The goal: Break up coffee beans into smaller pieces.
Why? To create more surface area so we can extract all of coffee’s dark, caffeinated goodness.
So let’s start with blade versus burr grinders. In our brewing basics post we talked about why you should almost always choose a burr grinder over a blade grinder:
Blade grinders grind inconsistently, leaving you with both boulders and dust. They also whip and burn beans, changing the flavor. Conversely, Burr grinders crush your beans between two sharp, gear-like burrs. Because one burr is rotating and the other is stationary, you can adjust the spacing between the two, to grind to a specific and more uniform particle size.
The only time we ever suggest purchasing a blade grinder is if you can’t find a cheap burr grinder and don’t know if brewing is right for you. Burr grinders you can purchase anywhere between $25-$1,000.
We’ll spend the rest of this article going over a couple different options, starting on the lower priced end:
Hario Hand Grinder -$25
If you’re cash strapped the Hario is one of your cheapest options. This little guy is handy because you can take it pretty much anywhere and pump out a OK French press or drip grind – you’ll just have to work for it.
Adjustable conical ceramic burrs
Isn’t capable of making an espresso grind
Difficult for grinding large quantities of beans
No markings for setting different grind sizes
Baratza Maestro Encore – $130
If you’re just getting into home brewing, this is the entry level grinder for you.
Large grind range (40 settings)
Convenient side timer
Can be difficult to clean
Baratza Virtuoso – $230
In the $200 range, Virtuoso is the best deal. You get a quality range of grind sizes from espresso to French Press.
480W DC motor keeps beans cool even during extended grind times
450 RPM burr speed for a smoother bean feed and quieter grinding experience
Small catch bin can make it annoying to make large batches of coffee
Rancilio Rocky – $355
Sold since 1990, the Rocky is the type of grinder you have for decades.
Will last a long time
Quiet (50% quieter than most low speed grinders)
55 grind settings
For a beginner home grinder, this may be a little pricey.
Baratza Vario – $480
The $450 grinder that competes with $2,000 commercial grinders.
Over 200 grind pre-sets
Switching between its extensive grind settings is a breeze
The W version includes a scale
Grinds sometimes stick to the plastic catch bin
Have a favorite we missed? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!