Investing in a decent burr grinder is the single most important step you can make to improve the quality of your coffee. Period. A good coffee grinder will produce a consistent grind size and consequently a well extracted and delicious cup of coffee.
However, there are hundreds of grinders available today; everything from cheap junk to absolute gems. So it can be hard to discern which would be the best burr grinder for you. And that is why we wanted to write this guide; to help you choose the best coffee grinder for your needs. So let’s get into it!
Why Buy a Coffee Grinder?
Some people may still be thinking, ‘Why do I need to grind my own beans?’ Can’t I just buy pre-ground coffee from the local grocer (a bad idea already!) or even from a local coffee roaster?
The short answer is yes, you can, but it won’t taste as good. And the reason is that almost as soon as coffee beans are ground, they begin to lose aromatics and flavor distinctives.
Many people don’t realize, but coffee beans are really fresh produce, and as produce, they go stale. That is why cafes, without exception, grind on demand. Freshly ground beans = maximum flavor.
There are basically two benefits to grinding your own coffee beans:
- Maximum Flavor – As noted above, coffee beans begin to release aromatics and degrade almost as soon as they are ground. So to extract the most flavor and subtle nuances of different beans you really need to grind immediately before brewing.
- Adjustability – As any barista will tell you, one size does not fit all when it comes to coffee grind size. So for example the grind size you need for Aeropress is radically different from what you need for French Press or espresso. And even for a single brewing method the grind size may change depending on the coffee beans used. A quality burr coffee grinder allows you to experiment to find the perfect grind size for each bean. If you are trying to figure out grind sizes for different brewing methods see our Guide to Coffee Grinding with Grind Size Chart.
So basically, the advantage of grinding your own coffee beans with a burr coffee grinder is better flavor, and the ability to adjust grind size.
The Best Coffee Grinder For 2023
If you are after the best burr grinder then look no further! We have compiled a list of the top options available in 2023. This list includes a wide range of grinders from relatively cheap entry-level options to statement pieces worth literally thousands of dollars. The grinders have been listed in order of price so you can find the best option within your budget.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to burr grinders (or just about anything for that matter!) is that you have to pay for quality. The Baratza Encore is the outstanding exception to the rule! This highly capable conical burr coffee grinder houses the same motor as its more expensive older brother, the Baratza Virtuoso. The Baratza Encore is a high quality brew grinder aimed for manual or soft brewing (non-espresso). Note it cannot grind fine enough for espresso.
In terms of performance, the Encore is very easy to use with an adjustable hopper that can rotate between 40 numbered settings. These grind settings range from fine to coarse, allowing you to brew Aeropress, V60, Chemex, drip coffee, cold brew, or French Press. At the medium-fine to coarse levels, the Baratza Encore excels. It grinds consistently and is far superior to virtually anything else in this price range.
Baratza has a long and well-deserved reputation for lasting quality and excellent customer service. And the Baratza Encore certainly lives up to this reputation. It has a solid build quality, premium burrs, and a reliable motor.
The Baratza Encore is a superb coffee grinder that is now widely acclaimed as the tried and true brew grinder.
Alternatively, if espresso is your thing then Baratza has also recently released the Encore ESP, which has the same bones as the Encore but a different burr set and wider grind adjustments to cater for espresso. See our full reviews of the Baratza Encore and the Baratza Encore ESP.
Breville Smart Grinder Pro
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is about flexibility in function and its tech-savvy look. This is a relatively new coffee grinder on the scene but is quickly growing in popularity with its impressive 60 grind settings and timer. The digital interface is user-friendly, and to be honest, this coffee grinder just looks great on the benchtop!
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro offers 60 different grind settings within the medium to fine range. This makes it a good option for those looking to grind for drip, pour-over, or entry-level espresso. While the grind consistency is passable at the finer levels, the consistency decreases with the grind’s coarseness. The Smart Grinder will not grind as coarse as the Baratza Encore or as fine as the Rancilio Rocky. Despite this, it is still a good option for the beginner looking for a budget espresso grinder.
Being a smart grinder, the Breville grinder offers a stack of features. The grinder has a timer which regulates dosing down to 0.2s increments.It also has the ability to program four different grind times to dose for espresso, percolator, filter, and plunger coffee. If you don’t want to use timed dosing, there is the option to grind manually. Overall, the build quality is good, but the electronics are not great when it comes to durability. Often if issues arise, these are difficult and expensive to replace.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is by no means the best coffee grinder on this list, but it does offer great value for money. There really isn’t anything capable of grinding for espresso at this price point. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is a good option if you are after a budget espresso grinder.
Fellow Ode Gen 2 Coffee Grinder
The Fellow Ode coffee grinder was probably the most anticipated coffee grinder in 2020. It was designed and produced by Fellow; a company well-known for producing high-quality and aesthetically pleasing coffee equipment. Part of what sets this grinder apart is that it was intentionally designed to be a coffee grinder for filter coffee.
The Fellow Ode is packed with 64mm flat burrs powered by a PID-controlled motor that ensures the grinder runs at a consistent 1400 RPM with no fluctuations. The grind quality is superb, delivering fluffy, uniform grinds.
The Fellow Ode has 31 different grind settings, covering fine to coarse. The original model had a somewhat narrow grind range, but in the new burrs in the Gen 2 have rectified this issue. Given that the Ode has 64mm burrs, many users opt to switch the stock burrs out for SSP burrs. The SSP burrs are an extra couple of hundred dollars, but with this upgrade, the Fellow Ode is one of the very best coffee grinders for manual brewing on the market.
There is a lot to love about the Fellow Ode. It is a stunning grinder with a small footprint that produces excellent coffee with unmatched clarity. Packed with professional-grade 64mm flat burrs, single-dose loading, an auto-stop function, and quick and quiet grinding- It really is the best coffee grinder for manual brewing methods. For a more comprehensive review of the Fellow Ode Grinder see here.
Baratza Sette 270
The Baratza Sette 270 is another solid offering from Baratza, aimed at the espresso enthusiast. It is loaded with 40mm conical steel burrs that produce fluffy and consistent grinds. The burr set is designed for espresso and so the grind quality is excellent at the finer settings.
The Baratza Sette 270 has a unique grind adjustment system with 30 Macro adjustments and a second dial offering nine further settings (hence the 270). However, this is misleading as the second dial is stepless, offering the precise adjustment required to dial in espresso.
The Baratza Sette 270 has an innovative design with the upper burr rotating rather than the lower burr. This, combined with a powerful motor, means the grinder offers speedy grind times, on par with many commercial coffee grinders. The downside of this is that this is a very loud grinder. The grinder’s design is also well-suited for single dosing; with the grinds falling vertically out of the burrs, it naturally has very low retention.
The grinder offers time-based dosing, with the ability to set grind time to within 0.01 seconds. There are three programmable buttons, allowing you to set doses for quick and repeatable dosing. The one area the Baratza Sette 270 falls down in is durability, with much of the design being composed of plastic. Despite this, it is still a solid option for the espresso enthusiast at an affordable price.
The Rancilio Rocky is a commercial-grade coffee grinder built for home use. It comes loaded with 50mm steel flat burrs, powered by a 140W motor to run at an impressive 1350 RPM. The grinder is well-built with a powerful motor that can deal with a high volume of use.
The Rancilio Rocky offers 55 grind settings ranging from fine to coarse. And it does produce excellent grind consistency at the finer settings required for espresso. However, the grind consistency does deteriorate at the coarser levels. The Rancilio Rocky has a stepped grind adjustment system, making it easy to switch between different brew methods. Although, it does limit the potential grind settings and thus how precisely you can dial your coffee beans in.
This espresso grinder comes with both doser and doserless options. We recommend the doserless option for home use as it is easier to clean. And if you make the great choice of investing in one of these bad boys, don’t be surprised to find coffee dust in the machine when you get it. Every grinder shipped out is factory tested to ensure reliability.
This is an excellent option if you are looking for an entry-level espresso grinder! It is a workhorse that is built to last. You can see our more comprehensive review here.
Baratza Vario +
The Baratza Vario has recently been updated to the + version, and we think this grinder is well worth consideration. The Baratza Vario + is an all-purpose coffee grinder with the ability to grind for both espresso and manual brewing methods. It is a popular pick for home baristas who are serious about coffee.
The Vario + is packed with 54mm flat burrs that rotate at an impressive 1350 RPM. Surprisingly, Baratza decided to opt for ceramic rather than steel burrs. The ceramic burrs stay sharper for longer and produce a more traditional espresso flavor profile. Because of this, many users are opting to swap out the burrs for the Baratza forte steel burrs, which is a simple and inexpensive mod that drastically improves the grind quality.
The Baratza Vario + has a somewhat outdated adjustment system with macro (1-10) and micro (a-w) adjustments, but it does allow for repeatability. In total, there are 230 different grind settings to fine-tune and dial in a precise grind size. Overall, the Baratza Vario + offers excellent grind consistency across a range of brewing styles (except for French Press). The difference in grind quality between the Vario and Encore is considerable. This burr set does really excel at espresso, though. The Vario + also has a digital timer, and three time-based presets to set the dose to within 1/10th of a second.
As you would expect, the Baratza Vario + has a reputation for longevity. It has quality burrs, a powerful DC motor, and a durable build. Regretfully, much of the casing is plastic, which looks and feels less premium. Overall, the Baratza Vario + is a superb coffee grinder that offers premium grind quality at an affordable price. This grinder does require modding to reach its full potential though.
The DF64 is one of the most popular coffee grinders at the moment, and a quick look at the price will tell you why. This grinder has a stack of impressive features; 64mm flat burrs, single-dosing, stepless adjustment, and low grind retention. The grinder is produced by an unknown Chinese company but has taken off.
As the name would suggest, the DF64 is packed with 64mm flat burrs. Most users have found the stock burrs are excellent for espresso but not as reliable at the coarser grind settings. The grinder has an issue with regrinding, which means that there are a lot of fines produced at the coarser settings. Given this, many users are choosing to switch out the burrs for SSP burrs (a professional burr set), which offer superb grind quality.
Another reason this grinder is so popular is that it is a multi-purpose coffee grinder, so it can be used for espresso and manual brewing methods. The grind adjustment is made via a dial on the top of the grinder, making it simple to switch between different brew methods. The grinder offers very low retention and has a set of bellows to blow out any lingering grinds.
While it is too soon to evaluate the durability, the DF64 does seem like a solidly built grinder. It is rough around the edges and not as refined as other coffee grinders like the Niche Zero. And it does pay to note that this grinder does require some modding to get the most out of it. But all in all, it is probably the best coffee grinder on this list if you are looking for value for money.
Eureka Mignon Specialita
At this point, we are getting into the serious coffee grinders, and the Eureka Mignon Specialita is a top contender for the espresso lover. This is a stunning grinder featuring classic Italian styling and build.
The Eureka Mignon Specialita has 55mm hardened steel flat burrs that are tough and razor-sharp. They produce excellent grind consistency at the fine settings. The grinds fall out light and fluffy, like a waterfall, with no clumping.
The grind size is adjusted via a knob on the front of the machine. It is a stepless adjustment that allows for precise grind changes. The grind adjustment does make it hard to switch between espresso and manual brewing methods as you have to rotate the dial several full turns, so it can be hard to come back to your original setting. But this is a grinder that is aimed at espresso.
The Eureka Mignon Specialita offers several different dosing options. The first is the option to program time-based doses. You can save single and double dose times to jump between them quickly. The other option you have is to use it as a single-dose grinder. The Specialita has very low grind retention, making this a popular choice. There are even mods available for single-dosing hoppers.
Overall, the Eureka Mignon Specialita is a popular coffee grinder specializing in espresso. It offers excellent grind consistency, low grind retention, and accurate dosing.
The Niche Zero is the ultimate mix of elegance and excellence. This coffee grinder has been highly acclaimed by many of the leading lights of the specialty coffee community including Scott Rao, James Hoffman, and Dave Corby. The mix of simplicity and commercial quality has made it a much sought-after grinder and the most premium coffee grinder on this list.
The Niche Zero is decked out with 63mm hardened steel Mazzer Kony conical burrs. These are the same burrs used in the commercial Mazzer Kony grinder. These premium burrs are paired with a low rpm of 330 for superb grind consistency. It can easily cater to both espresso and soft brewing methods but particularly excels at espresso. For those in the know, it has often been compared to the EK43 in terms of grind quality.
Grind size is adjusted by means of a stepless collar on the Niche. The front half of the collar has the numbers 1-50 for reference but being stepless has unlimited potential macro and micro-adjustments. The particular strength of this collar is how easy it is to adjust the grind size. This makes it an excellent coffee grinder for those who do both espresso and manual brewing. There is no notable slippage with the system, and it is very intuitive to use. This is the grinder we own and highly endorse (for those who can afford it).
In addition, the Niche Zero is a zero retention, single dosing grinder. This makes it ideal for the home barista. The lack of grinds retention means that regularly switching grind size or coffee beans is not an issue and won’t result in wasted beans and excessive purging. The other strong incentive for buying the Niche Zero is the understated aesthetic elegance. Most grinders of this caliber are industrial-looking monsters with huge footprints. The Niche, by contrast, is compact and looks more like a beautiful SMEG appliance than a commercial grinder.
Simply put, the Niche Zero is a superb prosumer grinder that stands up to the closest scrutiny. There is a reason that it is the most expensive and best burr grinder on our list.
Understanding the World of Coffee Grinders
If you have begun to enter into the world of grinding your own coffee beans you will realize that it can be a complex and jargon-filled world. People will talk about a doserless espresso grinder with flat plate burrs at 750 RPM without blinking an eyelid!
So to help you out we will briefly navigate some of the common terminology.
Manual Grinders vs Electric Grinders
The first decision you will need to make is between a manual or an electric coffee grinder (or, let’s be honest, if you are a serious coffee lover, you will probably have both!). While we will be focusing on electric burr grinders in this article, if you are interested in a hand coffee grinder, see our picks for the best manual grinders.
In general, an automatic coffee grinder is preferable for ease of use and convenience but is more expensive. In contrast, a manual coffee grinder is preferable for portability and price but requires the old elbow grease.
As noted, pricewise, there is no doubt that you get better grind consistency for price with manual coffee grinders. For example, a $100 hand grinder will produce a far more even particle size than a $100 electric grinder.
The other advantage of electric coffee grinders is that they don’t need to be cleaned after every use (and fewer coffee grounds lying around is always a good thing!).
Espresso vs Manual vs Multifunction Grinders
Another important consideration in buying a coffee grinder is what brewing methods you will be using it for. There are three types of grinders; an espresso grinder that can cater to the fine grind required for espresso, a manual brewing grinder that can grind across a range of brewing styles but often struggles to go fine enough for espresso, and a multi-function grinder which can do both.
The rationale behind this divide is that because espresso uses the highest pressure and has the shortest extraction time, it requires the most precision in grind size. An espresso grinder must be able to repeatedly grind to a uniform consistency and have the capacity to make extremely fine adjustments to the grind. Espresso grinders tend to use flat plate burrs and have high RPMs.
Manual brewing coffee grinders cater to a wide range of brewing styles. These grinders intentionally offer a wide range of grind settings and advertise as across-the-board grinders, which can do everything from pour-over to cold brew.
Finally, the last few years have seen the release of multi-function coffee grinders like the Niche Zero, which can grind for both espresso and manual brewing. These grinders are more expensive but are a good option if you want to brew both espresso and manual methods.
In researching coffee grinders, you will regularly come across the terms doser and doserless. These terms basically refer to how the ground coffee is distributed.
A doser is a pie-shaped chamber that collects ground coffee and releases it on the pull of a lever. This is particularly helpful in commercial settings, as it is a lot faster than doserless, and each “dose” distributes roughly the same amount of coffee.
Doserless coffee grinders have no such chamber and grind immediately into your portafilter or attached coffee container. The advantage is that the coffee is always completely fresh.
The latest trend in the coffee world is to single dose. This is when you weigh out the exact amount of coffee beans and grind just what you need. These grinders don’t use a hopper and have low retention.
Most home grinders tend to be doserless and “dose” the coffee with either a pulse button which you hold down for as long as required or a timer function that allows the user to walk away while the coffee grinds. While a timer function is more expensive, it can be useful if you use your grinder regularly.
Number of Grind Settings
You will notice that the various coffee grinders offer anything from 40 to literally infinite grind settings. So how many do you need? Well again it depends on what brewing methods you will be catering to, and what size ground coffee it requires.
As a general rule of thumb you will need:
Certain brew methods like Turkish coffee or Cold Brew may require dedicated grinders to cater to the respective extra fine or coarse settings required.
Entry-level coffee grinders are usually stepped, offering a set number of grind settings. The higher-end espresso grinders offer stepless adjustment and an infinite number of grind settings. This is necessary to dial in espresso accurately.
All About The Burrs
Blade Grinders vs Conical Burr Grinders
When buying a coffee grinder, your two main options are a blade grinder or conical burr coffee grinder. The most important thing to know here is you need a burr grinder and not a blade grinder. Blade grinders are similar to the blenders you have in your kitchen and use a metal blade to slice up the coffee beans. The grind size is controlled by the time the grinder is running. The problem with blade grinders are that they produce very inconsistent grinds, which leads to poor extraction. While blade grinders are cheap, we do not recommend investing in one.
A conical burr grinder, by contrast, crushes the coffee beans between two ceramic or metal rings leading to a far more uniform grind. One of the burrs is attached to a motor and rotates, while the other remains stationary. The distance between the burrs determines the grind size. Burr grinders will produce a more consistent grind and allow for far more precision when dialing in grinds.
There are two different shapes of burr grinders; flat and conical burr.
Flat vs Conical Burrs
Coffee enthusiasts love debating the pros and cons of a flat vs conical burr coffee grinder. The long and short of it is that if you invest in a quality coffee grinder, either type will produce a consistent grind.
Flat burrs consist of two donut-shaped serrated rings that lie flat on top of each other. One of the burrs rotates while the other remains stationary. Coffee feeds out of the burrs horizontally through the edges. Flat burr grinders produce a unimodal grind size, meaning all the grinds are a single size. A flat burr grinder is the best coffee grinder option for espresso enthusiasts as they produce a more consistent grind and give the flexibility to pull longer shots. These burrs highlight clarity and sweetness with less texture. Flat burr grinders are in vogue at the moment and tend to be found in more expensive high-end grinders. This is because they are more complex to produce and run at higher RPMs, so they require a powerful motor.
On the flip side, is the conical burr coffee grinder, consisting of two cone-shaped burrs. The outer burr remains stationary while the inner burr rotates. Beans feed vertically down through the burrs and out the bottom with the aid of gravity. A Conical burr coffee grinder will produce a bimodal grind size, so there are two different grind sizes. Along with your desired grind size, there are fines (tiny particles), which extract at a faster rate. Consequently, a conical burr coffee grinder will produce a more traditional espresso with texture and a rich body. Conical burrs are commonly found in home and manual grinders.
Another important thing to note about burrs is that there is such a thing as fake or block burrs. Block burrs are commonly found in cheaper coffee grinders and are not good at producing a consistent grind. The general rule of thumb is to be suspicious of any automatic burr grinder under $100.
When it comes to burr material, your two choices are ceramic or steel. Once again, this is a hot topic in the specialty coffee world. In summary, stainless steel burrs are sharper but tend to dull quicker. The sharp edges mean these burrs cut cleanly and produce more clarity. Most enthusiasts consider steel the superior material and stainless steel burrs do tend to be found in the best coffee grinders.
Ceramic burrs are harder and last longer, but they also have the issue of being brittle, so they can easily crack or chip if the grinder is dropped or a stone goes through it. Ceramic burrs are also not as sharp, producing more muddiness in a brew.
High Speed vs Low Speed Grinders
When you buy a burr grinder, you will see an RPM stated. The RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) is the speed it operates at. There are two types of grinders; high and low speed.
High-speed grinders tend to be those with Flat burrs, which require higher RPMs to operate. These grinders produce a more consistent grind size and are excellent for espresso. However, the high speeds mean that they can have issues with static and more potential for heat which is bad. If the grinder has a powerful motor and large burrs, this isn’t something to be too concerned about, as the beans will be ground quickly before the grinder has time to heat up.
Low-speed grinders typically have conical burrs. Due to the design of the burr, these grinders can operate at lower RPMs. These grinders usually won’t grind as quickly or as consistently as their rivals, but they also don’t have issues with heat build-up. These grinders are well suited to manual brewing.
Best Coffee Grinder- In Summary
A quality burr grinder is an investment no coffee lover will regret. It is the first and most important step towards better extraction and thus better coffee. Our general advice is to buy the best you can with your budget. You won’t regret it.
If you are after a coffee grinder for manual brewing methods, the Baratza Encore is the best coffee grinder at this price point. If punches above its weight, grinds well and is completely affordable. Alternatively, for the dedicated brewer, the Fellow Ode is a stunning grinder that is packed full of features. With 64mm flat burrs, single-dosing, and an auto-stop function, the Ode is one of the best manual brewing coffee grinders available at present.
If you are looking for an espresso grinder, you will have to invest a bit more. The Baratza Sette 270 and Eureka Mignon Specialita are both popular espresso grinders. While the Sette 270 is more affordable, the Specialita tops the list with its stepless grind adjustment, superb build and stunning design.
Finally, the DF64 and Niche Zero are excellent options for the home barista, already invested in coffee. Both grinders provide the flexibility to grind for both espresso or manual brewing methods. The DF64 offers superb value for money, but will require modding to get the most out of it. The Niche Zero is the full package: it is an elegant coffee grinder that is simple to use, offers superb grind consistency and is the best burr grinder on this list.