional—cup of coffee.
When you leave your beans whole until it's time to brew coffee, however, less surface area is exposed to oxygen, so oxidation and staling are minimized to a great extent.
Types of Coffee Grinders
There are two basic types of electric coffee grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders. There are also hand grinders, which we'll touch on briefly at the end of this section.
Blade grinders are the least-expensive coffee grinders, and they're quite simple. You just pour coffee beans into the hopper and turn on the machine. The rotating blades chop your coffee beans into small pieces. Typically, the longer you leave the blade grinder running, the finer your beans will be ground.
On the plus side, blade grinders are simple to use, easy to store, and inexpensive. On the downside, they grind coffee beans into irregular pieces, which then brew unevenly, leading to unpredictable results.
Burr grinders have two serrated plates that grind coffee to a consistent, predictable size in a manner like that of a pepper grinder. This consistency is why coffee purists greatly prefer burr grinders over blade grinders.
On the downside, you'll pay more for a burr grinder. While not excessively complicated, these appliances are larger than blade grinders. They generally offer a few settings and options beyond a simple on/off button.
You can further subdivide burr grinders into flat and conical devices.
- Flat burr grinders have two flat, parallel grinding disks.
- Conical burr grinders have a cone-shaped grinding disk in the center of a round disk. The disks may be made of ceramic or steel.
Considerable debate exists among the hardcore coffee crowd as to whether flat is better than conical, but all agree that any burr grinder is better than a blade grinder.
Taking it a step further, you'll encounter burr grinders with high and low speeds.
- High-speed burr grinders give quick results but generate heat that can affect the coffee beans.
- Low-speed grinders cost more, but they work slowly and steadily to grind beans perfectly without heat.
Beyond these distinctions, you'll find grinders designated "dose" or "nondosing" and "stepped" or "stepless." But for the average home coffee brewer, these far more expensive machines really aren't necessary. They're best left to professional baristas and espresso makers who take their coffee very seriously.
Hand Coffee Grinders
When shopping for a coffee grinder, you'll also encounter hand grinders, which generally have burrs. Hand grinders, as the name suggests, require manual power rather than electricity to turn the blade or burrs. They are good for travel or if you only grind coffee occasionally.
On the plus side, hand coffee grinders generally produce consistent results, are inexpensive, and make little noise. But you'll only get enough grinds for one or two cups of coffee at a time, and you'll give your hand a workout.
Burr Grinder Features to Consider
While blade grinders don't have a lot of options, you'll find a few features to consider when selecting a burr grinder.
- Grind Versatility: Most quality burr grinders let you set your desired grind size.
- Hopper Size: The bigger the hopper, the more coffee you can grind at a time.
- Automatic Timer: This switches the machine off when the grind is finished.
- Grind Chamber Size: A large grind chamber allows you to grind enough coffee for several pots. If you choose, you could store some of the excess for later in the week.
- Easy Cleaning: The design of some grinders makes them easier to take apart when it's time for cleaning. You should be able to easily access the grinding plates or the blade to wipe them clean between uses.
How Fine Is Your Grind?
The optimal coarseness or fineness of your finished grind depends on the method you plan to use for brewing your coffee. A quality burr grinder lets you set your desired grind level to produce the perfect-size coffee grounds.
- If you'll be using a French press, choose a coarse grind.
- If you'll be using a drip coffee maker, choose a medium to medium-coarse grind.
- If you'll be using an espresso machine, choose an extra-fine grind.
- If you'll be using a pour-over brewer, choose a medium to medium-fine grind.
- If you'll be using a Moka pot, choose a medium grind.
- If you'll be making Turkish coffee, choose a very fine, powdery grind.
How Much Does a Coffee Grinder Cost?
You can get a perfectly acceptable blade coffee grinder for under $20. A burr grinder, however, will cost more. High-end burr grinders can cost well over $100. However, you can also find some excellent burr grinders for under $50.
If you're in the market for a hand coffee grinder, you can expect to spend less than $20.
Tips for Brewing the Best Coffee
There's no need to pay for expensive coffee house java when it's easy to make your own delicious brew at home. The following tips will help you brew coffee worth waking up for.
- Always start with high-quality, fresh beans, and store them in an airtight container away from bright light.
- Don't refrigerate or freeze your coffee beans if you can help it; room temperature is best.
- Tap water tends to flavor coffee, so brew it instead with bottled spring water or tap water that has been run through a charcoal filter. Good coffee needs minerals, however, so distilled water is not an option.
- Grind your beans no more than half an hour before brewing.
- Look for paper filters that are unbleached or dioxin-free, or use a gold-plated, reusable filter in your drip machine.
- The ideal water temperature is 200°F—not boiling—for the best cup of joe.
- Don't skimp on your beans. The usual rule is 2-3/4 tablespoons of ground coffee per 8-ounce cup.