Freshly grinding coffee beans is one of the biggest steps you can take toward enjoying high quality coffee at home. How you brew your coffee, the types of beans and the freshness of the beans all matter, of course, but when you've got these basics down and are ready to take your home coffee to a whole new level, it's time to invest in a quality burr grinder rather than getting your beans ground where you buy them or using a cheap-o blade grinder (which can destroy the flavor of high quality beans).
Freshly grinding your coffee before you brew it makes an enormous difference in how your coffee tastes and smells. This is because the volatile oils (which create the flavors and aromatics) inside coffee beans are exposed to air, light and moisture by grinding. They can quickly degenerate, so the longer the time between the grinding and the brewing, the more flavor and aroma your beans lose. Even ten minutes makes a noticeable difference for many coffee drinkers!
Before you buy a burr coffee grinder, you may want to quickly read up on blade vs. burr coffee grinders and coffee grind sizes. Then, when you're ready to take the leap and buy a coffee grinder for anything from amazing, crema-topped espresso to bold, aromatic French press coffee, pick the best fit for you from these top coffee grinders.
5 Best Burr Coffee Grinders for Home Use
If you want to really get in touch with your coffee, this is the best grinder to try. It's made by Hario, a Japanese company famous for its ridiculously great glass products. Their Skerton Hand Grinder is one such product, and a coffee grinder fit for any serious coffee lover.Features: The Hario Skerton Hand Grinder features a glass body with ceramic, conical burrs and a rubber base. The glass is break-resistant and the rubber keeps the grinder from shifting around on the counter as you grind your coffee. There is very little static build-up and grind retention in the grinder, meaning that if you put in ten grams of whole coffee beans, you get out almost exactly ten grams of ground coffee beans.
Pros: The Skerton is easier to use, more ergonomic and faster than traditional hand-grinders. (And, unlike traditional hand grinders, Hario's Skerton Hand Grinder is dishwasher safe.) It doesn't produce much heat as it grinds beans, which means that less of the coffee oils are lost in the grinding process. This leaves your freshly ground coffee incredibly aromatic and flavorful--perfect for the more hedonistic coffee drinkers out there. Plus, the base doubles as a ground coffee storage vessel in case you want to grind in advance (though you'll likely have a hard time resisting such great freshly ground coffee), and the base fits perfectly into a portafilter (thus reducing messiness when moving the grounds from the grinder to the portafilter for making espresso).
Cons: While the coffee grind size is adjustable (ranging from coarse, French press grind to superfine espresso grins), some users complained that getting the grind even for larger grind is difficult. However, you can easily and cheaply modify your grinder at home if this is a problem. Also, the grinder doesn't have much accompanying text, so figuring out how to set the grind to different levels is a little tricky... unless you check out instructions online. (Here's a good guide to setting the grind level for Hario's Skerton Hand Grinder from Four Barrel, one of my favorite coffee companies.) And if you're unwilling to set a little time to actually enjoy the process of making coffee, then buy a different model! (Many users love the act of grinding their coffee by hand, but it isn't for everyone.)
Recommendations: This model is ideal for travel and camping. It's also a good pick for those who want a great coffee grinder at a relatively low price. More »
In terms of coffee and tea gadgets, Breville is my favorite company. (Check out reviews of more Breville products below.) They have consistently easy to use, aesthetically pleasing products with long lifespans and lots of customizable features.Features: This automated conical burr grinder from Breville is easily adjustable, easy to figure out and easy to use. It features a backlit LCD display, 25 grind settings (including settings for French press, drip, percolator and espresso grinds), one-pound removable hopper and stainless steel burrs. It also has two grinding cradles for dosing directly into espresso filters and a storage canister for grinding and storing coffee beans in advance.
Pros: With Breville's Smart Grinder, you don't need to think about your coffee much. You just pick your drink and it sets the grind level and changes the "dose" for you (meaning that it measures out the right amount for different types of coffee drinks for you). You can set the number of cups / shots you want, and you can also adjust these settings to taste, so if (for example) you like your espresso stronger and your French press a little milder, you can have it your way easily. And, like Hario's Skerton Hand Grinder, it's quiet and clean to use.
Cons: There's little to complain about with this model! The coarse grind isn't a coarse as it could be. And this is a step up from your basic home grinders in price. But otherwise, it's a great buy!
Recommendations: If you want a hands-free, decked-out grinder and can afford $200 (but not, say, $600) for a coffee grinder, buy this coffee grinder.
3. Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder
Baratza is one of the most respected home coffee grinder makers out there. They make coffee grinders with consistent grinds at reasonable prices, and you'll find two of their products on this list. This particular model got some bad reviews early on, but it was tweaked to fix the major problems and is now a solid buy.
Features: Baratza's Virtuoso features professional-grade conical burrs, a motor which keeps beans cool during grinding (retaining their volatile oils, and thus their flavor and aroma) and technology to reduce the noise, heat and static issues associated with many home grinders.
Pros: If you want to grind coffee for making espresso at home, then this is a great choice. Unlike many grinders around the same price, it can produce consistent fine grinds. It has 40 different settings ranging from fine to coarse (or 250 to 1200 microns, which is from below the typical espresso grind to well above the typical French press grind). The Virtuoso operates quietly and is easy to clean. It also has several optional accessories, such as a scale accessory which allows you to grind by weight, an portafilter holder for reduced cleanup, and a hopper extender to increase the grinder's coffee bean holding capacity.
Cons: Without the hopper extender, the hopper only holds eight ounces of coffee, which is less than many models. (However, this isn't all bad--it will keep your beans fresher than if you store too many in the hopper for too long.) Recommendations: At around $200, this is a great buy. It makes far better espresso than similarly priced coffee grinders on the market, so I particularly recommend it to espresso drinkers.
4. Rancilio Rocky
Rancilio's Rocky is noted for its obvious lack of noise. It's another grinder to strongly consider if you prefer espresso.Features:Tempered steel burr grinders and a heavy-duty motor meet 55 grind settings, ranging from Turkish / superfine grinds to French press / coarse grinds.
Pros: This model is the quietest coffee grinder I've heard (or, rather, not heard). It's very sturdy and has a two-year warranty (compared to the usual one-year warranty). Awesome, awesome, awesome home espresso.
Cons: The doser-less model is fantastic, but the model with the doser is a pain (hard to clean, not adjustable). There is some loss of ground beans, as they tend to get stuck in the doser. Also, this is a big machine, so you need to devote some serious counter space to it.Recommendations:If you want to enjoy your espresso in quiet, buy Rancilio's Rocky.
5. Jura-Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder
Jura-Capresso espresso machines are a poplar home model for those looking for something sturdy, inexpensive and easy to use. This conical burr grinder from Jura-Capresso fits the same bill.
Features: This commercial-grade coffee grinder has 16 different settings (four each for extra fine, fine, regular and coarse). The steel burrs inside are usually only in commercial grinders, and the burr design reduces heat and friction to preserve your coffee's flavor and aroma.
Pros: The grind settings make Jura-Capresso's Infinity grinder suitable even for Turkish coffee and percolator coffee. It lets you adjust the grind to different coffee blends and brewing methods. Quiet, inexpensive, user-friendly and easy to clean, this is (in many ways) the ideal introductory coffee grinder.
Cons: There is a lot of coffee that gets caught in the grind chamber. This makes cleaning more difficult and can lead to a stale taste if you aren't using your coffee grinder at least once a day.Recommendations: For the price, this is a fantastic grinder. I highly recommend it!