The bigger the dream, the harder the grind.
If there is one item that every aspiring coffee connoisseur forgets to purchase on their journey to being able to create the perfect espresso, from the comfort of their own home, it is the coffee grinder. If you want to produce great tasting coffee, then there is nothing more important than the coffee grinder. Grind fresh, grind good.
The fantastic part is that you are here, you will read and you will learn why finding the best coffee grinder is so important in the process of creating the perfect espresso. As many baristas have said “Ground coffee is not simply a process of grinding the coffee, it’s the art of discovering the perfect coarse to get the most effective extraction.” With this being said, let’s jump on to setting a budget for your coffee grinder.
Step 1 – Budget
This is completely based on your overall budget for all the coffee equipment you need, however as a general rule of thumb if you are spending up to $200 on the coffee machine. You should spend the equal amount on the coffee grinder. Above $200 then the percentage spent on the coffee grinder begins to decrease.
I realise this sounds like a sizeable investment for what is often an after-thought, however as we have already mentioned, the coffee grinder is the ultimate tool in creating the perfect espresso.
So, just to be clear if you are spending under $500 on a machine like the Breville 800ESXL, then invest an equal amount between the coffee machine & the coffee grinder. If you are spending above $1,000 then $700 on the coffee machine & $300 on the coffee grinder. If you are looking to spend $1,500 then $1,100 on the coffee machine & $400 on the coffee grinder.
Step 2 – Type of Coffee Grinder
There are various types of coffee grinders, each offering their own unique features. The most affordable is the blade coffee grinder, these are the easiest to use and are most commonly found in shopping malls. These are equipped with a motor & a blade which using the speed of the motor & the sharpness of the blade, chop through the coffee beans resulting in coffee granules. This is the simplest process, however it does come at a cost, even if they are affordable. The lack of consistency amongst the size of the coffee granules, even if you leave the blade based coffee grinder chopping through the coffee grains the results will often contain granules which range from powder to actual chunks. The second issue is the noise and lastly the heat, with a motor powering the blade, the heat can alter the taste of the coffee once served.
Overall, we would not recommend these affordable coffee grinders, simply because of the end result – the lack of consistency and the change of taste, will end up with you walking down to see the local barista.
The next level of coffee grinders are the burr grinders. There are two types of burr grinders – Flat Blade & Conical and these work by crushing the coffee beans until the correct coarse has been achieved.
Flat blade burr grinder
This burr grinder comes with 2 flat & parallel blades that shear the coffee beans until a balanced, coarse coffee grain is left.
Conical burr grinder
This also has 2 blades, however compared to the flat blade burr grinder these blades are cone shaped, which offer a more efficient and effective grind.
In both instances, coffee beans are fed in between the blades and crushed in to coffee particles, the final result is a coarse and fine coffee grain. However, with a Conical burr grinder the end result is a well-balanced particle size, this can only be achieved with the Conical burr grinders.
Now that we have established how much you should spend on a coffee grinder as well as which type of coffee grinder is the best, we shall now look at our top 5 recommendations for the best coffee grinders in 2015.
If you are looking for a coffee grinder in the $200 range, then the Baratza Virtuoso is the one for you. In terms of performance and overall rating, the Baratza Virtuoso falls slap bang in the middle. It’s both affordable & reliable, with a sturdy, weighted base, the machine feels well-built & powerful for everyday coffee grinding. The Virtuoso also has a variety of grind settings, easily prepare coffee beans for an espresso or a French press, with it’s super-coarse settings, this makes the Virtuoso highly versatile for home-use.
This is the perfect, all around, affordable coffee grinder and definitely our most recommended for $200. The powerful 480W DC motor, combined with the conical burrs will help to produce, balanced, coarse coffee, perfect for any home barista.
You can purchase the Baratza Virtuoso here.
The Hario Skerton is a well-designed, durable, affordable hand grinder & it’s one of the best on the market. It’s an excellent choice for those who are on a budget. The Hario Skerton’s hand-mill grinds through your coffee beans, reducing them to small pieces. It has excellent capacity & a durable ceramic burr which produces well-balanced coffee grounds at a variety of settings. Also, depending on the type of coffee you are looking to create, you can adjust the size of the grind.
Overall, the Hario Skerton is one of the most effective, easy to use hand coffee grinders, all at an affordable price.
You can purchase the Hario Skerton here.
Breville Smart Grinder
The Breville Smart Grinder is a newer contended in the home coffee grinder category and it’s an absolute gem. The Smart Grinder is competing for a space against the more expensive Vario alternative, and it’s doing a pretty good job!
The Smart Grinder does offer a slightly reduced number of grind settings, in comparison to it’s competition, however it does add a rather unique technology that automatically recalibrates the amount of coffee needed to produce the ideal coffee grain for the chose grind setting. This little unique feature will definitely come in handy for the majority of home baristas.
Overall the Breville Smart Grinder is a serious contended in the category, as a more affordable option it offers a good number of settings, combined with it’s unique recalibration mechanism and a well-built, nicely designed coffee grinder.
You can purchase the Breville Smart Grinder here.
The Baratza Encore is one of the best electric coffee grinders currently on the market. It boasts over 40 different grind settings all at an affordable price. Once you have ground the coffee, the final product is a coarse coffee grain, suitable for any purpose.
Overall, the Baratza Encore is an affordable solution for any one looking for superb espresso’s at home, Baratza have excellent user support and are well-known for making durable coffee grinders and this is no exception.
You can purchase the Baratza Encore here.
Hario Ceramic Slim
OK, so the Hario Skerton is one of the best hand coffee grinder’s on the market, well the Hario Ceramic Slim is the best compact hand coffee grinder on the market.
This sister product to the Skerton offers a taller, slimmer solution, which is much more ergonomical but it comes at a cost. The smaller and slimmer design, makes for a more limited amount of coffee that can be ground in to the plastic chamber. It’s small, light and compact coffee grinder, perfect for baristas on the go! The only issue you will have with the Hario Ceramic Slim is finding hot water for your newly ground coffee.
You can purchase the Hario Ceramic Slim here.