It is generally considered that the coffee grinder is the single most important equipment to brewing a better cup of coffee. In fact, many even go so far as to say that if you have just enough moola to get one new piece of coffee gear, make it the coffee grinder.
That’s because by getting a good grinder, you can make a great cup of coffee. But even the most advanced coffee maker can’t do much with preground coffee. Yes, if you’ve been using nicely packed preground coffee even from reputable brands to brew your coffee, you’ve been doing it wrong.
Simply put, preground coffee is “stale” coffee in coffee lingo, as it’s exposed to air, thereby losing flavor. To brew a better cup, you will want to grind fresh because only then will you access the aromatic oils concentrated inside your coffee beans which are the essence that makes your coffee tastes delicious and vibrant, with fruity and floral notes. Additionally, you will also want to get what’s required to grind your beans into consistently particle sizes that will enable a balanced extraction, which makes for a well-balanced cup.
So, what’s the best coffee grinder for the job then? As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to get a burr grinder but not a blade grinder because the former crushes while the latter chops, thereby greatly increasing your chances of getting a more uniform grind.
Here are my reviews of the best coffee grinders of 2017 to quickly help you decide which you should get.
Best Smart Coffee Grinder — Breville BCG820BSSXL
Just like a personal assistant who seeks to know you better so that it can make your life easier is the BCG820. Also known as the Smart Pro Grinder, the BCG820 offers programmable settings that seek to take care for you what you want so that it’s easier for you to get the coffee you love.
Like to grind and dispense the same amount of coffee every time? No problem. With the Smart Pro Grinder’s Dose IQ feature, you can now set your grind time for each shot. Simply hold the program button, and the device will save it to be used the next time with a touch of a button.
Optionally, should you choose to pause the grinder in the middle of operation to perhaps even out your portafilter, you can do that too with the device’s pause function.
It is worth noting that this device is the successor to the Smart Grinder with the primary difference being that this version offers 60 grind settings instead of 25. As an added bonus, this version also offers a removable top burr that adds 10 more adjustments to its settings—though it’s said that this top burr is really intended to extend the life expectancy of the machine.
To me, the Smart Pro Grinder is a device that effectively combines technology and design, resulting in a first-rate maker. My only gripe is that it may not be the easiest to use. The first time you use it, you may be unclear of what to do, as there seems to be quite a lot going on. There are knobs, buttons, not to mention accessories such as a portafilter cradle, grinding brush, and grind container that come standard with every purchase. Granted, it may take some time to getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you will be happily grinding away in no time.
You can get the Smart Pro Grinder here on Amazon
Best Affordable Coffee Grinder — The Gaggia 8002 MDF
The Gaggia MDF has primarily a love-hate relationship with most of its long-time users, but its shortcomings, I find, are not sufficient to outweigh what’s excellent about it. OK, let’s start with the good. First of all, I find that the MDF is very consistent in producing the results I was seeking in its many grind settings. With reference to this, the MDF offers 34 that, as with many grinders, can be adjusted by twisting its hopper.
A 120-watt motor powers its operations that is also supported by a gear-reduction system to reduce noise and static build-up. After combing through many reviews of the MDF, I can share with you that there have been few complaints about this.
But of course not all is rosy about the MDF. On its own, it is likely that the MDF won’t be performing at its optimum level, as it is also known to slide around when you pull the lever. So to work around this, I suggest you first add some adhesive to its base. Once the machine has gained a firm footing, it will be far easier for it to display its mettle.
Subsequently, the doser also gets a bad wrap for primarily not being accurate in its dosing dispense, but you can easily solve this by weighing the grounds yourself before loading them into the basket. Pair it with a good espresso machine, and you’ll gain more or less what it’s required to refine the delicate art of espresso making.
You can get it here on Amazon
Best Sleek Coffee Grinder — Baratza Virtuoso
The secret sauce behind Baratza Virtuoso’s ability to consistently churn out uniform ground particles with its conical burrs is undeniably its 480 watt DC motor. Powerful, quiet, and reliable, it is the driving force that enables cool, tasty beans.
To give you some context for why this matters, let us compare this grinder’s DC motor to an AC motor. As compared to the latter, the Virtuoso’s motor can produce more than four times the output with twice the efficiency. Moreover, it also spins at less than one-third the speed, at a relatively slow 450 RPM, with the support of electrical and gear-speed reducers, which all translates to a lower pitch, cool, and smooth grind.
In terms of grind adjustments, the Virtuoso offers 40 settings that are wide enough to produce the grind size for espresso, French press, or any brew method you may choose. And to offer a more accurate grind, upon inspection, you will also see that the Virtuoso’s ring burr is supported on three points for a more stable base.
In my opinion, I think the Virtuoso is one of the best looking grinders out there, and if all things fail to convince you to think that this is among the best, I am fairly certain the design alone will. With a a nickel-plated and satin-finish top and base, it can easily highlight or be the highlight of your space. But don’t think it is all shine though, as the top casting is also designed to provide sound and vibration isolation, and the static material construction is designed to reduce messy coffee dust.
For a reliable semi-pro grinder from a reputable brand, I think you can’t really go wrong with the Virtuoso.
You can get it here on Amazon
Best Premium Coffee Grinder — Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD Rocky
Priced at around $350, the Rocky is the most premium grinder on this list. While that may or may not surprise you, however, this machine, I find, is essentially quality personified. From the base to the body to the hopper, this mainly stainless steel covering with black aluminum frame grinder looks and feels really well crafted.
For those who are looking to have more fine-grain control and high performance out of their grinds, it is likely that the Rocky will deliver. That’s because underlying this robust machine with its commercial-grade 50mm grinding burrs is the ultra quiet motor that also powers the heavy-duty Commercial MD40 model from the Rancilio family.
OK, that may or may not mean much to you, but to put it into perspective, that’s the very same juice that the $900 beast of a machine runs on. This very motor spins at 1,725 RPM and as a result, you can now grind double shots in less than 30 seconds. All this juice of course requires a strong insulation, and in consideration of this, the Rocky’s motor is also enveloped with a protective layer to prevent heat-related damages.
If you haven’t noticed by now, this version, unlike the original, has no doser but a front-facing chute instead. This is very much in line with the design of commercial grade grinders. Again, the recurring theme here, if you ask me, is that Rancilio created the Rocky to be very much a grinder designed for commercial use but made for the home. And that’s really not a bad draw considering that you get the best of both worlds: the commercial capacity and the ease of use.
You can get it here on Amazon
Best Value Coffee Grinder — Capresso 565.05 Infinity
There is the 560.01, 560.04, 565.04, and then there is the 565.05 model, which is my favourite. So, what’s the difference? First in construction, the 560s are made with ABS sturdy housing, while the 565.04 heady-duty zinc, and the 565.05 stainless steel. The 560.0.1 comes in black, the 560.05 in silver, the 565.0 in brushed chrome, and the 565.05 of course in stainless steel.
The .05, I think, trumps the rest because it’s heavier and more shock and vibration resistant. It is also noticeably quiet as compared to the rest. As consistency, heat, and noise all play a vital role in determining the quality of a grinder, that’s why the .05’s low noise scores high in my book. In terms of grind settings, the 0.5 offers 16, allowing you to dial in the precise granularity for all brew methods.
That said, I find that the 0.5 performs best for medium to medium-fine settings, while it isn’t as good as the finest or coarsest settings. But as far as entry-level grinders go, I say it is better than most in its class. Being a Capresso, the 0.5 is certainly built to last which comes as no surprise that many good things have been said about it, even for the plastic 560 models.
Only downside of the .05 though is the static electricity that causes those bits of coffee to stick to the sides of the plastic holding container. In addition, it is also reported that it’s not the easiest to clean. But there is a simple hack to solve this though. Simply add a few drops of water over your beans in the hopper and grind as usual. You will be surprised how this helps. Try it if you do decide to get this grinder, as I highly recommend it especially if you are just starting out.