Picking the best coffee grinder depends on many issues, including the type of machine you’re using to brew coffee and your personal tastes. However, most experts and coffee aficionados say a burr grinder is the way to go, and that Washington-based Baratza makes some of the best.
The Coffee Grinder Difference
Opinions will most definitely differ. The passion of coffee lovers can make most football fans seem tame by comparison. But if you are in search of a better cup of coffee, these are the people to consult. They can open your eyes to the fact you need to stop buying vacuum-sealed cans of pre-ground coffee and instead buy whole beans and get yourself a decent grinder.
That is if you want a great cup of coffee.
Why Grind Your Coffee?
Coffee connoisseurs know that those who buy pre-ground coffee are missing out on much of the rich flavor that makes coffee so good in the first place. The taste of coffee comes from the oils in the beans. Once the beans are ground, those oils evaporate. With pre-ground coffee, the taste is weaker and the subtle notes of the distinct types of coffee beans are lost. Buying whole beans and grinding them just minutes before you brew your coffee locks in the flavor.
How Grinders Differ
There are a wide variety of coffee grinders available. The right one can depend on how fine or coarse you want to grind your coffee beans and the type of equipment you use to brew your coffee (French press, drip coffee, etc.).
Consumer Reports recommends using a medium grind for drip coffee makers, a coarser grind for a French press and a fine grind for an espresso machine.
One of the main differences among grinders is between the burr grinder and blade grinder.
A blade grinder is what many are likely familiar with – a blade that spins like a propeller, grinding up the beans. Most coffee purists, however, will not go anywhere near a blade grinder. They prefer a burr grinder, which utilizes two serrated pieces of metal or ceramic. They are set at a specific distance apart – the distance depends on the grind you want – and then rotate to crush beans between them to the exact size wanted.
If that sounds fancier, that’s because it is (and usually more expensive). But coffee purists will say that it makes for the best grind on coffee beans and the best-tasting coffee.
In the burr grinder category, there are conical and flat burrs. They also come in steel and ceramic. The steel is cheaper, but the ceramic lasts longer.
What Kind of Coffee Grinder Should I Buy?
This is dangerous ground! Much like knife owners debate the pros and cons of blades, coffee lovers go back and forth on the best grinders. After looking over several lists and texting, calling and emailing every coffee grinder owner we know, then reflecting on coffee grinders we have loved or hated, we settled on the following as models to recommend.
At the very least, it gives you a place to start in your search for the perfect grinder.
Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. This one came recommended from a coffee aficionado and topped this list from Business World. It seems the perfect combination of getting a great home grinder without breaking the bank to buy it.
KitchenAid Burr Coffee Bean Grinder in Silver. This one “grinds at an insanely consistent particle size,” according to Jamie McCormick, co-owner of Abraco in New York City. She also said it is durable and looks good in the kitchen. We’re adding it to the list because if you’ve ever had a coffee at Abraco in the East Village, they know what they are talking about.
Capresso 560 Infinity Conical Burr Grinder. This one is recommended by Wirecutter as a smart choice for those on a budget. At just under $100, the Capresso 560 Infinity produces a consistent grind even if it doesn’t have the versatility of the higher-end choices.
Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder. This one is included because it’s actually a hand grinder. It’s a solid choice for those who want to go old school.
Baratza Virtuoso. The amazing thing about the Baratza Virtuoso is that it makes every list you can find on the best coffee grinders. It’s not only consistent and durable, but it features bells and whistles such as a timer switch, heavier base and the ability to set faster burr speeds.
Those should at least give you a place to start in your search for a better cup of coffee. Go forth and grind.