12 Coffee Grinders That Will Improve Your Morning Cup in 2017
The right grinder can take your coffee from good to great. But, which one? We researched 46 of the most popular coffee grinders around, bought the 11 best and tested them for over 100 hours. Even though all these machines look pretty similar, they produce very different cups of joe. After grinding, brewing, and drinking more than 200 cups of coffee we've found the best grinder for each application. Whether you like French press or drip, prefer endless adjustability or easy simplicity, or just want an inexpensive way to fill your kitchen with the smell of fresh coffee, our test results will lead you to a grinder that fits your needs.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Updated March 2017
We've been keeping a close eye on the world of coffee grinders and not much has changed, with the OXO On Barista Brain still the clear leader of the pack, and the Capresso Infinity still offering the best value around. Some new versions of our non-award winning grinders have been released, and we've added details about those models in the corresponding individual reviews. We also added more charts to the review so you can more easily compare the performance attributes that matter most to you.
Best Overall Coffee Grinder
OXO On Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder
The OXO On Barista Brain wowed us in nearly every test we conducted. It produced the most rich, nuanced coffee that we tasted, with everyone from coffee connoisseurs to newbies agreeing that its brew was far superior. In fact our lead ground some coffee that he had roasted himself, and the OXO was the only grinder capable of extracting the subtle flavor notes he was looking for. On top of that its streamlined design leads to a seamless user experience. Its built-in scale weighs out the perfect amount of coffee, so all you have to do is select the number of cups you want and push a single button, and the OXO does the rest of the thinking for you. The only downside is the noise it produces, which tiptoes the line between bearable and grating. So if you're the first up in a house full of light sleepers you may want to consider a quieter machine, like the Cuisinart Deluxe Grind (or ditch the light sleepers, there are some things that just aren't as important as coffee).
Makes an excellent cup
Very simple and intuitive controls
Precise dose-by-weight feature
Read full review: OXO On Barista Brain
Best Bang for the Buck
The Capresso Infinity is a spunky little machine that punches well above its weight class. In our taste testing it produced a bold and intricate cup that was only a bit less refined than the cups from our top scorers, which on average cost twice as much as the Infinity. Its easy and intuitive interface, near mess-free operation, and relatively quiet operation put it near the top of the scoring sheet in each of our other testing metrics as well. At a list price of $100 it would be a bit of a stretch to call the Infinity cheap. However, it represent only a few small sacrifices in performance when compared to the top scoring models, yet costs half as much. This makes it an absolutely incredible value, and the clear choice for our Best Bang for the Buck Award.
Makes a good cup
Simple and intuitive controls
Taste slightly inferior to top models
Read full review: Capresso Infinity
Best for under $30
Epica Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder
The Epica Electric may not produce the same quality as the Capresso or make coffee with quite as much ease, but with a list price of $22 the Epica is by far the best coffee grinding solution for under $100. This grinder was fun for us to work with and we imagine that it would be fun to own as well. It definitely had its drawbacks, like how the taste quality was, well alright. It doesn't make the worst cup of coffee, but it's not going to make your best cup of coffee either. But that said! We can't ignore the fact that this thing is far more ideal in other applications than any burr grinder is.
Easy to wash
Makes an okay cup
If you have a compact kitchen and counter space is prime real estate, a blade grinder is easy to stash in a cabinet right before and after use. And blade style grinders are perfect if you want something that's easy to pack for travel. You could totally stash the Epica in a "coffee travel kit" of sorts, or even get an AC adapter for your car and make coffee on the road. Not to mention, the price of these appliances is much more affordable than a burr grinder; so for a fraction of the price you could be well on your way to brewing up some liquid motivation.
The other blade grinder we tested (Krups Fast Touch) performed better in taste quality when brewing drip coffee but more poorly for French press—the overall taste scores were a tie. However, with valuable features like the long cord with cord storage and removable, hand-washable grind chamber, the Epica Electric came out on top in the final ranking.
Read full review: Epica Electric
Top Pick for Quietest Grinder
Cuisinart Deluxe Grind
The Cuisinart Deluxe Grind blows the competition away when it comes to making a serious cup of coffee in stealth. You're still grinding coffee, so there is noise, but the noise that this machine produces is quite impressive. The Deluxe is almost like a white noise machine compared to other competitors—low volume and a very agreeable low frequency. It's so nice, in fact, that we feel like it's a darn good reason to buy it. But while quietness is its most noteworthy feature, this guy also landed top scores in all other categories. An 8 for taste, 9 for ease of use, and 9 for mess-free operation as well.
Makes a great cup
Simple and intuitive controls
The Deluxe has intuitive, easy to use controls, and delivers a high quality grind for both drip coffee and French press brewing. We also found this grinder unique in that its grind range is very accurate. Most grinders we tested needed to be cranked a little tighter than recommended to produce their optimal brew (i.e.: using an espresso setting to brew drip coffee or using a drip setting to brew the best French press coffee), but the Deluxe brewed its best cup within the indicated grind range for both drip and French press.
We were really happy with the coffee this machine produced. When we brewed the coffee from this grinder it came out distinctly balanced, sweet, and very smooth. This thing definitely gets the job done and definitely deserves a Top Pick Award. If we hadn't evaluated the OXO, the Deluxe would have easily taken the Editors' Choice award.
Read full review: Cuisinart Deluxe Grind
Analysis and Test Results
With coffee being one of the most highly consumed beverages in the world, choosing a coffee grinder is perhaps a more frequently required decision than buying a car. However there's one big difference: you can't test drive a coffee grinder. You can read about what kind of features and buttons and LED display it might have, which is helpful, but you can't quite take it for a spin until you've already made your buying decision and taken it home. And this might not be a big deal if all grinders were roughly the same, but there are different styles of grinders and prices that range from $20 to $200. Of course they all grind coffee, but so many options and prices can leave you wondering if the more expensive models will really feel like a better investment for your morning cup or if you're better off with an option that just matches the colors in your kitchen.
So we selected 11 of the most popular and reputable grinders on the market, paid retail price, and test drove them for you. The nature of our tests revolved around the simple question, "Which grinder is going to help me make better coffee?" So we actually made coffee, lots and lots of coffee, trying to discover which grinder is going to make the best coffee and do so most effectively.
We dialed in each grinder to find its "sweet spot," brewing over 200 cups of coffee until we felt we had achieved the best possible brew with each machine. We did this making drip style as well as French press coffee to get a bigger picture of how each grinder performed. We tasted each sample in a giant all-at-once lineup and taste tested further in extensive side-by-side grinder face-offs. Each coffee was sampled hot as well as cool and darn good notes were taken all throughout the process.
Were we wired? You have no idea! I didn't know there was such thing as a coffee hangover until we started this review. But it was worth all the hard work as now we are confident that we can provide you with the best information around to select the coffee grinder that's right for you.
While taste is the highlight of the coffee experience, there are other things that a coffee maker (that's you) thinks about as they're using a grinder. Which button to press, which setting to use, how much to grind, how to get the coffee into the brewer without making a fat mess, and "Is this grinder going to wake up my roommate?" Well we thought about these things too and so we also rated each grinder for intuitive use, mess-free operation, and noise levels.
Upping Your Coffee Game
There are plenty of things you can do to make your morning cup more delicious, more adventurous, or more exciting. But if you ask around, just about every coffee professional is going to tell you that the first step to greater coffee glory is all in "the grind." Not only that, but having your own coffee grinder can be a handy convenience. Sometimes the coffee you crave isn't available pre-ground and you have to resort to a less exciting alternative or find a good friend who has the means to grind it for you. And although you can buy most coffee pre-ground, one benefit of using your own grinder is that it gives you the ability to find the perfect grind for your brewer. In our quest to produce the best possible cup of coffee from each grinder we sometimes achieved significantly better results by adjusting the grind by only 2 increments out of 40 (a small adjustment). Having your own coffee grinder not only allows you to grind coffee for brewing, but it allows you to grind it fresh and at just the right size for your brewing style. Dialing in the grind is uber important for getting the most out of your grinder. Don't miss out! Read more about it in our Buying Advice article.
And hey, maybe you're thinking, "Guys, it's just a cup of coffee." Maybe you don't care how good it tastes as long as it's super easy to make. Maybe you're on the hunt for a coffee grinder for occasional "emergency" use. Maybe someone gifted you two pounds of whole bean coffee and you just need something more efficient than your peppermill to turn it into the stuff of life before work each morning. Maybe you're looking for something that's super compact or for something that's super quiet. These are definitely things you'll want to consider when looking for a coffee grinder. Everyone has different needs and preferences. So what kind of grinder does it really take to get the flavor and convenience that's right for you? Read on. Let's start by taking a quick look at the types of grinders out there to help you find what you're looking for.
Types of Coffee Grinders
Blade grinders are both more affordable and compact than burr style grinders. This is great for the buyer who is trying to preserve their remaining kitchen counter space like a national park, wants to take their grinder along when they travel, or doesn't want to spend very much on a grinder. These grinders operate by spinning a blade which whacks the coffee beans apart. When using a blade style grinder you would continue shattering the coffee in the chamber until you think you've accomplished the right grind size for your brew. However, during this process some coffee bean particles are obliterated a bit more than others and the consistency of the grind becomes a mix of larger and smaller particles.
The majority of products we tested were burr style grinders because there were a larger number of top rated and reputable grinders in this category. Burr grinders have hoppers to store coffee in, a bin to grind into, and often have some sort of timer or dosing feature to select how much coffee to grind. These operate by crushing coffee between a pair of rotating burrs (pictured above). The coffee, fed from the hopper, continues to grind until it falls through an adjustable gap between the burrs and into a bin. These types of grinders are often thought to be superior to blade grinders in taste because of their ability to produce a more consistent grind size. However, in our testing we found that this is not always true.
For more about the blade vs. burr grinder controversy dig into our Buying Advice article for a great read!
Criteria for Evaluation
We've defined a good grinder as one that "helps you make better coffee with minimal inconvenience." But what does that look like in real world application? Well we pulled together a few criteria to define exactly that and used them to guide our testing and evaluation of each product.
In the following section we'll tell you what criteria we used, what tests we performed, and which items scored the highest. If you really want to nerd out with us and read about the details of our testing, pull up a chair and go to our How We Test article.
Quality of Taste
In a perfect world, a coffee grinder would give you the ability to brew what I like to call the "full flavored cup" of coffee. This means that you can experience the full potential of the coffee's flavor, that it tastes as good as it smells. In a full flavored cup there are layers of delicious flavor, some deep, some lively, sweet, juicy, chocolaty or whatever—all these layers are maximized and combined together in a beautiful balance to create a chorus of flavor that saturates your whole palate. The full flavored cup is full, rich, exciting, and void of any undesirable taste.
We wanted to evaluate each grinder's ability to produce this full flavored quintessence. We did this through an exhaustive trial and error process where we adjusted each grinder near its ideal setting, brewed a sample, tasted the results, and then adjusted the grind setting for better results. If the resulting brew lacked depth we would tighten the grind; if it were a bit bitter or dirty we would grind coarser. We repeated this process with each grinder until we felt that each grinder had produced the best possible cup that it was capable of for both drip style and French press style coffee. Go ahead and dig into our How we Test article to learn more about our approach to taste testing.
I admit, we set the bar pretty high with our definition of the full flavored cup. But we had a few grinders prove that it is indeed possible to attain. The OXO On Barista Brain really stole the show here, landing a solid 9 for quality of taste. The bodied and full flavored cup that this grinder produced was unmatched by any of its competitors. The OXO gave us a very nuanced, sweet, full, well-balanced and rounded cup. Gosh! It was everything we could ask for! I mean, you could almost chew on the flavors they were just bursting from the cup. And while we noticed a trend of grinders producing a French press that was one point lower than their drip score, the OXO made an excellent cup of coffee for both brew methods. (Round of applause for the OXO.)
The Cuisinart Deluxe Grind, Baratza Virtuoso, and Breville Smart Grinder Pro followed behind, each scoring an 8. The Cuisinart Deluxe (NOT to be confused with the Cuisinart Supreme) stood out among these three in that it also brewed up a French press that matched the quality of its drip coffee. We found it interesting that each grinder highlighted different aspects of the coffee we brewed, even those that had similar or tied scores for quality of taste. The Cuisinart Deluxe made a great cup of coffee that was super smooth, sweet, and straightforward. It had a good balance of flavors that was "complete" but not explosive like its competitor the OXO. Check out our Buying Advice article to read more about flavor differences between grinders.
The blade grinders we tested both scored a 5 although the Krups made a better drip style coffee than the Epica. And although burr grinders are commonly thought to produce better taste than blade models, the Cuisinart Supreme Grind tested out to a 3 and the KitchenAid Burr scored a 2. We were unable to produce a cup of coffee with either of these grinders that could outmatch a blade grinder.
As you can see below, the Epica blade grinder (left) has noticeable inconsistencies in the grind, however the Cuisinart Supreme burr grinder (right) produced clumps of powder that resulted in an inferior brew.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is all about the question, "How helpful is this machine in getting me caffeinated (or decaffeinated if you're into that kind of thing)?" Wouldn't you love it if you pulled your brand new grinder out of the box and there was just one button on it that did exactly what you needed? Or let's say you give this thing as a gift to a friend or family member who doesn't want to read a manual, take lessons, or feel like they're operating a spaceship just to make a good coffee. A good grinder should help you make good coffee by being simple and intuitive to use.
Amidst all the pressing of buttons and reading of manuals, the OXO On Barista Brain enamored us with its simple and intuitive design, scoring a well-deserved 10 for ease of use. The unit has just one central control button with a surrounding dial and an easy-to-read LED display. The user turns the dial to select the number of cups to make then pushes the button to grind their desired amount of coffee. The grinder then has a built-in scale that stops the grinding process once the selected amount of coffee has been ground into the chamber—incredibly simple, and very accurate.
The Cuisinart Deluxe Grind was a very close second to the OXO. In comparison, the Deluxe Grind scored a 9, only lacking the precision of the OXO's built-in scale. Other models followed with 7 or 8 points, usually having some kind of dial that operated a timer to dose out coffee grounds. A few exceptions were the KitchenAid Burr and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. The KitchenAid scored a 4 because the grind settings were difficult to operate; after adjusting from one grind setting to another (e.g.: from very coarse to very fine) the machine would dispense a mixture of both grind settings. The machine would either have to grind through a LOT of coffee to fully adjust to the next grind setting or be cleaned out after any adjustment. It's not uncommon for some previously ground coffee to remain among a coffee grinder's burrs, but for this machine, adjusting the grind size was problematic.
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro had us scratching our heads a bit. It has incredible precision and it has many features, but at the end of the day we scored it as a 6 for ease of use. This unit features a programmable memory, the ability to adjust grind time to the tenth of a second, and has almost half of its available grind settings designated for espresso making, but we often felt smothered by all the features in our field of vision. "Ah! What is all this? I just want to grind some coffee!" It's like all those apps on a new smart phone that you don't have any use for and your phone won't allow you to delete. The machine offers incredible precision that could be useful, but the cluttered design was a significant drawback to simply making a good cup of coffee.
Blade grinders were evaluated a little bit differently. Since their design does not allow them to perform some of the tasks that burr grinders handle, like measuring out the amount of coffee for the user, they require more work to operate. And while their "press 'n' guess" operation is incredibly simple, the blade grinders we tested do not allow the user to select their preferred grind size. However, the Epica Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder scored a 6, stacking up decently given its disadvantages as a blade. Features like the Epica's long cord with cord storage and its easy-to-view and easy-to-clean grind chamber left us feeling happy rather than frustrated after using it.
The Cuisinart Deluxe (below), OXO, and Breville all include a locking hopper which can be removed while full without spilling coffee beans. This is a handy feature which allows you to clean the machine or fill the hopper with another coffee without turning the entire unit upside down.
Coffee preparation is a pretty messy task if you think about it. You grind this stuff up into a bunch of tiny pieces so that it basically looks like dirt (yes, very very delicious and wonderful dirt). Then once you add water to it, you create this dark liquid that will stain whatever fabric it touches. So when selecting a grinder, or any coffee equipment for that matter, it's best to opt in for whatever damage control you can get.
While we were grinding away and brewing up our 200-plus coffees, we noticed certain grinders that stood out. We noticed the ones that we had to clean up after the most, that we avoided using because they made the biggest mess while we were trying to operate them or make what seemed like a simple transfer of ground coffee from the grind chamber to our brewer of choice. By far the most difficult to work with was the Cuisinart Supreme Grind (NOT to be confused with the Cuisinart Deluxe Grind). The Supreme spits coffee into the chamber from the side instead of from the top and because the grinder creates a substantial amount of dust the chamber gets caked and coated with coffee powder. When the chamber is opened, powder on the lid creates mess on the counter and static build-up in the chamber causes coffee to escape and magnetize to your hands and surrounding items. Once the coffee is removed the chamber remains dirty and should be rinsed. The Supreme Grind landed the lowest possible score of 1 for mess-free operation because we found ourselves painfully avoiding the hassle that this machine required. We got better at using it over time by inventing tricks to control its chaotic nature, but even then, the inconvenience of managing this machine's mess still clearly fell into the deal-breaker category.
Over the course of time we noticed that different grinders, not unlike roommates, each make their own special kinds of messes. While the Supreme Grind made the most mess during transfer to the brewer, the KitchenAid Burr (with a score of 4) would spill some coffee from the burrs if it was moved or the table was bumped; the Baratza grinders (each scoring a 6) would begin to expel a puff of coffee chaff onto the counter when the grinder was repeatedly used and the chamber was returned to its station; the Capresso Infinity made a little mess after a long time (we scored it as a 7) but was a bit difficult to wipe up after.
On the other hand, the Cuisinart Deluxe scored a 9 in the mess-free category, going virtually unnoticed while we were wiping up the little spills of the majority of grinders. The Breville and OXO tied with the Deluxe because they not only created very little mess but they also have a feature that allows you to remove a plate under the grind chamber to easily transfer any mess to the trash without having to move the machine or wipe up.
But the mess-free winner of the blade style grinders we tested is definitely the Epica Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder. We awarded this grinder a 9. The grind chamber twists off and the coffee easily transfers into your brewer with minimal mess. Afterwards the grind chamber can be quickly hand-washed under running water to remove residual coffee dust. The Krups, however, scored a 2 for mess-free because it was both inconvenient and time consuming to manage the ground coffee from this unit. The Krups requires that the whole unit is turned upside down, knocked and brushed to remove ground coffee, and cannot be submerged for further cleaning.
In the big scheme of things, a coffee grinder's job is to grind coffee, not necessarily to be quiet. But a noisy appliance can be a real pain, especially an appliance that you're likely to use first thing in the morning. You may have a sleeping baby or spouse, a house guest, an exhausted roommate, or maybe you're really just not in the mood for the sound of a loud motor crushing coffee beans when the sun's barely up.
To find the quietest grinder we started by busting out the decibel meter. While the decibel meter gave us quantifiable readings of volume levels, we only used this as a guide to our final scoring in this category. The decibel readings we took had some close calls and ties, yet it was obvious that some machines had a more agreeable frequency that was more like white noise, whereas others had high pitch whizzing motor noise that was much less appealing. Ultimately we asked ourselves the question, "If someone was sleeping in the next room and you had to press one of these buttons for 10 seconds, which one would it be?"
Honestly, choosing the quietest grinder was a piece of cake. The Cuisinart Deluxe Grind scored a solid 9 for quietness. Its sound quality had everyone saying, "Woah!" every time we used it. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro took a 9 as well, tying for highest score. Even though the motor noise had a less pleasant frequency, the Breville was still impressively quiet and even had a slightly lower decibel reading than the Deluxe Grind.
The blade grinders we tested (the Krups Fast Touch and Epica Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder) were both moderately loud, scoring a 4, but the loudest models were really the Cuisinart Supreme Grind and the KitchenAid Burr. We were almost afraid to turn these on. The Cuisinart Supreme came in with a 2 on quietness. It not only had the highest decibel reading but it also created the most noise—the rattling and crushing of beans along with a whirring motor that finished with a record-scratching sound. The KitchenAid Burr scored a 3 on quietness, having a slightly lower decibel reading but a screaming high pitch motor.
— Jared Marquez
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