Which burr grinders are best?

Even the freshest beans and a high-end machine won’t give you the best cup of coffee if you don’t use a quality grinder. For those serious about coffee and who want to enjoy the freshest, most flavorful beans, a quality burr grinder is essential. 

A burr grinder, like this high-end Baratza Encore Conical model, provides an even grind for optimal flavor extraction. Materials, design and a few other features all influence finding the burr grinder for your coffee lifestyle.

What to know before you buy a burr grinder

How a burr grinder works

A burr grinder comprises a pair of burrs that move adjacent to one another to produce coffee grounds. Beans must move through the space between the burrs, which results in an even, uniform grind. The grind is different from the results of a blade grinder, which chops and pulverizes but leaves grinds uneven and jagged. For optimal flavor, grinds should be uniform. 

Design

There are two main designs of types of burr grinders available. Flat burr grinders feature two burrs positioned on top of the other, forcing beans to move horizontally. Conical burr grinders, conversely, feature a large burr that houses a smaller burr, with beans essentially moving vertically between the space.

Since grinds in a burr grinder move out of the unit horizontally, some lesser-quality models may trap some grinds inside. They can be hard to remove and hard to clean as well. Both options may allow for a wide range of grind settings.

Material

Most burr grinders are either stainless steel in construction or ceramic. Stainless steel options are relatively inexpensive but don’t tend to last as long as ceramic options. What’s more, they can produce a bit of heat that can adversely influence the taste of the coffee. Ceramic models, meanwhile, don’t produce excessive heat and offer impressive durability. However, they tend to be more fragile, and users should be gentle with the operation. They also come at a high cost.

What to look for in a quality burr grinder

Operation

Burr grinders may be manually operated or automatic. The manual operation takes more time and effort, which may not be ideal for those making coffee for a large household. However, they do not produce as much heat as automatic options, which is better for taste. Still, automatic grinders offer immense convenience.

Grind settings

For those who like to enjoy a variety of coffee types, seek out those models with plenty of grind settings. The number can vary greatly from model to model, with some offering a handful while others may feature 10, 20 or even 40 settings. Some stepped grinders feature settings that users can select while others, called “stepless,” simply allow the user to toggle the grind manually without any presets available.

Capacity

Consider the capacity of both the bean hopper, which is where you place the fresh beans, as well as the grind receptacle. How many cups of coffee you’ll be making in an average sitting should inform the capacity. While a larger bean hopper may seem convenient, beans and grinds mustn’t sit out for too long. Beans and grinds should be stored in a sealed, airtight container if not used immediately.

Coffee maker integration

Some burr grinders are integrated into a coffee machine to complete the entire coffee-making process seamlessly. These will come at a high cost but allow for more precise and convenient coffee making.

How much you can expect to spend on burr grinder

Simple, manual burr grinds may cost $20-$50, while automatic models with a large capacity can reach and even exceed $100.

Burr grinder FAQ

How do I maintain my burr grinder?

A. To maintain the effectiveness of a burr grinder, regular cleaning is essential. A few specialty tools allow for easy cleaning, including a stiff brush to get into the unit or cleaning tablets that run through the grinder. Some grinders can be taken apart and wiped easily with a soft cloth. Do not use water to clean the grinder. Not only will regular cleaning keep the grinder working well, but it will also keep the coffee tasting fresh.

Are blade grinders any good?

A. The alternative to burr grinders is blade grinders. These use spinning blades to break up beans into grounds, but they often produce uneven grinds. As a result, flavor extraction is less than ideal, resulting in a too weak or strong coffee. Blade grinders appeal based on their convenience and low price. They are easy to clean, durable and useful for those who aren’t too interested in the finest tasting or freshest coffee.

What are the best burr grinders to buy?

Top burr grinder

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder

What you need to know: Though regarded as an entry-level burr grinder, this versatile high-end option offers even grinds and fresh coffee every time.

What you’ll love: It allows for 40 different grind settings, is straightforward operation and cleaning, is made with durable steel burrs and is available in two different color finishes.

What you should consider: This option has a limited capacity.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top burr grinder for the money

Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill

Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill

What you need to know: This option is a reliable, inexpensive burr grinder from a trusted name in kitchenware for those who like consistency. 

What you’ll love: This accommodating grinder welcomes from four to 18 cups of coffee. The bean hopper and grind chamber are removable, the option is a good value and two different finishes are offered.

What you should consider: The 18 grind settings may be limiting for some.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s

Worth checking out

Hario Skerton Plus Ceramic Burr Grinder

Hario Skerton Plus Ceramic Burr Grinder

What you need to know: This high-quality manual ceramic coffee grinder is designed for serious coffee enthusiasts.

What you’ll love: Manual operation and ceramic burrs eliminate heat and produce even grounds for the tastiest coffee. This option has a simple operation, small footprint and the base adheres to counters to avoid movement.

What you should consider: This option has a small capacity and requires patience.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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