Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: The best coffee grinders are your ticket to the best brewed-at-home coffee. You could venture through the forests of Ethiopia harvesting Geisha beans yourself and spend years honing the perfect pour-over technique, but without a good grinder, that fancy coffee is going to taste like flat coffee-flavored La Croix.
The reasons for this are pretty simple: when you grind coffee, you increase the surface area that’s exposed to oxygen. Grinding your beans right before brewing gives the oxygen in that air less time to react with and remove all the wonderful flavor producing chemicals you actually want to taste. Hence, grinding whole beans before you make coffee, rather than buying pre-ground coffee, improves your coffee’s taste. Even a mediocre grinder will produce coffee that tastes leagues better than the pre-ground stuff. But as we’ve spent time putting a wide range of coffee grinders through the wringer, we’ve learned that a truly exceptional grinder does more than just get you great coffee. A great grinder is easy for your pre-coffee brain to set up, use, and clean. A great grinder doesn’t take up too much precious countertop space. And a great grinder isn’t so loud that it wakes up every person, pet, and critter in your home.
At minimum, an acceptable home coffee grinder allows you to control the size of your coffee grounds. That way, regardless of whether you’re in the mood to brew with your Chemex or barely awake enough to push the buttons on your automatic drip coffee machine, you can use the grinder to get coffee suitable for the job (yes, different brewing systems require variable grind coarseness). The only coffee grinders capable of doing this employ a pair of burrs (abrasive ceramic or stainless steel surfaces) that crush your beans to a consistent size. The size of your grounds depends on how far apart you set the burrs. Cheaper grinders that use blades tend to slice up coffee beans indiscriminately, and usually result in a mixture of coffee that is both far too fine and not really ground at all. No coffee drinker deserves this.
The very best coffee grinders do more than just provide a consistent grind. Like the very best coffee makers, the best grinders are extremely easy to use. You shouldn’t have to do much more than just put in your coffee, flip a switch, wait a bit, and then take out your grounds. Actually adjusting the grind size should be easy too, so that you have the option to toggle between a fine, medium, and coarse grind depending on the type of coffee you’ve decided to make. Ideally, your coffee grinder should also be light and relatively small, but not so light that it rocks around spewing grounds everywhere every time it runs.
Beyond this, we considered features like built-in scales and timers (which are helpful in a café setting when pulling consecutive shots) as nice-to-haves, but not essential for most home brewers. The purpose of these features is to help ensure the amount of coffee you use in each brew stays consistent. Considering that most coffee recipes provide weight-based ratios, the timers have somewhat limited use unless you never plan to make adjustments to your routine. And we’ve found that built-in scales are almost never as easy to use as the extremely cheap scale that you probably already have in your kitchen for baking.
Note: Most of the coffee grinders in this list are intended for people who are brewing a relatively small amount of coffee a day (at max a pot or two) and not primarily making espresso. Espresso beans require an extremely fine grind that most home grinders struggle to achieve with any level of consistency. Considering how difficult it is to make espresso at home, especially without investing almost a grand into an espresso machine, we don’t think this should be an issue for most people. Leave it to your barista! But if you are an espresso aficionado who’s looking for a machine that can handle extremely fine grinds, we have a couple of upgrade picks that’ll do you proud. Regardless of how you take your morning cup—and whether you make it with a pour-over dripper, french press, cold brew maker, or AeroPress—the best coffee grinders will make sure it tastes a heck of a lot better.
The Best Coffee Grinder For Basically Everyone
Baratza Encore conical burr coffee grinder
The Baratza Encore is the perfect all-around home coffee grinder. For a machine that costs less than $150 it produces remarkably consistent grinds at a relatively wide range of grind particle sizes. And it works pretty quickly too. Unless it’s working at its most fine grind settings, the Encore works faster and quieter than most other grinders we’ve tried. Actually adjusting those settings is as simple as twisting the top funnel. Turning it on is as simple as pushing and holding a button on the front or turning a switch on the side. Admittedly, that switch has a bit of an odd design, but we think it actually serves to make using the Encore easier. Instead of a conventional on/off rocker switch, the Encore has an on/off/on/off wheel. Whichever direction you turn it, the grinder gets going. We’ve also found that the Encore doesn’t spew out a lot of chaff to clean up, likely thanks to how snugly its hopper fits below the funnel. And when you want to actually deep clean it, all you have to do is hand wash the removable funnel and hopper, and hit the burrs with a brush and vacuum. Even after years of use, the Encore still works just as well as it did right after unboxing. And thanks to how easy Baratza makes it to service and replace parts of its machines, we’re confident that even if something did go wrong, it wouldn’t be too hard or too expensive to fix.
The Best Coffee Grinder for Anyone on a Budget
OXO conical burr coffee grinder
OXO makes some of the best coffee makers we’ve tested, so it’s no surprise it makes an excellent electric burr grinder as well. The OXO Brew conical burr coffee grinder is incredibly easy to use. Unlike the Baratza Encore, the OXO grinder has a built-in timer. As we mentioned earlier, this doesn’t provide a particularly accurate way to measure out how much coffee you need. The best way to use the OXO is to leave the timer at its max setting (30 seconds) and weigh your beans before adding them to the funnel. Then grinding is as easy as pushing a button. Arguably, this makes the OXO Brew easier to use than the Baratza, but we’ve found that grounds from the Baratza machine are noticeably more consistent. The difference isn’t massive, but it’s noticeable, especially for any brew method that requires more finely ground coffee, like pour-over with a kettle. If you’re not a coffee geek, the difference is negligible. The OXO is just as easy to clean as the Baratza, and considering OXO’s sterling customer service reputation, should be nearly as easy to service. There’s no better grinder available for $100.
The Best Coffee Grinder for Pour-Over Fanatics
Eureka Mignon filtro coffee grinder
The Baratza Encore and the Oxo Conical Brew coffee grinders both use conical burrs, which are common on machines around this price point. The Eureka Mignon Filtro employs a flat burr. The best flat burr machine, on average, will produce coffee of a more consistent grind size than the best conical burr machine. But because of how they’re designed, with two equally sized burrs that sit on top of each other as they run, flat burrs produce a lot more friction and heat than conical burrs. Creating a machine that can handle this is pretty expensive, and since the actual difference in grind consistency is fairly marginal, few companies have spent a lot of time trying to incorporate flat burrs into more affordable machines.