I’ll be honest: I’m not a coffee snob. Give me a cup — pretty much any old cup — and I won’t complain. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a particularly good one. And as any actual coffee snob will tell you (trust me, I’ve talked with a lot of them), your coffee is only going to be as good as your beans. And your beans won’t be any good at all if you’re not grinding them yourself right before brewing.
Unfortunately, most decent coffee grinders, even those made specifically for home use, cost a very pretty penny — we’re talking hundreds of dollars. So to figure out which models are worth the investment, we asked baristas, roasters, and coffee-shop owners about the versions they keep on their own kitchen counters (and sometimes in their suitcases because apparently good coffee never takes a vacation).
If you’re still not quite convinced a coffee grinder is something you should put so much hard-earned money toward (ahem, me), don’t worry: We’ve included a few more affordable options that are still very much pro-approved.
What we’re looking for
Grind consistency: Every expert we spoke to noted that burr grinders (which break down beans in a kind of milling action) are better than blade grinders (which act more like choppers). As someone who has a barely used blade grinder sitting shamefully in the back of a cabinet, I concur. Will Pratt, owner and founder of Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, Maine, explains that with burr grinders, all the beans pass from the top of the machine to the bottom, meaning they end up a uniform and precise size as opposed to getting “thrown around like they’re in the dryer.” Joanna Lareau, café manager at Stumptown Coffee, agrees that blades are a haphazard method, leaving you with some coffee that’s “overextracted” (quite bitter) and some that’s “underextracted” (quite sour). Plus, she says, “with burr grinders, you can tinker until you find what tastes good” for whatever coffee maker you use.
Noise level: Whether it’s at your own pre-coffee expense or your sleeping partner or roommate’s, early-morning noise is pretty universally unwelcome. Almost every grinder makes some, but we categorized each as either “loud” or “quiet” depending on which way it leaned — and went into more detail in the description of each.
Price: As noted above, these aren’t cheap. But with coffee grinders, cost is relative, denoted by the number of dollar signs. $ means it costs less than $100, $$ means between $100 and $400, $ between $400 and $800, and $$$$ above $800.
Best overall coffee grinder
Baratza Encore Electric Grinder
As a brand, Baratza came up in our reporting more often than any other. Some favor its higher-end models (more on a couple of those below), but nearly a dozen of the coffee aficionados we spoke with recommended this more affordable option, highlighting its quality performance and solid build — especially for the price. “It’s simple to use and super-consistent,” Lareau told us. “I’ve had one for almost three years now, and it’s still amazing.” Humberto Ricardo, founder of Third Rail Coffee, adds that Baratza machines are “designed to be repaired instead of thrown away should something break, which is good for my wallet and for the planet.” And speaking of repairs, Pratt noted Baratza’s great customer service. “When you have to replace the burrs every few years, they make it incredibly easy to do so,” he says.
Elliott Foos, director of coffee at Day moves in Brooklyn, told us he used the Encore at work when he used to run the coffee shop attached to chef Flynn Garry’s Lower East Side restaurant, Gem. “It’s intuitive and performs wonderfully,” he says, “grinding from fine espresso to the most coarse setting for French press or cold brew.” (The Encore has 40 grind settings, so you can easily adjust to whatever you’re looking for.) While he acknowledges it can be a little loud — or a “touch chatty,” in his words — Foos says that’s to be expected for a grinder made of plastic and designed for the home.
Best less expensive coffee grinder
Krups Precision Grinder
If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge on a model upwards of $100, the Krups Precision Grinder is a very solid place to start. It comes recommended by Paul Schlader, owner of New York City–based Birch Coffee, who promises it has the essentials: 12 settings for selecting your preferred grind size and a “cup selector” dial to grind the exact amount of coffee you need for the number of drinks you’re making.
Best even less expensive coffee grinder
If you don’t drink coffee every single day (or, like me, you buy pre-ground beans most of the time), you might not even want to spend as much as $100. This $60 grinder from Cuisinart is one of the most affordable on the market with burr-style blades — and works totally great, at least in my experience. It’s quite intuitive to use: You simply fill the chamber with beans (it can fit nearly a whole pound at once), set the dial to any of the 18 settings between fine and coarse grind, set the number of cups you are planning to brew (though you won’t need this if you pre-weigh the amount of beans you put in in the first place), and press start. Most of the pieces are removable and dishwasher-safe, and it stores well; it’s rectangular and compact, with a place to wrap the cord underneath.
Best coffee grinder for filter brew methods
Matthew Kang, editor of Eater L.A., likes the Eureka Mignon even more than the similarly priced Baratza because he says it has better grind consistency. The catch is that it only mills on the coarser end of the spectrum — meaning it’s great for methods like pour-over, French press, and Aeropress, but not espresso. But the grinder is “strong, durable, and powerful,” Kang says, breaking down whole bags of coffee at a time with its bigger-than-average 50-mm. flat burrs. Kang does note that the machine only has a small dial to change the grind setting and a tiny button on the bottom to start the grinder without any timers. But he also says that doesn’t matter — in the end, “the beans will be ground more consistently, resulting in better-tasting coffee.” This grinder certainly makes some noise, but as you can see in this video, it’s quite a reasonable level — especially for this price point, as the pro testing it points out.
Best quiet coffee grinder
Fellow Ode Brew Grinder
When it came out a little over a year ago, Fellow’s Ode grinder was all the buzz among professional and amateur baristas alike — so much so that it prompted associate editor Louis Cheslaw to try it out and write an extremely favorable review, noting in particular that at its very loudest, the grinder sounds “like crumpling up a newspaper.”
But its appeal goes beyond noise control. The Ode combines fast, consistent, and typically commercial-grade flat-burr grinding technology with a compact size and the thoughtful design details that Fellow’s other tea and coffee products are known for (here at the Strategist, we’re particularly fond of the company’s electric kettle). “They really thought about every detail,” says Jerad Morrison, co-founder and co-CEO of Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco. “The dial that adjusts the grind size is very intuitive. The cup that catches the grind is magnetic, so it clicks into position tightly and easily. The machine even has a button that shakes out any residual chaff” — the leftover coffee skins that mostly come off during roasting but usually not all the way — “into the cup instead of blowing them out onto your counter, which happens with other grinders.” (For what it’s worth, when I checked back in with Cheslaw, he noted that he did sometimes find excess grounds on his counter but that he might have misunderstood the correct button — and, regardless, that it’s a “small price for quieter grinding.”)