The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Grinders

Coffee Education  / May 24, 2018

When it comes to choosing the best manual coffee grinder, where do you start? Should you get one with a blade or burr? What’s the difference? And what about if you’re looking for an electric grinder? How do you narrow down all of your options?

You’re not the only one wondering. In fact, we’ve put together this guide because we know that most people don’t know where to even begin. And not only can we help you navigate the maze of searching for the best coffee grinders, but we think it will also help you know to more about coffee grinding in general. All of this can be overwhelming especially when you’ve never owned a coffee grinder or you’ve never ground coffee before. We get it.

Why Get a Coffee Grinder?

Here’s the thing: Coffee grinding is not just about pouring coffee beans into a grinder, brewing the coffee and preparing a coffee drink. There is more involved, and it starts with choosing the right coffee grinder. As experts in the field of everything coffee, we can guarantee you that a coffee grinder will truly help you get the most out of every single coffee bean every time. A great hand coffee grinder or automatic one will completely transform your coffee experience. You think coffee is delicious good now? A coffee grinder will make it even more flavorful and stronger. You ever wonder why your cup from your local coffee shop comes out so much better? They grind the coffee!

And what we’ve found is that in order to get delicious coffee every two things are essential: Good coffee beans and a great coffee grinder.

As you’ve already probably guessed: We love coffee. So we’re not just interested in giving you a list of the best coffee grinders, but also show you how you can get the most out of your grinder in terms of aroma, flavor, price and overall experience. Whether that’s a manual coffee grinder, or an automatic one, with the information we provide, you will walk away knowing which coffee grinder is the right one for you. And we’ve discovered that if you search “coffee grinder” online, you will be taken to multiple sites whose mission is to get you to buy from them without really telling you why certain coffee grinders are better than others.

That just isn’t fair.

Our expertise and love of coffee brought us to put together a comprehensive guide packed with extras that will make you appreciate coffee just as much as we do.  

Why Not Just Buy Pre-ground Coffee?

Pre-ground coffee gets stale. The first thing you need to know about pre-ground coffee is this: stop buying it. Would you ever buy stale coffee? Although your answer is likely, “no,” if you bought pre-ground coffee you’ve bought stale coffee. Here’s how it works: After 15 minutes of being exposed to oxygen, ground coffee loses 60% of its aroma. This means that the pre-ground coffee you get from the store is already missing 40% of its aroma! And when moisture gets inside the ground coffee, it dilutes the coffee bean oils that are important for taste. Overall, coffee oils are delicate and risk contamination. Moisture, oxygen and even other odors around the coffee will affect the taste and aroma. To put it simply, it’s not fresh.

Most people buy pre-ground coffee for three reasons: 1.) They don’t know how to buy coffee beans. 2.) Pre-ground coffee is just easier to prepare. And 3.) They don’t think they have other options but to buy pre-ground coffee.

We’re here to challenge that.   

How to Buy Coffee Beans

Whole beans are fresher and the end result more delicious than pre-ground coffee. The problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to buy them. Here are a few tips when you’re buying coffee beans:

  • Don’t buy coffee beans from a grocery store. These have probably been there for a while and you want to use coffee beans within three weeks of the roast date. Which leads us to this:
  • If you don’t see a roast date on the bag label, don’t buy it. What this means is that you don’t know when these coffee beans were roasted.
  • Go to your local coffee shop or find a nearby roaster. See what’s available there. If you’re unsure about their flavors, ask to sample different ones.
  • Check out this more in-depth guide we’ve put together. It contains everything you’ll ever need to buy the perfect bean. In it, we also listed some our favorite roasters.  

When you grind your own coffee, you simply get more out of your bean. You get more choices in coffee ground sizes which means you have more options of drinks to prepare.

Click here to check out the best selection of coffee beans.

The Perfect Grind: Coffee Ground Sizes

One size does not fit all when it comes to coffee grinding. Certain coffee ground sizes make for certain coffee brewing methods to make a particular coffee drink. One thing that all ground coffee have in common though is that it should always be fresh, and the best way to get fresh coffee is by buying coffee beans instead of pre-grinding them.

Brewing time and amount of hot water use is also important when it comes to grind size. For example, coarse grind coffee requires that heated water is exposed to them longer than if the beans were finer. The hot water has to work its way into the coarse coffee longer due to its size. This is why a uniform grind is so important. Let’s look at the different sizes you can grind your coffee beans:

Extra Coarse

Extra coarse coffee results in the largest granules. This type of grind is used for brewing drip coffee.

Coarse

If you are looking for coffee made in a French Press, or a percolator, you will need coarse coffee. Coarse coffee is also used of cupping, a method used for evaluating and comparing different characteristics and tastes of coffee beans.

Medium-Coarse

Medium-coarse coffee is great for making pour over coffee.  

Medium

The size of medium grinds have a similar consistency to granulated sugar and are primarily recommended for vacuum and certain types of drip coffee makers. It can also be used for brewing other types of drinks but not espresso. A medium grind is good for MedouCone shaped pour over brewers, flat bottom drip machines, siphon coffee, and coffee made in an AeroPress.

Medium-Fine

A medium fine grind is perfect for pour over coffee drippers. This size grind suits the cone-shaped pour over brewers and AeroPress.

Fine

The fine grind is the most popular. Pre-ground coffee is typically this size. Fine grind coffee is used to make espresso, coffee from an Aeropress and espresso from the stovetop.

Pulverized

A super fine grind is rare and only used to make Turkish coffee which is brewed in a special pouring container called an ibrik.

Types of Manual Burr Grinders

Before we get into whether you want a manual grinder or an automatic one, we want to tell you something about manual grinders that help will narrow down your choices. There are two types of manual grinders: Burr and blade. Please don’t waste your time and money on a blade grinder. Burr coffee grinders will always give you the best results.

Though blade coffee grinders are less expensive than manual burr grinders, (not by very much though) they will not give you the best results. Blade coffee grinders have a spinning blade that slice up the coffee beans into a chunky and dusty mess.

You won’t get consistency in the size of coffee grounds — which are super important when it comes to producing amazing flavors during the brewing process. You’ll end up with less flavor and aroma because when you’re coffee grounds are too chunky, the hot water that’s supposed to penetrate the grounds, will not seep through correctly when brewing. This unfortunately, affects everything.

On the other hand, manual burr grinders have the power to turn your coffee beans into, uniform particles no matter what size you’re looking for: coarse, medium, medium, and fine. Having more control over your grind will give you the best results, always. Let’s look at some of the best ones:

Best Manual Burr Coffee Grinders

Just as the name implies, a manual or hand burr grinder requires you to do the work. After the coffee beans are put inside the grinder, you crank the handle and rotate. The longer you grind the finer the coffee. Manual burr grinders will get you uniform grounds due to rotating the burrs inside that crush the beans perfectly — producing consistent grind sizes from espresso to French press. Manual burr grinders are smaller than automatic ones and if you are looking for different settings, the price goes up. Because they are smaller and simpler they are more affordable than automatic grinders. If what you are looking for is portability, this may be your way to go. Here is a list of the best manual burr grinders.

Most coffee aficionados will tell you they prefer manual grinders over electronic ones. Each has its own benefits. It really comes down to what you’re looking for and for what purposes. If you like experimenting with different types of coffee drinks at home, a manual burr grinder is perfect for you. If you own or manage a coffee shop, an electric grinder will probably be more efficient as they are faster and can grind larger quantities.   

Manual burr grinders produce consistent size coffee grounds. Some of the manual grinders we’ve listed are precision grinders meaning they have a setting that will grind specific size coffee beans. This is great if you like to make different types of coffee drinks: French press, Espresso, drip and so on.

Hand coffee grinders are perfect for homes because they are small, portable, durable and super easy to use. They are also inexpensive. So if budget is you’re looking to buy a home coffee grinder, and your highest priority is budget, you should opt for a manual burr coffee grinder. With a manual coffee grinder everything is connected by a single rod that turns the burrs and connects to the handle. Important to note is that manual burr coffee grinders do not require any batteries, power or long chords. You’re the one who will do the work. But once you taste the results, you will see why many people like to use them. They are truly worth it.

So to help narrow down all the options out there, let’s look at the best manual coffee grinders around:

EvenGrind

The Kuissential EvenGrind is a good choice for home grinding because of its size, affordability yet it still delivers great results in terms of coffee grinding size. This manual coffee grinder includes a stabilizing cage to keep things steady (no matter the size of the coffee ground) while you’re turning the handle.

Handground

The Handground burr manual grinder is a precision grinder set out to get you just the right size grounds you are looking for with number settings. Setting 1 will give you an espresso grind, try 8 and you’ll get coffee grounds ready for a delicious coffee on your French Press. The Hanground has a total of 15 settings for various sizes.

JavaPresse

The JavaPresse, also a precision manual burr grinder provides a consistent grind with their lens camera ring-like setting that makes it easy to choose how coarse you want your coffee beans. Like the Handground, it has 15 settings and is one of the most quietests of manual coffee grinders. This one is popular among travelers can’t live without their ground coffee and need something small enough to fit in their carry on.

Porlex Mini

This manual burr grinder was specially made for the person always on the go. The rubber grip and handle make it easy to grab it when you need to take it on a trip or to the office. It also has a rubber grip on the handle that helps stabilize when you grind. The Porlex Mini grinds has 13 different settings and a capacity for grinding up to 26 g of coffee beans at once.

E Home Manual Canister Ceramic Coffee Grinder

If you’re looking for something with a vintage look, yet is super affordable and durable, you may like the E Home Ceramic Coffee Grinder. This manual grinder will ensure a precise and consistent grind with options on the coarseness of your coffee. Bonus: it is super quiet.

OE Lido

Although this one is more pricey than the manual coffee grinders we’ve mentioned, it’s built to last. While other manual coffee grinders require more turning for grinding (30-50 turns) with this coffee grinder, you’ll only need to do less than 12 turns. The OE lido has precision grinding burrs, is made of glass, strong plastic, and stainless steel. But because it weighs about 3.5 pounds, it is not very practical for travel.

Automatic Coffee Grinders

Automatic coffee grinders are perfect for homes with big families, coffee shops, universities and office spaces where there’s a higher demand for coffee and the grinding needs to be done quick and in large batches!

We just want to clarify that the type of automatic grinders we are recommending are not blade grinders. If you think an automatic coffee grinder better suits your needs, always make sure they grind the coffee using burrs. As we mentioned, burr grinders will produce a consistent grind which when brewed, perfectly penetrates through coffee beans. Blade grinders will not do that.

La Marzocco Swift Espresso Grinder

This is an espresso commercial grinder that handles multiple jobs — grinding, dosing and tamping. It is a favorite of busy coffee shop owners for its efficiency and uniform results. This grinder is straightforward requiring little to no training.  

Bunn LPG2E Portion Control Grinder

The Bunn LPG2E is great for restaurants, universities, coffee shops and offices. It is quiet and with a low speed with one hopper and a portion control grinder.

Mahlkonig EK43 Bulk Grinder

This grinder is famous for three things: consistency in particle distribution, the versatility of use (suiting nearly all methods of coffee) and for its power. With 98mm burrs and capability, your coffee beans will whirl at a rate of 21-25 grams per second.

Mahlkonig, Guatemala 710 Bulk Grinder

The Mahlkonig Guatemala 710 offers both quality and versatility with a full range of grinding sizes. It’s able to produce anything between espresso to very coarse grinds. The Guatemala is known primarily for its uniformity of grind, which is why it’s been used for national brewing competitions like Brewers Cup for many years.

BUNN G3HD Grinder

This precision burr grinder and hopper holds up to 3 lb. of coffee beans and produces high-quality grinds at the powerful ¾ horsepower motor. Grinding time is 30 seconds per pound.

BUNN G1HD Bulk Grinder

This turbo action grinder is a holds up to 1 lb of coffee beans. The BUNN G1HD Bulk Grinder will meet any of your brewing needs from a coarse grind  to very fine powder. All BUNN grinders use precision burrs to cut (not crush) the coffee beans and deliver consistent grind distribution.

Simonelli Mythos Basic Espresso Grinder

The Mythos Basic Espresso Grinder is one of the best espresso grinders in the market with features such as a grind on demand, programmable dosing, and a micrometric grind adjustment to get the perfect grind.

Simonelli Mythos Plus (With Tamper) Electronic

The Mythos Plus Espresso Grinder includes all of the components that make up the Mythos Basic. The difference is that the dynamometric tamper is located on the front of the machine. The tamper allows consistency in the tamp, has three programmable dose settings, and micro-metric grind adjustment.

Mazzer Robur Electronic Grinder/ Doser

The Mazzer Robur Electronic Grinder has conical grinding blades and slow speed rotation suitable for places of high consumption like the electronic coffee grinders we’ve been talking about. This grinder is unique though as it contains a doser which catches the coffee after it is ground and portions out the grounds into individual, identically-sized compartments.

Mazzer Kony Electronic Grinder/ Doser

This automatic grinder/doser holds up to 2.9 pounds of coffee beans. Also an on-demand grinder like the Robur, it comes with electronic single and double dose with independent adjustment. It is made of stainless steel, it features a digital display,  a shot counter and a ventilation device with electronic control to keep the motor cool.

Want to see more automatic grinders? Here is a full list of all of our favorite electric coffee grinders. In it, you’ll also find the ones we’ve already mentioned as well for reference.

Conclusion

So now that know the difference between a manual burr grinder and electric one — and you know all about burr and blades, have you decided yet? Is a manual burr grinder best for you? Or do you like the convenience and speed of an automatic one?

Of course, this will all be based on your budget and needs (home, office, coffee shop etc) but we hope this guide has helped you. Whatever you end up going with, any of these burr grinders (whether manual or automatic) will give you excellent results, and the fresher your coffee beans, the best.

But aside from learning more about all your coffee grinding options, hopefully, this guide has also helped you navigate the world of coffee grinding too. As mentioned, a list is ineffective if we can’t tell you why having a coffee grinder can actually change your life! We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of favorite coffee grinders and our love of coffee along the way. We hope you come to enjoy and appreciate coffee grinding just as much as we do.  

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