When it comes to brewing good coffee, there is no doubt the grinder plays a pivotal role in the process.
This significance becomes even more pronounced with espresso brewing, where the extraction occurs within a short 25-30 second timeframe. Even a slight inconsistency in grind size or uniformity can easily throw off the extraction leading to an unpleasant shot of espresso.
And so the choice of espresso grinder is nothing short of vital.
This guide will take a look at key considerations you should make before investing in an espresso grinder and give some recommendations for the best espresso grinders at each price point.
Before we dive into the details, it’s worth noting that not everyone needs a dedicated espresso grinder.
If you are just starting to brew espresso and have invested in an entry-level espresso machine, it probably came equipped with a pressurized or dual-walled filter basket. These baskets are designed with two walls to generate false pressure, allowing you to use a coarser grind, or dare I say it, pre-ground coffee. Pressurized filter baskets are more forgiving to use and will help create an okay espresso shot topped with crema, even if your grind size isn’t quite on point. If you are using this type of basket, you can get away with using a regular burr grinder.
As you progress further into the hobby of espresso you will inevitably want to switch to using a non-pressurized or single-walled basket. It is at this point that you should consider investing in a dedicated espresso grinder to pair with your espresso machine. With a non-pressurized basket, the grind size and quantity of coffee in the basket alone provide all the resistance to water pressure.
So to produce a decent shot of espresso under these conditions, you must be able to grind extremely fine and have a decent number of settings to fine-tune the grind size precisely. A high-quality espresso grinder becomes indispensable at this stage.
Hand Grinders vs Electric Grinders
The second thing to consider is your budget. Simply put, espresso grinders are not cheap. However, there are ways to achieve good grind quality on a budget.
The best way to do this is to invest in a hand grinder over an electric grinder. With a hand grinder, all the money you invest goes into the build and burr quality. Manual burr grinders can compete with electric grinders 2-3 times their price when it comes to grind quality. The trade-off, of course, is that manual grinding for espresso can be a labor-intensive process, requiring substantial effort. So if you are on a budget, travel a lot, or just enjoy the process of grinding by hand, a hand grinder is worth considering.
If your budget allows for it, an electric grinder is always preferable, simply for convenience’s sake. Electric grinders are faster, demand less physical exertion, and involve less cleanup. However, grinding coffee for espresso is demanding and requires a good-quality burr grinder. Cheaper electric grinders often come equipped with less powerful motors that need to spin at higher RPMs to compensate for their lack of strength. These coffee grinders are often loud when in use and tend to struggle with grinding for espresso.
The best espresso grinders, in contrast, typically have a more substantial motor, enabling them to grind finer. These grinders also usually offer stepless grind adjustment (or a larger number of settings) as espresso requires very small adjustments to grind size.
The Best Espresso Grinder 2023
Below we have our top 7 picks for the best espresso grinder. While there are plenty of other decent coffee grinders out there, we have only included what we consider to be the best espresso grinders at each price point. The espresso grinders are listed in order of price, so you can find the best one within your budget.
1Zpresso JX Pro
The Best Budget Espresso Grinder
The 1Zpresso JX Pro is a popular hand grinder that offers superb value for money. This grinder does a good job of grinding for drip coffee but can also grind for espresso. The JX Pro easily competes with entry-level electric grinders 2-3 times its price and offers an affordable way to get into grinding for espresso.
The 1Zpresso JX Pro offers 200 settings covering all brewing methods from pour-over to Aeropress to Espresso. The grind size is adjusted at the top of the grinder with a stepped dial offering 40 clicks per rotation. Each click moves the burr by 12.5 microns, allowing for the micro-adjustments required to dial in espresso.
The grinder is well-built and loaded with 48mm steel burrs. The large burrs mean it is a very fast hand grinder and offers superb grind consistency. The downside is that it requires strength to turn the crank and this is even more pronounced if grinding fine for espresso. However, with the affordable price tag, the 1Zpresso JX Pro is the best cheap grinder for espresso.
Baratza Encore ESP
The Baratza Encore ESP is one of the best options if you want to invest in an affordable espresso grinder. This recently released grinder is the long-trusted Baratza Encore re-engineered to cater to espresso. While it comes at the cheaper end of the spectrum the Encore ESP offers excellent value for money.
The two greatest advantages of the Encore ESP are the superb price-to-quality ratio and the ingenious grind adjustment system. Technically the ESP is a multi-function grinder as it can easily switch grind size and do the coarser grinds required for drip coffee. However, it also has a brilliant grind adjustment system meaning it can do the micro-adjustments required for espresso.
Basically, it has 40 grind settings, 1-20 are micro adjustments solely for espresso, while 21-40 are larger gaps for filter coffee. The grinder itself is well made, comes armed with the same Etzinger M2 burrs that are found in the Baratza Virtuoso, and really is a bargain at this price point. It is the long-loved and trusted Baratza Encore redesigned for espresso.
Kinu M47 Simplicity
Renowned for its premium quality and craftsmanship, the Kinu M47 Simplicity stands out among hand grinders. The Kinu boasts a solid stainless steel body and axle, though its weight, at 965 grams, makes it less suitable for travel. To balance cost considerations, some plastic components, such as the bean funnel, thumb stop, and knob, are integrated into its design.
The Kinu is also known to perform incredibly well, especially when grinding for espresso. It is equipped with 47mm conical steel burrs, with a black fusion coating for durability. The burrs are precisely aligned delivering an even grind size and fast grinding times. The stepless grind adjustment system offers 50 steps per rotation with each step moving the burr 0.01mm. The grind sizes are clearly marked, including the zero point, making it easy to switch between grind sizes and communicate a grind size for a recipe.
This grinder excels at espresso, producing superb grind consistency at finer settings and outstanding cup quality. The espresso produced has a traditional flavor profile with good texture, clarity, and sweetness.
While it comes with a higher price tag, the Kinu M47 Simplicity is one of the best manual espresso grinders.
Baratza Sette 270
The Baratza Sette 270 is an excellent entry-level espresso grinder. Equipped with 40mm Etzinger conical steel burrs tailored for espresso, it excels at fine grind sizes. Its innovative inverted burr system, with a fixed lower conical burr and a rotating upper ring burr, significantly enhances grinding speed and consistency.
This design offers several advantages. Firstly, the Sette 270 grinds quickly, thanks to a powerful motor, upper burr rotation, and a direct grind path. It’s impressively fast at grinding. Furthermore, it boasts exceptionally low coffee retention, holding less than 1 gram per dose, making it perfect for single-dose grinding. Maintenance is also a breeze with the lower burr being able to be removed without any additional tools.
The Sette 270 comes with a unique combination of stepped and infinite grind adjustments. There are 30 macro adjustments and a further nine micro settings (hence the 270). However, this name is a bit misleading, as the micro-adjustment ring is stepless, offering precise and accurate grind adjustment.
Additionally, it provides time-based dosing, allowing you to set grind times with remarkable precision, down to 0.01 seconds. The grinder offers three programmable buttons for different dose times, allowing an easy switch between single and double shots.
However, it’s worth noting that the Sette 270 is loud during operation, and while the programmable timer settings are handy, their accuracy may not be as accurate as some users would prefer. Additionally, the grinder’s plastic construction, while functional, lacks the robust feel of higher-end models. Nonetheless, it remains a compelling choice for coffee enthusiasts seeking both precision and convenience in their grinding experience.
DF64 Gen 2
The Espresso Grinder for the Coffee Geek
The DF64 grinder, also known as the G-IOTA or Turin, made waves in the coffee community when it was released in 2021. While manufactured by an unknown Chinese company, it quickly made a name for itself because of the superb value it offered. In addition, the grinder hit the mark on all the latest coffee trends; a single-dosing, low retention, multi-purpose coffee grinder.
While the first version of the grinder was a hit it was in many ways a work in progress, plagued by a lot of issues. Enter the DF64 Gen 2, an upgraded version, with the manufacturer addressing most of these concerns.
This improved model features 64mm flat burrs, similar in design to the high uniformity burrs by SSP, offering both stainless steel and DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating options. The grinder is also still compatible with SSP burrs, a professional burr set that offers superb grind quality and high-clarity cups.
The Gen 2 addresses issues found in the earlier version and includes enhancements like a plasma generator to reduce static during grinding and an anti-popcorning disc. Its design is more refined with a metal body, stylish wooden accents, an updated adjustment collar, and improved accessories, such as an aluminum dosing cup. With stepless grind adjustment, minimal grind retention, and a multi-purpose design for both espresso and manual brewing methods, the DF64 Gen 2 caters to the needs of coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
Eureka Mignon Specialita
The Best Espresso Grinder
The Eureka Mignon Specialita is a popular espresso grinder and the grinder we would recommend for most households. Eureka is an esteemed company in the coffee community, known for producing high-quality burr grinders. All of their grinders are manufactured and hand-assembled in Italy.
The Eureka Mignon Specialita is their best-selling grinder and excels at grinding for espresso. It has 55mm flat steel burrs that offer superb grind consistency, particularly at the fine settings. Coffee grounds come out of the chute light and fluffy with little clumping. The design of the grinder also minimizes grind retention, so much so that many owners choose to use it as a single-dosing grinder.
The Eureka Mignon has a stepless grind adjustment, controlled by a dial at the top of the grinder, allowing for the precise grind changes that are required for espresso. It also has an LED touchscreen with timed dosing that can be adjusted at intervals of 0.1 seconds.
The Eureka Mignon is a stunning coffee grinder that is compact, fast, and quiet when in use- perfect for home use.
Finally, to complete our list we have the Niche Zero. Like the DF64, when the Niche Zero was released it was what the specialty coffee community had been waiting for. A prosumer grinder that offered low retention and single-dosing. Given this, it was and still is, an extremely popular coffee grinder, and can be hard to get your hands on.
The Niche Zero is decked out with 63mm hardened steel Mazzer Kony conical burrs (the same burrs found in the commercial Mazzer Kony grinder). These premium burrs operate at a low speed of 330 rpm for superb grind consistency. The Niche Zero can grind for both espresso and manual brewing methods, but espresso is where it really shines.
The Niche has a stepless grind adjustment system that is altered by twisting a collar on the hopper. The collar is marked with the numbers 1-50 to use as a reference but there are unlimited adjustments between. The advantage of this system is that it is simple to jump between different brewing methods and easily come back to the right grind size.
The other strength of the Niche Zero, is that as the name would suggest, it has a very low grind retention. This means that switching between different beans or grind settings does not require purging. This combined with it being a single-dosing grinder makes it ideal for the home barista.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the Niche’s design. With a compact footprint, quiet grinding, and a powder-coated body with timber trims it looks more like a SMEG appliance than a commercial grinder. It simply is a stunning coffee grinder with a simple minimalist design.
Understanding Espresso Grinders
The world of coffee grinder can be hard to get your head around, especially if you are new to coffee. We have written a short guide below to help you understand what qualities in an espresso grinder are important.
Burr Type: Burr vs Blade
Coffee grinders fall into two main categories: blade and burr. Blade grinders, as their name implies, rely on a rapidly spinning blade to chop the coffee beans into small pieces. Blade grinders do not produce a consistent grind size so we do not recommend using a blade grinder for espresso (or any other coffee brewing methods).
Burr grinders, in contrast, employ a burr system that crushes the beans between a stationary outer burr and a rotating inner burr. This method yields a remarkably even and precise grind size, which is necessary for achieving the perfect espresso.
Burr Shape: Flat vs Conical Burr
When it comes to espresso grinders you commonly see two types of burr: conical or flat.
Conical burr grinders crush the beans between two cone-shaped rings. Typically, the outer burr remains stationary, while the inner burr rotates (although this is reversed in the Sette 270). The distance between these two burrs determines the grind size. Beans pass vertically through the burrs with the help of gravity. Conical burr grinders produce a bimodal particle size- this means it produces two different grind sizes; fines (tiny particles) and larger ones. The fines slow the water flow through the coffee giving time for the larger particles to extract. In general, conical burrs produce a more traditional espresso profile with a thick, rich body and notes of bitterness.
A flat burr is made from two flat disks. One burr rotates while the other remains stationary. Coffee feeds through the center of the burrs and out horizontally through the edge of the burr. Without the help of gravity, a flat burr grinder has to spin a lot faster to generate the centrifugal force required to feed the beans through the burrs. As such, flat burr grinders require a lot higher rpm and a more powerful motor. This is also why you rarely see flat burrs in a hand grinder, you simply can’t grind fast enough to produce enough force to feed the coffee through.
Flat burr grinders produce a unimodal particle size, aka a single grind size. These types of espresso grinders tend to emphasize clarity and acidity in a brew and are great for manual brewing methods and modern espresso.
As a side note, SSP burr sets are an aftermarket upgrade you can get for some grinders. These burr sets are steel-based and guaranteed to last a lifetime for a home barista. There are three variants: high-uniformity espresso burrs, multi-purpose/ unimodal burrs, and brew burrs. Coffee enthusiasts favor these burrs as they offer exceptional grind uniformity and precision. However, they are an expensive addition to a grinder and can be difficult to install and align. Also, the benefits will only really be worth it for the absolute espresso enthusiast.
Another key consideration in selecting the best espresso grinder is the type of burr material. The two most common materials used are steel and ceramic. You may also see some burrs like the DF64 Gen 2 feature protective coatings to make them tougher.
Steel burrs, commonly found in high-end espresso grinders, are renowned for their durability. They withstand the occasional mishap, such as being dropped or encountering foreign objects in the coffee beans. Steel burrs are initially a lot sharper than ceramic burrs, producing a consistent and even grind size. They are, however, quicker to wear out than ceramic burrs. Steel burrs also generate more heat during the grinding process which can potentially affect the flavor of the coffee.
Ceramic burrs, on the other hand, are more prevalent in low-cost grinders. These burrs are more affordable and long-lasting, maintaining their sharpness longer than their steel counterparts. They are also heat-resistant, which is beneficial for maintaining coffee flavor profiles. However, ceramic is a double-edged sword—it’s resilient but fragile, making it susceptible to damage when dropped or exposed to significant force.
Additionally, some burrs come with protective coatings like titanium to improve the durability of steel burrs. While these coated burrs offer better longevity, they often come with a higher price tag.
Although each material has its own set of pros and cons, it is widely acknowledged that when it comes to achieving the most consistent and uniform particle size distribution, steel burrs are the superior choice.
Burr size is another important factor that influences the grinding speed, consistency, and range of grind sizes a grinder can achieve. Burr size is typically measured in millimeters, as the diameter of the outer burr. As a rule of thumb, larger burrs tend to outperform smaller ones, offering more efficient and consistent grinding. They can efficiently manage heat generation and can grind more beans at once. They also have more retention. In espresso grinders, entry-level models typically have a burr size of 40mm, prosumer grinders come with a burr set around 60mm, and professional espresso grinders are equipped with burrs that measure 80mm or more.
Hopper vs Single-Dosing
Traditionally, burr grinders have been built with hoppers attached. Beans are stored above the grinder in the hopper and when the grinder is turned on, they are ground and fall into a portafilter or grinds container. This method works well in a busy coffee shop where you chew through a lot of beans. It can also work well if you intend to use the same coffee beans all the time or don’t want to weigh out beans for each brew. The downside is that coffee can go stale, especially if the hopper isn’t airtight. Most grinders also retain some grinds in the chute, which means you need to purge when changing settings or beans.
In recent years, single-dosing grinders have become a popular option. These grinders typically have very little retention, enabling you to switch between beans or brewing methods easily without purging. This is a good option for the home barista, where you typically don’t go through all that many beans in a day, it enables you to store the beans in an airtight canister and only weigh out what is needed. Grinders like the Niche Zero and DF64 are popular options. However, some hopper-based grinders like the Eureka Mignon Specialita can effectively be used as single-dosing grinders, given their low grind retention.
Stepped vs Stepless
There are two systems for adjusting grind size; either stepped or stepless. With a stepped system there are a limited number of grind adjustments. This type of system makes it easy to switch between different settings but means you may not be able to dial in the grind size precisely. Stepped grind adjustment systems are commonly found on lower-priced grinders. This system can be suitable for espresso so long as there are enough settings to make micro-adjustments to the grind size.
A stepless system is where there are an infinite number of grind adjustments. These systems allow you to dial in a coffee precisely and make both macro and micro-adjustments. As you step up to prosumer-level grinders, this grind adjustment system is more common.
Essentials of an Espresso Grinder
If you are considering investing in a dedicated espresso grinder, there are a range of features that are essential. Because grinding for espresso is more demanding than grinding for manual brewing methods, espresso grinders tend to cost more. And particularly if you want to invest in an electric grinder, you will need a minimum of several hundred dollars. There have been a couple of entry-level grinders released this year; the Fellow Opus and Baratza Encore ESP, which can grind for both espresso and manual brewing. However, both these grinders are more for entry-level espresso. The other option is to consider a hand grinder which offers good value for money.
So what are the basic requirements for an espresso grinder?
Best Espresso Grinder- Final Thoughts
Grinding for espresso is demanding and requires a range of different features that a typical coffee grinder does not have. An espresso grinder needs to be able to grind very finely and offer enough grind adjustments to dial in coffee precisely. Because of this, an espresso grinder can be an expensive purchase, so you want to make sure you make the right choice.
If you want an affordable option, you can’t go past the 1Zpresso JX Pro. While it is a hand grinder, it is well-built and offers a large number of grind settings and good grind consistency.
If you have a larger budget, the Eureka Mignon Specialita is the best espresso grinder for most people. This grinder ticks all the boxes. It is well-built and has large 55mm flat burrs, stepless adjustment, and superb grind consistency.
Which Type Of Grinder Is Best For Espresso?
Selecting the best espresso grinder ultimately comes down to budget and personal preference. To grind for espresso you must invest in a high-quality burr grinder, that can produce a fine espresso grind and offer enough grind adjustments to dial in beans precisely. We recommend the Eureka Mignon Specialita for most households, as it offers a good balance between features and affordability. This grinder offers stepless grind adjustment, high-quality burrs, quiet operation, and a stunning design, making it a well-rounded option.
Is It Better To Buy An Espresso Machine With A Built-in Grinder?
No- it is far better to buy a standalone machine and grinder. A standalone grinder offers better grind quality and more control over grind settings. In addition, you have the flexibility to upgrade your espresso machine or grinder when needed.
Can You Grind Espresso Beans In A Regular Grinder?
While you technically can grind espresso beans in a regular grinder, it’s not ideal. Espresso brewing demands a very fine and uniform grind size, and regular grinders are typically not designed to produce such fine grounds consistently.